back to article UK's future super-stealth jumpjet 'rock solid' - Brit test pilot

One of the most avidly-followed aircraft now under development - the F-35B supersonic stealth jumpjet - is naturally on show here at Farnborough this week, and lead maker Lockheed has just given a press conference studded with air marshals and generals from the various armed forces around the world who hope soon to be operating …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I imagine the Harrier was a pig to land rolling cos it's a bike with stabilisers and no gyroscopic effect. Two narrow small wheel sets line astern with outrigger casters on the wing tips.

    And 2 AMRAAM? Does that mean they have to get fired in pairs? And any one Harrier gets just two standoff shots before going bingo missiles? What then? Close to gun range, or is there room for some itty bitty Sidewinders as well?

    (Spec sheets I've seen say 4 AMRAAM for STOVL...)

  2. Booty Inspector
    Paris Hilton

    "specific in terms of temperature, altitude"...


    Wouldn't all carrier landings be at sea level?

    Like, d'uh.

  3. Phil the Geek

    Bad guys had better come in pairs

    If the F35 can't bring back just one of its two AMRAMs because of landing stability issues, then combat pilots who launch a missile at a target might as well fire the other one at something as well. Is that Fire One Get One Free, or FOGOF? Hmmm...

  4. Jerry H. Appel

    It ain't heavy it's an AMRAAM

    The idea that a mere 800 pounds of ordinance ( AMRAAM x 2) would so degrade the ability of a XXI century combat aircraft is absurd. I guess this arena of high tech works just like software roll outs - promise, promise, promise and wait for the upgrade.

    PS Where does the F-35B carry the ordinance with all the internal space taken by the vertical lift system? Externally? Oh, what happened to that stealth capability?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    safe minimum fuel

    Meaning "if we've got any more, we'll either have to loiter and burn it off, or just jettison it directly"

    And stop slagging the Harrier. It proved it was possible, if nothing else. Without it, it would be "vertical flight in a fighter plane? are you daft?"

  6. Johnny G

    @ Anonymous Coward

    What on earth are you on about? It's like a different language! You MUST be a plane spotter ;-)

  7. Dave Ball

    @Harriers, AC

    Presumably two AMRAAM is the best option for taking off and landing in a warmer climate? Or for safe landing at least. Plus, you ask a dumbass question like 'do they have to get fired in pairs?' as the sentence right after you say how unstable the Harrier was to land?

    Here's a more important question - does commenting on stories of a military nature automatically reduce your IQ, or does it just attract the 'I've-read-Tom-Clancy-now-I-know-everything" crowd?

    Mine's the one with the copy of The Bear And The Dragon in the pocket, damn good book!

  8. ShaggyDoggy

    mod con's

    I'm not buying one unless it has a built-in CD player and aircond.

    Oh and ABS

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >landing stability/odd numbers of missiles

    Pump fuel from one side t'other, sorted.

    What's an AMRAAM weigh?

    Didn't the harrier have the wing tip wheels because if it came down too fast the wings'd fall off?

  10. Mark Allen

    Wing tip wheels

    "Didn't the harrier have the wing tip wheels because if it came down too fast the wings'd fall off?"

    No - it has wing tips wheels because of the undercarriage. Just like the U2, it has bicycle style undercarriage. So if there wasn't the wing tip wheels, it could fall over once it had come to a stop.

    Okay - not exactly "fall over"... but it would be a bit wobbly otherwise... Bit like a push-bike with stabilisers. :)

    (Unlike the U2 - the harrier takes the wing tip wheels with it wherever it goes. The U2 leaves it's behind on the runway at takeoff. And when landing, ground crew have to reattach the wheels to the wing tips before they get scrapped along the runway too much...)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ ShaggyDoggy

    Shouldn't that be iPod dock?

  12. Carl

    @mod cons

    Don't fighters have ABS? Large commercial aircraft certainly do, in fact did so long before cars.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Shipborne Rolling Vertical Landing?

    What is it?

  14. Philip Sagstetter

    Non-standard sea level

    @Booty Inspector,

    All carrier landings are at sea level, but not necessarily at standard temperature and pressure, which defines standard sea level. High pressure and temperature reduce air density and lift.

    Note: I used to fly F-4 Phantoms, and I would think that Sidewinders would be very desirable in a turning engagement.

    Joke: I have heard that ships sometimes lose altitude and descend below sea level during battle. (not just submarines).

  15. donc

    Sea Harriers

    The Sea Harriers worked fine for the environment they were designed for, operations in the North Atlantic. They indeed struggled with operations in the hotter environment of the Gulf but that could have been sorted.

    Fitting the uprated Pegasus engines that were already being fitted to the RAF Harrier GR7s as part of the upgrade to GR9s would have given them a new lease of life in the Gulf. However no money in the pot meant it was nothing doing and they were retired to save cash. Now RAF Harriers are embarked on RN aircraft carriers to provide air support.

    Not sure what condition they will be in in a couple of years though. One of the differences between the Sea Harrier and the previous RAF Harrier standards (apart from Sea Harrier having radar and AMRAMMs) was that there were no magnesium parts in the Sea Harrier. Magnesium tends to corrode badly in a salt environment so all the parts were made from alternate materials that could survive a life at sea. Who knows, without some care those shiny new Harrier GR9s could end up with the same appearance as a 1950s Morris Minor.

    Never understood why the F35B used the Soviet approach to VSTOL rather than using the Harrier/Pegasus one. For 95% of the time the aircraft is lugging around deadweight in the form of the lift-fan. Weight that could be fuel or weapons. Pegasus on the other hand had little additional weight over a conventional gas turbine (got to allow for the nozzles, etc at the front).

  16. Rich

    Arresters but no catapult

    Couldn't they have the arrester gear but not the catapult, allowing deck landings?

  17. StopthePropaganda
    Thumb Down

    and this is the pig that won the Xplanes contract

    meanwhile the Boeing competitor was perfectly capable of VTOL flight as a prototype during the competition. They even flew it to DC and around the Pentagon letting it hover for awhile, before returning to the site in California.

    But, the ever-critical-of-defense-spending-only-when-it's-Republican-ordered, Sen. Pelosi, who IIRC is still on the Appropriations Committee, approved the Lockheed entry even though it's only vertical test was over a special vented landing pad. Even though Lockheed was being investigated for financial misdeeds for the beginning of the X contest instead of building an aircraft.

    So Boeing jumped right in-and as they were finishing the airframe design and were even building hardware, suddenly the physical dimensions of the aircraft are changed. After the specs had been supposedly finalized. Boeing has to start over, and Lockheed just happens to be free to start now. Hmm.

    Boeing gets dinged for "not being agile enough" to meet "changing military needs", and for flight demonstrating their aircraft with the adjustable intake scoop removed. They lose to Lockheed with it's California based production line. Nevermind their aircraft never demonstrated true VTOL without the special pad-with all its pieces or not. And oh yeah, Pelosi's a California senator...and Raytheon will be subcontracting a lot of the electronics...a company Pelosi's husband has a lot of financial stake in. Double win-more production/jobs/pork for both the initial build and subcontractors, plus extra love from the Unions.

    So America and her allies are getting an inferior and more expensive jump jet for the future so some Democrat can keep her political machine running longer.

    Yeah, the same Pelosi who travels to talk to nations who base their religion on the death of the Western World. Who screams about military spending while the Media makes her out to be a hero, while she approves massive multibillion dollar projects for her husband's business interests...and has the unmitigated gall to claim there's no conflict of interest because it's not "her" company, it's "his"...

    What if someone took the Harrier, replaced the jet with something newer and stronger, while replacing all the skin with composites? Perhaps even many of the frame elements too? Keep the dimensions of these parts the same where possible, with reduced weight and more strength where heat isn't an issue? Upgrade the avionics and give the computer stability control?

    During the Falklands, Harrier pilots could divert thrust during combat maneuvers to decrease the turning radius with engine thrust, allowing them to lock and kill targets where they wouldn't have had before. The F35 cannot do this-opening the lift fan doors and the covers under the swivelling jet nozzle at speed will tear them off and possibly cause them to be ingested. Slow speed to vertical thrust only. The Boeing entry could transition at high speed just like the Harrier. With some creative programming, could probably do a whole lot more.

    Politics suck, especially when it means we're getting vastly inferior kit. It's a lot worse when someone tries to pawn it off on our allies. Especially when the @rseholes who did these political deals, refuse to take responsibility for them and use our allies' reluctance to buy substandard designs as political fodder to feed their own partisan plans.

  18. Frank Bough


    Whymust the choice be between STOVL / VTOL and steam catapults - why no use arrestor gear combined with disposable solid fuel rockets assisted take off. Wouldn't that just be MASSIVELY cheaper and allow large fuel/weapons loads?

  19. andreyvul

    no catapult

    Maybe they're making a top-secret dogapult?

  20. Zmodem


    This should nuclear powered. Wouldnt need a afterburner and could fly around the world.

  21. N1AK

    Thanks StopThePropaganda

    I got half way through your post thinking it looked like unsubstantiated politically motivated FUD and by saying "Yeah, the same Pelosi who travels to talk to nations who base their religion on the death of the Western World. " you confirmed it and saved me reading to the end.

  22. Zmodem


    Find a way to keep a reactor cool and small enough, could use heatrods instead of burning fuel. And power alot of other stuff and no chance of stalling

  23. Francis Offord


    I beggers belief that that I appear to be the only one who remembers that the Harrier (P 1127) had a younger brother, the Mach 2 version called the Kestrel, P1154. The conception was by The Hawker Aircraft company and was chopped by the traitor Wilson as a sop to his soviet masters way back in history. The entire project was given to the Americans and they believe that the project is of American origin, forgetting or not knowing, that the P1154 was flying when it was chopped off in it's infancy. Perhaps old gaffers like me should forget that we led the world in some aspects of aircraft production. Another victim of "treachery" by the same individual was the TSR 2, another prospective world beater.

  24. Mr Mark V Thomas

    Re: P1154

    Contary to the last poster's statements, the P.1154 project was not called Kestrel as that was the initial name for the P.1127 prototypes ( I suspect that if P1154 had ever been constructed, it would have recieved the Harrier name).

    P.1154 was designed to meet a NATO requirement for a V/Stol strike fighter (NBMR - 3), & at the time (the late 1950's), speed was considered a primary requirement.

    ( A previous submission, P.1150, which was capable of Mach 1.3 had been rejected, as it was considered too small to meet the requirement ).

    To meet this requirement, Bristol delevoped a engine based on their Pegasus design, using Plenium Chamber Burning (PCB for short), effectively a afterburner for a vectored thrust engine.

    By contrast, the French submission, for NBMR-3, the Dassault Mirage III V/Stol "Balzac" used a dedicated Rolls Royce lift engine coupled with the Mirage's existing Atar engine to meet the requirement...

    P.1154 however fell foul of interservice rivalries, as the Royal Navy had a pet project it wanted funding for, namely the CVA-01 "Supercarrier" programme a/k/a the Queen Elizabeth class, which was due to enter service, in the mid 1970's as a replacement for the Ark Royal...

    As a result, the Royal Navy allegedly tried to scuttle every project that competed with CV-01 for funding, including P.1154 & TSR-2...

    Ironically, CV-01 was itself cancelled, as a indirect result of the U.S devaluing the Dollar in late 1967, in part to pay for the Vietnam War.

    As a result of the devaluation of the dollar, the pound in turn, had to be decoupled from the Gold Standard, & massively devalued in order to prevent a balance of payments crisis, (By contrast, the U.S had decoupled the dollar from the Gold Standard in mid 1963).

    As such, a austerity programme had to be initated, with regards to Government spending, & CV-01 had to go.

    A attempt was made In the mid 1970's, by BAC, MacDonnell Douglas & Rolls Royce to sell the P.1150 concept to the U.S Marine Corps, under the designation AV-16...

    For more information about P.1154,& TSR-2, then I would recommend reading Derek Wood's classic work on the post war British Aircraft Indrustry, Project Cancelled...

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No Wingtip wheel...

    An addon for the above, the wingtip wheels were discarded a looooong time ago; they were there to aid landings in the early days of the Harrier, but later discarded as unnecessary.

    The navy fliers were very rebellious over the loss of their Sea Harriers; there was a lot of bitter talk about it at the last Air Day at RNAS Heron (Yeovilton).

    The F35C goes faster, further and can carry more ordinance; when you add the extra cost of catapults it makes the new carriers seem very expensive; but if you take away the difference in the price between the B and C variants it suddenly becomes a bargain.

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