Program Manager Awaits Evaluation of Test on Potential Solution to F-35C Nose-Gear Oscillations
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
WASHINGTON — The Defense Department’s F-35 program manager said a potential solution to the nose landing gear of the Navy’s F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighter has been tested and is being evaluated by the test community.
Speaking March 22 to an audience at the Defense Programs Conference sponsored by McAleese and Associates and Credit Suisse, Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher C. Bogdan, program executive officer for the F-35, said that a potential solution has been tested and the land-based launch and recovery test facility at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.
Bogdan described the problem as occurring during last year’s carrier trials onboard USS George Washington when the F-35C was catapult-launched lightly loaded with fuel and payload. The nose gear would oscillate as the aircraft proceeded down the catapult track, causing the pilot’s helmet to bang against the aircraft canopy.
“It beats up the pilot pretty good,” Bogdan said.
He said the tested proposed solution changed the way the pilot is strapped in the cockpit and the degree to which the bar that engages the catapult sled in engaged.
Bogdan said the problem was minor because in operations the F-35C normally would not launch so lightly loaded. But naval aviators also conduct carrier qualifications with their aircraft in a lightly loaded configuration.
Bogdan said the evaluation of the testers should determine whether the potential solution will suffice or whether a redesign of the nose gear is needed. He is awaiting the testers’ report.
He said he expects the F-35C to conduct more carrier trials this year and in 2018 to determine the success of the fix.