Home Forums Chat Forum Another F-35 crash.

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  • Another F-35 crash.
  • Poopscoop
    Full Member

    On a US carrier, multiple people injured unfortunately.

    To those in the know, is the F35 having a fairly typical early (bumpy) production life for a new fighter?

    https://edition.cnn.com/2022/01/24/politics/f-35-pilot-eject-south-china-sea/index.html

    aP
    Free Member

    It’s been in service for 3 years, the bath tub should have bottomed out by now surely?

    argee
    Full Member

    It’s the carrier variant so not the same as uk one that crashed, this one looks like a failed landing, for whatever reason, if it had issues they tend to ditch rather than risk the ship, hopefully all are safe and they work out the root cause.

    CountZero
    Full Member

    There have been fighter aircraft with significantly greater losses while being far less complex; I suggest you start with the F-104 Starfighter, but most of the Century Series jets had major problems. There’s an album made by one of the members of Hawkwind, who went under the name Captain Lockeed and the Starfighters, where the question is posed; “How do you obtain a Starfighter?” “You buy an acre of land, and wait!”

    The ones flown by the Luftwaffe had a particularly poor record, IIRC.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_F-104_Starfighter

    The Starfighter eventually flew with fifteen air forces, but its poor safety record, especially in <i>Luftwaffe</i> service, brought it substantial criticism. The Germans lost 292 of 916 aircraft and 116 pilots from 1961 to 1989, its high accident rate earning it the nickname “the Widowmaker” from the German public.

    As I understand it, the F-35 has only had two major losses, one was one of our jets, after deck crew left the jet intake covers inside the fuselage jet intakes, which rather compromised its take-off performance.

    No idea about this latest incident.

    Poopscoop
    Full Member

    Thanks guys.

    The Starfighter failures do put things into perspective somewhat!

    PJM1974
    Free Member

    To also put that into perspective almost ninety English Electric Lightnings crashed during it’s RAF career – out of a total of 337 built.

    thols2
    Free Member

    There have been several crashes, but they mostly sound like the routine things you’d expect from a new, complex military aircraft. There are hundreds of them in service so some crashes are inevitable. Really, only the VTOL version should be any worse than a regular aircraft like the F16 – if anything goes wrong during the hovering part of the flight, there’s no time to recover.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_Martin_F-35_Lightning_II#Accidents_and_notable_incidents

    Daffy
    Full Member

    The F35C is the latest of the variants and is still relatively new. They’re on their first operation deployment for the type. Accidents were bound to happen.

    Landing on a carrier is widely known to be one of the most dangerous activities you can routinely undertake with a fighter jet.

    i_scoff_cake
    Free Member

    Well, there is no alternative on the table. The MOD locked themselves into using the F-35 for the next 40-50 years because the new carriers have no CATOBAR.

    dantsw13
    Free Member

    Think of military fighter jets like F1 cars compared to commercial jets and family cars. They are cutting edge and pushed to the limit. Some crashes are an inevitable part of the job (ex military aviator).

    mrmonkfinger
    Free Member

    is the F35 having a fairly typical early (bumpy) production life for a new fighter?

    As above, less bumpy than a great many other types.

    The news headlines don’t tell you the incident-free hours the type has now logged.

    willard
    Full Member

    I have to assume that there will be a limited number of the B variant purchassed and those that do will not be used in any serious way. They are a carrier aircraft and a) the UK only has one and b) it is poorly protected and c) a lot of limited wars look like being a long way inland these days.

    All good reasons to use something with more range, payload and loiter capability. And performance.

    Also, there’s a reason that the Germans bought the Widowmaker… a lot of the officials were influenced/bribed to look on it favourably, hence the reason the Foreign Corrupt Business Practices Act exists now for US companies.

    mashr
    Full Member

    There seems to be a bit of confusion in this thread. The US one that’s just crashed/ditched was a “C” variant, so cats and controlled crash of a landing. No enough info in that article at all to indicate what happened that saw so many crew injured, yet the pilot managing to eject.

    The UK, B variant, issue looks like it was simply an engine cover (eg process issue) being ingested. So not really an issue with the aircraft itself.

    There have been various other significant issues though. The article mentions the Japanese pilot that was killed, and also the Korean jet that belly landed – that one will likely get back to flying

    nickc
    Full Member

    The ones flown by the Luftwaffe had a particularly poor record, IIRC.

    Not all of which you can lay at the door of the F104 really. Firstly the airplane wasn’t really designed with European weather and terrain in mind, and early Luftwaffe pilots had only flown in the blazing sunshine and flat terrain of Arizona it was being serviced by largely conscripted ground personnel and the first generation of post-war German pilots lacked a “corporate history” of flying early jets and then more complex ones (for obvious reasons) Once they got used to it, the accident rate fell away.

    While Dantsw13 points out that some accident are inevitable, given the amount of on board redundancies, the extensive flight testing, and pilot training, comparisons with 2nd Gen stuff like the F104 aren’t really fair. To carry his F1 analogy further, it’s like comparing the crash survivability of a Lotus 78 and Roman’s Haas crash in 2020

    i_scoff_cake
    Free Member

    The B variant is the most gimped and technically compromised because of the shaft driven lift fan.

    nickc
    Full Member

    The MOD locked themselves into using the F-35 for the next 40-50 years because the new carriers have no CATOBAR.

    Some too-and -froing at the beginning of the process aside, for the UK; on balance the -B variant makes more sense.

    i_scoff_cake
    Free Member

    Some too-and -froing at the beginning of the process aside, for the UK; on balance the -B variant makes more sense.

    It was short-sighted in my view. The two new carriers can’t fly anything else and that includes future weapons systems such as drones. A major case of not future-proofing.

    Murray
    Full Member

    can’t fly anything else and that includes future weapons systems such as drones

    https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/news/2021/september/29/210929-prince-of-wales-drones

    boblo
    Free Member

    @dantsw13 Oooo curious. What did you fly?

    i_scoff_cake
    Free Member

    @Murray – yeah small drones. Anything that would need a catapult launch is a no no.

    nickc
    Full Member

    It was short-sighted in my view.

    Only if you want to use something else on board a carrier, I’ve yet to see a drone that wouldn’t be able to use a ramp and for lighter drones; recovery could be easily done with nets, and if a human can fly a VSTOL aircraft it would be child’s play for a computer. I think the days of a large FAA are long gone I’m afraid.  The UK isn’t the US with endless squadrons of F35s and sufficient pilot training on board deployed carriers to keep up with the demands of taking-off and landing on a carrier. With a V-STOL fleet the RAF and Navy pilots can keep themselves up to scratch  The -B model carries a “little less”, has a “little less” range and costs a “little bit” more per unit, but in most respects is a similar aircraft Overall the lifetime cost will still be be less than it would of cost to change the carriers to be able to launch and recover conventionally. Much grumbling, but sensible really.

    Daffy
    Full Member

    i_scoff_cake
    Free Member

    It was short-sighted in my view. The two new carriers can’t fly anything else and that includes future weapons systems such as drones. A major case of not future-proofing.

    They’re already testing mid-sized drones on the HMS QE…

    nickc
    Full Member

    Anything that would need a catapult launch is a no no.

    If we can get a F35 to launch using a ramp and recover vertically , we can (re)design a drone to do the same.

    mrmonkfinger
    Free Member

    B variant was the right choice, given the UK carrier design.

    Whether it was quite right for the carrier to be built without catobar is a different discussion. But that was likely inevitable when the decision to avoid having a nuclear ship was made.

    Daffy
    Full Member

    i_scoff_cake
    Free Member
    The B variant is the most gimped and technically compromised because of the shaft driven lift fan.

    The B and A variants of F35 have similar performance characteristics, with the A having slightly more range and the B being more versatile. The both have a very similar operating envelope with the B somewhat G-limited, but not as much as the C. The C variant is quite different and has limited structural capacity due to the larger wing area. Also, despite having more fuel capacity, it’s range isn’t significantly better due to the additional drag of the large wing needed for carrier landings at low speed.

    I’d argue that the most compromised variant is actually the “A” version. Having to take into account all the needs of the other variants into the basic airframe and system design has significantly compromised its capabilities especially in terms of energy, stealth and cooling.

    dantsw13
    Free Member

    Boblo – I flew Hercs , so more transit van than F1!! Even so, we still lost a few as military operations are inherently risky, even training has to have a certain intensity/risk. I’ve lost too many friends on jets, helicopters and a lot on the multi engine fleet too.

    nickc
    Full Member

    Whether it was quite right for the carrier to be built without catobar is a different discussion

    I think the discussion at the time was that it’s likely the UK aims only ever have one carrier at sea at any time, but to be effective with a conventional trap and launch you’d have to keep all the pilots current on what’s a pretty demanding flying skill. Using v-stol you can practice it anywhere, and so all the pilots can deploy all the time.

    Daffy
    Full Member

    CATOBAR wasn’t the limiting choice for QE class, it was the propulsion system choice. Running cats and traps incurs a huge weight and cost penalty and uses a huge amount of energy from the steam production plants. On the QEc, this requires fuel, lots of it. On a nuclear carrier, it’s practically for free both in terms of its effect on weight and on fuel use.

    The QEc should’ve been nuclear carriers.

    Anyway – back on topic. The F35B crash on the QE appears to have been and avoidable accident which had nothing to do with the F35 and its capabilities. The F35C class On the Carl Vincent seems to have been a landing accident…a real crash rather than a controlled one. Though it will be interesting to see what the problem was, such that he knew it was going to happen, managed to eject with the plane pancaking on the deck.

    My guess would be that the pilot had too little speed to land, tried to power-up and was expecting to have a faster thrust response from the engine, but the F35s engine (like a commercial aircraft) is a single large higher bypass turbofan and doesn’t respond like a pair of low bypass turbofans like on the F18. He realised he couldn’t make it and popped the hatch with the plane smashing into the fantail/deck.

    andrewreay
    Full Member

    No idea about the cause of this, but in terms of being typical for new aircraft, the Harrier had a pretty grim failure rate throughout its life.

    A combination of ground attack role (flying close to the ground), a single engine, complex thrust vectoring and low lift wing make for a much higher likelihood of disaster. Throw in carrier operations with the personnel and technical co-ordination required for each take-off and landing, and I’m genuinely amazed that there are not more incidents.

    *** Pub anecdote – treat with caution *** Apparently the engineers working on Harriers BITD were reluctant to accept free trips in the two seaters because they saw at first hand just how risky Harrier flying was. They were happy to fly in the Tornados and Jaguars instead though. *** Pub anecdote – treat with caution ***

    Daffy
    Full Member

    The vast majority of Harrier crashes were due to engine failure during transition and landing and loss of control during vertical landing.

    The Harrier’s engine was on the very limit during landing and could only maintain a controlled hover for a limited period due to overheating (the F35 is similar, but the window is larger). The F35 has both a MUCH more powerful engine and a better thrust distribution for vertical landing. People who I knew that flew the Harrier said it was like trying to balance a spinning plate on a stick that was 10m tall. Too much movement one way or another or any environmental effects which disturbed the thrust column needed lightning reactions to avoid a crash.

    ratherbeintobago
    Full Member

    The ones flown by the Luftwaffe had a particularly poor record, IIRC.

    There’s a lot to unpick there, only some of which was the aircraft’s fault. At least part of it was taking an aircraft designed as an clear-weather interceptor and using it as a low-level strike aircraft in the crowded and cloudy skies of Western Europe. In any case the accident rate was better than the F-84s the Luftwaffe replaced with the F-104.

    nickc
    Full Member

    The QEc should’ve been nuclear carriers.

    You’d still have to keep all the pilots current on what is otherwise a redundant skill for half the aircraft at any one time. Flying from and landing on carrier using conventional methods takes huge amounts of skill and practice, and is completely un-necessary for the RAF squadron based pilots, with B version you ca have all the pilots learn to same technique that can practice it all the time and keep currently and deploy to whatever AC is at sea.

    mrmonkfinger
    Free Member

    Plus they can pop it down in a relatively undeveloped / short landing strip, if needed. Or a big road. Etc.

    The F-35B hover control is also light years ahead of what was available for Harriers, compare the stability of F-35 in hover to the Harrier.

    Daffy
    Full Member

    It is, but it’s still very thermally limited, especially on low fuel. F35Bs returning to HMS QE must have substantially more fuel remaining than if they were performing a conventional landing as the fuel is the heatsink for the engine heat.

    i_scoff_cake
    Free Member

    The QE carriers seem unnecessarily large then if just to support V/STOL operations. Could probably have built 3 smaller ones.

    mashr
    Full Member

    Daffy
    Full Member

    It is, but it’s still very thermally limited, especially on low fuel. F35Bs returning to HMS QE must have substantially more fuel remaining than if they were performing a conventional landing as the fuel is the heatsink for the engine heat.

    Mind that they now have 2 different approach techniques they can use

    thols2
    Free Member

    Using v-stol you can practice it anywhere

    Exactly

    nickc
    Full Member

    The QE carriers seem unnecessarily large then if just to support V/STOL operations

    presumably so that you can carry Chinooks, Apaches, possibly even Ospreys?

    Daffy
    Full Member

    https://singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/another-f-35-crash/#:~:text=Mind%20that%20they%20now%20have%202%20different%20approach%20techniques%20they%20can%20use

    Do they? I didn’t know that. What’s the second? A low speed approach, touchdown and coast using wing lift and the liftfan?

    The QE carriers seem unnecessarily large then if just to support V/STOL operations. Could probably have built 3 smaller ones.

    Smaller doesn’t grant greater flexibility for carriers – the opposite is true. The larger the carrier, the greater the airwing and the more room there is for combined flight operations. Combined and continuous ops was near impossible on the old Invincible Class. The only reason the Falklands air campaign was successful was because we still had HMS Hermes which could carry almost twice the number of aircraft as invincible and could launch and recover sorties simultaneously. This is the case also for HMS QE and PoW. Yes, they’re a big target and can only be in one place at once, but they’re much more capable of defending themselves and of prosecuting a mission due to their size.

    mashr
    Full Member

    Daffy
    Full Member
    Do they? I didn’t know that. What’s the second? A low speed approach, touchdown and coast using wing lift and the liftfan?

    Had to go and remind myself

    UK pilots developed and tested it as it allows you to land without having to dump all your stores in the sea ala Harrier

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