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    F-35 testers support 5th generation air system’s demo aboard Japanese navy ship

    U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lands on JS Izumo

    Photo By Lance Cpl. Tyler Harmon | A U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II aircraft with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron...... read more read more



    Story by F-35 Joint Program Office Public Affairs 

    F-35 Joint Program Office

    NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (NOV 3, 2021) – A pair of F-35B Lightning II fighter jets performed first-time-ever vertical landings and short takeoffs in early October aboard a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer undergoing modifications to support F-35 operations.

    Prior to two U.S. Marine pilots flying these demonstration flights aboard Japanese Ship Izumo off the coast of Japan on Oct. 3, the Naval Air Station Patuxent River-based F-35 Integrated Test Force played a key role in designing and executing a test plan for the demonstration, which is a critical step on the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s (JMSDF) path to conducting at-sea F-35 operations.

    Japan is an F-35 Foreign Military Sales customer and has ordered 42 F-35Bs, adding to its order for 105 F-35As.

    “(F-35) ITF involvement was to ensure the (vertical landings) and (short takeoffs) were executed safely and efficiently,” said F-35 ITF Basing and Ship Suitability (BASS) Lead Ron Hess. “We had two strategies for this event. The first was sticking to the test plan. The second strategy was open, effective communication. We put a lot of effort into the test plan, to address many of the risks for safely and effectively operating on the ship. It was critical to communicate the details of the plan and ensure everyone followed that script.”

    “Our work started with the mission rehearsals at (Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division’s Manned Flight Simulator) using the Japanese Ship Izumo model, deck motion and simulated air wake,” said Hess of the mission planning that began in the spring. “We developed a sortie timeline and fuel ladder that we took to Japan,” explained Hess, who embarked Izumo with two other ITF colleagues for the historic event. A fuel ladder is an assessment of the weight of fuel required for the different phases of flight during the demonstration; it is a critical component of mission planning, Hess said. And, it is one example of the precise calculations required by the F-35 ITF team to ensure a safe and successful operation.

    The first vertical landing shortly after 9 a.m. Japan Standard Time was the culmination of months of detailed test planning, training, and rehearsals that required extensive coordination across 13 time zones in two languages. The full demonstration was a total of one landing and takeoff of each of the two F-35Bs involved. All flights were completed in one day.

    These maneuvers on JS Izumo also represented the first time in seven decades that a fixed-wing aircraft landed aboard and took off from a Japanese vessel in the waters southeast of the island nation.

    “It was really cool to be part of this historic event,” said Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) Two-Three test pilot Marine Corps Maj. Dylan “Bilbo” Nicholas, who is assigned to the F-35 ITF and flew one of the two Marine F-35Bs as part of the demonstration. Marine Lt. Col. Robert Guyette, who was flying the other jet, is the executive officer for Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 242 at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni.

    These flights demonstrated Izumo’s ability to support F-35B operations and gathered vital risk reduction data for Naval Sea Systems Command-advised modifications the JMSDF is making to two of its Izumo-class ships to modify them for F-35 operations use. JS Kaga, the second Izumo-class ship, is also set for conversion for F-35 operations. In addition to informing alterations to the ship, the partnership afforded an opportunity to show areas where organic capabilities need to be developed to support carrier operations, explained F-35 Joint Program Office Capability Verification Developmental Test Lead, Air Force Lt. Col. Joe Rosal.

    “It was clear from the start though how important this was to the Japanese leadership and how eager they were to learn everything they could from the demonstration,” said Nicholas. “In the end the execution was flawless and we, at the ITF, are looking forward to more testing with our Japanese partner in the future.”

    While the pilots’ job was to fly the jets to the ship, two members of the F-35 ITF Basing and Ship Suitability team were on board helping to guide the ship to a location with the right test conditions for the demonstration.

    Prior to the F-35Bs touching down on Izumo, Hess was aboard in flight control, calculating true wind and ship movements to set the desired wind-over-deck conditions. As he gathered data, Hess communicated with his teammate Elliott Kandler, who was on Izumo’s bridge monitoring the mission radio and working through an interpreter to answer questions from the JMSDF admiral overseeing the operation, and the ship’s captain and executive officer. Together, Hess, Kandler, and the ship’s crew positioned the almost 250-meter long Izumo for optimal demonstration conditions.

    “This event … demonstrated the capability of JS Izumo to support takeoff and landings of the F-35B aircraft at sea,” said F-35 Joint Program Office Japan Country Manager Graham Rowell.

    Many organizations were involved with the planning and coordination, and ultimately the demonstration’s success, Rowell said. These included the Japan Self-Defense Forces, U.S. Services, NAVSEA, and JPO.

    The JMSDF demonstration objectives included collecting noise and deck temperature data to validate engineering work done to date on JS Izumo and JS Kaga to inform decisions about the ships’ suitability for future F-35B operations, according to Rowell.

    “This event is part of a series of events that have and will be conducted in support of Japan’s F-35B and ship integration. This work and execution of these events also fosters cooperation and partnership with the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps,” said Rowell.

    The F-35 is the premier air system of choice for three U.S. Services, seven international partners, and a growing list of Foreign Military Sales customers. Lauded by pilots and operational commanders alike, the F-35 routinely demonstrates its high-end capabilities performing combat operations from land and from the sea. More than 700 aircraft have been delivered to date; 10 services in seven countries have declared initial operational capability, and six services from five countries have conducted F-35 operational missions.

    “Although there is still a lot of work to do, through mutual respect and support from the F-35 enterprise along with the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, we will be able to standup F-35 operations and support ship modifications and integration successfully to meet Japan’s requirements and timeline,” said Rowell.



    Date Taken: 11.03.2021
    Date Posted: 11.03.2021 16:37
    Story ID: 408633

    Web Views: 324
    Downloads: 1