JSF test pilots recommend new set of strap-in procedures for carrier variant

By Lee Hudson / October 30, 2017

Joint Strike Fighter test pilots have recommended a new set of strap-in procedures when operating the carrier variant to reduce bounce in the cockpit, according to the F-35 program office.

In mid-October, the F-35C carrier variant conducted carrier qualifications aboard the Carl Vinson (CVN-70) off the coast of California. The new procedures ensure the pilot is secured to the seat to minimize potential bounce, F-35 spokesman Joe DellaVedova wrote in an Oct. 27 statement to Inside Defense.

"The reduced setting of the Repeatable Release Holdback Bar (RRHB) performed well," DellaVedova wrote. "Both test and fleet F-35C pilots were pleased with the progress made in reducing the force of the oscillations seen during catapult shots. The Fleet will continue assessment of the RRHB and crew strap-in procedures as the next CQ event."

Test pilots flew wearing a new helmet with an organic LED configuration. The new helmet is intended to reduce green-glow, which typically occurs at night and makes it difficult for pilots to see certain objects. Green-glow is one of the items that must be rectified before the Navy declares the F-35 operational.

"The Organic LED Helmet performed well during the testing period," DellaVedova wrote. "There were no reports of the 'green-glow' phenomenon present in the Helmet Mounted Display (HMDS) configuration."

Although preliminary feedback on performance of the new helmet is promising, the Navy said in a statement to Inside Defense, the service is awaiting formal assessment from the test community before outlining a path forward.

The Navy "will work closely with [the] F-35 Joint Program Office in order to ensure that cost, schedule and performance requirements for the helmet solution are properly outlined to support eventual USN IOC declaration and first USN operational deployment," according to the service statement.