Photo by Stephen Trimble
Lockheed Martin formally unveiled the first F-35C today carrier variant at the factory in Fort Worth, Texas. I'll be writing more about that tonight and tomorrow, but first let me tell you about my ride in Lockheed's F-35 demonstration simulator.
The simulator is for demonstration purposes only. It is not intended to accurately simulate the F-35's flight and handling qualities. But Lockheed has coded the system to approximate how the F-35 should fly. So it rolls at the F-35's promised roll-rate at 300 degrees per second. It apparently tops out at Mach 1.6, the F-35's top speed.
In my scenario, I was flying an F-35B catapulted off a carrier deck. (The catapult launch was my choice, not theirs, by the way). I was loaded with a full weapons load, four internal and four external weapons (2 X AIM-9, 2 X AIM-120, 2 X GBU-32). After climbing to 11,400ft, and with 12,000lb of fuel, I opened the throttle to max speed. I accelerated very slowly from Mach 0.94 to Mach 1.0, and that was it. The system refused to fly any faster in level flight.
I don't know whether I should be pleased or disappointed, but I'm interested in hearing opinions.
Also, here's a video introduction of the F-35 demonstrator with Lockheed's chief pilot interface engineer, Mike Scaff.