Friday, January 25, 2013

New Version of the F 135 Joint Strike Fighter Has Great Technology – And a Few Minor Problems

Like the Fuel Tank Exploding

The latest jet fighter plane developed by the United States and made available to our allies (at a nice price, thank you) is a fantastic work of technology.  Britain is buying a bunch of them to replace its Harrier fleet.

The F-35 has a top speed of 1,300mph and a range of 1,450 miles, while the Harrier could reach a speed of 700mph and had a range of 350 miles. The older aircraft also had no radar transparency or stealth capabilities, while the F-35 has both. . . .
The F-35 is also designed to be practically invisible to radar. Its shape has no right angles, which reflect radar waves, and a special “fibre” coating make it difficult to detect on any enemy radar.
Low heat emissions and an ability to carry armaments in an internal weapons bay instead of mounted on wings and underneath the fuselage further enhances its stealth capabilities. . . .

Pilots are fitted with helmets which allow them to see 360 degrees, and displays all the data they need inside the visor.

The cockpit also features an all-glass digital instrument panel and a speech recognition system. Each aircraft has more than 24 million lines of “software code”.

Gosh, 24 million lines of code in its programmable systems.  Wonder what could go wrong there?  As for the plane itself, there are a few problems.

The production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – the world’s most sophisticated and expensive combat aircraft – has been derailed after engineers discovered that the jet’s fuel tank could explode if struck by lightning. . . .

Well that’s an easy fix, the plane just will not be used when there is the threat of a storm.  Really.

The report from the Pentagon’s Operational Test and Evaluation Office states that all test flying within 25 miles of thunderstorms is “not permitted” until a device in the fuel tank which maintains correct oxygen levels is redesigned.

We  are sure any enemy will co-operate and not launch attacks when the weather is expected to be inclement.  Wouldn’t be sporting of them, right old chaps?  But there is another problem which really isn’t a problem.

The fear of an exploding fuel tank is just one of a series of problem to befall the F-35 programme. A design fault in the fuel tank has also prevented the JSF being able to rapidly descend to low altitude.

See, given the problems with the plane a rapid descent may happen almost automatically when the plane is involved in actual combat.  Particularly if there are clouds in the sky.

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