Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Brits fall in love with the F-35

The Telegraph has the story:
The smile on the face of the test pilot as he completed a successful vertical landing of Britain’s newest generation of fighter jets said it all. “This is simply a phenomenal flying machine.”
A British journalist made the trek to Patuxent River Naval Base, Maryland to see what British test pilots had to say about the plane that would be replacing the much loved Harrier. What he found was some pilots who flat love the F-35B:
During last week’s test flight I watched as one of Britain’s prototype F-35 fighters approached the landing area at around 150mph, before the aircraft slowly came to a complete halt. It then hung perfectly motionless in the sky for a full minute at around 100 feet before making a gentle landing on the tarmac.

“This aircraft is light years ahead of the Harrier in terms of what it can do,” said Peter Wilson, 47, the British test pilot who conducted the landing. A veteran Harrier pilot who has flown combat missions in Iraq, Bosnia and Sierra Leone, Mr Wilson, who is now one of Britain’s leading test pilots, said the Harrier was a difficult plane to fly, and required immense skill on the part of the pilot to conduct vertical landings. “We have learnt our lessons and the F-35 has all the Harriers faults designed out of it,” said Mr Wilson, from Whalley, Lancs.
Another former Harrier pilot chimed in:
“It is a joy to fly,” said Lt. Commander Ian Tidball, 43, a former Royal Navy Harrier pilot who arrived in the U.S. four weeks ago to begin test flights. “It is very responsive compared to the Harrier, and has a far wider range of capabilities.”
And the much maligned helmet?
“The helmet is like wearing a laptop on your head, while the cockpit has been designed with its own in-built i-Pad before the i-Pad had even been invented,” explained Group Captain Harv Smyth, 41, another veteran RAF Harrier pilot who won the Distinguished Flying Cross during the Iraq War in 2003 and is overseeing the project. “The main problem we face is that the technology is now so advanced that we have to make sure it fits in with our air worthiness requirements.”
So, the Brits have seen it, flown it and they like it. 

Somehow I'm not surprised.


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