Six U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning IIs arrived aboard the USS Wasp May 18 to begin two weeks of operational tests of the short-takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) version of the advanced fighter.
The operational test will assess the integration of the F-35B while operating across a wide array of flight and deck operations, the USMC said. Specific objectives include demonstrating and assessing day and night flight operations in varying aircraft configurations; digital interoperability of aircraft and ship systems; F-35B landing signal officer’s launch and recovery software, and all aspects of maintenance, logistics, and sustainment while at sea. The U.S. Navy-Marine Corps team also is working with Naval Sea Systems Command to assess specific modifications made to the Wasp to support future deployments.
“As we modernize our fixed-wing aviation assets, the continued development and fielding of the STOVL F-35B remains the centerpiece of this effort,” said Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy Marine Corps commandant for aviation.
The first shipboard phase of the F-35B operational test will include fleet-representative aircraft and maintenance personnel from Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 22 (VMX-22), Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121), Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 (VMFAT-501) and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadrons 13 and 31 (MALS-13 and-31).
Data collected and lessons learned will lay the groundwork for F-35B deployments aboard U.S. Navy amphibious carriers following the Marines’ F-35B initial operating capability declaration planned for this July.
Japan V-22 Sale Progresses
|F-35Bs complete vertical landings aboard the USS Wasp May 18.
Photo courtesy of USMC/Lance Cpl. Remington Hall
The U.S. State Department has approved Japan’s request to procure 17 Block C Bell-Boeing V-22B Ospreys. The U.S. Foreign Military Sales program deal, which would include spare parts, associated equipment and logistics support, is worth about $3 billion. “Japan is modernizing its transport fleet to better support its defense and special mission needs,” the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) told Congress in a required notification, adding that the proposed sale “will greatly enhance the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s humanitarian and disaster relief capabilities and support amphibious operations.” It also “will promote burden sharing with our ally and interoperability with U.S. forces,” the agency said.
The proposed sale includes 40 Rolls-Royce AE1107C engines, 40 AN/AAQ-27 forward-looking infrared radars, 40 AN/AAR-47 missile warning systems, 40 AN/APR-39 radar warning receivers, and 40 AN/ALE-47 counter-measure dispenser systems. Identification friend-or-foe systems, AN/APN-194 radar altimeters, AN/ARN-147 VHF omni-directional range instrument landing system beacon navigation systems, and other systems also included.
Airbus’ H145M has been certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency, clearing the way for initial deliveries of the multi-role, twin-engine helicopter to the Bundeswehr (the German armed forces), which has ordered 15 for the German air force. First deliveries to the second customer, the Royal Thai Navy, are to begin in 2016. The helicopter is based on the civilian H145 (previously designated the EC145 T2).
AH-1Zs Cleared for Pakistan
The U.S. DSCA has told Congress the State Department has cleared the possible sale of 15 Bell Helicopter AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters to Pakistan. The proposed $952 million sale also includes 1,000 AGM-114R Hellfire missiles, mission computers, missile warning systems, software, GPS device, helmet mounted displays, spare parts and other equipment. The DSCA said the sales will support regional counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations.