Saturday, September 08, 2012

The F-35: What Will Happen While Exploring ‘High Angle-of-Attack’


Oh Goody, Here Comes Yet Another Freak-Filled F-35 Hate-Fest (Part 1)

I first really noticed that the F-35B has been cleared to expand the flight envelope into the high Angle of Attack (AoA) regions, having successfully completed their ‘air-start’ test points, via Solomon over at SNAFU!

I knew the F-35A model had been trotting merrily along slightly ahead of the F-35B model (more ‘A’s, more flight hours, delivered earlier) and I thought I had read something somewhere about the ‘A’ also being cleared, so a little more digging in the usual places turned up the fact that yes, Dave Majumdar at Flight Global brought us the fact that the A model too has completed initial air-start test points; clearing the way for it to also begin ‘High AoA’ testing . There is also no indication which would lead us to believe the F-35C isn’t also keeping apace, so clearance flights for the C model should be expected in due time.   
I’ve thought about this upcoming phase of the F-35 testing a few times the last couple of years. Given how the usual F-35 ‘critics’ have gone into feeding frenzies over easily understood (by the uninitiated AND non-rabid) challenges and easily understood (by Ditto) corrective actions that the F-35 platform has dealt with/is dealing with, I am dreading the howls and shrieks that will certainly come when the F-35 encounters not-so-easily understood (by the uninitiated) surprises when it begins flying into the unknown ‘nooks and crannies’ of the flight envelope. Why?

Because strange, unexpected, and rarely subtle ‘surprises’ are ALWAYS encountered when high performance aircraft are first flown into those ‘nooks and crannies’.

The only differences between now and the past come from 
1. the evolution and elevation of the definitions of ‘high-performance’, ‘high AoA’ and ‘high-G’ and  in the F-35's case --
2.legions of know-nothings who don't understand the difference between 'test' and 'demonstration'.  

In this upcoming series of posts I will be arming the Rational among the Laity to help them subdue the rabid army of F-35 Haters when they turn-up their pitiful bleating. BTW: We are already seeing some indications the know-nothing clowns are laying-in-wait over (gasp) ‘buffeting’.

Unlike a lot of my multi-part series, these posts will be relatively short posts (hey! don’t sound so happy…) and I’m even telling you how many I’m planning and what their subtitles are ahead of time:

Part 2: “Heritage F-18: Surprise!”

Part 3: “F-18 E/F: Heritage F-18 All Fixed, But….Surprise!"

Part 4: “Old School F-15: Entry to the modern world of ‘High-Performance"

I've listed the F-15 last because it is in many ways the least relevant to the 5th Gen testing, but there are some observations to be made that are useful in showing all the challenges do not come from using Fly-by-Wire, nor are all the ‘fixes’ the same (or even ‘fixes’). I’m choosing to skip the F-16 for the moment because I’m thinking it will perhaps show up here and there in comparison with one or two other types in the list above.

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