Home » Air » Eglin’s F-35Bs Take to the Skies

Eglin’s F-35Bs Take to the Skies

by John Reed on May 23, 2012

Here you have it, the Marine Corps’ first training variant (well, kinda) F-35B Joint Strike Fighter taking off on its maiden flight from the F-35 schoolhouse at Eglin Air Force Base, Fl., yesterday.

Keep in mind that the Marines were supposed to be flying their short take-off and vertical landing F-35Bs operationally by this year. However, production delays, redesigns and cost overruns mean that the Marines, along with everyone else who is buying F-35s, aren’t likely to be flying their jets operationally until the latter half of this decade.

Click here for the F-35 programs most recent flight test update.

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{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

Pilgrimman May 23, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Where is Elgin AFB? Is that near EGLIN?

On topic, I'm glad the F-35B is finally making some real progress!

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Richard May 23, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Yeah its right next door and looks exactly the same.

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Pilgrimman May 23, 2012 at 4:01 pm

There is another base that's a mirror image called Nilge AFB.

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A. Nonymous May 23, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Where all of the pilots have goatees so that you know they are from an AFB in a parallel universe.

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Not amused May 23, 2012 at 1:06 pm

DEFENSETECH: Where people come to read shit that's never proofread.

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Jayson May 23, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Troll haters will be troll haters. nothing substantial to waste time reading on this comment.

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Morty May 23, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Dont neend two b a Grrammer NAZI.

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Michael May 23, 2012 at 2:14 pm

This is actually kina awesome. Yeah, this thing is really expensive, but we're going to need it. We're making headway, and we still are ahead in the 5th gen fighter aircraft race!

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Wild Bill May 23, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I would like to know what the bomb load and range is of the F-35 compared with our current Harrier jump jets with a full fuel load.

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4FingerOfBouron May 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm

In a nutshell…

AV8B
Combat Rad: 300nmi
Max Speed: 662mph
Maximum Take Off Weight (Rolling): 31000lbs
Range: 1200nmi
Loaded Weight: 22950

F-35B
CR: 469mi
Speed: 1200mph
MTW: 60000lb
Range: 1200nmi
Loaded Weight: 49540

I think one of the requirments was to out perform current tech. I'm betting the 35 is easier to fly than the AV8 as well. Who knows!

I'm sure Black Owl will chime in anytime to compare this to the F18EF

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Technoweapon May 23, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Keeping in mind the 35 is stealthy where you can probably spot the AV8 the second it gets off the deck.

Don't forget the 35 could, probably, literally, fly circles around the AV8. :]
And who knows what kind of sensors and other goodies it has over the AV8.

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Sgt_Buffy May 24, 2012 at 9:50 am

In addition to that the Harrier is a VTOL, while the F-35 is only up to STOVL. This difference accounts largely for the differences between the two.

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Mark May 24, 2012 at 11:52 am

Taken from Wikipedia "the Harrier is incapable of taking off vertically with a full weapons and fuel load." don't believe me look here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V/STOL

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blight_ May 25, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Which is true of JSF as well.

The VTO mode was probably more intended for emergency situations, such as when the Harrier allegedly was going to be operated out of forest clearings in World War 3. STO is what you want when you wish to carry a larger payload, but CTO with catapults generally is more efficient, but doesn't come with Vertical Landing.

VTOL generically suggests that aircraft can takeoff vertically and land vertically as a capability, but with the usual caveats of reduced payload. V/STOL is an extension of the latter, but the engineering caveat of being limited in VTO payload still applies. STOVL seems to suggest that the aircraft cannot take off vertically at all, but can land vertically. However, I'm sure that JSF-B can still take off vertically.

That said, all three nomenclatures by themselves don't take into the account the tradeoffs required to operate in that particular mode? For instance, if JSF-B isn't carrying weapons and minimal fuel, you could tell everyone it was a VTOL; but to carry goodies it should be STOVL. However, the additional term V/STOL exists, and JSF fits the bill provided it is operated in the STO/VL mode.

zillionlinesocode May 23, 2012 at 3:54 pm

probably blue-screened out the tow rope

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Pat May 23, 2012 at 5:30 pm

The later the better…

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Black Owl May 23, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Lockheed Martin acquired the contract in 2001. The fighter enters service in 2019. It should never take 18 years to develop a fighter jet and get it to IOC. It should also never take $400 billion dollars to make any fighter jet. That's enough money to fight a high intensity war for 2 years. If it did then that fighter should be the best fighter in the world, which the F-35 is obviously not. This fighter design is weak and flawed, despite having consumed obscene amounts of resources. It doesn't deliver nearly the amount of worth in firepower or capability that it cost us to create. $400 billion could have paid off almost HALF of our debt to China. This is the most unwise use of defense dollars in the 21st century to date.

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herpderp May 30, 2012 at 5:10 am

i thought us debt to china was around 3 billion?

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Black Owl May 31, 2012 at 6:01 pm

No, It's nearing $900 billion right about now.

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Skyepapa May 23, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Black Owl, please take an extra moment out of your day to qualify your 400 billion dollar claim without writing the words lifecycle, lifetime, service life, or anything else that attaches tangential costs to this plane that aren't attached to cost discussions about other planes, like your precious F-18. And if you're just tired of waxing crap about the F-35, please provide validated service life costs for the F-18. And when you don't, I will.

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Black Owl May 23, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Provide the costs right now. Let's compare. What have these planes done with money used on them? One took three years to develop after the first prototype, fought in three wars, and did the job extremely well. The other hasn't done one live fire test, hasn't done an arrested landing, hasn't conducted departure from controlled flight spins testing, or done anything worthy of note.

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tiger May 23, 2012 at 6:52 pm

We could say the same about about a lot of projects.

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seeker6079 May 23, 2012 at 7:30 pm

HAve y'all stepped back here and evaluated these threads as a stranger would?

This is a defense tech blog, filled with defence-tech-oriented readers; we are, as a general rule, more comfortable with high-tech defence spending than the average man or woman sitting with us on the crosstown bus. And, even here, people are rolling their eyes at the cost, delays and problematic capabilities of the F35. Can you imagine what jus' folks think?

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Black Owl May 24, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Are you kidding? That's why I love arguing on this site! People here are the audience that I want to address first!

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Brian Black May 24, 2012 at 2:25 am

So, what is this? Have the Marines’ Lightnings been released for flight training? It would be a little earlier than expected if they had.

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4FingerOfBourbon May 24, 2012 at 7:39 am

Instructor training yes.

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jamFRIDGE May 24, 2012 at 8:25 am

So Jacksonville, FL Air National Guard is supposed to get an F-35 base in the near future.

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Sgt_Buffy May 24, 2012 at 10:15 am

People are complaining about development time and costs. But remember, not only is it the first semi-stealth fighter, but we're also developing three separate variants. The actual contract was awarded to LMT in 2001 after defeating Boeing, and is expected to be introduced to the service sometime around 2016. This is 15 years, compared to the 9 to 12 years for the F-16, F-18, and F-15. 15 years (estimated) from contract to battlefield. Not bad for three planes with a new way of looking at things.

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seeker6079 May 24, 2012 at 10:57 am

That may be so. But I can't shake the feeling that the US (and other) taxpayers are paying dollars / being patient with deadlines for an aircraft that is supposed to be an exponential leap forward, while being increasingly concerned at a flood of data which seems to indicate that all they are getting is some incremental improvements.

I take no position one way or the other. I just note that increasing numbers of analysts, the politicians that sign the cheques and other folks are stating that the plane just isn't as good as advertised, at a much greater cost.

There's an increasing number of people like Black Owl who are stating, in effect, "if all we're going to get is something somewhat better but still roughly comparable to the most modern of the so-called 4th gen, why not just buy more of the 4th gen?".

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Michael McGaw May 24, 2012 at 12:02 pm

I always love how everyone complains about costs. Lets look at the costs of some social programs. the Great Society has costs trillions over the 40 plus years of budgeting; but the returns never seem to matter. How much money are we going to spend on Obama Care? and what will be the return? Has the rebuild after Katrina ever gotten finished; and how many billions have been spent there? Or the BP spill. Have we gotten the return on our investment there. This is not apples and oranges; Money spent is money gone. The deafest is 14trillion. At least with the F 35 we get something to fly and scare the hell out of our adversaries. And I think the OX system seems to be working?

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Joeblow May 25, 2012 at 2:43 am

Gee, I dunno, spending our tax dollars on the American people to help them with their healthcare needs VS. buying gold-plated Edsels for fancy flyboys (not a majority of the population) so they can look cool, it is kind of a tough call.

From the attitude that some people have, you'd think the country exists to serve the military and not the other way around.

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harharhar May 25, 2012 at 11:34 am

bingo, but guys like this love to get the rest of us into wars. kinda like that little asshole who is friends with the biggest baddest guys at the bar. please take your America's Ffing NUMBER ONE! shit and go play in the street.

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Leroy May 24, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Sorry I call BS on the 3 Separate planes rubbish. Its the Same Airframe with minor modifications, it should not cost more than the F18, F16 and F15 programs combined! it should be cheaper. The Ddifference between the A dn C versions is what strengned landing gear and replacment of those metals vulnreable to salt water corrosion.

The Sea Harrier and Land Harrier is an exmaple of this, Making a carrier version of an Aircraft is in no way a new Aircraft . The vstole version requires more work, but internal reconfig for liftign engine and the doors to cover them. and the software to control that the swiverling the tail pipe exhaust.

Its not like they howvere have to redo the airfow studes or control software or armanment control etc?

Lockheed are the US version of BAE , piss takers! America is being ripped off big time!

I mean seriously 220 Million a pop and no one thinks that a joke? they were supposed to by 40-50 Million range total utter rip off!

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Praetorian May 24, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Dont forget the F-35C also has larger wings, with foldable wingtip sections, It also has larger wing and tail control surfaces as well. The C model will also carry about 1500 lbs more fuel then the A model. IMO, all of this plus the landing gear means more then minor modifications.

I dont think the US can buy a F-18E/F Super for 40-50 million, that might be in the ballpark for a new F-16.

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4FingerOfBouron May 24, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Leroy is wrong. The 35B and C are practically totaly different airframes. They may look the same but the engineering and design that goes into them is far from the same.

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Brian May 24, 2012 at 2:59 pm

We heard the same stuff about the F-22 (too expensive, blah blah bla). I think the avionics alone are a game changer. Adding F-22's already makes us untouchable, F-22 + F-35 puts us that much farther out. Being #1 has a price, but I think its worth it.

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tee May 24, 2012 at 3:54 pm

If Obama gets re-elected you can count on big defense cuts his main Think Tank wants to cut the JSF buy in half, get rid of the LCS, just to name a few read it for your self.
http://www.defensenews.com/article/20120523/DEFRE

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Joeblow May 25, 2012 at 2:45 am

I thought all the RepubliCONs were against govt spending, no? Reduce the size of govt, reduce the deficit and all of that blah blah..

Oh but that doesn't count when it comes to blowing things up?

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Speedy May 29, 2012 at 3:53 am

Out of interest… who is the idiot that writes the contracts you chaps use for getting military items?

I was under the impression that the successful bidder says how much it will cost to make, they then make it TO THAT COST!!! If they do not make it to that cost, tough luck, you meet your promised costs and deadlines, or you do not apply to do the work in the first place. Why is it so hard? Why do we always hear about defence contracts going 200+% over budget and time??

Either the people in charge are idiots, (Gullible) or corrupt.

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F35DesignerBro June 14, 2012 at 10:00 pm

OBVIOUSLY you have NEVER worked on a contract in your entire life. Your provide ESTIMATES based on the costs at the time of contract inception not unknown cost estimates for the future.

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Zspoiler March 6, 2013 at 11:53 pm

I thought this was supposed to be cheaper Ha Ha

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Guest A May 23, 2012 at 3:57 pm

What part about the ability to take off and land on an LHD, and replace the Harriers don't you get?

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Benjamin May 24, 2012 at 10:35 am

The F-35B already has more international sales then the F-35C. I do not know anyone considering the F-35C besides the Navy. I have heard that Japan may down the road may also buy some F-35B's as well as Taiwan. Both of which have reasons to buy the F-35B.

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tiger May 23, 2012 at 6:45 pm

That is a silly as saying why build Seaplanes or Lighter than Air?

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Brandon May 24, 2012 at 9:24 am

You do have a decent point. A lot of things in the military are done just to keep tradition and uniqueness. Marines still live for the day they will island hop somewhere in the pacific and the Army's 82nd Airborne still hopes for the day it can do a night jump into a place like Normandy under fire. The 10th mountain division and 101st airborne still keep their rocker tabs just because the Army likes the history although neither unit is capable of performing what their rockers imply. The fight to go with the Osprey because it was too new was one example. I see a small need for the STOVL capability on the B model but I am not sure if it justifies the cost. What do I know? I am crazy enough to think it was pointless making the Air Force into its own branch.

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Black Owl May 23, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Ha! You just made a big mistake. I was only talking about the developmental cost of the Super Hornet. You mean to tell me that you had to include the Legacy Hornet numbers in order to justify a case for the dollars spent on the F-35! That just makes the F-35 look even worse. Look at all that the Legacy Hornet has done with the dollars spent on it! Not only look at what it has done in the hands of our Navy and Marine Corps pilots, but also look at how well we were able to export it to our allies and how they were and still are extremely capable fighting forces that were able to assist us because of it. You, my friend, just opened up a can of worms and gave me yet another argument as to why we need to cancel the F-35! Thank you!

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Black Owl May 23, 2012 at 7:09 pm

I also gave you +1 for this too. ;)

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Black Owl May 23, 2012 at 7:25 pm

U mad bro?

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4FingerOfBourbon May 24, 2012 at 7:42 am

Super Hornet wouldn't exisit with out the Original. Don't forget the cost of the YF-17 as well. You should also note that the 35 is for all intensive purposes 3 different aircraft. Don't try to say they are the same you will look very silly.

For cost comparison you should probably take the Harrier, Hornet and F-16 and total all three of those for comparison to the F-35. Make sense?

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Black Owl May 23, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Hey, you started with the tone. I just finished it. Cheers, mate.

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Skyepapa May 23, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Not sure you finished anything, mate. You still haven't made a valid point, other than pointing out I started the discussion with a frustrated tone — you're right about that; It's what happens when numbers people engage with the Black Owls of the world. You provide a supported statement and maybe I'll change my mind. Otherwise, you come up empty. Witty, but empty. Cheers.

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Black Owl May 23, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Well, I already posted up some links to my paper: http://www.scribd.com/doc/88946660/Why-the-USN-an

Other than that I don't know what else to give you since that paper was the best I could do to sum up the reasons we don't need the F-35. I would also like to point out that I only hate the F-35B and F-35C. So long as the F-35A's unit price does not exceed $220 million it still has my support.

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Skyepapa May 23, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Ha, now I remember your posts about your paper. I guess I owe you a read.

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Brian Black May 24, 2012 at 5:12 am

Keep posting that link, and one day I'll read it…

nah, just kidding.

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Lance May 24, 2012 at 2:07 am

Always feel convention planes are better. Harriers are nice but not a must need when we have a carrier strike group off shore with bigger planes with more bombs. Overall a all together straight up made VSTOL would be better than this plane would be.

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Black Owl May 24, 2012 at 6:41 am

Keep posting intelligent things like this and one day I'll actually take them seriously…

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Guest A May 24, 2012 at 6:50 am

I don't even know what that means…I'm out.

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Black Owl May 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm

It's catapult or broke? Catapult launched fighters are able to launch with full loads or ordinance. Catapult is the best way to go. STOVL/VTOL fighters are weak and not only provide little firepower, but have very little range as well. Not only that, but all of our other capabilities could easily replace what STOVL fighters do and we could easily develop much cheaper and more effective ways to do the job.

Explain to me how 6 F-35B's can hold off an enemy air force during an amphibious assault and provide air cover for the ground forces at the same time. Each F-35B can only hold 2 missiles and 2 bombs or 4 missiles and no bombs, or 8 SDBs. For the amount of money that they cost that is a very dismal payload to bring to the table. The payload will also be significantly reduced if it has to take off or land vertically.

Submarine-launched tomahawk cruise missiles could easily reach anywhere in the world to support USMC infantry forces if they needed to break down the borders of a hostile nation and long range air refueled fighters can stretch practically anywhere in the world. In Operation Odyssey Dawn an LHD was right next to Libya and yet most of the fighting was done with long range air-refueled fighters and Tomahawks for the simple reason that the AV-8B wasn't up to the job. The F-35B adds stealth, but performance-wise the improvement isn't all that great over the AV-8B. That's counting that they actually get the F-35B fixed and it is still within the weight margins for vertical take off.

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