What is more natural than looking back over major aviation innovations of the Great War today, the anniversary of the Armistice? Here is a very interesting video posted by the BBC on how the fighter pilots dealt with reconnaissance, bombing missions and dogfight techniques. Primitive flight controls are well explained as is the interest of performing missions with a triplane aircraft – three sets of wings are necessarily more narrow, providing the pilot with a better visual field.
From the flimsy Blériot XI to Sopwiths and Fokkers, the first aces developed early methods that are always taught in fighter schools even though beyond-visual-range air combat has taken over since. Major Charles Tricornot de Rose was considered by many as the father of air fighting as early as 1914. Then as shown in this video, the German ace Oswald Boelcke laid out a first set of rules for dogfighting called the Dicta Boelcke. Pilots’ life expectancy was not measured in years but in weeks.
The British Harriers were to be replaced by the F-35Cs. Do you remember? You may have learnt from the recent news that the carrier variant of the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Joint Strike Fighter – CV JSF (Carrier Vessel variant’s Joint Strike Fighter) – F-35C was unable to catch the wire onboard the aircraft carrier during the latest landing tests.
Strange as it may seem, the F-35C’s designers may have not forecast what would unfold during a test flight while landing on an aircraft carrier:
The arresting hook (tailhook) never engaged the arresting wire as the clearance between the tail hook and the main landing gear’s tyre tread is too short for such a speed. An F-35C Lightning II missing her carrier landing has been reported even though some U.S. officials would have dismissed such information which might result from simulated tests.
Added to that is a software bug which had grounded the CV JSF for 6 days a few month earlier for the fifth-generation fighter aircraft might have encountered wing-folding input while flying!
As a result, the British Ministry of Defence might find a Plan-B solution as these design flaws, and some others which date back to November 2011 are deemed unacceptable for such an expensive fighter aircraft – $139.5 million for the F-35C (CATOBAR – Catapult Assisted Take Off But Arrested Recovery), and $150 million for the F-35B (STOVL – Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing). The latter can land on carriers but she is more expensive, and the JSF program costs have already increased several times.
Moreover, the JSF would not be able to fire AMRAAM air-to-air missiles as reported in this video:
And there’s even more: according to a Pentagon study team report, 13 areas of concern that remained to be addressed in the F-35 would have been identified. For instance, the Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS) would not work properly…
The British MoD is therefore considering the purchase of either F/A-18E Super Hornets or RAFALEs for the RAF. The French Dassault which has already lost the Swiss NAC tender due to replace the Swiss Air Force’s F-5s, would be proposing a new offer with 18 RAFALEs at a cost deemed lower than the 22 SAAB Gripens’ one according to the Swiss press.
The RAFALE is still in competition with the Eurofighter in the Indian MMRCA tender. the Indian officials are expected to make a decision this week. To be continued… ==> We have just learnt (on January 31, 2012) that the RAFALE has won the MMRCA tender… 🙂
Scary flight onboard British Airways BA 0206 – It happened over the Atlantic Ocean at 35,000 feet on Friday January 13, 2012 at 03.00 AM.
The passengers were given the scare of their lives by an emergency message which said that the aircraft was about to crash into the ocean, and that they have to brace themselves for impact. It just was not true, as the message was pre-taped, and was sent-out by mistake. The flight attendants dashed into the cabin to calm down the panic surging. Then, an announcement added that such warnings – if re-iterated – should be diregarded.
British Airways has apologized to the people who were onboard BA 0206 for this incident. Watch the video: