Thursday, September 20, 2012

F-35C tailhook update

Another of the problems being solved has to do with the tailhook on the carrier version of the F-35, the F-35C.

It looks like they are very close to a solution without compromising the stealth design of the jet (something the critics assured us would be the result):
The original design failed to snag the arresting wire in early testing owing to two problems: the point of the hook was not sharp enough to scoop under the wire and securely grab it, and a dampener device was not sufficient to maintain a hold on the wire. Essentially, the hook was bouncing upon landing, reducing the likelihood of a successful arrested landing.

Lockheed Martin, the F-35 prime contractor, has redesigned the hook to address those problems. An interim version, which has a sharpened point but lacks the dampener, was tested.

In three of five recent attempts, the redesigned hook did capture the wire; the failures were due to the pilot landing the aircraft too far from the wire for a successful arresting. This testing “was highly successful in demonstrating that when presented the wire . . . it will grab the wire,” says J.D. McFarlan, Lockheed Martin’s vice president of test and evaluation for the F-35 program.
Again, to be clear, the only change tested was the hook design according to the article, the redesigned dampener hasn't yet been tested apparently.  So with just the new hook design, results were better.

The F-35C is scheduled for shipboard trials (landings/takeoffs) in 2014.  It appears, assuming the dampener adds to the success, that the aircraft will be ready for the trials.


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