Landing on the WASP: The Perspective of the F35-B Pilot


10/03/2011 Dateline Yuma Arizonz

Today is the first day of the next 100 years of USN-USMC aviation.  With the first landing of the F-35 B upon the WASP a new era has begun.  As General Davis, 2nd MAW Commander, has argued the three pilot cultures of the Prowler (Electronic Warfare), Harrier (CAS) and F-18 (multi-mission0 will be blended into a single plane and new pilot culture.“the-future-is-now”-clearing-the-decks-for-the-ipad-generation-pilots/

We are MAWTS (the USMC Top Gun) in Yuma Arizona to discuss tactics and strategy induced by the two new planes (the Osprey and the B) and will be reporting our findings later this month.

As we interviewed the pilot of today’s flight of the F-35B to the WASP. In mid-June Lt. Col. Fred “Tinman” Schenk told Second Line of Defense that… Having grown up as a Harrier pilot and spent many, many hours doing takeoffs and landings and having the requirement to do every type of landing at least once every 30 days in the Harrier, the F-35B is a big improvement.
Because of the augmentation and the automation that’s in the airplane and the models and the simulators, we’ll find a lot less time being spent taking off and landing the airplane and spending much more time doing our mission in the airplane and being able to go get out there and take care of business and take care of the guys that are out there. We will spend more time on actual missions, rather than on re-qualifications.

The F-35 makes the basic flying task easy, and so now you have what we would call spare capacity to devote to other things, which allows the pilot to focus on the mission and the systems of the airplane.  The design of the airplane is intended to fuse information within the airplane — to make that task of managing the system easier.

You don’t have a radar giving you a piece of data.  You don’t have a FLIR giving you another piece of data.  You don’t have a radar warning giving you yet another piece of data.

What the F-35 gives you is a fused picture of all of that, so you don’t have to interpret separate data streams.  For example, my Link 16 is telling me something is here, but my radar is saying it’s over there, and this piece is kind of telling me it’s over there, and this one said it’s a bad guy, but that one is showing it as a good guy, and on legacy aircraft you have to filter what the various systems are telling you.  Now, the F-35 system is going to do a lot of that processing for you.