Thursday, July 06, 2006

F-35 Lightning II? I Hope Not, But Expect the Worst

Tomorrow, the first public viewing of the F-35 (versus the earlier 'test & demo' XF-35) with outer finishes applied will be held at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth. It isn't a proper 'rollout' IMHO -- more of a controlled media event with 'invitation only' representatives from the workforce present.

Let us hope the rumors are NOT true about the Air Force naming it the "Lightning II" . What a predictable, dull and unimaginative moniker. We had a real trend going for a while: planes were actually receiving NEW names (B-2 'Spirit', EF-18G 'Growler', F-22 'Raptor'). If it has to be a play on the old 'Lightning' (one of my favorite WWII allied aircraft, for reasons that include family ties), make it the 'Chain Lightning' - in honor of a design that never made it into production due to the timely end of WWII, and because of the 'chain' nature of the F-35 and network-centric warfare.

It won't really matter in the end anyway: the pilots and ground crews will have the final say, and if they don't like the 'official' name, they'll give it one they DO like.

UPDATE: Yeah, it's the Lightning II. The AF Chief of Staff dressed it up a little bit in his speech, pointing out that the 'Lightning' name has respect in the States (P-38) AND Great Britain (English Electric - Later BAC - Lightning). But "Chain Lightning" would have done the same thing AND been less humdrum. Plane looks good though! The general public will note a lot of changes from the original platform if they bother to really look at it.

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