posted on Feb, 20 2017 @ 08:43 PM
The F-35C is undergoing flight testing with a new outer wing section. The first 32 C models that have been built will need new, strengthened, outer
wing sections. It was found in flight testing in 2015 that with the pylons and AIM-9X mounted, the aircraft underwent oscillations when performing
maneuvers that cause buffeting. The portion of the wing that was causing the problem is out beyond where the wing folds.
Engineers have already put a fix in place, and are flight testing it now. The AIM-9X is required for the Navy to declare IOC in 2018. The missile is
expected to enter service with the fleet in November, a slip of one month due to problems unrelated to the F-35 program.
The other "issue" being resolved is the ability for the aircraft to hit moving targets. The laser designator, as it is now, doesn't lead targets.
The JPO is working with the Air Force and Marines to integrate the GBU-49, which automatically corrects for wind and target motion. The Marines
prefer the GBU-53B Small Diameter Bomb Increment II, but that isn't scheduled to be integrated until the Block 4.2 in 2022. The GBU-49 may be
selected, or it may be bid against the Laser JDAM, or the Dual Mode Plus.
They originally planned to use the CBU-103, which could hit moving targets, but the Pentagon has removed cluster bombs that don't automatically
detonate after a set time by 2018.
The head of the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) says the outer wings of 32 carrier-based C-models need to be replaced to carry the Raytheon AIM-9X
Sidewinder, the aircraft’s primary dogfighting weapon.
The U.S. Navy variant experienced an undisclosed amount of oscillation or turbulence during flight trials with the AIM-9X in December 2015, and Lt.
Gen. Christopher Bogdan says aircraft already delivered need to be retrofitted with strengthened wings.
“It was discovered the outer, folding portion of the wing has inadequate structural strength to support the loads induced by pylons with AIM-9X
missiles during maneuvers that cause buffet,” Bogdan says in written testimony to Congress on Feb. 16.