The F-35B has begun round two of sea trials on board the USS Wasp (the Navy's Amphibious Carrier that never goes anywhere). If progress on the
overall program goes well, then the Pentagon may authorize a ramp up of production later this year.
In the meantime, two F-35Bs, flown by 2 Marine pilots, one UK pilot, and one BAE developmental pilot, are operating off the USS Wasp, for three weeks
that started on August 12th. The UK pilot is the first to land an F-35 at sea.
Testing will include night flying around the ship (the first night vertical landing has been completed), flying, landing, and taxiing in higher winds,
and rougher seas than the first time around. The goal is to stress the aircraft's flight system. They will also test the aircraft handling with
various weapons loads around the ship.
At the same time, software development is coming along, although not as well with some versions as was hoped. The Block 2B software integration
testing is 64% complete, while roughly 65% of the Block 3 developmental testing is complete. Right now they're porting other blocks into Block 3,
which will start flight testing around the end of the year. The second phase of Block 3 adds 840,000 lines of code, along with additional weapons.
The 3i, which will be used for international customers is farther along than the 3F (61% compared to 34%). The 3i will start flight testing by the
end of 3rd quarter, and enter production on LRIP 6 aircraft, while 3F will start in September of 2014, and LRIP 9.
The Gen 2 helmet has been tested on a Cessna, and reportedly has shown huge improvements over the current helmet. They switched to a new camera, and
that appears to have solved the problems with that. The current testing on the Wasp is using the original helmets, and the DAS night vision
The jitter problem with the helmet has a software fix that is being tested at Edwards, and the new tail hook has begun certification testing. The new
tail hook will begin roll testing early next year at Pax River. Preparations for sea trials will take place next summer, and the new tail hook will
be incorporated in LRIP 7.