Yesterday’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter briefing turned into a celebration of the recent first flight of the F-35B STOVL version. The three customers for the new-generation jump jet (the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.K. and Italy) lined up to sing its praises. Test pilot Graham Tomlinson from BAE Systems was on hand to describe the maiden flight.
Northrop Grumman’s defensive systems division has delivered the first of a new generation of Plug and Play II video datalinks for use with the Litening AT and Litening G4 targeting pods.
Helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky (Hall 4 Stand F14) has nearly finished building its X2 coaxial compound helicopter demonstrator in Elmira, New York. Although additional ground tests are needed there, first flight is “within arm’s reach,” according to Jim Kagdis, Sikorsky’s manager of advanced programs. He would not commit to a specific time period, however. The X2 program is entirely funded by Sikorsky.
When Lockheed Martin chose a test pilot to take the F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) version through development and into the air, the company realized there is no substitute for experience. Therefore, when aircraft F-35BF-1 took to the skies over Texas last month, a 58-year-old British pilot was at the controls.
In the aeronautical mountain range, a few peaks are still unclimbed. Some goals, once thought impossible, are an everyday fact. Jet propulsion, supersonic flight, a practical helicopter and the miracles of manned and unmanned spaceflight all whiz past our bemused faces while we scarcely register a raised eyebrow.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) will cost much more than currently predicted, and the expected cost per flight hour already exceeds that of the F-16, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).
The Rolls-Royce Pegasus-powered roar that rent the air at St. Mary’s County Regional Airport in Leonardtown, Md., last November heralded a most unusual first flight, that of the only civilian British Aerospace (Hawker Siddeley) Harrier in the world. At the controls was Art Nalls, a former Marine and Harrier test pilot who fell in love with the Harrier the first time he flew one.
Sikorsky Aircraft yesterday unveiled its X2 technology demonstrator here at Heli-Expo, with hordes of attendees surrounding the black-shrouded helicopter before it was revealed in a cloud of smoke and lights at the company’s booth (No. 1641). What emerged was a sleek-looking, two-pilot ship with a contra-rotating coaxial main rotor and an “aero propeller” in place of the tail rotor.
Helicopter pioneer Frank Piasecki, who died two weeks ago at age 88, leaves behind a lasting legacy in the rotorcraft world. Piasecki is well known for developing the Army’s CH-47 Chinook and the Navy’s CH-46 Sea Knight twin-rotor helicopters, which are both now built by Boeing’s rotorcraft division in eastern Pennsylvania.
Some international partners in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program could delay signing up for production airplanes until 2013. George Standridge, Lockheed Martin F-35 vice president for business development, said that funding of long-lead items would be required 36 months before first flight, with a larger down-payment due 12 months later.