An F-35A fighter took off from Eglin Air Force Base on its first nighttime training mission late last month. Prior to this flight, the Air Force version of the advanced fighter was prohibited from operating at night or during adverse weather.
One of the issues which prohibited nighttime flights involved symbols displayed to the pilot that traditionally differ between the Air Force and Navy/Marines versions of aircraft. The Air Force has a different airworthiness authority, AFLCMC, than the NAVAIR standards already incorporated into the F-35 night systems.
[Image Source: Lockheed Martin]
“Back in [training] the displays the pilots were looking at were confusing to Air Force pilots but not confusing to Navy and Marine Corps pilots because a lot of the symbology was of Navy origin,” described Air Force Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan.
To get around this issue, the Air Force trained 15 pilots on simulators at Elgin and at the plant in Ft. Worth until the Air Force was sure its pilots were ready for night operations.
Despite the recent good news that South Korea chose the F-35 as its next generation fighter, there are still lingering fears that software delays could continue to set the program back.
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