A dedicated simulation facility at our site in Lancashire is allowing pilots and engineers to ‘fly’ the F-35B short take-off vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft to and from the deck of the Queen Elizabeth Class Carriers. The multi-million facility has been playing a critical role ensuring the smooth integration of the F-35B aircraft with the QEC Carriers. Ultimately this will assist UK pilots in landing aircraft which are expected to carry at least twice the payload of the Harrier.
Discussing our role, the Company’s F-35 Test Pilot, Pete ‘Kos’ Kosogorin said: “What we’ve done in the simulator at Warton has been incredibly important because the results of those trials have fed into the design of the deck – to influence the markings on the deck, the lighting on the deck and the systems.
“There are various shipborne systems that will help the pilot when landing, particularly in high sea states when the conditions are challenging and the deck is moving around quite a bit – or at night when there is limited visibility.
“But the simulator work hasn’t just been about developing the flight controls software in the aircraft, it’s also about finding out how to fly and carry out certain manoeuvres, and working out various flying techniques such as shipborne rolling vertical landing. We’ve brought together a cross-section of individuals to do that, from very experienced Harrier pilots with legacy experience to US Navy conventional F18 pilots, and also Royal Navy and other Airforce pilots who have no shipborne or STOVL experience. This has ensured the design is optimised for all levels of ability.”
Kos Kosogorin has spent the last four years working on the F-35B programme as part of the Integrated Task Force (ITF) based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in St Mary’s County, Maryland. The ITF comprises personnel from the US Navy and Marine Corps, the UK’s Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, and industry partners including 30 engineers from BAE Systems in the UK. Together they are testing the F-35B and the Carrier variant and their mission systems.