This past Wednesday, I was onboard the USS Wasp to observe the Lockheed Martin F-35B conduct its second set of sea trials. Overall, the tests are going quite well and should be ending today—though the US Marine Corps did suffer a bit of a setback since aircraft BF-1 was unable to fly during our visit due to a mechanical glitch. It did manage to fly shortly after we left.
As of Wednesday, pilots had flown 90 short take-offs and made 92 vertical landings on board the Wasp during this detachment. Nineteen of those vertical landing were made at night. Speaking of which, progress is being made on fixing the helmet… still lots of work to be done though.
An interesting factoid, one of the USMC test pilots mentioned this little tidbit—they have to use a modified Rutowski profile in order to get the F-35B and C up to Mach 1.6. Basically, you do one push over, unload the jet and accelerate, get up to 1.2, turn and repeat until you hit 1.4 Mach, turn and repeat till you hit Mach 1.6. It just barely gets there and barely has any gas left over afterwards. The kinematics are basically F/A-18C-like, though that was apparently exactly what was expected.