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Videos: F-35B Operational Test Trials

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As senior Pentagon editor, there are perks to being a scribe. May 26, I had the opportunity to witness aviation history with a small group of reporters invited to the USS Wasp amphibious ship to witness a few hours of the first-ever F-35B Operational Test (OT-1) trials off the coast of North Carolina. I'm posting some of the many videos I collected to give our readers a sense of what we saw on the boat. 

During OT-1, actual Marines -- not test overseers -- are operating the six F-35Bs that embarked May 18 for the tests; this includes pilots and maintainers. During DT (developmental testing), we got to see firsthand the first vertical landing and short takeoff at sea, but in OT-1, the Marines are demonstrating a cadence to operations to gain confidence the single-engine, stealthy fighters can assimilate into an air wing onboard the amphibious ship, which will include other platforms: the MV-22, CH-53E/K, AH-W/Z and unmanned air systems among them. This is all leading up to the operational debut of the F-35B, slated in July.

This is a long video -- 8 plus minutes. But, if you stick with it, here's what you'll see. And, a word of caution. Turn down your speakers or headphones, or grab a cranial. It's very loud.

F-35B taxis from parking and preps for takeoff (a DV is giving the pilot signals -- you can see him in blue next to the yellow shirt at far right). 

1:19: Notice when the lift fan doors open and nozzle angles down (the scorch marks are from repeated take offs at this 400 ft. position).

2:10: F-35B conducts short takeoff.

2:32: A second F-35 approaches for a vertical landing. Notice the nozzle's tiny corrections during the hover, slide over the deck and descent. A typical descent is about 7 ft. per second.

3:38: This F-35 clears the deck, maneuvers to parking area.

That voice you may hear is USMC Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for aviation, explaining to a reporter that the takeoff point for this round of trials is 400 ft. As the next jet taxis, you can see scorch marks around the 550 ft. mark, where jets have commenced launch at 500 ft. earlier in OT-1. 

4:11: Depending on how big your screen is you can see the first F-35B that took off flying in the pattern just above the cloud line to approach for a landing. 

5:27: This F-35B is visible behind the ship, control surfaces deployed slowing the aircraft with doors open. At this point the nozzle is rotating and will be fully at 90 deg. once the hover is commanded. 

6:22: Pilot slides the F-35 B over the deck (you can see those scorch marks in the Thermion non skid where previous landings have occurred) and comes to a brief rest. As a note: Navy ship operators onboard say they are monitoring the performance of the Thermion but detected no red flags thus far into the trials. 

7:15: Yellow shirt commands taxi forward for another takeoff from 400ft. 

8:10: Yellow shirt commands power (sorry for the finger -- was quite windy and lots of engine blowback -- can't drop Av Week's iPhone!). 

8:28: Takeoff

That was our welcome on deck.

 

As senior Pentagon editor, there are perks to being a scribe. May 26, I had the opportunity to witness aviation history with a small group of reporters invited to the USS Wasp amphibious ship to witness a few hours of the first-ever F-35B Operational Test (OT-1) trails off the coast of North Carolina. I'm posting some of the many videos I collected to give our readers a sense of what we saw on the boat. During OT-1, actual Marines -- not test overseers -- are operating the six F-35Bs that embarked May 18 for the tests; this includes pilots and maintainers. During DT (developmental testing), we got to see firsthand the first vertical landing and short takeoff at sea, but in OT-1, the Marines are demonstrating a cadence to operations to gain confidence the single-engine, stealthy fighters can assimilate into an air wing onboard the amphibious ship, which will include other platforms: the MV-22, CH-53E/K, AH-W/Z and unmanned air systems among them. This is all leading up to what the operational debut of the F-35B, slated in July.This is a long video -- 8 plus minutes. But, if you stick with it, here's what you'll see. And, a word of caution. Turn down your speakers or headphones, or grab a cranial. Its very loud.F-35B taxis from parking and preps for takeoff (a DV is giving the pilot signals -- you can see him in blue next to the yellow shirt at far right). 1:19: Notice when the lift fan doors open and nozzle angles down (the scorch marks are from repeated take offs at this 400 ft. position).2:10: F-35B conducts short takeoff.2:32: A second F-35 approaches for a vertical landing. Notice the nozzle's tiny corrections during the hover, slide over the deck and descent. A typical descent is about 7 ft. per second.3:38: This F-35 clears the deck, maneuvers to parking area.That voice you may hear is USMC Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for aviation, explaining to a reporter that the takeoff point for this round of trials is 400 ft. As the next jet taxis, you can see scorch marks around the 550 ft. mark, where jets have commenced launch at 500 ft. earlier in OT-1. 4:11: Depending on how big your screen is you can see the first F-35B that took off flying in the pattern just above the cloud line to approach for a landing. 5:27: This F-35B is visible behind the ship, control surfaces deployed slowing the aircraft with doors open. At this point the nozzle is rotating and will be fully at 90 deg. once the hover is commanded. 6:22: Pilot slides the F-35 B over the deck (you can see those scorch marks in the Thermion non skid where previous landings have occurred) and comes to a brief rest. As a note: Navy ship operators onboard say they are monitoring the performance of the Thermion but detected no red flags thus far into the trials. 7:15: Yellow shirt commands taxi forward for another takeoff from 400ft. 8:10: Yellow shirt commands power (Sorry for the finger -- was quite windy and lots of engine blowback -- can't drop Av Week's iPhone!). 8:28: TakeoffThat was our welcome on deck.

Posted by AVIATION WEEK on Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Here is a rare glimpse (at least until the F-35B IOCs in July) of a SeaHawk taking off followed by an F-35 launch onboard the USS Wasp May 26 during OT-1. The helicopter is a requirement for search and rescue in the event of a problem. I captured the rescue SeaHawk taking off and a glimpse of Lee Hudson, managing editor of Inside the Navy.
It's rare to see this combination of takeoffs...so I thought I'd share with our readers. 
Seconds later, the F-35B is commanded to taxi forward to the 400 ft. mark on the Wasp in preparation for launch. 


1:27: Lift fan doors open.
2:10: Takeoff. 
2:19: Look of pride from Lt. Gen. Davis, deputy commandant for Aviation.

A Marine look of pride can easily be confused with a scowl... make no mistake in this case.

 

 

For those that may not want to gaze at the F-35B for minutes and minutes, this is a simple, quick vertical perspective of an F-35B landing on the USS Wasp.

 

 

 

This is an interesting sequence. It's a long video, but if you stick with it, it is worth it. You'll see an F-35B dance on the deck. We begin with an F-35B taxi with lift fan doors open.

1:19: Takeoff from 400 ft. line. Again, notice the nozzle position at takeoff and scorch marks on deck.

1:32: Looking aft, a second F-35B is on final approach to hover just off the deck and then slides over to descend for a landing. Notice the nozzle working to keep the aircraft level prior to and during descent.

2:31: F-35B lands. Yellow shirt commands a brief hold and then taxi with the lift fan doors open.

3:33: F-35B holds at the 400 ft. marker. (stick with me ... it gets better).

4:20: The first F-35 B is on approach and commences hover (the other jet remains in position for launch).

5:19: This F-35B lands.

5:26: F-35B holds in preparation for launch.

5:44: The F-35B that just landed taxis to park.

6:44: F-35B commences launch. 

 

 

Finally, this is a short clip of our ride, an MV-22, landing at the Pentagon helipad. Our trip took about 90 minutes to reach the USS Wasp off the coast of North Carolina. Notice the National Cathedral (still under repair from the August 2011 earthquake that damaged it) in the background.

 

 

Hope you enjoyed these videos.

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