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Excerpts from 4.

4GB PDF (about

the A4G Skyhawk and 'how to deck
land 01 Jun 2015') here & here:
- & https://

Emphasis is on AUTO Carrier Landings,

which will be the future for the USN, with
Super Hornet 'Magic Carpet' and F-35C
'IDLC' 'delta flight path' & UCLASS, as
demonstrated by the X-47B with JPALS

When I asked
paddles how to
improve my grades:
LSO Answer: Just
fly a centred ball
all the way to

...while moving to the US Navy's Landing Signal Officer School as an instructor. He taught glideslope
geometry, Aircraft Recovery Bulletins, carrier landing safety and emergency and foul weather waving. While
on staff there, Erik digitized the LSO School's extensive mishap recording library, and helped design and
implement a $2 million instructor console and graphics upgrade to the world's only LSO Trainer. His roles
included designing the custom touch-screen user interface and displays for the instructor/operator station,
setting program requirements, software engineering, and troubleshooting.

F-35C Lightning II

In 2006, Erik was fortunate to represent the US Navy on the

staff. While there, he provided a fleet perspective on pilot vehicle interface designs, particularly the unique
dual touchscreen cockpit displays which replace the traditional gauges and multifunction displays on older
aircraft. He successfully operated in the ITAR-sensitive international acquisition environment, and rewrote
the Joint F-35 International Training Center flight syllabus to more accurately reflect the requirements of
future carrier and land-based tactical aviators in the US and abroad.

Erik Burns Hess

founded Carrier Landing Consultants after leaving active duty as the

Commander Naval Air Forces Atlantic Force Landing Signal Officer - the senior Atlantic Fleet LSO in August
2010. During his ten years on the LSO platform, he waved over 20,000 mishap-free arrested landings, and has
coached hundreds of pilots through their first night traps aboard ship. He has held nearly every LSO position
in the US Navy & in early 2010 literally wrote the book on waving, as editor of the first revision to the

LSO Reference Manual

in over a decade.


the range of aircraft attributes necessary for an unmanned aircraft to land safely. The referenced
Heffley report attempted to perform this evaluation for the case of manned aircraft3.

Carrier landings define naval aviation. These landing requirements drive the design of both the
aircraft and the ship, with the landing airspeed constituting one of the most significant attributes

Understanding the carrier-landing task requires some discussion of terminology. Angle

of attack (AOA) is the angle between where the airplane is pointed and where it is going. This

of the problem. The correct determination of the approach speed is vital. It is the balance of

value along with the velocity determines the amount of lift generated. An aircrafts pitch angle

landing safely and causing unnecessary wear, which results in higher maintenance requirements

is where the nose is pointed relative to the horizon and for manned aircraft strongly influences

and shorter service life. Higher landing speeds decrease the maximum landing weight. This

the over the nose visibility from the cockpit. Sink rate is the vertical component of the velocity.

means an aircraft must land with less ordnance and fuel. The determination of the approach
speed for manned aircraft is the minimum speed that simultaneously satisfies several criteria.
These criteria can be found in diverse military specifications and include the following2:
a. Aerodynamic stall margin of 10%

Wires / CDPs
replaced cycle

b. Field of view (over the nose visibility)

c. Flight qualities (defined in MIL-STD-8785/1797)

The glide slope is the desired airplane trajectory, terminating at the desired touch-down point,
nominally a straight line extending 3.5 degrees above the horizon as shown in Figure 1 below.4
Flight-path angle is the angle between the airplanes velocity vector and the horizon. Because
the ship (and touchdown point) is typically moving through the water at 10 to 20 knots,
maintaining a 3.5 degree glide slope relative to the ship results in a flight-path angle of 3.0
degrees relative to the inertial frame. The four wires highlighted in Figure 1 are called cross-deck
pendants. The cross-deck pendants are disposable and are replaced after 100 hits or sooner if
damaged. They are attached to the purchase cable, which goes into the arresting engine under the

d. Compatibility with Wind Over the Deck (WOD)

deck. The maximum energy absorption capability of this system constitutes one of the most

e. Longitudinal Acceleration in level flight of 5 ft/sec within 2.5 seconds in full power

significant constraints to the landing problem. Additionally, the targeted hook touch down point

f. Pop-up, 50 ft. glide slope transfer with stick only in 5 seconds

is labeled.
The ultimate objective of every carrier approach is a safe arrested landing, or trap. There

g. Minimum single engine rate of climb: 500 ft/min (tropical day)

The goal of landing speed criteria is to facilitate the design of aircraft that can consistently
make safe carrier landings. These historic requirements were recently reviewed for manned

are many constraints to the landing task. Structures and safety physically constrain carrier
landings, while operational requirements demand a high boarding rate (the percentage of
approaches that result in a trap). Off-centerline landings are dangerous due to the proximity of

aircraft. While Navy contractors have performed simulation trials of aircraft under design, no

personnel and equipment; short (low) approaches hazard striking the aft end of the ship. High

criteria exist for unmanned aircraft distinct from manned. No study has been done to determine

approaches will fail to catch a wire. The structural limits of the hook and cross-deck pendant

Rudowski et al, Review of Carrier Approach Criteria for Carrier-based Aircraft p.22

Heffley, Outer-Loop Control Factors For Carrier Aircraft.

Waters, Ship Landing Issues PowerPoint.

determine the maximum landing velocity. Sink rate is limited by the landing gear structure.
Additionally, hook geometry requires the aircraft to land with a positive pitch angle, optimally
five degrees, because the main gear must touchdown first. The positive pitch angle is also

Historically, designing an airplane for the carrier-landing task has been constrained by the
limitations of the pilot as an integral part of the control system. The full capabilities of

necessary for the hook to engage the wire. The target touchdown dispersions, developed from the automated control systems have never previously been explored. The human operator has
desired boarding rates, are tabulated in feet in Table 1.5 Both desired performance and the

difficulty tracking multiple parameters at once. Part of the difficulty is focusing ones vision on

maximum allowable performance are given.

the ship for line-up and glide slope then back to instruments in the cockpit to read airspeed and
angle of attack. People also lack the precision and reaction time of computers. Consequently, if
an airplanes handling qualities satisfied a human pilot, the legacy automated systems (e.g. SPN42 Automatic Carrier Landing System (ACLS)) could easily handle the airplane. Moreover,
ACLS was neither flight critical nor attempted at severe sea-states. The move to unmanned
systems permits design liberties fully capitalizing on the capabilities of an automated system, yet
raises the automated system to the status of flight critical. If the control system cannot
successfully get the vehicle aboard, it is lost at sea.

Figure 1 : Carrier Landing Environment6

Table 1: Touchdown Dispersion Parameters7

Target Performance (ft Maximum Allowable (ft)

Lateral Mean
Lateral Std Deviation
Longitudinal Mean
Longitudinal Std Deviation

Waters, Test Results of an F/A-18 Automatic Carrier Landing Using Shipboard Relative GPS. p10.
Waters, Ship Landing Issues PowerPoint.
Waters, Test Results of an F/A-18 Automatic Carrier Landing Using Shipboard Relative GPS. p10.

HMAS Melbourne


The landing signal officers primary responsibility is the safe and expeditious recovery of non-V/STOL fixed-wing aircraft aboard ship. The employment of high-performance aircraft and the necessity for all weather
operations have placed ever increasing demands on the LSOs skill and
judgment. Through training and experience, he is capable of correlating
factors of wind, weather, aircraft capabilities, ship configuration, pilot
experience, etc., in order to provide optimum control and assistance in
aircraft landings. The LSO is also directly responsible for training pilots
in carrier landing techniques. In this regard, he must constantly monitor
pilot performance, schedule and conduct necessary ground training,
counsel and debrief individual pilots, and certify their carrier readiness
and qualification. The pilot and LSO form a professional and disciplined
team, both ashore and afloat. The LSO strives to develop the pilots confidence, judgment, maximum effort, technical proficiency, and personal
interest. The pilot must rely on the LSOs experience and ability

to prepare him for optimum effectiveness as a carrier pilot.




Aloha everyone out there in Naval Aviationland. I am CDR Matt Potzo Pothier; Hornet baby, former Japan,
VMFAT 101, CAG 8, and LSO School Paddles. As I step into position leading the Landing Signal Officer business,
I am pleased to find that Weeds left the platform fully manned, professionally trained and motivated to ensure carrier aviation continues to thrive. As OIC my intent is to continue our focus on supporting the fleet by providing the best training and
standards to all those who attend our school or receive our instruction. As a schoolhouse we will continue to maintain a connection to carrier operations so that we can provide the latest and greatest techniques, procedures, and standardization to ensure we are
prepared to respond in critical situations.
It has been a few years since I manned the platform. Since then we have seen some changes and have had the chance to celebrate
some major milestones in our profession. Although I was overseas during the 100th anniversary celebration of Naval Aviation, I
observed the festivities from afar with great pride. If you had a chance to read our August Paddles Monthly, you saw an article
written in 1980 by a former CAG Paddles. It was interesting to see that no matter how many things change, much remains the
same. The pride and professionalism that exists within our small community of Naval Aviation, and especially as LSOs, persists.
Lets face it, without paddles manning the platform to recover aircraft on those dark and scary nights we wouldnt be real Naval
Aviators. In fact, if we werent motivated to do one of the most difficult things in aviation, landing aircraft on pitching decks in
ugly weather, we might as well have joined the Air Force. This is no knock on the Air Force; heck I dig my Starbucks, 5 star
hotels, per diem, and nice long easy going stationary runways as much as anyone. Take it from the famous musical Viper guys
Dos Gringos, this carrier business is hard work. We celebrate our profession because it is hard work, because we defend those in
need, and because we can make a difference.
Trapping on a carrier is extremely difficult. The conditions are always changing and what worked well during the day could set
someone up for failure the next night. Technological improvements in the carrier aviation business have helped, but they are not
foolproof. Constant monitoring of those systems is required to ensure they are in the best possible working condition on our aircraft and on our ship. As paddles, we have to be aware of these continuously changing conditions as well as how these conditions
are going to affect our airwing pilots. We need to understand how these changing conditions will affect every individual in conjunction with the tendencies that they have developed. As CAG Paddles, one has to be pilot, paddles and a psychologist all at
once. The ability to read pilots within the current operating conditions, to know what they are going to do before they do it, will

lead to continued uneventful recoveries. Failure to do so could lead to yet another mishap. We all realize that each and every one
of us will have that night in the barrel, when things arent going the way we want, and we just cant seem to get aboard. The professional programs, the extended apprenticeship on the edge of the landing area, and the graduate level training and education that
LSOs progress through are paramount to ensure the fleet is always ready to answer the nations call. Entrusted with a Staff Qual,
CAG Paddles are the experts who will calmly recover the airwing during blue water operations regardless of the environmental or
material conditions. Paddles must step up and coax pilots into the wires, because after all is said and done the boat is where the
food is.
Operating a Carrier Strike Group alone and unafraid on the high seas, without the need of permission from foreign nations, is the
hallmark of power projection. Carrier operations ensure the freedom of navigation on 80% of the worlds surface. National interests are backed by our presence. The airwing provides combat proven and ready aircrews. As paddles, we get these crews back
aboard to rearm, reload and launch back into the fray. We maintain a unique skill set that ensures this Big Stick is operationally
viable. We take responsibility for the lives of our friends as we place our lives in the hands of our fellow paddles when we launch
and recover. We owe it to each other to maintain the highest level of professional standards. We must strive for perfection. We
will make mistakes. When we do, we owe it to each other to fess up so that the entire community can learn. We use our collective
experience, the good and the bad, to facilitate safe and expeditious recoveries. It is through this experience that we learn that no
matter how much weve seen we havent seen it all.
As Dean of the LSO School, I will attempt to continue to carry the torch that Weeds lit. We will focus on supporting the fleet by
providing the best possible advanced education and standardization for the paddles community. We will instill upon the community the highest level of respect for our coveted job. We will uphold our standards and ensure that only proven individuals who
demonstrate the ability to wave in challenging conditions advance along through the LSO pipeline. We expect and value free
flowing communication and will maintain an open door policy. We welcome all visitors, all those paddles that wish to continue
their education utilizing our facilities, and we are always available to swap a few sea stories over a beverage around the platform.
The LSO was born out of necessity; technology does not negate this need. Naval Aviation is dangerous and unforgiving. Top Gun
is irrelevant without Top Hook. If you cant land on a carrier, put on an ascot.
Go catchem Paddles

Paddles Monthly June 2012 TYCOM Corner
Flying the pass: As weve always been told, and what Ive just reinforced, is that the pass
starts long before the air-plane is in the break. That said, when in the pattern, your utmost
concentration is required to constantly correct for any deviation before it puts you out of
parameters. My personal advice on correcting deviations is to put LINEUP first in your
scan. This is the hardest to correct. Secondly, make sure your AOA is squared away. If
your lineup & AOA arent on, then the information from the BALL will be inaccurate.
A two unit fast or slow aircraft can change the hook position by several feet and often
accounts for either bolters or 1 wires though there was a centered ball. Once you are
receiving the good info by being on centerline and on-speed, you will be able to fly the ball
corrections that youve been doing since the TRACOM. For high deviations, I submit that
correcting for half the deviation works the best.Then, once the correction is complete
and under your pro-active ball-flying control, start the process over again. Never correct a
high ball to put it in the center. The lowest you should see it is cresting. If you continually
work the half deviation corrections, you should never see it back to center. When on the
low side, correct for half that deviation to the high side.... Remember, never lead a low! If
you dont lead a low, you will wind up high after correcting from the low. Once there,
correct back by half.
This is a gameplan that will get you aboard every time if it is played the whole pass &
nothing less than whole pass (translation: FLY the BALL ALL the WAY to TOUCHDOWN).
CDR George Chum Walborn, Former CVW-14 Paddles-

The Navy & Marine Corps Aviation Safety Magazine


By Lt. Matt Antel

APPROACH March/April 2010

was embarked with Carrier Air Wing 1 on USS

Enterprise (CVN-65). We just had departed
from Norfolk for a six-month deployment. While
flying a routine, afternoon FA-18 training mission, the summer weather deteriorated to the
point that all aircraft were recalled to the ship.
I was part of a group that just had launched.
Another wave from the previous event were airborne
and in line to recover before me.
As the air wing converged on the ship, every aircraft
was shuffled into the marshal stack. While waiting overhead, large thunderclouds continued to develop, and I
found it more and more difficult to keep from flying
into zero-zero conditions.
With the radios tuned to the approach frequencies, I heard the play-by-play as the first few aircraft
approached the ship. The first call that was broadcast
by paddles was 99, taxi lights on for recovery. Normally, carrier-based aircraft recover with only their
exterior and approach lights on at night, and with lights
completely out during the day. A request for taxi-landing lights to be switched on for any recovery meant that
visibility was low, and paddles couldnt see an approaching aircraft until it was well inside three quarters of a
mile from the ship.
At times like this, pilots must rely on the skills they
have built since day one of their carrier-aviation training, while also placing an enormous level of trust in the
LSO cadre. Landing a jet on an aircraft carrier is never
a routine event, but it becomes all the more harrowing
with challenging environmental conditions.
As more and more pilots struggled to get aboard
because of high seas and reduced visibility, the
approach controller would push further back everyones
approach time. I faced the added challenge of closely

managing my fuel while waiting for what assuredly

would prove to be a difficult approach.
As my fuel slowly burned away, I knew if I did not
get aboard on my first pass I would face a trip to the
tanker, or an emergency divert to an unknown airfield
in a foreign country.
Finally, my turn to commence the approach arrived.
Reaching my approach fix, I accelerated to 250 knots,
extended my speed brakes, and began my descent on
a standard Case III recovery profile. The whole time,
I could hear paddles talking other pilots aboard as
the deck pitched and rolled in the high seas. At the
three-quarter-mile ball call, pilot after pilot reported
clara ship, signifying their inability to see any part of
the carrier. Once paddles could break out the bright
approach light, they would call paddles contact to the
pilot, and deliver power and line-up calls to get the aircraft in sync with the flight deck. Anytime paddles did
not think the approach should continue, he would signal
wave off. In conditions like these, an overall recovery
rate of 50 percent is considered a success.
I leveled off at 1,200 feet and turned to intercept
the specific course to drive me toward the ship. Just
inside 10 miles, I extended my landing gear, dropped
the arresting hook, decelerated to approach speed,
and completed my landing checklist. As I looked
through the windscreen, the conditions were truly
zero-zero. The conditions were so thick that my taxi
light reflected off the clouds, making the possibility of
breaking out even more remote.

About five seconds before touchdown, my jet descended

out of the fog and the ship appeared in front of me.

ous three aircraft had recovered, mostly thanks to the

skill of my colleagues on the LSO platform.
At one mile, I glanced at the water, and barely
made out the whitecaps. Thats usually a good sign that
youre about to break out, but my forward visibility
still was zero. Three quarters of a mile from the ship,
the approach controller directed me to Call the ball,
implying that I should be able to see the landing area
AT THREE MILES, I followed my instruments and tipped
and the visual glide slope. I saw nothing, and replied
over to intercept the 3.5-degree glide slope that would
with, Clara ship, just like all the aircraft that came
eventually lead me to the ships landing area. Visibility
down before. Soon, the LSO responded, Paddles conwas not improving, but I was encouraged that the previ- tact, youre on glide slope.

Paddles talked me down to a landing. At this point,

my job consisted of listening to paddles and responding
to his voice calls. Unlike a normal approach, I only was
aware the ship was getting closer and closer. Failure to
properly respond to LSO calls could have led to disaster.
About five seconds before touchdown, my jet
descended out of the fog and the ship appeared in front of
me. Touchdown occurred so quickly I had no opportunity
to do anything more than make a last-second check of
lineup and advance my throttle to full power. I then felt
my jet abruptly decelerate after catching a wire.
Lt. Antel is with the LSO school, NAS Oceana, Va., and flew with VFA-211.


By lex, on January 2nd, 2012

F18 Hornet Timelapse & Super SloMo

A Youtube Video that almost

almost makes the drudgery
involved in preparing for sea during field carrier landing practice
look interesting.
Its the music, mainly. Cant think
of anything else to explain it.
LSOs these days, with actual
shacks to sit in. Away from the
bugs and the heat.
Makes them soft, I should think.
------------------------------------There are three crucial factors
the pilot must control in a carrier
landing approach: glideslope,
lineup and angle-of-attack.
The ship may heave, pitch and roll,
but that is only of incidental value.
Entertainment by terror if you will,
especially at night.
Quote Thoreau and simplify,
said Michael Stipe, and fortunately
for your host a simple man if

ever there was one McDonnell

Douglas engineers had the wisdom and foresight to emplace the
Approach Power Compensation
system aboard his steed. The APC
(or autothrottles) essentially tied
the aircraft power setting and
angle of attack to the stick pitch
position. In a manual approach,
the proper response to being a
little high, for example, would
be to ease off a percent or two
of thrust using your left hand on
the throttles, and then carefully
bunt the nose over to capture and
maintain the correct angle-ofattack. If you didnt bunt the nose,
the aircraft would eventually seek
the trimmed AOA, but not before
flashing a slow, going further high,
and causing paddles heartburn
and distress. Which in turn might
cause you to get waived off,
adversely affecting your landing
grade performance, self-esteem
and special snowflake status.
Coming back down on
glideslope, the whole thing

had to be repeated again:

Correction, counter-correction,
But the APC allowed you to
press a button on the throttle and,
hey presto: All of that angle-ofattack stuff went away (assuming
you were properly trimmed at
APC engagement). Rather than
manually move the throttles, you
merely made the nose up or
nose down correction required by
your glideslope deviation and the
throttles would creep up or back to
maintain the proper speed. It basically reduced your workload from
meatball, lineup, AoA to meatball,
lineup. An efficiency of 33%!
When you came aboard during
CQ operations or at night (socalled zip-lip operations were
standard during daylight, non-CQ
operations), the auto flyer was
required to report the fact that he
was in fact flying, well: Auto. Due
to some residual fear, uncertainty
and doubt in the LSO community,
which was ever a superstitious

lot what with their pickles, worry

beads and chickens feet necklaces. I say that having been a
member of the fraternity. They
gave me a hat. I have the hat to
this day. I have the hat.
So on your ball call itd be,
404, Hornet ball, 4.2, auto and
the reply would very often be,
Roger ball, auto.
I was very fond of autothrottles, theyd been very, very good
to me over the years. Treated it
as summat of an emergency when
they werent operative. If only for
the lack of familiarity that was
in it, killing snakes in the cockpit
with both stick and throttles. So it
came to pass one day during fleet
CQ that the ship had contrived to
find herself in gusty conditions,
with winds over the deck in excess
of 35 knots. The senior LSO on
station called on the Tower frequency, 99 Slapshot, winds are
35 knots, four-degree glideslope,
all Hornets go manual.
Which it was good to know that

the winds were 35+ knots, for

that would affect where you chose
to turn from downwind to final
delay too long and youd be deep
in the groove and sent around to
try it again but the four-degree
glideslope was one of those, eh
statements. It was supposed to
mean something to pilots, but I
was a pilot for many years and I
never quite figured out what. You
fly the ball to touchdown, and
glideslope be damned. As for that
last bit about going manual, that
must have gone into my bad ear,
for I entirely missed it.
My turn to come around and
have a look at the deck eventually
arrived, and I broke to downwind,
configured the jet for landing and
selected APC. Rolling out on final,
I reported, 401, Hornet ball, 5.6,
primly omitting the fact that the
APC was in fact engaged. For the
LSO, she seemed busy. And I
didnt want to overload her. With
too much data.
She had her reasons, not to

mention her fears and superstitions, for asking the pilots to go

manual. It was a little higher than
normal workload in gusty conditions, and the APC could struggle
to keep up with the larger stick
deflections. I just felt like I knew
my own capabilities and limitations
better than that LSO, who was
in any case rather bossy and not
someone I would ordinarily invite
into my cockpit, especially when it
was getting cramped and crowded.
So when the debrief time came
along, she looked at me with a suspicious glare, and asked whether I
was in fact flying auto, at all?
Who would fly auto in these
conditions? I replied sadly.
Thus mollified, she read me my
grades (quite good), theorizing
that I had so long flown auto that
even my manual corrections had
the appearance of being made in
And who was I to argue with
the LSO?

The Unbearable
Lightness of
Paddles by NeptunusLex

on the ship) from the longitudinal night (darker than a hat full of
LSOs in various stages of qualia@@holes), he hasnt got much
axis, the runway has the appearfication, and two enlisted phone
to work with. With no visible horiance of side-stepping continually
talkers, wearing sound-powered
to the right as you approach. The zon hell ask for a destroyer to
phones about their necks, the
take plane guard station, but that
ship is in her element, which
headsets draped over their ears.
be disorienting as well, as the
On being a landing signal
plane guard is moving herself. An
rolling, pitching and heaving.
on the LSO platform, and are as
officer in rough weather
optimal approach will have the
Deck movement is somewhat
familiar with aircraft landing as
November 26th, 2003
tailhook point clearing the round
correlated to sea states obviany paid-for-it junior officer LSO.
down by 14 feet. The deck can
ously, but less obviously it also
They ensure that the arresting
I was a Landing Signal Officer
move plus or minus 15 feet on a
corresponds to swell periodicity:
gear and optical landing system
as a lieutenant. A good job for a
bad night, and if youre out divert
a rough cross sea may actually
are set appropriately to the type
junior officer: you got to meet
range, the pilots are committed
cause less movement than a
of jet on final.
and know all the other pilots
to either landing aboard ship
gentle sea at just the right
As an LSO, the job is to help
in the air wing (not just in your
or going for a swim. Recovery
the pilots get aboard by hawksquadron), you learned a lot
rates drop from ~90 per cent to
When the deck is moving,
ing their line-up, glideslope and
about landing well by watching
less than 50 per cent on a bad
others land poorly, and it got you angle of attack (AOA), the combi- especially at night, it gets
night every other pass will be
interesting pretty quickly. Night
nation of which has a direct corout of duty on fly days.
either a waveoff (no chance, out
landings will make you old in and
relation to aircraft performance.
The LSO stands with his
of themselves, but throw in ramp of parameters) or a bolter. On the
You also grade each landing, or
teammates on the port side, aft,
bolter, your hook misses all the
movement and you can start
usually about 30 feet or so aft
wires, off you go for another try.
on a board in the ready rooms for feeling rather old-fashioned right
of the 1-wire. To his right (as
Anyway, after that absurdly
on check-in with approach. You
all the other guys to see, point
he faces aft) is the net. The
intro, heres the tale of the
net is essentially a large basket
worst night I ever saw as an LSO
the guy four or five jets ahead of
Being a naturally competitive
hanging over the side to hurl
one of those few occasions when
you in the landing queue is getgroup, everyone wants to do well
yourself into if the guy flying the
ting advice like, the decks down, youre happier with the idea of
of course, but the real purpose
jet decides to land early. You
being on deck wishing you were
youre a little overpowered
of grading landings is to make
dont want to be in the net, it
in the air, than in the air, wishing
decks up, youre slow, power
the pilots focus on doing it well
means you havent done your
you were on deck:
decks down, dont chase it!
when its easy, so that they can
job very well and someone has
The night starts out with your
Power POWER!!! Dont climb!
do it all when its hard. And it
probably died (maybe several
bolter, bolter, bolter. And back at humble scribe in his rack not
someones) but it also gives you does get hard. LSOs all have the
my duty day to wave the paddles.
20 miles, your stomach starts to
nickname of paddles, since in
a fighting chance of escaping the
phone rings, and the senior
cartwheeling wreckage and fuel
LSO on the air wing staff asks
The guy generating those
ping-pong paddles to help control
fed conflagration which follows
me to come up on the flight deck
soothing utterances is the LSO.
such a spectacularly poor landing the pilots on landing.
to back him up. The other staff
Hes doing the best he can, but
Since the landing area is
as a ramp strike. On the LSO
LSO is having a hard time getting
on a dark, moonless, no-horizon
platform with you are four or five angled 11-13 degrees (depending

aboard, and the deck is really

moving. Im flattered really, garsh.
I get up on the roof, grab
my pickle (a corded handle
that controls the wave-off lights,
among other things) and radio
handset and set to work. Now
then, whatll it be? First down the
pike is a roommate of mine, flying
an FA-18 Hornet. Great jet, but it
settles down off glideslope like an
attorney in court when underpowered. Goes from looking great to
OH MY GOD in just about no time.
He lands early, a taxi 1-wire
that no kidding uses up all the
available runway and a little more
besides. The hook point (although
we do not recognize it at the time)
has struck the round down aft of
the landing area, with the main
mounts just clearing the ramp.
Thatll focus you pretty
quickly, and we powered the
next two guys over the wires to
compensate. The third guy, in an
S-3, makes a huge correction to
go from no-chance high to right
there on the three wire with a
landing so hard he hurt his back
and had to be helped out of the
Roomie comes around again,
and wed like to see him a little
higher too a few power calls
does the trick, but he adds a little
more for mom and the kids and
has a long bolter. Really long.

The main mounts touch the deck,

but the nosewheel goes over the
side. The nose falls through, he
goes over the end on a downward
vector and we lose sight of him
as the bow rises again. Sixty feet
before hes wet, were all looking
for the tell-tale splash. Someone
keys the radio mike, but no one
can think of just the right thing to
say what seems like an eternity
later, he pops up in front of the
bow, climbing at a 20 degree
flight path angle with the afterburners lit. Keeps climbing that
way for a bit, too. Everyone gets
one more gray hair.
Next up is the second staff
LSO, the one thats already
had a hard time getting aboard.
Hes been to the tanker to get
some gas, and is willing to give
it another shot. He really wants
to get aboard, its considered
bad form for an LSO to struggle
in the landing pattern. Hes
looking pretty good up until just
inside a quarter of mile, when
I see a green flash on his AOA
indexers that tells me hes a little
slow, a little underpowered. I
lean over to tell the other LSO
that he might need a power call,
when the deck drops out from
underneath us. When it moves
that rapidly, the gyros in the
glideslope indicator on the ship
cant keep up the pilot will think

that he low with the deck up and

that the words that drip from
vice-versa when it goes down.
my lips to Gods ears are not of
Our guy sees the meatball rise
the quality likely to recommend
and goes to idle power, dropping
my soul to the good place. At
the nose.
that particular moment, my life
Looked like a turd dropped
didnt flash before my eyes and I
from a tall moose. My little
didnt whisper momma. My only
underpowered comment dies
thoughts were, Im farked, or
on my lips, transforming to a
words to that effect.
Somehow, miraculously, the
call. The pilot cobs the throtdeck, which had been rising,
tles, but jet engines take a
fell away tentatively. As though
while to spool up from flight
unsure that this was the right
thing to do. The Prowlers engines
idle. Unsatisfied with his engine
response, he pulls the nose up to caught up, and he danced by us
in wing-rock, almost fully stalled.
stall, which doesnt help matters
When I regained my personal
all that much. To make things
motor control, I looked over to
worse, the deck starts to rise
the net, where by rights I ought
again, and Im treated to the
to have cast myself. Two or three
sight of a Prowler (EA-6B, four
of my teammates stood there
souls aboard) in full stall, a hundred feet away, partially obscured transfixed, holding on to each
other at the very deck edge,
by the deck I can only see the
unable to make the leap. Of the
top half of his jet, mid fuselage
two enlisted phone talkers, who
on the belly up to the cocked
didnt get paid for that kind of
up nose. The rest is below flight
sh!t, there was no sign, except
deck level.
that of their sound-powered
Ever wonder what thoughts
phone cords dangling over the
go through your mind in that last
side, swinging slowly from left to
instant when you know youre
right. Theyd seen enough. They
going to die? What words will be
on your lips when you meet your
Much smarter than their officmaker? Hope it will maybe be a
brief prayer, squaring away all the ers, those fellas.
black deeds that color your soul?
Ive had a couple of opportuni/2003/11/26/
ties to get as close as I ever want
the-unbearableto get to that point, and found

VX-23 Strike Test News

02 Sep 2014





/$1',1* 6729/ 

+,*+$1*/(2)$77$&. $2$



/DZ &/$:  OLPLWV  WR  GHJUHHV $2$  2Q










DT-I Trial Arrests









Cats, Traps & a Rooster Tail

Dec 2014 Mark Ayton, Air International

[F-35C Aircraft] CF-03/SD73 and


Cdr Shawn Kern is the Director of Test

and Evaluation for F-35 Naval Variants
and the senior military member within the F-35 Integrated Test Force (ITF)
based at Patuxent River. He leads a
diverse team comprising 920 members from the US Government, the
military and contractors responsible
for developmental test of the F-35B
and F-35C aircraft during the System Development and Demonstration
phase. During DT I, Cdr Kern led the
F-35 ITF, provided government oversight of carrier suitability testing and
co-ordinated with the USS Nimitzs
captain, executive officers and other
F-35 stakeholders.
He told AIR International: Launch
testing included minimum catapult
end speed determination as well as
performance and handling during high
and low energy catapult launches and
crosswind conditions at representative

aircraft gross weights. Approach

and recovery testing focused on aircraft performance and handling qualities during off-nominal recoveries in
low, medium, high and crosswind wind
conditions. Data and analysis from DT
I will support the development of initial aircraft launch and recovery bulletins for F-35C carrier operations and
Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardisation (NATOPS)
flight manual procedures. Test results
from DT I will also influence follow-on
developmental and operational testing
required to achieve F-35C initial operational capability.
Lt Cdr Ted Dyckman is a US Navy
F-35 test pilot assigned to VX-23
based at Naval Air Station Patuxent
River, Maryland: he made the secondever arrested landing on a super carrier in aircraft CF-05 on November 3
and the first night-time landing on November 13 in CF-03. Speaking about
the F-35Cs performance around the
carrier, Lt Cdr Dyckman told AIR International: Everything met expectations and there were no surprises.
Going through the burble was a big
unknown, but the airplane responded
better than we thought it would.

We saw that the aircraft could

trap: the only true bolter was a power
call by the Landing Signals Officer
when the aircraft touched down long
with the hook down but came around
and made an arrested landing.
When the weather started to deteriorate we had such confidence in how
the aircraft was flying that we lowered the weather minimums to those
used by the fleet. I knew that when I
lowered the hook I was going to trap.
That says a lot for the airplane.
Because the autopilots and flying qualities are so good, the workload to fly the jet is reduced and we
were confident enough to declare it
ready for night-time traps. It flew very
well behind the ship and I made two
hook-down passes and two traps. Its
unheard of to conduct night ops on a
types first period at sea.
We accomplished everything we
set out to do, which allows us to go
to DT II and conduct maximum speed
catapult shots and carry internal
and external stores and asymmetric
Flight testing was split into three
phases: day carrier qualification (CQ)
and flight deck crew familiarisation;

the development of aircraft launch

bulletins (ALB) and aircraft recovery
bulletins (ARB). In addition DT I also
included Logistical Test and Evaluation (LT&E). Subsets of each phase
Aircraft Launch Bulletins

Military rated thrust catapult


towing and tie-down

Weapons loading
Basic maintenance, including
aircraft jacking and landing gear
Maintenance support

Since the authors previous visit to

the F-35 ITF at Pax River in April
Minimum catapult launch end
the main test objectives completed
over the summer were arrested land Low, medium and high excess wind ings, touch and goes (a training evoover deck (WOD) catapult launches lution also known as field carrier land Crosswind catapult launches
ing practice or FCLP) and a structural
survey of CF-03. The latter was a me Bow and waist catapult launches
thodical check of the aircraft to ensure it was structurally suitable to
Aircraft Recovery Bulletins
be flown aboard an aircraft carri Approach handling qualities
er. The survey included testing engi(AHQ) of F-35C approach modes:
neering fixes made to the aircrafts
delta flight path, approach power
pitch pivot pin and nose wheel steercompensator (APC), and manual
ing motor. Although precautionary, the
Low, medium and high excess WOD survey was required because funcrecoveries
tionality problems had been discovered with each component during the
Crosswind recoveries
F-35Cs developmental flight test pro Bolter performance Logistical Test
gramme. A subset of the structural
and Evaluation
testing performed on CF-03, known as
Deck handling including taxiing,
a shake, was also completed on CF-05

to ensure it was also suitable for carrier trials. No issues were found.
One other pre-deployment test
evolution was electromagnetic environmental effects (E3). This required
CF-03 to spend two weeks in the
shielded hangar at Pax River, to ensure that electromagnetic interference
from the ships emitters did not affect
any of the aircrafts vital systems and
cause them to shut down. The official
E3 test report was completed on October 16 which cleared the aircraft to
embark onboard the carrier.
All requisite carrier suitability testing was concluded on October 17 and
the final FCLPs were completed at Pax
River four days later.
One interruption to the test programme over the summer was caused
by the temporary grounding order resulting from an engine fire on F-35A
AF-27, serial number 10-5015, at
Eglin Air Force Base, Florida on June
23. Each engine underwent a rigorous inspection process and because
of the priority given to DT I, CF-03
was the first to be inspected, analysed and cleared back to flight: CF-05
No modifications were required to

the flight deck, not even the Jet Blast for F-35B STOVL deployments to the
Deflectors (JBDs): hydraulic-controlled USS Wasp (LHD 1).
panels designed to divert hot aircraft
Increased robustness in the
exhaust during launches. The panaircrafts control laws refers to:
els are raised in preparation for take Pro-rotation during a catapult and
off, protecting the flight deck and airbolter.
craft behind from the hot aircraft
Integrated Direct Lift Control which
exhaust. Modification of the JBDs will
integrates the control surfaces
be required for subsequent DT evosuch that wing camber is altered
lutions, when afterburner will be reto increase or decrease lift, thus
quired to launch aircraft with heavier
allowing glide slope changes to be
all-up weights than those used during
made without a large change in
DT I. Any changes implemented will
engine thrust.
alter the cooling path of the F-35s ex Delta Flight Path, which is an
haust plume, which interacts with the
innovative leap in aircraft flight
carriers decking differently from that
controls, that commands the
of the twin-engined members of the
aircraft to capture and maintain
Hornet family.
a glide slope. The system greatly
Support Onboard and from Ashore
reduces the pilots workload,
DT I was supported by a pre-producincreases the safety margins
tion, nonfleet representative version
during carrier approaches and
of the Autonomic Logistics Information
reduces touchdown dispersion.
System known as ALIS 1.03. According to the F-35 Joint Program Office:
Wind Effects
Standard ALIS functions were in place Aircraft carriers are unique in that
and used to support F-35C operations they have different wind effects that
and maintenance onboard USS Nimithe pilot and the aircrafts flight contz. The functions were accessible via
trol laws must take into account.
approved Department of Defense net- The overall wind effect is called the
work and cyber security policies and
authorisations similar to ALIS support
We are evaluating how the

control law handles through the burble. Data collected during DT I will
now be used by the control law engineers for analysis and to improve our
simulator modelling. Because the burble is such a dynamic and integrated wind system there are challenges
to modelling it accurately. Future F-35
pilot training will benefit from this
work, said Cdr Wilson.
We started making intentional errors in our approaches [off-nominal].
This allowed us to see how the aircrafts flight control laws react to corrections input by the pilot and the effect of the burble while trying to make
the corrections. The pilot intentionally lines up [on approach] on either
side of the landing areastarting either high or low, or flying fast or slow
to see if there is enough time to input
the correction and get back on centreline, on glide slope and on speed
[flying a proper approach speed] prior
to touch down. As we fly off nominal
approaches, if the LSO [landing signals officer] doesnt see a timely correction or doesnt feel that the pilot
is going to land safely, he or she will
wave them off.
The LSO [who is located on a

platform positioned 120ft (36.6m)

from the end of the ship and 40ft
(12.2m) from the centreline on the
port side] is a pilot trained to observe
the aircraft as it flies down the approach watching for deviation in pitch
attitude using a camera that shows
whether the aircraft is on or off centreline. Listening to the aircraft, the
LSO is trained to recognise changes in
rates of vertical and horizontal movement to ensure the aircraft is going to
clear the ramp at the aft of the ship
and recover safely aboard. The LSO
plays a vital role in the safe recovery
of aircraft aboard the ship.
Getting aircraft back to the boat is
our first concern: our second is [preventing] what we call a long bolter. This occurs if the pilot fails to correct a big deviation and lands well
beyond the four-wire [the last arrestment cable along the deck]. For safety
purposes any time an aircraft touches
down on the deck, the pilot needs sufficient deck to derotate, and get the
throttle back to mil[itary] power to fly
away. Theres not enough time for the
plane to de-rotate with a long bolter,
which means it could still have downward direction so when [the aircraft]

rolls off the front end of the boat its

going to sink.
evaluated approaches with crosswinds behind the ship out to 7kts.
We also evaluated approach handling qualities in low and high wind
conditions: low is 10 to 20kt, nominal is 20 to 30kt and high is in excess
of 30kt. The teams goal for DT I was
to gain as much data with cross winds
and various head winds to allow us to
start writing our aircraft launch and
recovery bulletins.
What Next?

Testing around the carrier gets more

complicated with aircraft weight
and asymmetry. On subsequent DT
events the F-35 ITF will increase aircraft weight and asymmetry by loading stores on one side to create as
much asymmetry as possible, which
is the complicating factor. Cdr Wilson
told AIR International that testing on
subsequent DT events is going to look
very similar but will evaluate heavier
weights and asymmetric lateral weight

Flight test conducted in the

operational environment.

The F-35C demonstrated

exceptional handling qualities
throughout all launch and recovery
conditions tested.
All four test pilots rated the F-35C
to be very easy to operate from
the carrier. Arrested landings were
consistent: the aircraft caught the
optimal three-wire in the majority
of the 102 traps. Pilot comments
included: I noticed the burble,
but the aircraft just takes care
of it, It makes flying the ball
comfortable and This thing is a
three-wire machine.

Start date: November 3 [2014]

Completion date: November 14
Flights: 33
Flight hours: 39.2
Catapult launches: 124
Touch-and-goes: 222
Arrested landings: 124
Bolters: 2 intentional with hook down
Threshold test points completed: 100%
pp 42-47 Air International Dec 2014












These are the words that every CAG LSO hopes to never write in an email to Force Paddles. How did this
happen? That question is easy to answer. How to eliminate it from ever happening again is a more difficult
question to answer.

Bottom line, we landed a Super on a Hornet weight setting
behind, everyone else is way behind. Every CAG paddles has battled the feeling of should I wave this aircraft off, or should I try to catch it. Resist the temptation of thinking you are invincible. I promise we are all
fallible and it can be a painful lesson to learn.

When the sun angle creates challenging conditions, we think about clara line-up and clara ship calls. We get
ourselves mentally prepared for this every time we have a late afternoon recovery. What about the day ID
The incident happened on the last day recovery of the airplan, making the sun angle a challenge. I got up to light? With the sun on the horizon and positioned right at the 180, no one on the platform or in the tower
the flight deck just as the first aircraft was being launched. As I approached the platform, one of my paddles saw the day ID light. Was it on? I am not sure. Does it matter though? Train your back-ups to visually
identify Supers Hornets and legacy Hornets as they come around the approach turn. Discuss the intakes and
informed me that the IFLOLS was going to be down due to an issue with the stabilization gyros. This is
LEX which are easy to ID once the aircraft is in the groove. Do not rely on what the hook spotter is saying.
something that has occured multiple times during our deployment. While we do a lot of training on
MOVLAS, I usually have my team leads and assistant team leads on the stick, so I hadnt personally waved As the back-up, you need to visually confirm what the hook spotter is calling. They are looking for one
MOVLAS in awhile. I didnt know how long the lens would be down so I decided to take the stick in order thing, and that is the day ID light. If they dont see a day ID light, they will call all down Hornet. Speaking of hook spotters, as paddles, we own their training. We must ensure that they are not just going through
to warm up for the night recoveries.
the motions. They must be incorporated as integral members of the team. Teach them about the different
As the last aircraft was launched off the waist, the first section was already in the break. The Air Boss called aircraft and what to look for. One key feature about the Super Hornet that landed on the wrong gear setting
over the 5MC to rig MOVLAS as dash one arrived at the 180. With the sun on the horizon, the hook spotter was that it was a two seat cockpit; an easily identifiable feature with a pair of binoculars.
did not see the Super Hornet Day ID light and called all down hornet, gear lens set 360 Hornet, foul deck.
With our Hornet squadrons assigned 2K in the stack, there is a subconscious expectation that they will be the The peanut gallery can be a huge asset. Most of the peanut gallery noticed that Super Hornets were the first
first in the overhead. Since the first section did a nice job breaking the deck, time compression began to take aircraft in the break but failed to comprehend the fact the hook spotter called all down Hornet. We must
train and force the peanut gallery to stay engaged. They often have the greatest perspective with what is goeffect. MOVLAS was rigged and the datums came on as dash one was between the 90 and 45. I looked
ing on. They have the opportunity to scan the entire platform, pattern, and landing area at their own pace,
over my shoulder to check the cut and waveoff lights, but neither worked. The MOVLAS lights did not
potentially picking up on things no one else notices. (LSO School: The hook spotters call and the backpower up until the aircraft was inside the 45. My back-ups pickle worked, so I yelled for him to give the
aircraft cut lights. 17 seconds later, after an uneventful pass, the aircraft trapped. I was unaware we landed ups reply must be loud enough for the entire platform, including the peanut gallery, to hear.)
the Super Hornet on the wrong weight setting until the Air Boss called down.
The tower did not see the day ID light. I am not going to speak on the Air Bosss behalf, but he still quesLike I said earlier, how this happened is an easy question to answer. How do we eliminate this from happen- tions if the light was even on. Like I said before, the ID light is only one layer. Another layer was a wing
ing again, is a more difficult question to answer. You would think with the multiple safety layers in place, qualified LSO in the tower who came to me afterward claiming he saw that it was a Rhino in the groove with
landing an aircraft on the wrong weight setting would be nearly impossible. As with any mishap, the cause the wrong weight setting set. As you can imagine I was a little baffled as to why he did not say anything to
the Air Boss. Should I even expect a tower representative to be a safety layer? I will let you come to your
isnt a single mistake but a multitude of failures that align in time and space. In the 45 seconds it took for
own conclusion regarding that.
the first aircraft to get from the 180 to the start, every possible safety layer failed to operate effectively. The
following is my thoughts on the different layers that failed.
As LSOs, we are vulnerable to a disruption in habit patterns when waving MOVLAS. Make sure when you
brief MOVLAS, you brief the risk associated with the change in habit pattern on the platform. The controlThe first and most important layer that failed was me. As CAG paddles, we are the first and last line of de- ling LSO does not have his hand above his head when the deck is foul. This is when the LSO team needs to
fense in preventing dangerous situations from developing in the carrier landing environment. I do not agree be at the top of their game. (LSO School Note: If using MOVLAS station 2 or 3, the only pickle that works
is the controlling LSO.) Talking to multiple CAG paddles after this event, they mentioned the dangers of
with those who say the only person you can trust is yourself. If we dont have trust in the LSOs we train,
then we as CAG Paddles have failed. With that said, we must realize that everyone is human and susceptible landing planes on a foul deck and the pressure to press the wave-off window. Dont fall victim to pressure,
either real or perceived.
to mistakes. I had two senior LSOs backing me up and neither recognized the impending situation, likely
due to a combination of expectations, environmental conditions, and time compression. But how did I put
them in this situation? Once I felt behind, I should have assumed that the less experienced paddles waving
with me also felt behind. This is the moment when I should have waved the aircraft off. It may sound clich, but WAVEOFFS ARE FREE!! We must have the awareness to realize that if CAG paddles is

It would have taken only one person to stop this serious event from occurring. At the end of the day, it lies
on us, as LSOs, to recover aircraft safely. After the recovery the only thing I wanted to do was sit down,
drink a beer, and put a dip in. But the airplan must be executed and there is still waving to be done. We
have to live by the mantra, SAFE RECOVERY OF AIRCRAFT!! Nothing else matters.

The 2005 PBS Special documenting the Nimitz and Carrier Air Wings 11 s
combat deployment provided an interesting
portrayal of life on board a carrier. For LSOs,
however, episode seven stands out above the
rest. With deck swings in excess of 30 feet, a
recovery got very interesting for the paddles
and pilots involved. Below is one CAG paddles thoughts on the days events.

The 2005 PBS Special documenting the Nimitz and Carrier Air Wings 11 s combat deployment provided an interesting portrayal of life on board a carrier. For LSOs, however, episode
seven stands out above the rest. With deck swings in excess of 30 feet, a recovery got very interesting for the paddles and pilots involved. Below is one CAG paddles thoughts on the
days events.

on glide slope will require you to exaggerate the ball displacement.

As LSOs, we can manipulate the approaching aircraft to
He must be able to see it. You should plan on making radio calls if
fly in a window that we can most easily manage. By this I mean we
you arent immediately getting what you want from the pilot. The
should use both voice and ball presentation to put a jet in a position
harder you are working to get a pilot in the ballpark the farther out
where the pilot will have to make minimal power-off corrections.
you should be moving the wave-off window regardless of where he
Pick the glide slope (3.5-4.0 degrees) for the deck conditions and
is on the glide slope.
work hard to not let him get too high. Im not suggesting that we
Voice calls are important and if you watch the
should wave aircraft low. But consider this: the
Each pilot
PLAT tape of the 4 OCT recovery you will hear a lot of
highest you can show a pilot on the MOVLAS is
about half way up the lens. Once a pilots energy
should know talking. Bug Roach wrote about how sometimes simply
state exceeds that presentation you now have a lot of your voice inflec- using standard LSO comm wont cut it. On the tape
you will hear several screaming Easy with it! calls.
work to do. Here is where you need to be able to pat
Those were the equivalent to Bug Roachs take some
your head and rub your belly. You must be able to
power off and land it call. In the case of 4 OCT, with 700 miles to
talk and present the ball to the pilot in such a way that he knows
the nearest land, multiple low state aircraft and the weather getting
exactly where he is on the glide slope so that he can judge the magworse, hard landings were a far better option than fuel starvation.
nitude of his corrections. You need to be able to make him predictOnce you get the plane to a position where it has a reasonable
able. This is what scares me about a pilot who is high with no refchance to land you need to do what it takes to get it over the ramp
erence other than Paddles voice: he isnt very predictable up there.
and into the wires. One thing we learned from this recovery was
Each pilot should be familiar with your voice inflection. Each pilot
that I probably should have been wearing the CAG LSO headset
should know what to do with the power based on your inflection.
while working the MOVLAS. I was stepped on several times by
And, as for the MOVLAS presentation, a pilot will know how to
the other CAG Paddles who was wearing it at the third position.
react to a red ball regardless of how far it is from what appears to be
All his calls were good but it was distracting for me as the controlthe middle. I would rather bolter a guy who is staying low with
ling LSO.
power calls and a red ball on MOVLAS than to use the power calls
and a red ball to try to catch him coming off a high, flying through
Thats about all I have. I wouldnt assume that the techdown. Ramp strikes occur (most of the time) when an aircraft goes
niques I have discussed are the only and best way, but they are food
from high to low. I believe this high and overpowered regime is
for thought. Keepm off the ramp.
more dangerous, with the current MOVLAS setup, than if the airing
craft were a little low at the start to in the middle. The reason is
C.G. Paquin
simple: we are not capable of providing as useful information to the
pilot once he is above the limits of the MOVLAS. Keeping a pilot
This concludes the three part series.

Naval Air Traffic Management Systems Program Office (PMA213) is the Navy's Executive Agent that provides program management and life cycle support for all naval Air Traffic management Systems. PMA213
is directly responsible and accountable to Program Executive Officer, Tactical Aircraft Programs (PEO(T)).
PMA213's mission is to: -maintain our fielded ATC and CID systems for our Warfighters today, - deliver
advanced Air Traffic Control and Landing capability both at sea and ashore, and - deliver improved IFF
security via Mark XIIA, Mode 5 upgrade.
After a regular overhaul extending until April 1963 Midway
continued its role as a research and development
platform. In June 1963 an F-4A Phantom II and an F-8D
Crusader made the first fully automatic carrier landings
with production equipment on board Midway off the West
Coast. The landings, made "hands off"
with both flight controls and throttles operated
automatically by signals from the ship, were the
culmination of almost 16 years of research and

USS Midway Museum Docent Reference Manual 2013 Edition

Naval Air Traffic Management Systems







As it happens, the hands-off carrier landing capability has been around for a long time, with the first aboard a
carrier being accomplished more than 50 years ago and used operationally since 1965. However, the X-47B system
has to provide greater functionalityfor example a hands-off bolter (a touch down with no arrestment)and much
greater reliability. since there is no pilot to take over when the electrons and ones/zeros begin to lose their way.
The impetus for a hands-off system in 1950 was the desire to minimize the shortcomings of jets with respect to
all-weather operations and the amount of time that a carrier was unable to operate aircraft due to ship motion or
ceiling/visibility. In those days, before inflight refueling, jets were unable to wait out poor weather due to their
limited endurance.
Bell Aerospace won a competition with Honeywell and began developing the system in the early 1950s. It was
ship-based, with a computer using radar data to determine the airplane's location relative to the glide slope and
then sending corrections to the airplane's autopilot to alter its flight path to fly to and on the glide slope at the
proper approach speed. All the pilot had to do was fly the airplane through an imaginary gate four miles aft of the
ship on final approach and verify that the airplane was being guided by the ALCS, All-weather ( or Automatic)
Carrier Landing System.
The first automatic landing of the Navy test airplane, a Douglas F3D Skyknight, took place in May 1954 at the
Niagara Falls Airport, New York.


One addition required to the airplane in addition to an auto throttle was a corner reflector, seen above just in
front of the nose landing gear doors, to insure the best possible radar data for the ship-based system.

A production contract was finally awarded to Bell in March 1960 for the SPN-10 ALCS. NATC accomplished the first
fully automated landings with the production system in June 1963 on Midway with an F-4 Phantom and an F-8
Crusader, modified for the capability. However, another round of development and improvements were required
so the first operational use was delayed to late 1965, when operational evaluations were accomplished with F4Gs, ALCS-modified F-4Bs, aboard Kitty Hawk. The capability was subsequently retrofitted to F-4Bs and
incorporated in new production F-4Js. After a Vietnam deployment aboard Kitty Hawk with VF-213, the 11
surviving F-4Gs (one was shot down) became F-4Bs again. (Either the Navy's F-4G's existence was
forgotten/considered irrelevant or used to disguise the purpose of yet another F-4 variant, the Air Force F-4G
Wild Weasel.)
The radar reflector on the aircraft was substantially reduced in size and made retractable. On the F-4, it was
attached to a door that opened just forward of the nose gear.

Part of the interval between the successful demonstration at Bell and the first landing aboard a carrier was
dedicated to developing a ship-motion compensation capability. During the last 12 seconds before the touchdown,
ship motion was included in the computations; a second or two from touchdown, the corrections to the autopilot
ceased and it simply maintained pitch and bank.
The first at-sea demonstration was on Antietam in 1957. At the time, the system was housed in large vans and not
ready for deployment in the operating environment aboard an aircraft carrier. Redesign and environmental
(shake, vibration, EMI, etc.) qualification testing was required now that proof of the concept had been

On the F-111B, it was mounted on the upper link of the nose gear torque scissors so it deployed into position
when the gear was down in flight.

When the system was working, the performance was brilliant, the airplane coming down the glide slope toward a
three-wire arrestment like it was on rails. As might be expected from the vacuum-tube-based technology of the
time, however, reliability proved to be a problem. A field change was made to improve SPN-10 reliability but at
the expense of its automatic touchdown capability: the pilot had to take over at weather minimums and make the
final corrections before touchdown.
In 1966, Bell received a contract to "digitize" the system with solid state electronics and computers and restore
full functionality. The redesigned system was designated the SPN-42. A subsequent improvement, the SPN-42A,
incorporated an X-Band radar for better system performance in heavy precipitation. It was operationally approved
in 1968.
Development of the next ALCS generation, the SPN-46, was begun in 1980 to take advantage of advancements in
gyro, computer, and radar technology. It was declared operational in 1987 after an operational evaluation
involving Kennedy and F-14s. It is being continually improved but will eventually be replaced by a GPS-based
system being developed as a joint service program, JPALS (Joint Precision Approach and Landing System).

F/A-18 Carrier Landing System

A fuzzy logic based aircraft

carrier landing system
Marc Steinberg; Lehigh University 1991

Side View Carrier Landing




for the





Capability Description

Mode I: Hands-off approach to touchdown.

Mode IA: Hands-off approach to NMI, pilot takeover.
Mode II: SPN-46 radar provides azimuth and elevation guidance
Mode III: Ground-controlled approach utilizing the SPN-46
radar for skin track.
Mode I, IA, and II capabilities require aircraft to have a radar
beacon and an on-aircraft data link.
SPN-41 radar provides azimuth and elevation guidance
Stand-alone instrument landing system or independent monitor
for ACLS approaches.
Requires receiver in aircraft
Ground-controlled approach using radar skin track
No on-aircraft systems required.

ATC&LS testing is currently focused on certification of the PALS onboard LHD, LHA, and CV/CVN class
ships. PALS capabilities are further described in Table 1. The ATC&LS Branch also certifies shore-based
installations of the ACLS and ICLS and tests Instrument Landing Systems on all Navy/Marine Corps aircraft.
Upcoming work is focusing on service life improvements of the current systems and development of the Joint
Precision Approach Landing System (JPALS). JPALS will be used by all U.S. Services to provide shorebased and shipboard precision approach capability using relative GPS technology. The JPALS T&E program
will be a large challenging program that will, in the end, enable a change to the concept of operation for the
carrier air traffic control system and be the major enabling technology for UCAS shipboard launch and
recovery operations. This branch is also heavily involved in new aircraft development programs such as the
F-35B/C JSF airplanes and in the development of modifications to current airplanes such as the new Digital
Flight Control System (DFCS) for the EA-6B.

Table 1:



Case III



Case III explanation (Whisper). During instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), (and always at night) we
execute a Case III recovery, more specifically the CV-1 approach. It is basically an all inclusive holding,
penetration, and instrument approach procedure that drops you off on a 3.5 degree glideslope behind the ship.













CASE III: This approach shall be utilized

whenever existing weather at the ship is
below Case II minimums and during all flight
operations conducted between one-half
hour after sunset and one-half hour before
sunrise except as modified by the OTC or
carrier commanding officer.
Case III recoveries shall be made with single
aircraft. Section approaches will be approved only when an emergency situation exists.
Formation penetrations/ approaches by dissimilar aircraft shall not be attempted except
in extreme circumstances where no safer
options are available to effect a recovery.

CV NATOPS 2009 NAVAIR 00-80T-106



Carrier Controlled
Approach (CCA)

Whisper, March 6, 2011 at 4:32 pm: Reply:

On a four wire boat, the ace is almost always a no grade. Not so on the three wire boats. When youre targeting in front of the two, its
possible to get a fair or even OK one wire. But yeah, both of those guys pulled-out an ace. For me, theres really only two grades on a
day like that: Stopped and Didnt Stop. Come across the ramp safe and predictable and paddles will get you in the wires every time.

Whisper: Still Life By Whisper, on March 6th, 2011



ACL Mode 1 & 1A Approaches


ACL Mode 2 Approach


number of electronic units to less than half of the units used in AN/SPN-10 and,
w the
subsequently, improved the reliability.
LOOK MA NO HANDS. This was the slogan on a jacket patch created by Bell w During the AN/SPN-42 development, the Navy directed Bell to incorporate an X-Band (9.3
Aerosystems on the occasion of the US Navys Operational Certification of Bells Automatic
GHz) receiver modification into the radar subsystem to improve radar performance in heavy
Aircraft Landing System (ACLS). It contains the caricature of a pilot flying a plane with his
precipitation, and the system was then designated AN/SPN-42A. In 1968, OPEVAL
arms folded as he approached an aircraft carrier. Unfortunately, the patches are not around w. (operational evaluation) tests with several aircraft were successfully performed on the
any more, but the Bell ACLS is in operational use on all Navy aircraft carriers to this day.
AN/SPN-42A aboard USS Saratoga (CV-60), and the system was awarded Operational
This success didnt happen over night. It was the result of several years of effort by many at
Bell starting in 1953 when Bell, using a feasibility model landing system, won a fly off
For the next ten years, Bell built AN/SPN-42A systems for the new carriers as they were
competition with Minneapolis Honeywell. Following this win, Bell won a contract to build a eti commissioned, and converted AN/SPN-10 systems to AN/SPN-42A system for reinstallation
shipboard feasibility model system, designated AN/SPN-10 (XN-3), for testing aboard Navy
on the existing carriers. From the mid sixties to the end of the Vietnam War, AN/SPN-10 and
aircraft carriers. Using the (XN-3) system, the first automatic landing with a Navy aircraft re AN/SPN-42A played a major roll in all carrier operations in Southeast Asia.
took place in 1954, at the Niagara Falls Airport, adjacent to the Bell facility in Wheatfield
New York. In 1957, the first automatic-landing-to-touchdown, on a carrier, was accomplished
once again technology obsolescence raised its ugly head and the AN/SPN-42A
es. However,
with the (XN-3), by a Navy pilot in an F-3D aircraft on USS Antietam (CV-36).
became difficult to maintain because of the unavailability of replacement parts. So in 1980,
the Navy contracted with Bell to design and develop a new automatic carrier landing system,
After the USS Antietam sea trials, Bell worked on designing the system to conform to the or designated AN/SPN-46(V)1.
stringent requirements for shipboard operation (shock, vibration, EMI, etc), and in 1960 Bell
was awarded a production contract for the AN/SPN-10 All Weather Carrier Landing System
AN/SPN-46(V)1 uses six AN/AYK-14 Navy standard airborne computers for the radar
g/ The
(AWCLS). This is when Bell Aerosystems became a division of Textron and was renamed
and aircraft control processing, and Navy Standard Electronic Modules (SEM) for the
Bell Aerospace Textron; it is also when I began my career on landing system programs that
electronic equipment, thus resulting in fewer units and better reliability than
me supporting
spanned 35 years.
AN/SPN-42A. The Navy MK-16 MOD 12 Ring Laser Gyro replaced the gyro controlled ship
motion stabilization unit, used in both AN/SPN-10 and AN/SPN-42A.
In 1962, the first production systems were installed on USS Midway (CV-41) and USS m
Independence (CV-62) and, in 1963, after certification testing at sea on USS Midway,
In 1984, extensive testing of the AN/SPN-46(V)1 was conducted at the Naval Air Warfare
AN/SPN-10 was certified for operational use. Over the next several years, production systems
or Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD), Patuxent River, MD, with several Navy aircraft.
were installed on the Navys aircraft carriers operating at that time.
In 1985, the first system was installed on USS John F Kennedy (CV-67) and OPEVAL sea
Unfortunately, the reliability of the system was low because it consisted of more than thirty y/ trials were conducted in 1986 and 1987 with F-14 Tomcats. In 1987 The Navy awarded the
units of electronic equipment, containing hundreds of vacuum tube operational amplifiers, to
AN/SPN-46(V)1 Operational Approval for full automatic control from aircraft acquisition at
perform ship motion stabilization and the aircraft control computations. As Bell and the Navy
ten nautical miles to touchdown on the deck and production of the system was started.
sought ways to improve the system, it was obvious that digital computers and solid-state Fe
electronic technology were the only solutions to the reliability problems. In 1966 Bell
From 1987 to 1991, Bell delivered five systems to the Navy and was working on the sixth
received a contract to digitize the AN/SPN-10. The new system was subsequently mi system when Textron Corporate decided to combine Bell Aerospace Textron with Textron
designated AN/SPN-42.
Defense Systems (TDS) and move the Bell operations to Wilmington MA. This appeared to
the Navy to be an impossible task considering the work in progress at Bell, and the fact that
While the AN/SPN-42 was in development, an AN/SPN-10 field change that reduced an the engineering, manufacturing and quality people at TDS had never worked on an AN/SPNelectronic equipment to improve reliability was installed in the system. Unfortunately, this
46(V)1 system.
change eliminated the automatic touchdown capability, but the system would still control o.
aircraft to carrier approach minimums, and the pilots would land the aircraft manually.
The most critical work in progress was a system for USS Constellation (CV-64) that had to be
delivered by the end of the year to meet the ships departure date from the shipyard. The
In the AN/SPN-42, UNIVAC 1219 digital computers replaced the vacuum tube analog
people at Bell delivered a monumental effort to the task, getting the vast amount of equipment
computers that performed the flight control computations, and the Ka-Band (33.2 GHz) radar
c and material associated with the program shipped, and assisting TDS in establishing
tracking subsystem was converted to an all solid-state electronic design. This design reduced
by Don Femiano

In 1998, TDS phased out the AN/SPN-46(V)1 program and delivered the engineering data
base NAWCAD at Patuxent River, MD and a new era of Navy Automatic Carrier Landing

Automated Carrier Landing of an

Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle
Using Dynamic Inversion

With hard work and determination to succeed, the Bell/TDS team came through with flying
colors, and the system was delivered on time. Production was up and running, at Wilmington,
by the end of 1991. During the next several years, seven more systems were built at TDS and
delivered to the Navy for replacement of the AN/SPN-42A, and for two new carriers
commissioned in the late nineties.

manufacturing and testing facilities. They did this even though many knew that their jobs
were gone when the move was completed.

Since taking over the program, NAWCAD has been developing new configurations of the
system with support of subcontractors. They are developing a land based trainer system,
designated AN/SPN-46(V)2, for use at Naval Air Stations. The (V)2 functions the same as the
(V)1 but the MK 16 Mod 12 shipboard stabilization units are removed and a 7-foot diameter
antenna replaces the 4-foot antenna used on the (V)1 for better low angle radar tracking on
long Naval Air Station runways. NAWCAD is also upgrading the installed shipboard systems
to improve system operability and reliability by installing modifications kits, some of which
were developed at TDS under the Product Improvement Program. This new shipboard system
configuration is designated AN/SPN-46(V)3, and has been successfully tested on several
carriers to date.

The LOOK MA NO HANDS patches, and many of the Bell people who worked so hard to
make Navy automatic carrier landing a reality, are gone now, but the system survives and will
provide Navy pilots with a safe all weather automatic landing capability for decades to come.

Ship Degrees of Freedom:

The LCE program plan is to keep AN/SPN46(V) operating on the carriers until 2025 when the
Navys GPS based carrier landing system (JPALS) is scheduled to be operational.

The ship rotational degrees of freedom are

termed roll, pitch, & yaw. In the translational
degrees of freedom, up and down motion is
called heave, forward to aft motion is called
surge, & port to stbd motion is called sway.

NAWCAD is also working on a Life Cycle Extension (LCE) Program for the system. A new
radar subsystem unit was designed during the first phase of the LCE program. The new
subsystem unit uses specially designed circuit cards in place of the Navy Standard Electronic
Modules and microprocessors to provide an enhanced radar tracking capability. The new
radar subsystem unit is presently undergoing system testing at NAWCAD and at Sea. LCE
program work in progress includes replacing the AN/AYK-14 computers with power PCs
using C computer program language, upgrading the operator control console and ancillary
display units and redesigning the radar receiver to replace obsolete and unprocurable



he approach started off like most

night carrier approaches I had
experienced. Tonight, it was dark,
late and my second flight of the day. We
were in the middle of a major multinational
exercise. I had been flying a lot and felt very
comfortable in the aircraft. I was night
current and qualified to make a Mode I
ACLS, hands-off landing. I had made one
ACLS two nights earlier and had a lot of
confidence in the system.
Marshal and dirty-up at 10 miles were
uneventful. I completed the landing checklist and got the Hornet trimmed and lined up
as quickly as possible. ACLS lock-on came
just inside of six miles, and the jet coupled
up for the approach and automatic landing
on the first attempt just outside of five miles.
The ride was smooth, and the Hornet
responded crisply and accurately to ACLS


The tipover at three miles was right on

the money. The ACLS tadpole was in the
middle of the velocity vector, and I thought
I had it made. All I had to do was sit back,
monitor things and enjoy the ride.
At the start of cruise, I had planned to
make every other night landing a Mode I
ACLS approach and hand fly the other
night landings for currency requirements
and proficiency. I was on track through the
first four weeks of cruise and my plan was
working just as I had envisioned it. This
particular ACLS approach was rock-solid
until I reached the in-close position.
I detected a slight hesitation by the jet.
The nose seemed to stop moving and
responding to commands for just an instant.
As I closed my hand around the paddle
switch to take over manually, the aircrafts
nose pitched down violently. I instinctively
pulled the stick all the way back and
selected full afterburner, just as the LSO
screamed, Power! then, Waveoff!
Time seemed to slow down, but the
aircraft responded, and as soon as I realized
the aircraft was climbing (in a very nosehigh attitude), I aggressively reset the
proper landing attitude with forward stick.
My adrenaline was really pumping by this
time, and Im not sure when I deselected
afterburner, but I blew through 1,200 feet,
the normal night Case III pattern altitude,
and managed to somehow get the Hornet
level at 3,000 feet.
Fortunately, it was extremely dark, and
I didnt see how close I had come to flying
into the back of the ship and hitting the
ramp on the waveoff. My basic survival
instincts stopped the first possibility from
happening, and aggressively resetting the
proper landing attitude prevented the
Despite my actions, however, parts of
the aircraft still managed to get below
flight-deck level following the pitchover,
and the hook missed the ramp by what the
LSOs estimated as two feet on the waveoff.
I managed to compartmentalize and got
aboard without more problems a few



Nov 1999

minutes later. I knew I had a close one but

didnt realize how close until I saw all the
people waiting for me in the ready room to
watch the PLAT replay. The sequence will
always be burned into my memory.
To summarize the rest of the story, all
equipment involved in the Mode I ACLS on
that aircraft and the ship was checked, and
no discrepancies were found. Two months
later, the carrier-suitability section of the
Patuxent River Test Center duplicated the
sequence of events at a safe altitude several
miles behind the ship. They discovered the
problem was caused by a malfunction in the
data links receive-decode-transmit equipment and an inadequacy in the flight-control
computers software pitch-rate and pitchmagnitude limiting. As a result, a fleet-wide
maintenance bulletin was issued and a
NATOPS change submitted.
Since this incident, I have flown several
Mode I approaches to the ship at night and
numerous Mode Is before. I no longer take
the system or the Mode I sequence of events

lightly. What I relearned from a pilot and

LSO perspective is that you can never
become too comfortable in the carrier
environment no matter how routine a
particular activity becomes. Although I
reacted by instinct, the LSOs were on top
of the situation and provided accurate and
timely power and waveoff calls.
If your squadron does Mode I ACLS
approaches, set up a formal academic and
simulator training syllabus to not only
understand, practice, and simulate the
correct procedures for a successful Mode I
ACLS approach, but to also practice,
experience and handle the things that can
go wrong.
While a good Mode I ACLS approach
may appear to be the ultimate E-ticket ride,
you dont have the luxury or option to take
a passive role. A pilot must stay ahead of
the aircraft, closely monitor every aspect of
the approach, and anticipate and be prepared for the unexpected.
Cdr. Sizemore is the CO of VFA-86.



LOW !!!

September 2012


ACLS Is Dropping Me Off Low! (cont.)

What will this look like on the IFLOLS itself? Each source cell on the IFLOLS is 0.13 deg, which would put the ball
about halfway down the "bottom center" cell (Fig. 2). Is this perceivable to the average pilot? I think so. Remember to
scan across the top of the datums and don't just stare at the picture below.







ACLS Is Dropping Me Off Low!!!

(by LT Smuggla Johnson)

As many of you have probably seen, one of our jobs in the glamorous world of carrier suitability flight test is conducting Precision
Approach and Landing Systems (PALS) certifications for the carriers any time they come out of the yard or have an issue with PALS.
We're basically the FAA certifiers for ACLS and ICLS; we make sure you can safely shoot an approach to the appropriate mins for
each system (look 'em up if you're not positive) as well as take MODE I's to the deck. PALS cert is often conducted in conjunction
with deck cert, so we try to make certain that all are happy (or at least satisfied) with the performance of needles and bullseye. What
we often find is airwings complain that an "on and on" ACLS approach will drop you off at the start with a slightly sagging ball when
the system was certified that very day. Hopefully we can shed some light on why this is sometimes the case.
Every landing system on the boat must fall within certain tolerances to be certified for arrested landings; the IFLOLS is no exception.
We at carrier suitability cannot adjust the basic angle of the IFLOLS, but we do measure it precisely and we can easily contact the
people who can adjust it. Prepare yourself for the beeps and squeaks. When the IFLOLS is measured for certification, it must fall
within +/- 0.05 deg of exactly 3.50 deg. More often than not, the IFLOLS falls within tolerance but it's normally on the high end (3.55
deg basic angle vice 3.50). ACLS cannot be adjusted to a 3.55 deg basic angle but it can be measured very precisely (accuracy less
than 1 ft at the start). The ACLS glideslope can only be adjusted by engineers at the beginning of each certification to provide a precise 3.50 deg glideslope; otherwise, the glideslope on all PALS (IFLOLS, ACLS, ICLS) can only be set in 0.25 deg increments (3.5
and 4.0 in the case of ACLS).
No approach is perfect, whether it be MODE II, IA or I; however, a coupled approach should provide a glideslope extremely close to
3.50 deg (particularly prior to interaction with the burble). If you fly ACLS coupled and/or on and on, and the actual basic angle of
IFLOLS is 3.55 deg, then you should be flying just below the centerline of the datums. Figure 1 shows a rudimentary pictorial representation of this concept.

Figure 2: IFLOLS Sagger with 3.55 deg

What's the big deal? A 0.05 deg difference translates to about 7" of hook to ramp and about 4 feet at the start. Are those
differences in the noise? One could certainly argue that they are, particularly because a single cell is over 10 ft at the
start and ACLS is measured to less than a foot. The bottom line is with respect to an on and on ACLS pass, the differences translate to a slightly sagging ball, and there's no life below the datums, right?
As pilots, our truth source is the ball (excepting pitching deck or another extenuating circumstance where paddles becomes the truth source). We teach pilots to fly the ACLS at the bottom of the Velocity Vector anyway, so when the ball
and needles don't match up perfectly, why does it even matter? I don't know if it does. But I know some people like to
put the thing on the thing, and centered needles should mean center ball; others like to ride the MODE I all the way to
touchdown, and even a sagger is uncomfortable. What if the new guy breaks out at mins with centered needles and sees
a sagging ball? Is he/she going to overcorrect? I did when I was a nugget, though I can't guarantee needles were perfect; they probably were.
So is it a big deal? Do we change the tolerances? The tolerances used to be bigger when we had FLOLS. Regardless, I
hope you gained a little knowledge of why things sometimes are the way they are. That being said, if any PALS system
is doing something that you don't like, ask us about it. We have loads of data on every boat out there and engineers to
look through all of it. Please feel free to email/call with any questions. Keep 'em off the ramp.
-LT Luke Smuggla Johnson is a
test pilot with VX-23. He can be
reached at

Paddles Monthly October 2012

VX-23 PALS Discussion

At the risk of geeking out too hard on Precision Approach and Landing Systems (PALS) after last
month's article, "ACLS is Dropping Me Off Low!!", this month I'd like to throw out a few nuggets of information with
respect to ICLS. During our last PALS cert on the Truman, several pilots remarked that flying bullseye on a Case 3 approach seemed to get them to that (HX) for which we all strive, while the needles got that little sagger (refer to last
month's article) for which hopefully none strive. Chances are you all learned the reasons for the comfy ICLS start (is it
ever at night?) at LSO school, but if you're at all like me, you may have crammed that knowledge in a hard to reach spot
to make room for something else like directions to work, your wife's phone number (even though it's stored in your
phone) or in exceptional cases the latest Top Gun standard timeline.
We'll start with the ICLS antennas; the azimuth antenna is located along the drop lights, but we're not terribly concerned
with that right now. The elevation antenna, however, is located on a stand that is about even with the 3-wire, aft of the
island on the starboard side of the boat and a little more than 18 ft high. I'm going to try for the short version of this story 18 ft is higher than the average hook to eye value, plus the antenna is forward of the normal HTDP. Also, the ICLS
antenna is about 4 ft below our eyes in the cockpit (assuming a Hornet or Rhino).

What do all of these numbers mean? For all intents and purposes it means the center of bullseye is about 7 ft above the
beam of light in the center cell of IFLOLS (see Figure 1, which I know is not to scale - thank you, former test guys).
Obviously, 7 ft of difference at the ramp is a lot; so that's why you wouldn't want to fly the ICLS to the deck, because if
my arithmetic is correct that would be about 21 ft of hook to ramp (I went to TPS, no big deal). This is also why the
ICLS is NOT a 200 1/2 system; it's a 300 3/4 system if that was a surprise, grab your CV NATOPS and look those
weather mins up. Finally, the ICLS coverage volume is obviously finite and doesn't lie on top of the IFLOLS center cell,
so as you approach the in close position, you should see bullseye race up and off of the display (if they race down, you're
really high). I'm guessing you all knew this, but hopefully this was a good refresher as to the why. Continued

Figure 1: ICLS/IFLOLS Differences

So the bottom line is that if you fly a center (or even cresting) ball pass, then bullseye elevation should start to creep upwards around 1 mile from touchdown and will really take off IC. And for one last parting shot, does it work as gouge for
a decent start during CASE 1? It can, but depending largely on groove length and whether or not CATCC switched the
ICLS to the correct glideslope after the IFLOLS got set to 4.0 deg for high winds, you could be in for a surprise. So use
with caution. Thanks to anyone who cared enough to read and keep 'em safe, paddles. Also, I promise this will be my
-LT Luke Smuggla Johnson is a
last PALS article at least for a bit.
test pilot with VX-23. He can be
reached at

VX-23 PALS Discussion

Sierra Nevada to
provide upgrade
kits for carrier
landing systems
BY John Keller MILITARY &
carrier aviation experts needed
upgrade kits to improve the
AN/SPN-46 automatic carrier
landing system. They found
their solution from Sierra
Nevada Corp. in Sparks, Nev.
Officials of the Naval
Air Warfare Center Aircraft
Division, Lakehurst, at Joint
Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst,
N.J., announced an $8.2 million
contract to Sierra Nevada to
provide as many as 16 Block III
receiver upgrade kits for the

automatic landing systems for

The Block III receivers
are critical components on
aircraft carriers and amphibious
assault ships. The system
the AN/SPN-46 shipboardprovides final approach and
based precision approach and
landing guidance for aircraft
landing system. The AN/SPN46 precision approach landing
during day/night operations and
adverse weather conditions.
systems from Textron Inc. in
The precision approach
Providence, R.I., are installed
landing system can control
on all U.S. Navy aircraft
as many as two aircraft
The AN/SPN-46 employs simultaneously in a leapfrog
low-probability-of-intercept pattern; as each approaching
aircraft, being assisted by the
technology to decrease
system lands, another can be
the probability of passive
detection by hostile forces. acquired.
The AN/SPN- 46 employs
The AN/SPN-46 radar
provides a Mode 1 approach.
an X-band coherent
When engaged a PALS
transmitter and receiver
approach provides a handsusing monopulse tracking
and Doppler processing
off landing for the pilot. Pilots
reportedly do not use
on received signals for
it often, preferring not
clutter rejection and rain
attenuation at an operating to hand off much of the
range of eight nautical miles. aircrafts controls to a
computer but it is important
The AN/SPN-46 precision
for controller to be able to take
approach landing system
control when all other systems
(PALS) includes the Textron
SPN 46 (V)1 and (V)2


February 2013




Couple-Up for Safety!!

I heard a story a few days ago that reminded me of that simple phrase Couple-up for Safety! A Hornet was returning to the ship for a standard night Case III recovery. Having been flying at high altitude for an extended period
of time, the aircraft rapidly descended to the ship into the hot, humid air that is the Gulf of Oman. Not surprisingly,
the pilot ended up IFR in the cockpit with little relief from defogging attempts. The first attempt at recovery was
terminated early when the pilot relayed that he could not see the ship at the ball call. So heres where our simple
phrase came into play. With recommendation from Paddles, the pilot coupled up for an ACLS Mode 1. The coupled approach, closely monitored by Paddles, resulted in an uneventful arrestment, demonstrating one of the exact
situations for which the system was designed. We are taught early by our senior Paddles and the schoolhouse that
the Mode 1 is to be used when the pilots ability to land the aircraft safely is degraded; be it IFR in the cockpit, injury, 0-0 conditions, old guys & Marines (editors addition), or maybe even just returning to the ship after an 8 hour
mission over Afghanistan. Depending on your airwing, you may not see many mode 1s at the ship. So how do you
really know that its going to be working correctly for these situations? ...continued in:


As with departures, the

type of recovery is based on
the meteorological conditions and are referred to as
Case I, Case II, or Case III.

Case I
Aircraft awaiting recovery hold in
the port holding pattern, a lefthand circle tangent to the ships
course with the ship in the 3-oclock
position, and a maximum diameter
of 5 nmi. Aircraft typically hold in
close formations of two or more
and are stacked at various altitudes
based on their type/squadron.
Minimum holding altitude is 2,000
feet, with a minimum of 1,000 feet
vertical separation between holding
altitudes. Flights arrange themselves to establish proper separation for landing. As the launching
aircraft (from the subsequent event)
clear the flight deck and landing

area becomes clear, the lowest

aircraft in holding descend and
depart the stack in final preparation
for landing. Higher aircraft descend
in the stack to altitudes vacated
by lower holding aircraft. The final
descent from the bottom of the
stack is planned so as to arrive at
the Initial which is 3 miles astern
the ship at 800 feet, paralleling the
ships course. The aircraft are then
flown over the ship and break into
the landing pattern, ideally establishing at 50-60 second interval on
the aircraft in front of them.
If there are too many (more
than6) aircraft in the landing
pattern when a flight arrives at
the ship, the flight leader initiates
a spin, climbing up slightly and
executing a tight 360 turn within
3nmi of the ship.
The break is a level 180 turn
made at 800 feet, descending
to 600 feet when established
downwind. Landing gear/flaps are
lowered, and landing checks are
completed. When abeam (directly
aligned with) the landing area on
downwind, the aircraft is 180 from

the ships course and approximately

1.5 miles from the ship, a position
known as the 180 (because of the
angled flight deck, there is actually
closer to 190 of turn required at
this point). The pilot begins his
turn to final while simultaneously
beginning a gentle descent. At the
90 the aircraft is at 450 feet, about
1.2nmi from the ship, with 90 of
turn to go. The final checkpoint for
the pilot is crossing the ships wake,
at which time the aircraft should be
approaching final landing heading
and at ~350 feet. At this point, the
pilot acquires the Optical Landing
System (OLS), which is used for
the terminal portion of the landing.
During this time, the pilots full
attention is devoted to maintaining
proper glideslope, lineup, and angle
of attack until touchdown.
Line up on landing area centerline is critical because it is only 120
feet wide, and aircraft are often
parked within a few feet either side.
This is accomplished visually during
Case I using the painted ladder
lines on the sides of the landing
area and the centerline/drop line.

Maintaining radio silence, or zip

lip, during Case I launches and
recoveries is the norm, breaking
radio silence only for safety-of-flight

Case II
This approach is utilized when
weather conditions are such that
the flight may encounter instrument
conditions during the descent, but
visual conditions of at least 1,000
feet ceiling and 5 miles visibility
exist at the ship. Positive radar control is utilized until the pilot is inside
10 nmi and reports the ship in sight.
Flight leaders follow Case III
approach procedures outside of
10nmi. When within 10 nmi with
the ship in sight, flights are shifted
to tower control and proceed as in
Case I.

Case III
This approach is utilized whenever
existing weather at the ship is below
Case II minimums and during all
night flight operations. Case III
recoveries are made with single
aircraft, with no formations except

in an emergency situation).
All aircraft are assigned holding
at a marshal fix, typically about
180 from the ships Base Recovery
Course (BRC), at a unique distance
and altitude. The holding pattern
is a left-hand, 6-minute racetrack
pattern. Each pilot adjusts his holding pattern to depart marshal precisely at the assigned time. Aircraft
departing marshal will normally be
separated by 1 minute. Adjustments
may be directed by the ships
Carrier Air Traffic Control Center
(CATCC), if required, to ensure
proper separation. In order to maintain proper separation of aircraft,
parameters must be precisely flown.
Aircraft descend at 250 knots and
4,000 feet per minute until 5,000 is
reached, at which point the descent
is lessened to 2,000 feet per minute.
Aircraft transition to a landing
configuration (wheels/flaps down) at
10-nmi from the ship.
Since the landing area is angled
approximately 10 from the axis
of the ship, aircraft final approach
heading (Final Bearing) is approximately 10 less than the ships

heading (Base Recovery Course).

Aircraft on the standard approach
(called the CV-1) correct from the
marshal radial to the final bearing at
20 miles. As the ship moves through
the water, the aircraft must make
continual, minor corrections to the
right to stay on the final bearing. If
the ship makes course correction
(which is often done in order to
make the relative wind (natural wind
plus ships movement generated
wind) go directly down the angle
deck, or to avoid obstacles), lineup
to center line must be corrected.
The further the aircraft is from
the ship, the larger the correction
Aircraft pass through the 6-mile
fix at 1,200 feet altitude, 150 knots,
in the landing configuration and
commence slowing to final approach
speed. At 3 nmi, aircraft begin a
gradual (700 foot per minute or
3-4) descent until touchdown. In
order to arrive precisely in position
to complete the landing visually (at
3/4 nmi behind the ship at 400 ft),
a number of instrument systems/
procedures are used. Once the pilot

approaches. A bullseye is
displayed for the pilot, indicating aircraft position in relation to
glideslope and final bearing. The
Automatic Carrier Landing
System (ACLS) is similar to the
ICLS, in that it displays needles
that indicate aircraft position in
relation to glideslope and final
bearing. An approach utilizing this
system is said to be a Mode II
approach. Additionally, some aircraft
are capable of coupling their
autopilots to the glideslope/azimuth
signals received via data link from
the ship, allowing for a hands-off
approach. If the pilot keeps the
The Carrier Controlled Approach
autopilot coupled until touchdown,
is analogous to ground-controlled
approach using the ships precision this is referred to as a Mode I
approach. If the pilot maintains a
approach radar. Pilots are told (via
voice radio) where they are in rela- couple until the visual approach
point (at 3/4 mile) this is referred to
tion to glideslope and final bearing
as a Mode IIA approach.
(e.g., above glideslope, right of
The Long Range Laser Lineup
centerline). The pilot then makes a
correction and awaits further infor- System (LLS) uses eye-safe lasers,
projected aft of the ship, to give
mation from the controller.
pilots a visual indication of their
The Instrument Carrier
lineup with relation to centerline.
Landing System (ICLS) is very
The LLS is typically used from as
similar to civilian ILS systems and
much as 10 nmi until the landing
is used on virtually all CaseIII

acquires visual contact with the

optical landing aids, the pilot will
call the ball. Control will then be
assumed by the LSO, who issues
final landing clearance with a roger
ball call. When other systems
are not available, aircraft on final
approach will continue their descent
using distance/altitude checkpoints
(e.g, 1200 ft at 3 nmi, 860 ft at
2 nmi, 460 ft at 1 nmi, 360 ft at
the ball call). Pilots are taught to
always back up their other approach
systems with this basic procedure.

area can be seen at around 1 nmi.

Regardless of the case recovery
or approach type, the final portion of the landing (3/4 mile to
touchdown) is flown visually. Line
up with the landing area is achieved
by lining up painted lines on the
landing area centerline with a set of
lights that drops from the back of
the flight deck. Proper glideslope is
maintained using the Fresnel lens
Optical Landing System (FLOLS),
Improved Fresnel Lens Optical
Landing System (IFLOLS), or
Manually Operated Visual Landing
Aid System (MOVLAS).
If an aircraft is pulled off the
approach (if the landing area is not
clear, for example) or is waved off
by the LSO (for poor parameters
or a fouled deck), or misses all the
arresting wires (bolters), the pilot
climbs straight ahead to 1,200 feet
to the bolter/wave-off pattern and
waits for instructions from approach

carrier air traffic control center


Navy carriers prepare for X-47B unmanned aircraft arrival next year

Air traffic controllers aboard USS Harry S.

Truman receive training and provide fleet
feedback on Navy Unmanned Combat Air
System Demonstration software during recent
carrier sea trials. (U.S. Navy photo) Jul 19, 2012


"Carrier suitability testing frequently
involves unconventional flying,
which is certainly the case for certifying amphibious assault ships (LHA
and LHD classes). These ships have
a Precision Approach and Landing
System (PALS) similar to those currently found on any aircraft carrier
(CVN), and require similar certification every two years. As VX-23
does not fly the Harrier, we perform
these certifications using the F/A-18.
L-Class ships have a TACAN and
SPN-41 Instrument Carrier Landing
System (ICLS), similar to the systems found on a CVN. Instead of a
SPN-46 Automatic Carrier Landing
System (ACLS) however, they have
a SPN-35 which provides a precision
approach capability. They also have
an optical lens which appears similar
to the lens found on a CVN, but
its located on the starboard side
of the ship and on the back side
of the island. Instead of a marked
centerline in the landing area, they
have a tramline which pilots use to

reference their lateral position.

The goal of an L-Class PALS
certification is to verify that the
SPN-35, SPN-41 and lens agree, and
that they get the pilot safely to the
point where he can take over and
land visually. In this respect its
similar to a Mode II certification
of an aircraft carrier. Obviously
the F/A-18 isnt designed to touch
down on an L-Class, so all of the
approaches are terminated no later
than 200 feet. The pattern is similar
to that used for CVN certification ,
essentialy the Case III pattern with
a higher airspeed on downwind. The
pilot flies the ICLS needles while
cross-checking and reporting TACAN
range and radar altitude on the
radio. Simultaneously test engineers
onboard the ship monitor the SPN35 to ensure that it matches what
the pilot is reporting. Technicians
are capable of making near realtime adjustments if errors in the
system are detected.
Flying a low approach to a
straight-deck boat is an interesting
experience. Since there is no possibility of touch-down, approaches are

generally flown with the landing gear

up to conserve fuel. The urge to fly
to the right of the wake and make
the sight picture look like a CVN is
almost irresistible. The location of
the lens on the starboard side of the
ship also contributes to the tendency to drift right. Combine all these
factors and add in the requirement
to fly an on-and-on approach while
simultaneously reporting range and
altitude data on the radio, and this
quickly becomes a challenging task.
To all those who get to enjoy
their rats on an L-Class, while we
dont get to interact with you as
much as with CVN pilots, we at
VX-23 are dedicated to ensuring
that you have the most accurate
and reliable landing aids pos-sible.
Please let us know if you have any
concerns with your ships systems.
While the L-Class PALS certification
may not help us increase our trap
count, it is challenging and rewarding flying, and an important part of
VX-23s service to the fleet.
LT Matt Brasso Davin VX-23 Ship Suitability"

Chief Air Traffic

Ronesha Q. Nation,
right, assigned to the
future amphibious
assault ship USS
America (LHA 6),
supervises Air-Traffic
Controller 1st Class
Fernando Montes
while he stands
approach controller
watch from the ships
amphibious air traffic
control center. (U.S.
Navy photo by Mass
Specialist 3rd Class
Huey D. Younger Jr./
Released) http://
index.html# [6/10]

Bad-weather CV
corneroperational risk

management and constant

velocity by Brian Schrum
Trapping aboard the carrier has
to be the most thrilling challenge
experienced by carrier-based
naval aviators. The last 15 to 18
seconds of a flight are intense.
However, the Case I, II, or III
approach leading up to the ball
call, at three-quarters of a mile,
requires as much concentration and discipline as the trap.
Perfecting the skills to operate in
this environment puts aviators to
the test each day and night, in all
weather conditions.
During our squadron ORM
sessions, we learn how to identify hazards and risks, make risk
decisions, implement controls,
evaluate our changes, and
offer recommendations to avert

disaster and foster a safer evolution. I hope this article spurs

ready-room conversations on a
topic not often discussed during preflight briefs or squadron
LSO lectures: Low-ceiling and
low-visibility approach hazards. A
recent air-wing recovery showed
how inclement weather caused
havoc to an unprepared naval
aviator and LSO.
I had not given much thought
to approach minimums during a
Case III arrival to the boat until,
as an LSO, I experienced the
mass confusion that can occur
during bad weather. We often
work in a benign weather environment, but we always should
be prepared to handle weather
We were deployed on board
USS George Washington (CVN
73) in the Northern Arabian Sea,
in support of Operation Enduring
Freedom. It was the end of July,
and C-17 had finished our first
week of ops. Throughout the

week, a low-pressure system

dominated the area with ceilings
at 1,000 feet or less, and visibility at two to five miles with mist
and haze. Because of the poor
weather, we conducted Case III
approaches every recovery.
A Case III approach is flown
when the weather is less than
1,000-foor ceiling or five-mile
visibility, or during night CV
operations. The approach
typically consists of marshalling
aircraft behind the ship at various altitudes and distances. Each
aircraft is given an approach
time to sequence to the deck in
a safe and expeditious manner.
Pilots fly a standard-descent
profile, dirty-up, and intercept a
3.5-degree glide slope at three
miles--that should lead to an
on-and-on start. Once inside
seven miles, pilots can reference
ILS (bulls-eye) and/or ACLS
(automatic-carrier-landing system
or needles) to guide them. If
the pilot does not have either

ILS or ACLS, he then relies upon

CATCC (carrier-air-traffic control)
azimuth and glideslope calls,
plus his self-contained approach
numbers, to get him to an onand-on start. On a standard
flight, pilots will use all of these
aids to get aboard. If one aid is
malfunctioning, the approach
may be off parameters. If we
factor bad weather into the mix,
a pilot could have their hands full,
as they did on our LSO teams
particular wave day.
During these poor conditions,
the CAG and squadron paddles
step up and keep their fellow
aviators off the ramp. Normally,
paddles only passes roger ball
and the occasional power calls
to approaching aircraft. But,
under degraded conditions, a
paddles talk-down can be a
rewarding experience. Such was
the case that July afternoon
when weather conditions suddenly deteriorated to one onequarter-time visibility and ceilings

at 350 feet or lower.

Our team was scheduled to
wave a midday recovery and
found the weather to be a safety
factor. Paddles made the call
for all aircraft to have their taxi
light on, so the aircraft would
be visible earlier. Before the first
plane arrived at the ball call--at
one and a half miles--we would
break out and make an arrestment. CATCC called the first jet
on and on at three-quarters of
a mile, and told the pilot to call
the ball. Clara was all we heard.
Cricket. Cricket.
The hairs on the back of our
collective necks stood straight
up. We heard nothing for two or
three seconds until, suddenly, a
jet appeared out of the haze, only
moments away from taking a
trap. CAG paddles gave appropriate calls to the pilot and received
good responses; he safely
trapped. Great, we have one
aboard and seven more to go.
We brought three more aircraft

down before the weather closed

in on the ship, and we went
below minimums. With more
aircraft left to land, we thought
about our options. The ship was
working blue-water operations,
and our nearest suitable divert
airfield was 200 miles away.
Aircraft were returning from
long missions, some with ordnance aboard, which presented
us with low-fuel states and
maximum-trap weights. Fuel
was airborne but in short supply.
The next events launch was on
hold while the ship and air-wing
leadership decided what to do.
Vultures row saw more action
as people wanted to watch the
excitement and experience the
deteriorating weather. Meanwhile,
four aircraft tried to break out
and finish the recovery.
Lets stop right here and ask
the question, With the weather
minimums continuing to drop,
just how far along an approach
can we wave an aircraft without

a paddles contact?
Paddles contact refers to a
call the LSOs can make to grab
an aircraft from CATCC and talk
him down to the landing area. To
help answer this question, here
are some ORM controls for the
bad-weather hazard:
1. Weather minimums for our
a. For an ACLS approach and
ILS with PAR monitor, the
minimums are 260 feet, onehalf-mile visibility.
b. If ACLS and ILS are not
working, minimums are 660
feet, one and one-quarter
miles for jets and 460 feet,
one mile for props.
2. CAG and squadron paddles
experience levels.
3. Individual pilot training and
experience levels.

4. CATCC equipment and crew

5. LSO platform equipment.
6. Ships instrument-approach
What was the status of these
controls during our recovery?
Approach minimums, like those
we fly with at our destination
airfields back home, are hard and
fast. Just like at the field, if we
dont see our landing area and
cannot complete a safe landing,
we wave off--as mandated in
OPNAV 3710. Both CAG paddles
were on the platform, providing
experienced inputs throughout
the event. The pilots were mostly
cruise-experienced and made
informed, judicious decisions as
the pilots-in-command. CATCC
was doing its best to provide
glide slope and azimuth calls and
had been working Case III control for two months of our cruise.
The LSO-platform equipment

operated properly, with the

exception of the LSO HUD used
for platform correlation of the
ACLS. With this subsystem inoperative, it took away one item
the LSOs could have used to help
wave the aircraft. Finally, bullseye was down as the ship was
awaiting a part to fix it. Four aircraft remained airborne, and we
contunued to push our approach
A COD diverted before getting the opportunity to fly the
approach. A Hawkeye was given a
talkdown approach by CATCC that
had him flying to the starboard
side of the ship, despite being
called on-and-on. A judicious
waveoff call from CAG paddles
kept him from getting too close
for comfort. Our last Hornet
made his way to the ball call.
After four agonizing seconds
went by, with no sight of him,
we waved him off. We never
saw him break out of the haze
but heard him climb off the port

a Mode 1 approach (basically an

side. Fortunately, everyone had
autopilot approach to the carenough fuel to make it to our
nearest divert field. The weather rier deck)? The letter of the law
eventually cleared later in the day, states that even Mode 1s can
and it was ops normal once again. only be flown to ACLS approach
minimums. A deviation would
How far can we wave an
aircraft in deteriorating weather require a waiver from higher
conditions? The textbook answer authority.
After evaluating the days
is as far as the approach minievents, I believe we had, and
mums allow. If CATCC does not
hear paddles contact or roger continue to have, controls
in place that are more than
ball from the LSOs. CATCC is
adequate to respond to adverseinstructed to keep glide slope
weather conditions. However,
and azimuth calls coming until
we do have to make sure the
the aircraft reaches weather
controls are operating correctly.
The responsibility relies on great
What if no divert was available? Our plan was to tank every communication between the
pilots, LSOs and the ship. As
available aircraft in extremis,
LSOs, we have to train the
even calling in big-wing tanking
to help until the ship found clear air wing and keep them up to
sea space. If a clear area was not speed on CV specifics, including
found, and no tanking was avail- approach minimums.
Pilots must be familiar with
able, then we were to bring the
aircraft lower than the minimums how far to take an approach
allowed, or to have the pilot eject before waving off and must have
the confidence in paddles to
near the ship.
How about Hornet pilots flying bring them aboard when they

hear paddles contact. Through

good ORM, this knowledge may
save your life one day. Fly a good,
solid instrument approach in bad
weather; this can mean the difference between getting aboard
or spending the night at your
CATCC tends to take the
heat for many issues regarding
the Case III approach. The key
to addressing any issues with
CATCC is to stop by and fill out
a pilot-debrief form. That stop in
CATCC will get the techs on the
case and repairs in the works.
Timely feedback will assist the
ship in making changes just like
a well-written aircraft gripe.
As a paddles, I gained valuable experience on the platform,
waving in adverse weather
conditions. I also gained an even
bigger appreciation for our jobs
as naval aviators.

Lt. Schrum flies with VFA-83.

USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) air traffic controllers conduct tests at Navy Unmanned Combat Air System Aviation/Ship Integration Facility (NASIF) in October at
Patuxent River, Md. Using the program's Carrier Air Traffic Control Center (CATCC)
simulator, controllers demonstrated the ability to operate manned and unmanned
aircraft in a carrier environment using new digital message technology. (U.S.N. photo)

20Hornet%20Demonstrates%20Unpiloted%20Approaches There were no changes to the flight control laws of the F/A-18F for this phase of the program.
"This was mostly about autonomous command and control with an existing, carrier-qualified platform and demonstrating
we could control it from the ship," Davis says. "For future activities, we may incorporate modifications to make the Super
Hornet more representative of a tailless flying wing."

By David A. Fulghum

Super Hornet Demonstrates

03 June 2007 Unpiloted Approaches

That may differ very little from a manned aircraft's approach, except that an unmanned aircraft can operate at a higher
angle of attack because there's no need for a pilot to have forward vision.
"This design would actually approach the ship slower [less than 140 kt.] than the Super Hornet does today," says George
Muellner, president of Advanced Systems within Boeing Integrated Defense Systems. "If you look at the Super Hornet and
the [F-35 Joint Strike Fighter], the actual come-across-the-end-of-the-deck characteristics are different from the
standpoint of what factors on the aircraft produce them. But the end results are very similar."

Researchers are analyzing data from the first "hands-off" live-fly operations around an aircraft carrier--information that
could lead to a specially modified F/A-18F Super Hornet landing on a ship without a pilot touching the controls in as little
as two years.
May's demonstration on the Truman was dictated by the flight characteristics of the Super Hornet.
A pair of Boeing test pilots just completed a series of unannounced landing approaches and waveoffs with the USS Harry
S. Truman operating near Norfolk, Va., on May 17-18. They closed to within 420 ft. of the carrier before conducting a
ship-controlled waveoff. The test aircraft--the first two-seat F/A-18F built--has been reconfigured as a surrogate
unmanned combat air system (UCAS). The project parallels the company's effort to design a demonstrator for the Navy's
UCAS-D competition. However, company officials contend the demonstration wasn't designed specifically for the
competition or for Boeing's new X-45N design.

"We were flying about an 8-deg. angle of attack, 3.5-4-deg. glideslope and an approach speed of about 135-142 kt.,"
Davis says. "We weren't pushing the boundaries with this first set of demonstrations."
One of the most crucial areas for a tailless airplane as it approaches the back of the carrier is flying through the burble.
(The burble is a region of turbulence created by the carrier.)

"In this set of demonstrations, we really didn't get to where that effect is encountered," Davis says. However, "the back of
The test was aimed at validating three crucial areas: networking of advanced radios between the aircraft carrier and
the carrier is one of those challenges we face in a tailless airplane." Nonetheless, researchers think they have sufficient
aircraft, autonomous flight of dark and bad-weather carrier traffic patterns, and integration of aircraft position data into the wind tunnel data to suggest their tailless flying wing will have "plenty of roll power and longitudinal control."
shipboard air traffic controller's console.
"The difference in the F/A-18 and UCAS is not how much control power they need, but what effectors give it to you,"
After government officials canceled the Air Force's UCAS program in favor of a new manned bomber, they directed
Muellner says. "Directional control power in an F/A-18 comes from a vertical tail. In a tailless airplane you get it from
Boeing to work on a Navy-only effort.
other sources distributed across the airframe. The amount you need is driven by the aerodynamic and inertia characteristics.
In reality, the farther out [on the wing] a differential control effector is [as with the UCAS design], the more control power
"We made a company decision to leverage everything we'd learned [into] a surrogate UCAS-D demonstration using the
it has compared to something on the centerline."
F/A-18F-1 to prove our software for autonomous command and control [C2]," says Darryl Davis, vice president and
general manager of Boeing Advanced Precision Engagement & Mobility Systems (see p. 47). "We wanted to show that the "The burble isn't everything," Davis notes. "You can also add gusts and other turbulence. The carrier typically operates at
technology is easily transferable from the X-45A [fighter size UCAS] and X-45C [bomber size] programs to [unmanned or 10-15 kt. of wind over the deck, but you need to design your system so that it can handle up to 30 kt. In a low-speed
manned aircraft and] put ourselves in a credible position for the Navy's UCAS competition." However, company emphasis approach to a moving landing strip, you've got to show adequate control power all the way to arrestment. But all the
has shifted to make the autonomous landing capability a separate program and thereby applicable to any manned aircraft as analyses show that we're in the high 90% compliance with the Navy's 'okay 3-wire' criteria--about 15-17 ft. of dispersion
for UCAS-D performance." During the demonstration, the aircraft actually encountered wind over the deck of "well over
30 kt.," says Samuel Platt, project manager for the surrogate demonstration.
Company specialists also built on 2006 demonstrations of an advanced radio--the Tactical Targeting Network Technology
(TTNT)--as the primary command and control communications link. Coupled with the X-45 work, they had the
For the Truman demonstrations, Mike Wallace was the pilot in command. Platt flew as the weapons systems officer, on
underpinnings for a surrogate UCAS that could be landed on an aircraft carrier.
board to monitor system health, signal strength and data link connectivity.
Land-based demonstrations began at NAS Patuxent River, Md., in November. The modified aircraft flew approaches to a "If any contingencies had come up, they were there to uncouple the system and take over in a fully manned mode," Davis
virtual carrier positioned in Chesapeake Bay. Boeing researchers ensured that their mission control element could interface says. "So far, the pilots never had to take over control for any reason."
with the Navy's shipboard air traffic control system (land-based at Patuxent River) and that the ship's system could
command the aircraft, in the pattern, in both visual and instrument weather approaches.
That record of no disengagements continued through the demonstration with no intervention from the aircrew during 14
approaches over two days, which also included marshaling over the ship during visual operations (Case I) and to a remote
Last month, the demonstrations shifted to the Truman, which was integrated into the system with TTNT radios and the
orbit during simulated dark and bad-weather approaches (Case III) before being vectored into a new approach. In fact,
mission control element. The Super Hornet flew to the ship as a piloted aircraft, but then it was coupled to the autonomous Platt says, the focus of the demonstration was primarily to exercise the entire set of procedures for both Case I and III
C2 system and the aircraft answered to commands issued by the shipboard operator through the ship's ATC system.
For the Truman test, there was a requirement to stay 660 ft. away from the emitters on the island as the aircraft went by the
ship, Davis says. Shortly before final approach, either the ship's ATC or the Navy UCAS control operator on the ship could
issue a waveoff command. The low approach to the ship demonstrated the ability of a tactically sized aircraft to operate in
a carrier-relevant situation and "the ability of our C2 software to command the aircraft in a completely hands-off mode,"
he says.

The system received praise from the ship's air traffic controllers and the aircrew. The data stream from the aircraft
provided much better situational awareness to ATC because it updates the aircraft's position continuously instead of once
every 3.5 sec. as provided by the ship's radar. It also functions in the radar's 20-deg. blind spot that extends several miles in
front of the ship. The aircrews liked the system because it monitors the ship's position and movement 20 times a second.
As a result, ATC voice chatter is reduced substantially.

"You take most of the unknowns away," Platt says. "You have complete situational awareness, and you don't have to talk
to find any of this out."
While tests could have continued for three days--about 1.5 hr. at the carrier per day--the data points were all collected by
early in the second day. Expected approach times were falling within 1 sec. of those assigned. The test aircraft operated
with manned aircraft in the pattern above them and on the flight deck. The demonstration also provided two areas of data
that could not be simulated adequately--the actual ship's motion and operation of the advanced radios once they were on a
ship, Platt says.
When X-45A operation started at Edwards AFB, Calif., controllers demanded a sterile air and ground operations. But as
they gained confidence, the aircraft was integrated into normal operations.
"This demonstration takes that confidence a step further by showing they can influence the vehicle in real time," Muellner
says. "Either of the two controllers can tell it to waveoff, and it's gone. This shows the repeatability that UAVs can give
you" with autonomous response to contingencies the aircraft may encounter that are embedded in the mission management
Flying to an arrestment on the deck will have to wait until a precision, Differential GPS system is installed on the aircraft
and the ship. However, the follow-on phases are planned. The technology is expected to benefit not just the UCAS
program but virtually any aircraft that lands on an aircraft carrier. As a result, Boeing will help with risk reduction on the
Navy's Precision Approach and Landing Systems (JPALS) development, as it would work with the Super Hornet and F-35
Joint Strike Fighter. It then could be further modified to work with whatever design is selected for the advanced unmanned
strike program.
Boeing also has plans to integrate the aircraft with a new deck control device so that handlers can move aircraft around the
ship in an unmanned configuration.
"That would take some time and additional investment, but what we're doing has great applicability to Super Hornets and
other naval aviation platforms," Davis says. "It's also applicable to the land-based Broad Area Maritime Surveillance
[BAMS] unmanned reconnaissance aircraft."
As for follow-on phases, if Boeing's design is selected, Davis says that in an aggressive program the team could proceed to
arrested landings and maneuvering around the deck in two more iterations at sea. "In the first, you will check everything
out, do a lot of low approaches, then go to touchdown and bolters. In the second, you fly to an arrestment. We could be at
the carrier arrestment in about two years."
There may be a place for the UAV management system in the U.S. Air Force as well.
"This system has great applicability to precision-navigation, autonomous aerial refueling in both the Air Force and Navy,"
Davis says. "The Air Force Research Laboratory demonstrated it last summer using a tanker and a C-21 as a surrogate
UCAS. The technology included TTNT, Differential GPS on the C-21 and KC-135 tanker. We flew it into the pre-contact
position in the refueling box. There's also the potential for unmanned-to-unmanned aircraft refueling.
"You could use this system for collaborative manned-unmanned operations, be it strike, electronic attack or
reconnaissance," Davis says. "You could have two UCASs and a couple of Super Hornets much like we've shown you can
do with the two X-45As. There are lots of extrapolations you could make. You could do ops with two Predators, BAMS or
whatever. That's why in the X-45A program we demonstrated multiple unmanned aircraft operating collaboratively to
prosecute a target set in a preemptive, destructive and reactive suppression of enemy air defenses."




Shipboard Automated Landing Technology Innovation

Program, John Kinzer Aircraft Technology Program
Officer ONR 351, 2 November 2011

Shipboard Automated Landing Technology

Innovation (SALTI) VISION

SALTI Technical Objectives

Precise automated approach and glideslope control
- Reduced susceptibility to wind gusts and turbulence
- Accommodation of high sea states, higher winds from all directions,
degraded visual environment
- Precise, predictable touchdown: reduced scatter in sink rate,
sideloads, touchdown spot, hook-to-ramp distance, centerline deviations
HCI for manned aircraft for optimal situational awareness, control, and
decision making
Ability to operate under night, degraded visual environment, and
emissions control (EMCON) conditions
High integrity systems for naval seabased operations
- Excursion: ability to conduct VTOL ops onto ships without specialized
Optimum commonality among aircraft and ship types, and ship / shore

All sea based naval aircraft, manned and unmanned, fixed wing and
rotary wing, will utilize optimally automated ship launch and
recovery to the operating limits of the ship / aircraft system
Flight operations Warfighter Payoff
- Increased safety, reduction in mishaps
- More operational flexibility through expanded shipboard operating
envelopes and flexible flight deck usage
- Reduced landing intervals, bolter and waveoff rate (shorter
recovery periods, reduced fuel consumption)
- Flight Control
- Increased shipboard sortie rates, reduced ship and aircraft fuel
* Modified control laws for precision control
consumption, recovery tanker give requirements, ship and
* Gust sensing and alleviation
squadron personnel fatigue, etc.
- HCI and ship integration
- Potential for common capability with DVE and obstructed LZ ops
* Ship based pilot displays
* Cockpit displays
Aircraft / ship design and maintenance
* GCS and ship systems interface
- Reduced landing gear and related structure
* LSE interface
- Reduced number of wires / arresting gear engines
- Navigation systems
- Reduction in ship support systems (landing aids, displays, etc)
* GPS based precision landing algorithms being worked by JPALS,
- Reduction in inspection and repair for hard landings
UCAS-D programs
- Increased fatigue life
* Supporting / alternate systems (ship and/or aircraft mounted)
CVN: adapt existing systems/sensors, propose new sensors
Flight training
- reduction in training time / cost (decrease in ship landing initial
- Deck motion prediction and compensation
training, qualification, and currency requirements)
* CVN, L-class, and small decks existing algorithms adequate?
- indirect benefits may include reduced environmental impact and
* Prediction and integration with aircraft control
public complaints due to FCLPs (noise), cost of equipping,
CONOPS: adjustments to take advantage of enhanced precision,
maintaining, and manning outlaying landing fields, etc.

efficiency, safety, envelope expansion, reduced maintenance



X The New Dean Checks In






Keepem Safe Paddles (cont.)

July 2012


Keepem Safe Paddles

iMOVLAS After nearly a decade of fighting for it, we finally got iMOVLAS fully funded. It will hit the fleet after Im
gone, but the dollars are there and its coming to a CVN near you.
iPARTS You asked for a replacement to APARTS and the new system is going through DT and OT right now. We still
have an uphill battle to get it fully funded and made a program of record but were fighting the fight.
LSOT Upgrade We asked for better fidelity in the trainer and a 21st century solution to our synthetic training environment
and we finally got the folks with the money to say yes. The upgrade to the trainer will begin later this year and will be fully
functional sometime in 2013.


These priorities were published on July 1st, 2009 (on our newly minted website), and I am extremely proud of the staff
for getting this done. In the end, a rallying cry from you (the fleet) helped us achieve these goals. And for that I thank
Like any reputable organization, we are focused on continuous improvement. And yes, I still have some itches that have
yet to be scratched. In no particular order:
Shore-based IFLOLS. Despite our constant whining and nagging we cant seem to convince the folks with the
purse to get us more units. Please continue to fight this fight. To give up now would spell disaster as these
things continue to age and become more and more prone to failure.

Fellow BPFs, Air Bosses, Minis, and supporters of the greatest vocation on the planet,
The manager has asked for the ball, and has signaled for the lefty, CDR Potzo Pothier. Yours truly is moving on and
hanging up the paddles, so I wanted to take one last opportunity to wax poetic from my seat as the Dean of the Navys
finest institution of higher learning. As most of you know Ive never been at a loss for words and this will NOT be the
It has been an interesting ride here at the school house and I would be remiss if I didnt publically thank our very small
staff for their dedication to providing the best training possible afforded by our shoe-string budget and limited manpower.
During my tenure here, weve completely re-written the syllabus, superbly polished the MILCON where we reside, and
grown as a staff by 100%. There have been hook slaps, landing mishaps, fouled deck landings, and most interestingly, a
crusade aimed at yours truly for a change to NATOPS that ended up being rescinded. Despite the ebb and flow of the
good and bad, I wouldnt change a thing. Because in the end, the Paddles community has become more tightly connected
than it has for many moons, and that had nothing to do with us. We simply created an environment in which YOU had a
forum to fine tune our business and communicate freely with no fear of recourse or derision.
And exciting times are on the horizon. During the course of the next few years, F-35s will land on the boat, an unmanned vehicle will conduct a cat and trap, and at least 3 nations will join the ranks of tailhook aviation. Make no mistake about it; Id stick around if I could. With that being said, the community is in extremely good hands with the arrival
of the new Dean.
In order to feel good about myself and feel validated about having come full circle. Let me share with you a few of the
priorities I outlined within the first few weeks of my arrival:
1. Curriculum Overhaul the entire syllabus (soup to nuts) has been updated, changed, and improved in order to offer
students the training that they need.
2. LSO & CV NATOPS rewrite The 2011 release of both of these pubs were the largest single rewrite in the last 10
3. LSO PCL publication The beta version hit the fleet last year and we are working on version 2 currently.
4. LSO Standard Briefs Available for download from the website, these briefs ensure that there is commonality of purpose irrespective of air wing or coast.
5. LSO Reference Manual The new manual was released in 2010 after more than a decade hiatus. It is our Top Gun
Manual and has all of the information an LSO needs in a searchable format (PDF).
(continued on page 2)

Mea Culpa. In the very recent past there has been a growing reluctance to share shortcomings or deficiencies with
our friends around the fleet and, quite frankly, it scares the hell out of me. The hallmark of our profession is
that we only tell lies during the debrief. You have to reverse this trend and open up the kimono when required so that others dont have to learn the same lesson themselves.
Fiscal austerity. Unsure of what the near future holds, but make no mistake about it. There are many folks out there
that view prep for ops as low-hanging fruit and you will have to continue to fight for time in the pattern.
Flight hours are not on the rise and many of you will have to be creative to get the folks that need it time in the
pattern, in the simulator, and in the debrief so that we can continue to operate safely behind the boat.
Finally, your collective professionalism and talent has allowed us (the naval aviation enterprise) to enjoy one of the
longest periods of mishap-free flying, behind the boat, in history. (I hope all of you are rapping your knuckles on wood
right now). Now dont f@#$ it up. In addition, the paddles community is one of the last bastions of fraternity-like
communities left in the Navy.
Please continue to cling to that
tradition and wear the float coats
I look forward to buying each of
you a cold beverage should our
paths cross with my retiree money
and as usual
Keep em off the ramp and in the

Northrop Grumman joins Honeywell in project to upgrade Navy

shipboard aircraft landing systems 10 Oct 2013 John Keller

PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md., 10 Oct. 2013. Air traffic control experts at the Northrop Grumman Corp. Electronic Systems segment in Woodland Hills, Calif., is joining the Honeywell Inc. Aerospace sector in Clearwater, Fla., on a project to upgrade precision landing systems aboard U.S. Navy aircraft carriers & amphibious assault ships. Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., have announced their intention to award five-year contracts to Northrop Grumman and Honeywell
to upgrade & improve Navy Precision Approach Landing Systems (PALS) on carriers & big-deck amphibs.
The contracts to Northrop Grumman and Honeywell have yet to be negotiated, and should be awarded in
February, Navy officials say. The contracts, which will be basic ordering agreement (BOA), will be for services and materials to fabricate, modify, repair, replace, upgrade, and improve PALS components, assemblies, and associated hardware. PALS provides precision landing information to air traffic controllers and
pilots during final approach while landing aircraft aboard aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships.
Northrop Grumman and Honeywell are to return the [PALS] system to a level of serviceability comparable to a new system, and will include previously produced and delivered navigation and communication
systems and equipment, to include fault isolation, assembly, disassembly, and refurbishment of parts, components, assemblies, and material for the PALS navigation and communication systems. Northrop Grumman and Honeywell are the original manufacturers of the navigation, communication, and guidance equipment, and the companies are the only qualified providers of the necessary work, Navy officials say.

JPALS is an all-weather landing system based on real-time differential correction of the

GPS signal, augmented with a local area correction message, and transmitted to the user
via secure data links. The onboard receiver compares the current GPS-derived position
with the local correction signal to deliver a three-dimensional position that is accurate enough for all-weather approaches via an instrument landing system (ILS)-style display....

Whos on the Ball

- communication breakdown
while landing on carrier
by Jeff Blake

from high above the glideslope to well below, all to

the tune of blood-curdling
power calls, and then finally
the waveoff. In the cockpit,
I heard none of it
Weve reached the midpoint
of our deployment to the
Mediterranean and the Arabian
Gulf. After an uneventful night
OPFOR hop, Im spending my
time in marshal with the typical
excitement and apprehension
of the upcoming night trap. Im
flying aircraft 206, a Hornet
with a full-up system and no
problems of note (later analysis
will reveal an intermittent IFF).
Also airborne and playing a vital
role is aircraft 105, an F-14B.
Ive commenced a normal

Case III approach and, reaching

platform at 5,000 feet, switch
to assigned button 17 (channel B). Down in CATCC, an
intermittent Mode II from my
aircraft is about to produce
mass confusion. With no Mode
II hit from my Hornet, the Mr.
Hand operator neglects to
add 206 to the list of aircraft
on the approach. I proceed on
the approach. At three miles, I
commence tipover on the ILS
bullseye, disappointed that
CATCC is unable to lock my
aircraft for the ACLS approach.
Meanwhile, 105 is vectored
from the bolter pattern two
miles in trail.
Due to the lack of IFF from
my aircraft, only one other
person now knows that Im
first in line, and thats my final
controller. The Tomcats final
controller locks the next hit on
his screen, which of course is

not 105 but me in 206. At about

the same time, my final controller locks the next hit on the
scope, mistakenly locking the
Tomcat at its tipover. Everything
appears normal in my dark
cockpit, when, at just outside a
mile, I get indications of ACLS
lock on. I report the needles
slightly up and on, and CATCC
concurs. Each aircraft is now
flying needles intended for the
other aircraft.
You can imagine the confusion on the platform when
the Boss calls over the 5MC,
Tomcat, 105, one mile, Alpha.
Paddles is looking at a Hornet
bearing down with about 15
seconds of flying time until the
trap. The arresting gear, fresnel
lens, and paddles radios have
all been set tier a Tomcat on
channel A. Paddles desperately
scrambles to reset the gear and
lens for a Hornet and, in lieu

of the incorrect lens setting,

starts talking down the Hornet.
Unfortunately, the LSO radios
are never switched to channel
B, so I hear nothing but silence.
Heres the call to the Tomcat
(on channel A): 105, threequarters of a mile, call the ball.
The Tomcat RIO replies, I
dont think so, and deselects
the ACLS. Paddles hears 105s
comment (on channel A) and
interprets it as a ball call.
Meanwhile, in 206, Ive deselected the ILS and am flying the
needles instead. Engrossed in
flying an on-and-on pass, Im
focused on the needles. At half
a mile, I realize nobody has
told me to call the ball. As I
transition my scan to the ball,
Im surprised to see the lens
showing what appears to be
a nearly clara high pass, with
the ball barely visible on the
top of the lens. I make my ball

call (on channel B) as I start to

correct the high but receive no
response. Again I call the ball-now its coming down toward
the center. Still no response
from paddles. I make one last
ball call, then push the throttles
to mil for an in-close waveoff
just as the happy lights signal
me that paddles agrees with
that decision.
As I clear the ship and climb
away, Im struck by the eerie
symbology of needles remaining on my HUD, remarkably
still showing me on and on.
Strange! Confusion sets in; I
deselect the needles and continue with NORDO procedures,
convinced that I must have lost
my radios. In the boiler pattern abeam the ship, my radios
finally crackle 206, paddles,
sorry about that we had a
little problem with the lens,
well get you next time!

The phones are now ringing

off the hook in CATCC with
everyone, including the boss
and the captain of the ship,
wanting to know what the heck
just happened.
Back in the ready room
after the flight, the story slowly
unfolds, and it becomes very
apparent how close tonight
was to a mishap. The PLAT
camera replay tells a chilling
tale: I watch my Hornet settle
from high above the glideslope
to well below, all to the tune
of blood-curdling power calls,
and then finally the waveoff. In
the cockpit, I heard none of it,
saw a stable centered-needles
approach, and took my own
waveoff only because I hadnt
heard a roger ball. I remember the ball coming down but
did not recognize how rapidly it
was falling.
What finally broke this evil

chain of events was the waveoff will now assist in correlation and
lights from paddles and a sense proper order of Mr. Hand.
What could I have done?
in the cockpit that something
First, I could have listened to
just wasnt right.
What links in the chain could what was said, not just what
have been severed earlier? First, I expected to hear. The ACLS
an intermittent transponder was lock-on of my Hornet was
the catalyst to this entire melee. clearly predicated by a call from
I now make it a habit in marshal the controller that the lock-on
to check and double-check that was at three miles, not one. I
heard the call and reported
Im squawking all modes and
codes. Be acutely aware that if the needles, but never made
your IFF is being called intermit- the correlation between the
two-mile split that CATCC had
tent or inoperative, you may
called. I heard what I wanted
be susceptible to a sequencing
to hear, not what was actually
problem on the approach. One
communicated. The Tomcat did
solution is additional CATCC
hear the discrepancy on their
training and oversight, to
final lock-on call but merely
prevent the inadvertent ACLS
made a sarcastic comment and
lock of the wrong aircraft. We
deselected the ACLS. If youre
also decided that the Air Ops
aware that somethings wrong,
status board should list recovthen speak up definitively. You
ering aircraft in order, rather
might end up saving your own
than by aircraft type. Also, the
departure controller, previously life, or the life of one of your
undertasked during the recovery, air-wing buds.

Finally, cross check, cross

check, cross check! I didnt do
it, and the ultimate responsibility for this near-miss rests with
my breakdown. Behind the ship
on a dark night, you owe it to
yourself to use everything at
your disposal: ILS and ACLS
correlation, self-contained
approach numbers, VSI, DME,
and, ultimately, the worlds
greatest glideslope indicator,
the fresnel lens. As a nugget
halfway through my first cruise,
my scan was unfortunately still
developing. On this approach,
Id put all my marbles into one
bag, the ACLS; after all, needles dont lie, right? Well, that
night they werent lying, but the
story they were telling was not
intended for me.

Lt. Blake flies with VFA-34

Salty Dog 110 from Naval Strike Aircraft Test Squadron 23 (VX-23) prepares to land on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71).

This picture was possibly taken in April 2001, when the Joint Precision Approach Landing System (JPALS) test
team successfully performed the first global positioning system (GPS)-based automatic landing to an aircraft carrier.
Based on GPS, JPALS is intended for military aircraft including manned and unmanned fixed-wing, vertical takeoff
and landing (VTOL), and rotary-wing aircraft, and is designed to replace tactical air navigation (TACAN) systems and
augment the current automatic carrier landing system (ACLS) and instrument carrier landing system (ICLS).

ships goal on Day One is to get at least

SHIP SUITABILITY PRECISION is usually labeled Day Zero on the AirAPPROACH & LANDING SYSTEM plan. No aircraft are allowed to touch the 50 traps and complete all the drills. Our
goal on Day One is to certify the ship to
deck on this day, so we use this day to

[VX-23 Strike Test News 2010] fly level legs and low approaches. BaLt Daniel Butters Radocaj sically we fly a CASE III bolter wave off
pattern over and over to a low approach.
This lets us align the SPN-46 Radar
Most of us have seen or will see a VX-23 (ACLS) and the SPN-41 (ICLS).
PALS certification during Flight Deck CerOn Day One we are typically the first
tification at some point. How does this
aircraft to trap. The instruction allows
affect me you ask and why do I care?
VX-23 aircraft to operate before the reThe biggest reason for the PALS certiquired taxi fams and drills. After our pification is to ensure on those dark and
lots CQ we fly the PALS pattern. After
stormy nights behind the boat that the
launch or a touch and go we make a MIL
ACLS, ICLS, and IFLOS all line up and
powered turn to downwind at or below
work together to get you safely aboard.
400 ft. This keeps us under the CASE I
If you are a CAG Paddles you may be
pattern. We proceed downwind and once
tasked with running the FDC and making clear of the CASE I pattern, then elevate
the airplans for it. The biggest guide for
to 1200 ft. We hook between 4 and 10
this process is the 3500.71B instruction
NM, decelerate, and intercept a normal
which outlines step by step each day of
CASE III final approach. We fly a coua FDC. I will attempt to give you a broad pled approach checking both Channel A
overview and highlight the major points. and Channel B of the ACLS. For the comA week prior to FDC, VX-23 technimunication plan, button 1 is in the front
cians come out to your squadron and
radio and button 15 is in the back. If you
groom one to two jets that VX-23 will
were to listen to button 15 you would
use. This is a great learning experience
hear us making continuous calls describfor your squadron ATs. The majority of
ing the aircrafts distance from the ship,
ACLS drop locks or no lock-ons are acaltitude, the position of the bullseye and
tually caused by a weak beacon on the
needles, and the position of the ball. We
airplane and not the ship. The grooming
also use a pilot quality rating to describe
process can find and fix beacon problems on a scale of 1 to 5 how the airplane is
and train your ATs to do the same.
responding to the things like tip-over at
The first day the ship pulls out of port 3 miles, the burble, and touchdown. The

Mode II capability. This is essential so

that on Day Two the air wing can do simulated CASE III ops during the day to
certify CATCC for night ops.
On Day Two the ship has to get 70
day traps and 40 night traps. It also has
to complete 2 daytime simulated case III
recoveries with ten aircraft. Day Two is
easily the most important and busy day
during FDC. Our focus is on Mode I hook
touchdown position. We have cameras
mounted on the bridge that record and
calculate touchdown position. Every ship
is a little different but we want the average Mode I touch down to be within a
certain standard deviation of the 3 wire.
When the statistics workout the ship gets
its Mode I certification.
The PALS certification lasts for two
years and should get the ship through
workups and at least one deployment. A
Mode III, Mode II, or Mode IA approach
is to get you to a good start. The goal
of a Mode I is not to fly a perfect cresting ball all the way to touchdown, but it
should be a consistent and safe pass. If
at any time these are not the case please
contact myself or anyone at VX-23. It is
not uncommon for problems to develop
over those two years and we can come
out and correct.

more reliable. This link will be estabJOINT PRECISION APPROACH

AND LANDING SYSTEM (JPALS) lished when the aircraft gets withJoint Precision Approach and Land-

ing System (JPALS) is a GPS based

system that will be the replacement
for the current ACLS/SPN-46 system.
Unlike the SPN-46 that uses radar on
the boat to track an aircraft, JPALS
works by comparing the GPS position
of the carrier and the GPS position
of the aircraft. A relative navigation
(Rel Nav) solution is calculated and
displayed as guidance in the cockpit. Initial tests were conducted in
2000 with an F-18 to prove that the
concept worked. JPALS should IOC in
2014 and will start to be retrofitted
on Hornets. H-60s and E-2Ds should
start to see it in 2017. It will be the
only approach guidance on NUCAS
(Navy Unmanned Combat Air System) and the F-35. Every carrier will
be equipped by 2024.
How is it better? It will be GPS
based and is jam resistant. Instead of an operator in CATCC having to lock up an aircraft with the
SPN-46 radar, only a data link between the ship and aircraft needs to
be established making the system

better gouge through the approach

turn than the ICLS. Drop locks at 3
miles should not be a problem anyin 200 miles of the carrier, not at 5
miles behind the ship prior to tip over. more; if you have JPALS in Marshall youll have it on final. The pickle
The linked Rel Nav solution will also
act like a TACAN and give ships posi- switch on the platform will be contion out to 200 miles. The link trans- nected to the data link and transmitmission, like MIDS, uses spread spec- ted to the aircraft providing a true
W/O discrete in the HUD and the
trum transmissions so it does not
ability to wave off a UAV. The ships
give away position and can be used
during EMCON conditions. Mode I ap- final bearing will also be automatproaches will also be more accurate. ically linked to the aircraft and instantaneously updated in the cockpit,
The SPN-46 radar loses the aircraft
greatly enhancing SA to which direcat the round down. Past the round
down glide slope guidance is basical- tion the ship is turning while we are
ly an average of the last few seconds trying to land.
The mechanization and cockpit
of the flight path. That is why during
displays are still in the design phase.
a Mode I the hornet freezes control
Do we want it to look just like ACLS
input commands in the last 2 secor ICLS? Is it going to be called neeonds before touchdown. The JPALS
GPS guidance will be accurate all the dles, bullseye, or _______? Should
way to touchdown. The Air Force and final bearing automatically be set as
a course line? Is there a better way
Army are funding a ground based
than the old way to do business? As
JPALS system that can be easily
fleet operators and LSOs if you have
setup at any airfield giving the Hornet an actual precision approach be- any suggestions or ideas please let
us know. In a few years JPALS will
sides a PAR.
be a great tool to help us get the Air
How will it affect me? With no
Wing aboard safely.
need for interaction with an operator in CATCC, JPALS may be available
during Case I approaches providing

PALS Certification
SPN-46 Automatic Carrier Landing
System (ACLS)
Includes hands-off automatic landing

SPN-41 Instrument Control Landing

System (ICLS)
CV/CVN and LHA/LHD ships
Provides needles indication

AN/SPN-35 Precision Approach Radar

LHA/LHD ships
Provides ship-based controller talk down
approach capability to all aircraft

All CV/CVN ships

STRIKE TEST NEWS Air Test years, early in the workup cycle as
and Evaluation Squadron 23 part of the Flight Deck CertificaNewsletter 2012 Issue
tion. Our goal is to verify that the
Smuggla Johnson [page 19]

...Shore-based testing began in

early July 2012 with a Beechcraft
King Air 100 series aircraft providing a low cost airborne testing laboratory for JPALS. Further shorebased testing with legacy F/A-18s
is expected to begin later this fiscal year with at-sea tests beginning
in spring of 2013 onboard CVN-77.
Though a fully integrated JPALS air
wing is not expected for sometime,
both contractor and VX-23 personnel are already working closely with
the LSO School and other fleet assets to ensure delivery of a quality
system that will provide enhanced
capability to fleet users.
LCDR Robert Timmay! Bibeau,
Ship Suitability Department Head
[page 17-18]

VX-23 certifies PALS for all CVNs.

We usually do this about every two

IFLOLS, SPN-41 (Instrument Carrier Landing System, or ICLS) and

SPN-46 (Automatic Carrier Landing
System, or ACLS) function properly, are aligned with each other, and
lead the pilot to a good start. We
check the average ACLS Mode I
hook touchdown point and tweak it
if necessary. As part of this process
we fly dozens of Mode I approaches
over a three day period. Additionally, VX-23 troubleshoots PALS anomalies when they occur. Sometimes
there is a hardware-related root
cause which needs to be corrected,
but sometimes concerns result from
pilot misconceptions or unrealistic
Whether or not youre a frequent Mode I user, it is a valuable
tool with the capability to recover aircraft down to zero-zero conditions. Understanding a few basic
concepts about how the system operates is crucial. The 99 taxi lights
on call is too late to consider how
to fly the Mode I.

The ACLS can be set to either

3.5 or 4 glideslope, and it is normally very good at flying that commanded glideslope. Typical vertical error at nm is less than a
foot. In fact, the ACLS is usually more accurate and precise than
the IFLOLS. The IFLOLS is aligned
to a tolerance of +/-0.05, which
equates to almost 4 feet at nm,
and a single IFLOLS cell at the
same distance covers about 10 feet
of elevation. Remember that there
is no center cell on the IFLOLS:
you are either looking at the highcenter/cresting cell or the lowcenter/sagging cell. Most IFLOLS
are aligned just a little on the high
side, which means that more often
than not during the Mode I you are
on glideslope but looking at the
low-center IFLOLS cell.
Most proficient pilots will not accept being low, and are more likely
to fly the high-center cell during uncoupled passes. Additionally, experienced pilots often try to crest the
ball, or fly along the boundary between two adjacent cells in order
to see ball movement and more

precisely determine glideslope. To a

pilot or LSO used to flying or waving
uncoupled passes, a Mode I often
looks a little low all the way, when
the reality is that normal uncoupled
passes tend to average a little higher than the nominal glideslope.
Much like your FNG, the Mode I
does not anticipate the burble. The
system attempts to fly commanded
glideslope and reacts to any deviations as they occur. The system reacts very quickly to very small deviations, but there is still some lag
due to the laws of physics and flight
control/engine response time. Often
this will result in a little settle as the
aircraft passes through the burble.
The magnitude of this settle tends
to increase with the strength of the
burble, and is more noticeable with
axial or starboard winds.
Shortly before touchdown the
SPN-46 antennas lose the ability to
track the aircraft due to the rapidly
changing line of sight. 1.5 seconds
prior to touchdown the system enters command freeze and will attempt to hold the last commanded
rate of descent. The flight controls

and throttles will still move as the

jet works to maintain this descent
rate, but the system is no longer
actively updating the descent rate
to target the desired hook touchdown point. Any unpredicted disturbances in the flight path in the
last 1.5 seconds of flight (for example due to shifting winds or airflow
around the ship) are not corrected for. The system is often still reacting to the burble when it enters
command freeze. If the aircraft has
settled in the burble, the commanded descent rate is shallowed to fix
the low and then frozen, resulting
in a flat flight path across the ramp.
Put all of these effects together, and
a typical Mode I pass on most
ships looks a little low all the way,
with a little settle in close and a little low flat at the ramp.
During a PALS certification we
attempt to tune the Mode I touchdown point for ideal winds. When
winds are less than perfect Mode I
performance tends to degrade. As
winds become more starboard the
strength and position of the burble change, and the magnitude of

the trends noted above increases.

Settles tend to increase in magnitude. Rhinos tend to get a little flatter at the ramp, overcorrecting for
the settle in the burble and often
landing long and right with the occasional bolter. Hornets try to do
the same, but often dont have the
power to recover from the settle
and tend to land a little short.
These behaviors are general trends. Ultimately its up to the
pilot and LSO to decide the acceptable magnitude of deviation during
a Mode I, and the pilot must always
be ready to take over manually
when required. Understanding the
normal behavior of the ACLS Mode I
can help manage expectations and
better prepare the pilot and LSO for
deviations when they occur. VX-23
is always available to discuss PALS
performance. If you notice a trend
of questionable Mode I performance,
or experience even a single unsafe Mode I, please dont hesitate to
contact us....

How to get an Ideal No.3 CDP Arrest EA-18G VIDEO

STRIKE TEST NEWS Air Test and we only come out every two years for

Evaluation Squadron 23 Newsletter verifications and there is no clear re2013 Issue [produced 11 Oct 2013] placement for ACLS in the near future, it falls on the ship and Airwing to
Precisions Approach & Landing System
(PALS) Mode I Performance & Winds recognize when the system is misbehaving and report it to us so we can
LCDR Pat WHO? Bookey
evaluate and fix it. Sometimes there
Youve probably seen us borrowing
are hardware-related problems which
your jets during CVN flight deck certi- need to be corrected, but sometimes
fications and watched us zorch around we field concerns from the Airwing relow and fast conducting endless Mode sulting from misconceptions regardI approaches. Our goal is to verify
ing how the system is intended to
that the Improved Fresnel Lens Opfunction. This year, in an effort to edtical Landing System (IFLOLS), SPNucate the fleet on the Mode I, were
41 Instrument Carrier Landing System going to focus on wind conditions, dis(ICLS) and SPN-46 Automatic Carriplayed wind sources and their effect
er Landing System (ACLS) function
on ModeI performance.
properly, are aligned with each other
The wind over the deck (WOD) is
and lead the pilot to a good start. We measured from three anemometers
leave your ship after having ensured
on the ship (FWD, STBD, and PORT).
that the systems, specifically Mode I, These three anemometers feed the
are operating correctly within certiMoriah System, which is the wind disfication limits and available for those
play in PriFly and the bridge that is
rare but much needed times when the used to drive the ship to get recovery
pilot is otherwise incapable of getting WOD. The Moriah display from the Mini
aboard on his/her own (low visibility,
Boss station allows the different anIFR in the cockpit, injury, etc.) These
emometers to be selected individualsystems, specifically the ACLS, are
ly. The FWD anemometer is at the top
aging, and although we at VX-23 do
of the navigation pole to the right of
our best to ensure proper functionalcatapult #1. The PORT and STBD anity, degradations to their performance emometers are at the top of the mast
can be expected over time. Because
on the island on outriggers on the

port and starboard sides. Some ships

still have the traditional whirlybird
on the navigation pole, but it doesnt
feed Moriah. An actual anemometer
looks like a three pronged fork with
no moving parts that measures the
wind magnitude and direction via sonic
waves. I wont get into the details on
how that works, but its pretty accurate. In general, for all ships we have
seen that the FWD anemometer provides the most accurate measurement of the WOD in the landing area
(LA). The PORT and STBD winds do
not display the most accurate winds
because of the numerous obstructions
to clean air flow that exist on the
mast. We have seen these sensors differ from the FWD by as much as ten
degrees in direction and six knots in
magnitude. Each ship is different and
the errors of the mast-mounted anemometers differ. Due to these observations, we recommend that the FWD
anemometer be selected from the Mini
Boss Moriah display for all fixed wing
recoveries to ensure the most accurate display of winds to the bridge, PriFly and the LSO platform. The FWD
can be manually selected or the AUTO
function chosen, which will automatically choose the FWD anemometer

while the ship is turned into the wind.

How does wind factor into Mode I
performance? The first important concept to understand is that the ACLS
does not use wind inputs from any anemometer in its computations of aircraft guidance through the datalink.
The ACLS system merely commands
corrections to deviations from commanded course (final bearing) via bank
angle commands and glideslope via
pitch attitude commands coupled with
on-speed control through the autothrottles (ATC) in the aircraft. The second concept to understand is the expected performance of Mode I in high
and/or starboard winds. As wind conditions increase in magnitude beyond
~35 kts or shift to more starboard
component (> 4 kts STBD), Mode I
performance will degrade as the burble gets stronger. Increasing burble
strength translates to larger deviations
from commanded course/glideslope
and therefore larger corrections from
the aircraft. In the Rhino, these large
deviations and corrections tend to
make the jet float and bolter, while the
Hornet tends to settle into early wires
during Mode Is in these adverse wind
conditions. These are normal Mode I
reactions to these conditions, so your

best bet for successful Mode I is to

ensure you know the actual WOD conditions in the LA.
VX-23 Carrier Suitability has seen
several cases in the past few years
in which ships were using the STBD
anemometer as their standard wind
source during fixed wing recoveries for
various reasons. On one ship, the difference in wind direction/magnitude
measured from the STBD anemometer to the actual WOD in the LA was
large enough to create an adverse
starboard wind condition strong
enough to degrade Mode I performance to the point where the ship
stopped flying them because they
thought something was wrong. The

winds displayed on Moriah measured

from the STBD anemometer showed
winds right down the angle, well within
normal recovery winds. This particular instance resulted in rescue detachment from VX-23 meeting the ship on
deployment. After extensive testing,
we could not find anything wrong with
the ACLS, switched the ship back to
the FWD and Mode I performance improved back to our certification standards. We are currently evaluating the
system on another ship that is using
the STBD due to problems with their

FWD anemometer. That ship is also

reporting Mode I performance degradation. While the results from the
evaluation are not yet complete, we
are investigating the wind issue as a
possible cause for degraded Mode I
We field inquiries from ships and
Airwings routinely with questions regarding possible degradations in Mode
I performance. One of our first troubleshooting questions will be to identify which anemometer is being used.
This is just one piece of the puzzle
when troubleshooting the ACLS (aircraft ATC, beacons, SPN-46 radar
dishes, computers, etc) and may not
be the smoking gun causing problems. Hopefully a little better understanding of Mode I and the effect the
WOD has on its performance will help
manage expectations and better prepare the pilot and LSO for the anticipated deviations in adverse wind conditions. VX-23 is always available to
discuss PALS performance. If you notice a trend of questionable Mode I
performance, or experience even a
single unsafe Mode I, please dont
hesitate to contact us.

Ideal No.3 CDP Arrest EA-18G VIDEO



In early April, ARINC Engineering

Services successfully flight tested a
new precision approach and landing
system designed to withstand electronic jamming that military aircraft
may encounter in combat situations.
The flight tests were conducted at
Holloman Air Force Base, NM.
A U.S. Air Force (USAF) C12J
aircraft equipped with ARINCs new
Local Area Differential Global
Positioning System (LDGPS) made
multiple precision approaches while
electronic jamming was activated. The
LDGPS used for the flights is a
technology demonstration testbed
designed to provide a vertical
accuracy for Category II approaches
of 5.3 m, even when subjected to
GPS jamming. Ground tests of the
system were completed at Holloman
AFB in March.
Many weapons systems today rely
heavily on GPS positioning, and that
makes the threat of GPS jamming a
key risk area, said Tom Sanders,

Using the new LDGPS under jamming conditions, the C12J readies to touch down at
Holloman AFB, NM, on April 5. The systems nominal accuracy is about 2 m.

ARINCs jam-resistant JPALS demo takes flight

These two trailers contained the
electronics testbed and ground
station used for the LDGPS test
flights. Two externaldifferentialGPS receivers are located in the
field about 150 ftaway. Electronics
in the trailerspicked up the local
jammingsignals, mitigated them,
and generated clean differentialGPS data that was sent to the
aircraft by data link.

Pallet of
prepared for
a ground test.
After ground
testing was
completed in
March, the
pallet shown
was placed on
board a USAF
C12J for the
flight tests.

Aerospace Engineering  June 2004

ARINCs Director of Satellite Navigation and Air Traffic Control &

Landing Systems.
The technology uses multiple jamresistant GPS receivers on the ground
and a single anti-jam GPS receiver in
the air to provide an accurate
differential GPS position. The
aircraft receives needed GPS corrections from the ground over a VHF
data link system.
The USAF LDGPS project is part of
the Joint Precision Approach and
Landing System (JPALS) program that

is a joint effort to develop a nextgeneration precision approach and

landing system for the Department of
Defense. LDGPS is focused on
enhancing flight operations on land.
In a parallel effort, ARINC is
developing a Shipboard Relative GPS
(SRGPS) demonstration system aimed
at enhancing naval shipboard flight
operations. According to the company, JPALS is currently in a technology maturation and risk-reduction
phase, with system development
planned for fiscal year 2006.

JPALS: Not Just LAAS in Navy Uniform

by William Reynish | Oct 1, 2002 |

"The seagoing Joint Precision Approach and Landing System for the U.S. Navy provides much more than
GPS differential accuracy corrections. It uses data link to give pilots a plethora of data from a host of
sources. When the U.S. Department of Defense opted for the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System
(JPALS) in the mid-90s, most observers understood that this would be the militarys version of the GPSbased Local Area Augmentation System (LAAS), which is being developed for the Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA). And to a certain extent, it will be. When deliveries commence around 2010 to the Army,
Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy, land-based JPALS installations will closely resemble the FAA system.

Extraordinary Environment [Full article on next page +1]

But the seagoing JPALS will be a horse (or a LAAS) of a different color. One of the biggest differences will be
its data links. For, as development has evolved, carrier-based JPALS has become a generic term applied to a
wider data link environment than just the automatic landing portion.... In fact, the Navys seagoing JPALS will
be the centerpiece of a dedicated, data link-based, communications, navigation and surveillance/air traffic
management (CNS/ATM) system, which will be aboard each of its 12 carriers. The Navy needs such a capability to provide safety, airspace management and, of course, surveillance protection against adversaries, as
the vessel moves away from the mainland and across oceans, often towards unfriendly territory.
In a way, it will be like picking up a complete FAA air route traffic control center (ARTCC) from the mainland, along with all its radars and infrastructure, and shoehorning it into an aircraft carrier. And since the
carriers raison detre is to extend military air power in all weather, you could even say that the seagoing
JPALS ultimate purpose is to thread the tip of an autolanding aircrafts arrester hook through an imaginary
9-square foot (0.83-square meter) box centered precisely 14 feet (4.3 meters) above the pitching and rolling
stern of a carrier in very low visibility, by day or night....

Satellite Based
Augmentation System

GPS Satellites

CCA Coverage

60 NM



10 NM

Supports At Least
50 Aircraft

Wave off


ATC* and GPS Augmentation,
Navigation Data
A. SPR 11-875B ATC* and Surveillance Data
* CATCC/AATCC is capable

Joint Precision Approach

andLanding System (JPALS)
Program Update 15 June 2011



200 NM

Supports precision approach within 10 NM, 360 deg

around the ship, Downlink to ship provides for
CATCC/AATCC, LSO and Primary Flight Control to
monitor approach. Supports autoland (ACLS
Two-way datalink with ship when within 60 NM supports
NATOPS requirements under all conditions. Position
reports supplement radar and IFF data in Carrier
Control Area (CCA) displays
Ship to Air broadcast allows aircraft to find ship
under conditions out to 200 nm


Broadcast (VDB)

System (GBAS)

PALS is considered
the most critical part of
flight, we are responsible
for a safe approach during a terminal phase of
flight," said Air Traffic
Controller 3rd Class Kyle
Eberhart. "PALS works
by locking onto the
aircraft & verifying the
needles, & it sends
commands to land the
aircraft safely."
Air traffic controllers
operated two types of
radar, the "Easy Rider"
AN-SPN 46 & the "Bulls
eye" AN-SPN 41, for the
The AN-SPN 46 radar
locks onto the aircraft &
uses 3 different modes to
safely guide the pilot
back to the ship.
Mode 1 takes complete
control of the aircraft &
its landing.
Mode 1A takes control
of the aircraft & transfers
control back to the pilot
30 seconds prior to the
Mode 2 allows for
complete pilot control."




William Reynish

([WUDRUGLQDU\(QYLURQPHQW /issue/feature/JPALS-Not-Just-LAAS-in-Navy-Uniform_12893.html






New Project: Land-Based

Joint Precision Approach & Landing System


Service Interoperable
Multiple Runway Configuration
Mobile; Supports all Landing Ops
Replaces Legacy Systems (ACLS, PAR, ILS)

100 FT DH

DH = Decision
Height (Land
or NOT)
150 ft

954 ft

200 FT DH
2,862 ft

Land-based precision approach
system program resumes

March 2011

by Patty Welsh
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

With this smaller footprint, LB JPALS would require less manpower to set up or maintain than current systems.
Other services also currently use precision approach radar, but these systems are not compatible with civil
aircraft and are planned to be among the first systems that will be phased out and replaced by JPALS.
Some remotely piloted vehicles also use the same GPS-based technology, and fielding JPALS would provide
them the ability to land at any DoD airfield.
"We want to try to collaborate to get to as common a solution as possible across all services, and across all
aircraft within the Air Force, as well," said Mr. Pierce. "We want to meet everybody's needs."


Mass. -- The land-based Joint Precision Approach and
Landing System, or LB JPALS, is getting back on track
after budget cuts. In January 2011, the deputy secretary
of Defense issued the Resource Management Directive700 which restored full funding to the program.
JPALS is a family of systems that will provide precision
approach and landing capability for all of the
Department of Defense. It will operate in land-based
fixed and tactical environments, sea-based
environments and, eventually, a back-packable system
will support special operation environments.

LB JPALS capability would be installed in existing navigation system avionics. Avionics risk reduction efforts
are ongoing across all the services, and there is an Aircraft Integration Working Group that meets quarterly to
coordinate these efforts.
"We are looking forward to be able to do flight demonstrations with our prototype data link and civil capability
military avionics toward the end of the calendar year," said Mr. Pierce. "The goal is to drive down integration
costs by sharing the same basic technology across the services."
This graphic depicts the concept of operations for the Joint
Collaboration with the FAA has also been in the works, leading to a possible interagency procurement of the
Precision Approach and Landing System, or JPALS. The
land-based JPALS program recently had its funding restored FAA civil technology to provide the civil interoperable portion of the LB JPALS.
and a request for information was sent out March 2, 2011.
An Industry Day will be held April 5, 2011. (Courtesy
"Since the technology is so mature, our primary focus is managing our way through the various acquisition and

While the Navy is the lead executive service for the JPALS family of systems and working on the sea-based
version, the Air Force is responsible for the LB JPALS that will provide this GPS-based approach and landing

milestone processes, and collaborating with the FAA," said Sandy Frey, deputy program manager.

Some recent successes the program has seen were technology readiness affirmation from the Director of
Defense Research & Engineering and selection of a data link standard that will be the key to JPALS
"Today, each service - the Army, the Navy, the Air Force - has one or more unique solutions," said Col. Jimmie interoperability between all the services.
Schuman, Aerospace Management Division senior materiel leader. "JPALS is an interoperable system that will
be used by all the services and civil aircraft."
In the future, plans are for the LB JPALS to support not only straight-in approaches to the runway, but curved,
The underlying technology is a differential global positioning system, the same technology Honeywell used for
their civil product that was certified for use in September 2009 by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

segmented approaches or specialized approaches.

"This will provide much more flexibility for the warfighter to react to their current situation," said Ben Brandt,
JPALS lead engineer, MITRE.

The program office is working toward procuring a military version of this technology, which will include
employing an encrypted data link and GPS P(Y) code, or secure military code, with anti-jam capability. Work is The program office is currently working on a draft acquisition strategy. A request for information was sent out
also being done to ensure interoperability with the civil community.
on March 2 and an Industry Day is being planned for April 5.
"Currently you have to install an ILS [instrument landing system] for every runway end," said Brian Pierce,
aircraft integration lead, Jacobs Technology. "With JPALS, you would only need one system to support the
entire airfield."

"We have been waiting a long time to get to this point and we're ready to move along to the next steps," said
Ms. Frey. "We want to ensure the goal of common solutions becomes a reality."

...In the future, plans are for the LB JPALS to support not only straight-in approaches

to the runway, but curved, segmented approaches or specialized approaches....


Salty Dog 110

from Naval Strike
Aircraft Test
Squadron 23
(VX-23) prepares to
land on USS
Roosevelt (CVN-71).
Official US Navy
This picture was
possibly taken in
April 2001, when
the Joint Precision
Approach Landing
System (JPALS)
test team
performed the first
global positioning
system (GPS)based automatic
landing to an
aircraft carrier.
Based on GPS,
JPALS is intended
for military aircraft
including manned
and unmanned
fixed-wing, vertical
takeoff and landing
(VTOL), and rotarywing aircraft, and is
designed to replace
tactical air
navigation (TACAN)
systems and
augment the
current automatic
carrier landing
system (ACLS) and
instrument carrier
landing system

M. B. Suhrahmanyam, Finite Horizon H and Related Control Problems:

Design of the F/A-18A Automatic Carrier Landing System: Ch.6: The
aircraft needs to arrive at the touchdown point with proper sink speed
and position in space to closely match the position and vertical motion
of the carrier deck touchdown zone. Aircraft hook should impact the
deck between No. 2 and No. 3 arresting cables. The sink speed must be
10-14 ft /sec....

A Robust GPS/INS Kinematic Integrity Algorithm for Aircraft Landing

Alison Brown and Ben Mathews, NAVSYS Corporation:

Next generation GPS receivers will take advantage of Spatial processing from a Controlled Reception Pattern Antenna
(CRPA) and Ultra-Tightly-Coupled (UTC) and TightlyCoupled GPS/inertial signal processing to improve their robustness to interference and their performance in a multipath environment. This introduces the potential for failure modes
to be introduced into the GPS solution from the Spatial processor, GPS signals or Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs).
For high integrity applications such as nonprecision approach or precision approach, the integrated GPS/Inertial receiver must be designed to perform fault detection and exclusion of any hazardously misleading information....
The Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS) Shipboard Relative GPS concept (SRGPS) is illustrated
in Figure 1. The goal of the SRGPS program is to provide a GPS-based system capable of automatically landing an
aircraft on a moving carrier under all sea and weather conditions considered feasible for shipboard landings. The
presently utilized Aircraft Carrier Landing System (ACLS) is a radar-based system which was developed more than
30 years ago and has a number of limitations that make the system inadequate to meet present and future shipbased automatic landing system requirements. The goal of SRGPS is to monitor and control up to 100 aircraft simultaneously throughout a range of 200 nautical miles from the landing site. Integrity monitoring is especially important for the last 20 nm of an approach and accuracy requirements are 30 cm 3-D 95% of the time.
The SRGPS architecture provides a precision approach and landing system capability for shipboard operations
equivalent to local differential GPS systems used ashore, such as the FAA's Local Area Augmentation System
(LAAS). A relative navigation approach is used for SRGPS with the "reference station" installed on a ship moving
through the water and pitching, rolling, and yawing around its center of motion. In addition, the ship's touchdown
point may translate up/down (heave), side-to-side (sway), and fore and aft (surge). Since the shipboard landing environment is much more challenging than ashore, the SRGPS approach must use kinematic carrier phase tracking
(KCPT) to achieve centimeter level positioning relative to the ships touchdown point.
Next generation GPS systems designed for JPALS and SRGPS operations are expected to have performance
advantages over previous generation user equipment (UE). While these designs will meet the objective of high antijam (A/J) and high accuracy performance, they must also implement integrity monitoring to be able to use the
KCPT solution to support precision approach and landing....

Northrop Grumman's inertial measurement unit selected for Joint

Precision Approach and Landing Systems program 22 May 2010
John McHale

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif., 22 May 2010. Raytheon selected Northrop Grumman Corp. to
supply the inertial measurement solution for the Joint Precision Approach & Landing Systems (JPALS) Shipboard Reference program. Under this contract, Northrop Grumman's
Navigation Systems Division will deliver 18 LN-270 inertial navigation systems (INS) for the
engineering and manufacturing development phase of the JPALS Increment 1A Shipboard
Reference System (SRS). Future production orders are anticipated to be considerable,
Northrop Grumman officials say. The first LN-270 unit will be delivered in early 2011.
JPALS, designed and developed by Raytheon under a U.S. Navy contract, is an allweather, all-mission, all-user landing system based on local area differential Global Positioning System (GPS). JPALS works with GPS to provide accurate, reliable, landing guidance for fixed and rotary wing aircraft and supports fixed-base, tactical, and shipboard applications. For the SRS, each JPALS-equipped ship will employ three Northrop Grumman
fiber optic gyro-based LN-270 INS units to measure the ship's motion.
"Northrop Grumman's LN-270 is a versatile solution for any application that requires
highly accurate navigation, pointing or dependable stabilization -- whether it be on land or
sea," says Gorik Hossepian, vice president of navigation and positioning systems for
Northrop Grumman's Navigation Systems Division. The in-production LN-270 INS is a navigation system with low lifecycle costs because it requires no scheduled maintenance during its rated lifetime, company officials say.

Automated Carrier Landing of an

Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle
Using Dynamic Inversion

Ship Degrees of Freedom:

The ship rotational degrees of freedom are

termed roll, pitch, & yaw. In the translational
degrees of freedom, up and down motion is
called heave, forward to aft motion is called
surge, & port to stbd motion is called sway.

EMALS TESTING Carrier Launch System Passes Initial Tests

Jun 7, 2010
By Bill Sweetman
...The carrier will be part of the process of introducing a landing guidance system to the
Navy: the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (Jpals). It will be one of the first
ships with Jpals, which is slated to be on all carriers and large amphibious transports by
2018. The second Ford-class ship, CVN-79, is due to be the first carrier without SPN-41
and SPN-46 radars, which provide carriers with an automatic landing capability.

Adoption of Jpals is urgent for the Navy because current radars will not be
supportable after the early 2020s. Jpals is also associated with the F-35C, because
the fighter's reduced radar cross-section means that current radar-based autolanding systems cannot acquire it. The installation of Jpals on carriers will match service entry of the F-35C. The first increment of Jpals will be qualified for flight guidance down to 200 ft. and 0.5-mi. visibility. Accuracy is intended to be sufficient for
an automatic landing, and that capability is being demonstrated as part of the
Northrop Grumman X-47B Navy Unmanned Combat Air System program.
The key to its accuracy is shipboard-relative GPS, which uses two GPS receivers
one forward of the island on the starboard side and the other on the portside stern.
The space between the sensors and their relative location allows the system to
measure the position of the ship accurately and track its movement-speed, pitch, roll
and heave with the aid of three Northrop Grumman LN-270 inertial reference units.
Using the same differential GPS technique, Jpals also provides an accurate aircraft
position. A data link allows the system to transmit automatic landing guidance.

[JPALS] Airfields Afloat: The USAs New Gerald Ford Class Super-Carriers
Jun 05, 2013 Defense Industry Daily staff

May 29/13: JPALS. Raytheon in Fullerton, CA receives a $14.6 million cost-plus-incentivefee contract modification for the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS),
maintenance Design Phase II. They want to change the design to allow for increased organ-

izational level maintenance (i.e. on board ship) of JPALS Increment 1A ship systems....
...May 24/13: JPALS. The Pentagon finally releases its Dec 31/12 Selected Acquisitions
Report external link [PDF]. For JPALS, which began development in 2008:
Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS) Increment 1A Program costs
increased $106.8 million (+10.7%) from $996.0 million to $1,102.8 million, due primarily

to additional engineering effort for algorithm refinement and development

of an alternate configuration for the JPALS Inc 1A ship system variant,
resulting in a smaller footprint for air capable ships (small combatants)
(+$84.5 million). Additional increases were attributable to an extension of the procurement
and installation profile from FY 2018 to FY 2020 (+$15.3 million) and a related increase in
support costs (+$2.3 million), and a quantity increase of 1 system from 26 to 27 systems
(+$7.5 million) and associated estimating allocation (-$1.4 million). These increases were
offset by a decrease in initial spares requirements (-$1.5 million).
The GPS-centric JPALS will be installed well beyond the Ford Class external link indeed, beyond the US Navy. This technology may become a separate article, but for now were
adding it here as a key CVN-21 technology, which will play a critical role in handling F-35
fighters and UAVs. A JPALS 1A Milestone C production decision is expected in Fall 2013



The Navy conducted EMD demonstrations aboard the Roosevelt from November 9 to 19,
logging approximately 30 flight test hours and 60 completed autolands to the deck
using two F/A-18Cs operated by its VX-23 air test and evaluation squadron. The jets
were equipped with Jpals functionally representative test kits.

The Jpals ship system includes multiple racks of equipment inside the ship and
multiple GPS and UHF antennas on the mast, according to the Naval Air Systems
Command (Navair), the contracting authority for sea-based Jpals. The system includes
integrated processing, maintenance and monitoring systems and redundant UHF
datalinks, inertial sensors and GPS sensors to achieve high reliability and availability.
Jpals is networked with legacy shipboard landing systems, but is capable of operating
independently of those systems, Navair said.


Arinc, which served as lead technical contractor to the Navy during technology
development of the system, said Jpals will integrate with the AN/TPX-42 air traffic
control console, the AN/SPN-46 automatic carrier landing system, the AN/SPN-41
instrument landing system, the landing signal officer display system, the improved
Fresnel lens optical landing system, the aviation data management and control system,
and the Moriah Wind System. Last year, Rockwell Collins acquired Arinc.

The U.S. Navy recently completed engineering

and manufacturing (EMD) development of the
ship-based component of the Joint Precision
In July 2008 Navair awarded Raytheon a $232 million contract for Jpals system
Approach and Landing System (Jpals). The EMD development and demonstration, to include the delivery of eight ship system
phase of Jpals Increment 1A for ship systems
engineering development models and four aircraft system test avionics sets. Rockwell
included auto landings by F/A-18C Hornets to Collins, a major subcontractor, provides its digital integrated GPS anti-jam receiver.
the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore
The Navys VX-23 air test and evaluation
Defense budget uncertainty has delayed a Milestone C decision that would begin lowRoosevelt.
The Increment 1B phase calls for
squadron flew 60 autolands to the deck of the USS
rate production of the system, according to Navair. Congress authorized $194.7 million
Theodore Roosevelt using the Joint Precision
integrating the system on aircraft.
Approach and Landing System. (Photo: Navair)
for the program in the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act passed in
Jpals is a GPS-based precision approach and landing system that will help ship- and
December, some $10 million less than the Presidents request. The DoD has
land-based aircraft land in all weather conditions, providing guidance to 200 feet
programmed funding for Jpals over the entirety of its five-year future-years
decision height and half-nautical-mile visibility. It is a tri-service program with
defense program.
multiple increments to include Air Force and Army requirements, eventually replacing
Future development efforts are focused on supporting integration of Jpals with the F-35
several aging and obsolete aircraft landing systems with a family of systems that is
more affordable and will function in more operational environments, according to the Joint Strike Fighter and on improving support for unmanned aircraft systems,
Navair said.
Department of Defense (DoD).

Joint Precision Approach and Landing System, Increment 1A (JPALS Inc 1A) Assessments
Executive Summary: -3$/6,QF$LVDQ$&$7





Systems Engineering Activities
x Systems Engineering Plan(SEP) '$6' 6( DSSURYHGWKH,QF$6(3LQ'HFHPEHUWR
x Program Protection Plan (PPP) 7KH-3$/6SURJUDPPDQDJHUDSSURYHGWKH,QF$333LQ
Data as of 4th quarter FY 2014 - DoD Systems Engineering FY 2014 Annual Report

Four Luneberg Lens (RCS Enhancers)

Radar Reflectors two topside & two
with only one
under for F-35B
sometimes only one
under for others

On Your Radar 18 Dec 2013 John A. Tirpak

New fairings have shown up on F-35 fighters;

two ogival bumps on the top rear, forward of
each vertical fin, and two on the bottom, one
either side, just forward of the tailhook housing.
Lockheed Martin test pilot Bill Gigliotti told the
Daily Report the fairings are radar cross section
enhancers, put there so air traffic controllers
can see the stealthy F-35s when they fly through
civil airspace. The F-22 has a similar device, and
the Lockheed F-117 also sported a faceted version on each side of the fuselage. The radar reflectors sometimes called Luneburg lenses
are removed when the aircraft is employed in
stealth mode.

Staff photo by John A. Tirpak

New fairings have shown up on F-35 fighters;

two ogival bumps on the top rear, forward of
each vertical fin, and two on the bottom, one
either side, just forward of the tailhook housing.
The photo here was taken at Lockheeds Ft.
Worth, Tex., facility on Dec. 13, 2013.


Under Luneberg Lens (RCS Enhancers) Radar Reflectors

two topside & two under for the F-35A/Cs mostly

Civil Airworthiness
Certification Former Military
High Performance Aircraft
AIR-230 Airworthiness
Certification Branch
Federal Aviation
Administration Washington,
D.C. September 19, 2013
MilitaryJetsResearchReport.pdf USAF Airman crouches under

the exhaust of an F-35A Lightning II
as the aircraft is prepped for a training mission at Nellis Air Force Base,
in April 2013. This photograph illustrates the jet blast dangers that some
former military aircraft can pose to
untrained or unaware personnel.
The blast from some of these
military jet engines dwarf the jet
blast from many civilian corporate
jets typically found at a GA airport.

Luneberg Lens
& Ovoid IPP

First Flight of the First U.K. F-35 VIDEO
Published on Apr 18, 2012 by LockheedMartinVideos The first
flight of the first F-35 for the United Kingdom on April 13, 2012.
Lockheed Martin test pilot Bill Gigliotti flew the F-35B aircraft,
known as BK-1, which is also the first international F-35 to fly....

UK F-35B

JPALS Overarching Joint Program Strategy

200 ft/ NM
(SRGPS) Shipboard Relative GPS


Joint A/C
Integration Guide

Sea-Based Lead Platforms

Operational A/C Integration


200 ft/ SM Land-Based Fixed and Tactical/Mobile

Local Differential GPS (FAA certifiable, Auto-Land)

Overarching Joint Program Strategy

Future Landing System

Incremental Precision/Capability

JPALS End State


Medium Earth Orbit


100 ft/ SM Auto-Land Mobile/Fixed LDGPS

200 ft/ NM Auto-Land Sea-Based SRGPS

(DoD and Civil


Three System Components:

2 Ground Station
3 A/C Integration

at Sea


100 ft/ NM Auto-Land Sea-Based SRGPS

(UAV Support)


Man-Pack LDGPS
(Marine Corps/Army)


Enhanced Vision System (EVS)


Upgrade to Sea-Based back-up system
Current CDD includes Increments 1 and 2
Only Increment 1 validated by JROC

(Direct Altitude and Identity Readout)

(Instrument Carrier Landing System)

(Air Surveillance Radar)

Shipboard ATC Systems

(Automatic Carrier
Landing System)


(Precision Approach Radar
for LHA/LHD class ships)

JPALS will replace

legacy radar-based
PAL systems



JPALS Compared
to GPS Guided Munitions

JPALS Accuracy Requirements


Joint Standoff
Weapon (JSOW)

JPALS Requires Augmented GPS

Better Guidance Quality (GQ)
required as the aircraft gets lower
and closer


Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM)






Sea-Based JPALS



Land-Based JPALS












Even better GQ required

when the runway is small and/or
moving (e.g., an aircraft carrier)

SRD Threshold: 200 ft/ mi

SOO Objective: AutoLand Demo


Sea-Based JPALS requires

22x and 94x greater
accuracy than JSOW and
JDAM, respectively

Alert Limits


Cat I


Cat II

A network-centric
a.go concept to support
landing ashore and all
wp- phases of flight in the
cont shipboard environment
Covert, secure, anti-jam
Low latency, high
integrity, fault-tolerant
2002 Responsibility for all
/09/ approach modes with
Sess vertical navigation
_Wal Services
lace. Allies
Technologies Conference Briefing 1 May 2002
Civil airspace

JPALS Overview


(Navy Applications)
General: Recoveries with no
limitations due to sea state
or weather

Automatic Landing
Position/trend to CATCC, LSO
Approaches for all aviation ships
Shore DoD/ Civil interoperability

Naval UCAV

Very high safety and reliability

Fully automatic flight in CCA
ATC control via digital data
See and avoid manned aircraft

Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)

Land to any spot (LH)

Primary mode: automatic takeoff
and landing
360 deg coverage
Future Carriers (CVNX)

No rotators; lower RCS

Eliminate unique signals
Increase growth margin
Reduce workload

Concept of Operations
for the Carrier at Sea
ATC coverage

TACAN coverage
50 nm

Two-way data comm

to ship within 50 nm;
ADS position reports
1-2 m


Ship to Air data link

provides relative nav
(TACAN) to 200 nm
5 m relative accuracy
20 nm

Collision Avoidance

20 nm

Landing System
Accuracy (0.3m 95%)
in 360 deg, 20 nm


State reports provide

Collision Avoidance and
Cockpit Display of Traffic
Information (CDTI) at 20 nm

Standard NATOPS
arrivals or direct
4-D routing (best
time/ fuel mgmt)

off the cat
& departure

bolter and waveoff
patterns supported

200 nm

30 nm

ICAO/ NATO compatible

approach capability
within 30 nm of airfield

How JPALS Works

Differential GPS gives relative position
with high accuracy and integrity

Inertial Navigation System data used

to compensate for ships motion



COMSEC and Featureless Spread

Spectrum protect the signals


JPALS Architecture
Ground Equipment

Airborne Equipment


Y/M Code, Beamforming Anti-Jam


Special Mission





VHF Data


Y/M Code, Beamforming Anti-Jam

Two-Way UHF
LPI data link
ATC & Landing





JPALS Performs Four Primary Functions:
Air Traffic Management
JPALS Replaces or Enhances Todays Systems:
Provides LPI Communications
Replaces Navigation: TACAN, ACLS, ICLS
Enhances Surveillance: AN/SPN-43, AN/UPX-29
Provides ATM: Assists ATC Controller Tasks
JPALS Employs/Integrates Technologies:
Digital Data Link
Voice Synthesis/Voice Recognition
Fault-Tolerant Processors
ATC Application-specific Algorithms

Test results of F/A-18 autoland trials for aircraft carrier

operations - Abstract:
Raytheon and the US Navy conducted aircraft carrier precision
approach trials using the F/A-18 as
the test platform. These trials are
part of the Navy Joint Precision
and Landing System (JPALS) effort to demonstrate Global Positioning System (GPS) technology
for aircraft carrier precision approach. The team achieved the
historic milestone of the first fully
coupled approach and landing to
the ground in an F/A-18 using a
GPS-based navigation solution.
The test and analysis results show
that GPS technology provides the
quality needed to perform relative
precision approaches in an aircraft
carrier environment.

Shipboard Relative
GPS Functions
Automatic Carrier Landing System (ACLS) The ACLS is
similar to the ICLS, in that it displays needles that
indicate aircraft position in relation to glideslope and
final bearing. An approach utilizing this system is said to
be a Mode II approach. Additionally, some aircraft are
capable of coupling their autopilots to the glideslope/
azimuth signals received via data link from the ship,
allowing for a hands-off approach.

G&C: Guidance
and Control
CCA: Carrier
Control Area
CDTI: Cockpit
Display of Traffic


If the pilot keeps the autopilot coupled until touchdown, this is

referred to as a Mode I approach. If the pilot maintains a
couple until the visual approach point (at miles) this is
referred to as a Mode IIA approach.


Air Traffic

Ship Relative





Data Link


Traffic Inform.


Functions have derived

GPS Nav requirements

Ramp Strike
Prevention Sys



JPALS ATM Services

Flight Information Service (FIS): Automated meteorological data, including wind
speed and direction over deck, temperature, humidity, barometric pressure.

Traffic Information Service (TIS): Primary and secondary radar tracks from offboard sensors providing CDTI and collision avoidance.

Controller Pilot Data Link Control (CPDLC): A set of commands to the airborne

platform which can be initiated either via manual operation, by voice command,
or automatic via Auto ATM. Proper handling of transfer of cont
for unmanned operations.

Endurance Management Air Traffic System (EMATS): Given a flight plan,

algorithms compute optimum time of arrival, schedule unmanned platforms with

other manned aircraft. A display tool provides time of arrival status information
to the controller or Mission Control System (MCS) operator with 4-D routing.

Airspace Management: Automated system assigns airspace regions to aircraft.

System monitors the aircraft, projects aircraft state appropriately. Upon
detection of impending spill-out, the system generates alarm to CPDLC, MCS
operator, or to the unmanned platform itself.


JPALS Surveillance Services

Shipboard Tracking: Within 50 nm, JPALS displays manned and
unmanned platforms on controller consoles from integrated dependent
surveillance SRGPS track information with primary radar and IFF.

Cockpit Display of Traffic Information (CDTI): Includes embedded

collision avoidance function for manned and unmanned platforms.
Operators have information on all local traffic, including 3-D relative
range, bearing, and acceleration.

Shipboard Approach Monitor: Airborne platforms are accurately

monitored with automated CAS functions, MCS display, and/or final
approach display.

Ramp Strike Prevention System: An approach monitor function which

includes projection of aircraft state and variable alarm limits for LSO
monitoring and/or as a part of vehicle flight control system integration.

Link System Design and

Navigation Service



Low-Rate LPI Uplink Data

to 200 nm
Low-Rate Uplink/Downlink
data to 50 nm

Ship State 200

Ship State 50
Ship State 20
GPS Block ID
GPS Pseudorange
GPS Carrier Phase
Ship Motion 20 Hz
Ship Motion 1 Hz
Ship Motion 0.2 Hz
Air State Report
Air Monitor Report
ATM Uplink 50
ATM Uplink 20
ATM Uplink 10

Transmit Range (nm)

Medium-Rate Air-Air Data

10 20 50


Uplink/Downlink Data
within 10 nm
LOS range approx 30-40

Navigation Service:
En route (GPS stand alone) guidance to 10m lateral, 20 m vertical
Relative Shipboard Approach Guidance
<5m lateral guidance out to 200 nm
< 15 cm 3-D guidance within 10 nm
<2 m lateral guidance within 50 nm
< 10 cm deck handling navigation

Examples of
Data Link messages

Start /

Taxi /



- AN




4D guide, CPDLC
departure reports



(BIT) Built
In Test



Trap /


4D guide & CPDLC

arrival reports

Weight On

Updated CLNC/
WX/Position of
Movement (PIM)


Weight / approach


Weight Off

Maintenance data

Weapons /
systems /
fuel status

Maintenance / WX

data & deck


CAF/ SA / tanker


Tanker hawk /
position &
guidance / CAF /



Navigation System
Shipboard landings require

Lab Tests

Threat Scenarios

more stringent levels of

accuracy and integrity than
Accuracies of less than 15 cm
with integrity assurance of no
more than 1.1 meter error in 10
million landings.
Also require high levels of
availability in the presence of
hostile or own interference.
Current anti-jam techniques
sacrifice accuracy and are not
compatible with high integrity
or carrier phase systems.

Performance Simulations

Flight Test Results


One of two F/A-18C Hornets from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 lands aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) during the recently completed round of Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS) testing this spring. JPALS is an all-weather landing system based on differential GPS information for land- and sea-based aircraft. (U.S. Navy photo) Jun 27, 2013

Landing Capability Roadmap This effort has been established as a transition from precision approach radar (PAR) systems to
emerging Global Positioning System (GPS) technology in order to provide Marine Corps Aviators a self-contained cockpit needles
precision approach in all operational environments (expeditionary, ship, and shore). Joint Precision Approach Landing System
(JPALS), due to the current fiscal environment, was dramatically scaled back to fund ship systems only. For the Marine Corps, this
will provide a precision capability on all LHA and LHD amphibious carriers to support the F-35B, and on all CVNs to support the
F-35C. Marine aviation will leverage maturing GPS technology to bring a self-contained precision approach landing capability (PALC)
that is world-wide deployable.

Why Accuracy
is so important!
Tip of hook through this box
(3 ft x 3 ft)

14 ft
8 ft

The shipboard component of JPALS

combines state of the art navigation
GPS surveying technology
Aviation integrity concepts from
civil aviation
Advanced military beam-forming
anti-jam systems
Integration of kinematic GPS with
inertial systems
Increases safety, efficiency and
reduces vulnerability
with CNS technologies provided with
a LPI link
Meets critical mission need for
future aircraft and ships (JSF, UCAV,


Carrier Deck Landing Area

Touchdown Points - Coupled to the Deck
April 23-24, 2001 - USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-40


3.5 Glide Slope

Target Touchdown Point


Runway YCoordinate 0


Wire 1

Wire 2

Wire 3

Wire 4


1 Wire



Runway X-Coordinate




Targeted Hook
Touch Down Point
Between 2 & 3 Wires

2 Wire
3 Wire

4 Wire

40 ft Between Wires

JPALS Testing Success

Conducted shipboard test of
SRGPS aboard the USS Roosevelt
(CVN-71) accomplishing 10 fully
auto-coupled landings in Apr 01.

Flew LAAS avionics (FedEx 727)

using the JPALS Ground Station
to perform 10 auto-coupled
landings Aug 01.

Completed 276 approaches at

Holloman AFB in clear air and
jamming conditions Jul-Aug01.
Civil Interoperability

Automatic Shipboard Landing

Precision Approach in Jamming


International Cooperation
UK has companion program
MOU in work with United States
UK testing STOVL implementation
to support JSF

Data Exchange agreement with

Flight Testing of JPALS Autolands

in UK VAAC Harrier
Interest within Spain, Italy, and France JUMP to VAAC
Precision Approach and Landing System decision

planned for Oct 2002

New group established to work ship standards

The Landing Area

(CVN-68 Class)

Fresnel Lens

ACLS Desired Hook TDP (1 )

230 ft
24 Longitudinal
5 Lateral



A diagram illustrating the "Long-Range Lineup System (LRLS)."

Not to scale


Effect on Hook Touch

Down Point (HTDP)
Design Eye Point




a /c




Level Deck




2 effects were additive - IFLOLS Tolerances & FA-18C Hook to Eye value
Target 212 ft (Nominal)
6 inches up on IFLOLS = approx 8 ft of hook touch down point (HTDP) travel forward
Not a big deal for individual passes, but will see more dispersion towards later wires
over time **.
Lakehurst has reduced install tolerances from +/- 6 inches to +/- 3 inches (CVN 76 is
know within 1.0 inch for all aircraft.
FA-18C H/E value will be amended in an upcoming ARB change

Effect of AG
Hook Touch Down Point
IFLOLS 230 Nominal
ACLS 230 Nominal
(doesnt change with

Hook Touch Down Point

IFLOLS 212 Nominal
ACLS 212 Nominal
(doesnt change with
Trappable Length
HTDP to 3-Wire
Nominal HTDP (212)
Nominal 3-Wire
261-10 212 = 49-10
11 feet less trappable length than
4-wire configuration
Target 205 results in a trappable
length of approx 57

Trappable Length
HTDP to 4-Wire
Nominal HTDP (230)
291 230 = 61

3A Wire


4-Wire Configuration
Not to scale

268 10

CVN 76 3-Wire Configuration




JPALS next page



PMA-213 Celebrates New GPS-Based Landing System Progress | Patuxent River, MD - Jan/24/2012
The latest in a series of Engineering Development Models (EDM) of a technology that promises to
revolutionize how the DoD safely lands its aircraft was unveiled by the Naval Air Traffic Management
Systems Program Office (PMA-213) during a dedication ceremony here Jan. 11.
We now have real, testable hardware after several years of conceptual modeling and design,
Capt. Darrell Lack, PMA-213 program manager, told the group gathered to celebrate the latest
advancement of the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS).

We will retire aging, radar-based, precision-approach and landing systems that are experiencing increasing obsolescence issues and evolve into a GPS-based precision-approach and
landing system, Lack said. This system will provide secure performance at sea, on land and
in expeditionary environments with increased operational availability and interoperability.
PMA-213 received the second JPALS EDM in October and plans to install it on all CVN, LHD
and LHA class ships as part of Increment 1A. The system offers critical enabling technology
for the CVN-78 ship class, F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter & Navy unmanned air systems,
while allowing retirement of costly, radar-based systems, Lack said. JPALS-compliant aircraft
will be compatible with the civil aviation, GPS-based infrastructure when fielded.
EDM-2 is the initial production representative unit of the AN/USN-3(V)1 JPALS, consisting of four
shipboard-suitable equipment racks and multiple GPS and UHF data-link antennas. A team, including
the JPALS prime contractor Raytheon Network Centric Systems and NAWCAD Research & Engineering personnel will integrate the unit into the System Integration Lab at the Landing Systems Test
Facility for further development.
With Navy, Air Force and Army participation, JPALS will provide a family of interoperable systems
for civil and multinational, manned and unmanned aircraft. A JPALS increment 1A Test Readiness
Review is scheduled for April and a Milestone C review to enter production is planned in fiscal 2013.

NavAirSysCom Core Avionics Master Plan 2011

3. Funded Enhancements and Potential Pursuits.
Digitally Augmented GPS-based Shipboard Recovery (JPALS). (2015) JPALS is
a joint effort with the Air Force and Army. The Navy is designated as the Lead Service
and is responsible for implementation of shipboard recovery solutions (Increment 1).
JPALS will be installed on the newest carrier and its air-wing aircraft (F/A-18E/F,
EA18G, E-2C/D, and MH-60 R/S). F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Block 5 will be
equipped with a temporary solution that will provide needles to the operator to enable a
JPALS assisted approach. However, the interim solution will not equip the aircraft to
broadcast its position in a manner that can be monitored by JPALS equipment on the
ship. Legacy radar will have to be used for the shipboard monitoring of the approach.
JPALS will eventually replace the ACLS on carriers, SPN-35 radars on LH Class
Amphibious ships, and ILS, TACAN, and Precision Approach Radar (PAR) systems at
shore stations. JPALS will be interoperable with civil augmentation and FAA certifiable.
Shipboard JPALS will use Differential GPS (D-GPS) to provide centimeter-level
accuracy for all-weather, automated landings. D-GPS provides a SRGPS reference
solution for the moving landing zone. A JPALS technology equipped F/A-18 has
demonstrated fully automated recoveries to the carrier. JPALS will also enable silent
operations in Emission Control (EMCON) environments.

JPALS team wins DoD award Nov 13, 2012

Systems (JPALS) team was recognized Oct. 25 as one of the Defense Departments top five systems engineering teams during a ceremony in San Diego. The team, part of Naval Air Traffic Management Systems Program
Office (PMA-213), was presented the award by the National Defense Industrial Association. The award represents the recognition of significant achievement in Systems Engineering by teams of industry and government
personnel. Each year, we recognize excellence in the application of systems engineering discipline and
implementation of systems engineering best practice that result in highly successful Department of Defense
programs, said Steve Henry, National Defense Industrial Association Systems Engineering Division chairman. The selection of the Joint Precision Approach & Landing System (JPALS) Increment 1A Ship System
program reflects highly on the collaboration & engineering efforts of the JPALS government & contractor team.

JPALS uses GPS and two-way data links for navigation and landing approaches for
carrier-based aircraft and helicopters landing in harsh weather. One of the best practices that
won the team this award is that the JPALS program required the use of Modeling and Simulation where
requirements validation via test and demonstration was impossible, said Michael Primm, JPALS guidance
quality lead, PMA-213. Given the importance of the M&S program to JPALS, extensive verification, validation
and accreditation was completed upfront and early to ensure a robust and accurate M&S environment was
available. I could not be prouder of our JPALS team, said Capt. Darrell Lack, PMA-213s program manager.
This first time award validates the dedicated work of PMA-213 and our industry partners.

JPALS is a critical technology for the Navy that will allow ship and land based aircraft to safely land
in all weather conditions and in conditions where enemy forces may try to jam GPS signals, added Lack.
This award represents the outstanding teaming relationship that has existed since the JPALS 1A contract was
awarded in 2008, said Lee Wellons, JPALS government chief engineer. The government JPALS 1A team with
our industry partners Raytheon and Rockwell Collins not only utilized the solid systems engineering practices
but also demonstrated exceptional organizational alignment and communication processes, Wellons said.

The next significant milestone for the JPALS team is reaching Milestone C in the fall of
2013. Milestone C is the decision to authorize full production & fielding of the JPALS system.

Navy Completes Initial

Development of New
Carrier Landing System
22 Nov 2013 Dave Majumdar
The U.S. Navy has completed the
initial development of the Joint
Precision Approach and Landing
System (JPALS), Naval Air Systems
Command (NAVAIR) officials told
USNI News.

The system is designed to aid pilots landing in inclement weather

conditions and will eventually replace
the current Instrument Carrier Landing System (ICLS) and the Automatic Carrier Landing System (ACLS)
onboard the services aircraft carrier fleet.
The current Engineering and
Manufacturing Development (EMD)
effort was completed this month
with the highly successful shipboard autoland testing on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), NAVAIR
spokeswoman Marcia Hart said in a
statement provided to USNI News.
The core of the JPALS technology is
an extremely precise ship-relative
GPS-based system which is much

more accurate than the existing pilot

aids onboard the carrier.
The Navy had tested the JPALS
onboard the USS George Bush
(CVN-77) earlier in July to verify the
systems capability to support manual landings. The latest testing onboard the Roosevelt was to demonstrate the systems ability to support
automatic hands-off landings on
board a carrier.
For the Navy, the development
of the JPALS is the huge step forward for integrating new aircraft into
the carrier air wing. Legacy systems
cannot support UAS [Unmanned Air
Systems], and [the Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter] F-35 was designed with JPALS capabilities. JPALS
Increment 1 is based on ship relative
GPS technology, Hart said.
While the initial development
is now complete, the Navy still has
work to do to finish all seven increments of the JPALS capability. The
system will also eventually support
flight operations onboard amphibious assault ships and U.S. Air Force
NAVAIRs immediate focus

however will be to continue developmental work for supporting the

F-35C and unmanned aircraft onboard a carrier. JPALS is particularly
important for the Unmanned Carrier
Launched Airborne Surveillance and
Strike (UCLASS) program.
While the Northrop Grumman
X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D) uses a
similar prototype ship-relative GPSbased landing system technology, it
is not the same system as an operationally deployable JPALS. The program office continues development
in support of the UCLASS and F-35
programs as well as multi-platform
avionics integration, Hart wrote.
The Navy will be the first service to field the new landing system
on the F-35C. Initial JPALS fielding
is scheduled in support of F-35C first
deployment, Hart wrote. However,
sequestration and continuing resolution associated budget uncertainty
will likely impact projected plans.
Eventually, the USAF and the
USMC will also use the JPALS for
their operations.

Collaborative efforts yield essential data,

reduce risk during early CATBird JPALS testing

Lightning II and a Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS)

test facility at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland in 2014.
Over the past three months, the Landing Systems Test Facility also hosted
CATBird to prepare for the second developmental test (DT-II) ship trials of
the F-35C Lightning II scheduled for later this year.
Initial testing with the JPALS ship system was very successful and met
F-35 Lightning II primary test objectives, said Lt. Cmdr. Chris Taylor, colead for the JPALS Integrated Product Team at the Naval Air Traffic
Management Systems (PMA-213) program office. Follow-on testing in
April and May was also successful in capturing essential data that will
deliver F-35 UDB risk reduction to developmental testing with the JPALS
ship system.
The F-35 Cooperative Avionics Test Bed (CATBird) supports software development for upcoming F-35B/C developmental
and operational tests, including the elements of the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS). When fully
implemented, JPALS will benefit carrier-based air traffic control by enabling automatic carrier landings (auto-land),
enhancing aircraft position reporting, and increasing Tactical Air Navigation (TACAN) functionality. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)

May 28, 2015

PEO(T) Public Affairs

Team members of the F-35

Lightning II Cooperative
Avionics Test Bed (CATBird), a
modified Boeing 737-330...


between government and industry teams
advanced the Navys capability to recover
aircraft in all weather conditions a vital
solution aimed at protecting people and
equipment while enhancing the flexibility,
power projection, and strike capabilities of
carrier air wings.
The F-35 Cooperative Avionics Test Bed
(CATBird), a modified Boeing 737-330,
accomplished initial connectivity and
datalink testing between the F-35

A key feature of the former commercial airliner is its ability to transport a

team of test engineers in its flying laboratory specially equipped to
integrate, test, and validate mission systems avionics for the F-35
Lightning II. The use of CATBird enables the team to test mission systems
in a dynamic environment and apply real-time modifications the same day
or even hours after a test flight.
At present, CATBird is supporting the development of software scheduled
for release this year. The software is part of the Block 3F software
build for upcoming F-35B/C developmental and operational tests.
The F-35 is currently integrating the UHF Data Broadcast (UDB) radio with

the JPALS ship system as an interim solution during

development of an auto-land capability into the JPALS
ship system. This capability will allow the Navy to
recover aircraft in all-weather conditions by removing
human error from the carrier landing process.
To date, UDB tests have been a success due to the collaboration between
PMA-213 and industry partners, Taylor noted.

USN IOC 2018 with 3F + JPALS Manual Landing

Capability Delivery Plan April 2013



Yellow font = New compared to

As Is 2007 Architecture









NigComsat -1








User Interface Orgs



PNT Evolved Baseline (2025)



Cell Phone




PNT = Positioning
Navigation & Timing






_brief_for_CGSIC_Confer Trackers









Space Comm &

Nav Arch





JPALS & GPS | Video Transcript: NAVAIR Airwaves 11 Dec 2013

USS Theodore Roosevelt Sailors get a first-hand look at the carrier deck of the future as both X-47 unmanned
aircraft get underway with the ship.... ...The future landing system for the Navy and Marine Corps exceeded expectations during its latest test period at sea.
JPALS is a precision based landing system based on GPS technology. Two surrogate F/A-18 aircraft were
outfitted with the system and successfully performed multiple landings onto the deck of USS Theodore Roosevelt. The tests demonstrated JPALS ability to support hands-free auto land onto a moving carrier, which is important for the systems future installation on the F-35 and unmanned aircraft.
Capt. Darrell Lack/program manager PMA-213, Naval Air Traffic Management Systems
We had over 50 precision approaches and landings, primarily to a touch-and-gos just for speed of data. We also
had some traps, some arrested landings, but the system on the performance that we saw it was landing precisely where we were asking it to land, where it had been programmed to land and the pilot reports that came back
from the most recent test phase, it was very gentle, it was a gentle landing. It acted just like the legacy systems
only a little bit better; right so, over all it was a very big success.
Paul Sousa/assistant manager for T&E JPALS
We are out there testing for a reason. We gathered all this data, which is going to be key to the future development of JPALS to support the future platforms like F-35 and UCLAS. So the data we did during this at-sea demonstration is key for future development of JPALS. JPALS is designed to be interoperable across aircraft platforms. It is an upgrade to the current landing system which relies on radar to calculate a touchdown point onto
the deck of a ship.
+ Video:

GPS is a wonderful technology, but how do you navigate if you lose your satellite signal?
Scientists at the atomic magneto-optical trapping lab are trying to develop an ultra-precise technology
that will enable pilots to navigate in the absence of GPS. Lasers are used to cool atoms to within a few millionths of a degree above absolute zero, which slows them down and makes them much easier to manipulate. When rotated or accelerated, the highly sensitive atom wave provides information about its surrounding
environment. This same basic science can be used to detect magnetic fields. Once the basic science is developed, it will need to be engineered down to a portable size that can be used by the warfighter...

Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class Aircraft Carrier Program: Background and Issues for Congress
Ronald O'Rourke, Specialist in Naval Affairs 09 Apr 2014

...JPALS [Joint Precision Approach and Landing System]

The Navy has proposed to the USD(AT&L) Milestone Decision Authority that the program be restructured from its
current, land- and sea-based, multiple-increment structure to a single increment focusing on sea-based requirements
primarily supporting JSF [Joint Strike Fighter; aka F-35] and future Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance
and Strike aircraft. Under this proposed restructuring scheme, there will be no retrofitting of JPALS on legacy aircraft
and the Navy will need to maintain both the legacy approach and landing system and JPALS onboard each aircraftcapable ship.

The arresting hook system remains an integration risk as the JSF development schedule leaves no time for discovering new problems. The redesigned tail hook has an increased downward force as well as sharper design that may
induce greater than anticipated wear on the flight deck.
JSF noise levels remain moderate to high risk in JSF integration and will require modified carrier flight deck procedures.
- Flight operations normally locate some flight deck personnel in areas where double hearing protection would be
insufficient during F-35 operations. To partially mitigate noise concerns, the Navy will procure new hearing protection
with active noise reduction for flight deck personnel.
- Projected noise levels one level below the flight deck (03 level), which includes mission planning spaces, will
require at least single hearing protection that will make mission planning difficult. The Navy is working to mitigate the
effects of the increased noise levels adjacent to the flight deck.
Storage of the JSF engine is limited to the hangar bay, which will affect hangar bay operations. The impact on the
JSF logistics footprint is not yet known.
Lightning protection of JSF aircraft while on the flight deck will require the Navy to modify nitrogen carts to increase their capacity. Nitrogen is used to fill fuel tank cavities while aircraft are on the flight deck.
JSF remains unable to share battle damage assessment and non-traditional Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance information captured on the aircraft portable memory device or cockpit voice recorder in real-time. In addition, the CVN-78 remains unable to receive and display imagery transmitted through Link 16 because of bandwidth
limitations. These capability gaps were identified in DOT&Es FY12 Annual Report. The Combatant Commanders have
requested these capabilities to enhance decision-making....

Extreme Miniaturization: Seven Devices, One Chip to Navigate without GPS

10 Apr 2013

The U.S. Military relies on the space-based Global Positioning System (GPS) to aid air, land and sea navigation.
Like the GPS units in many automobiles today, a simple receiver and some processing power is all that is needed for accurate navigation. But, what if the GPS satellites suddenly became unavailable due to malfunction, enemy action or simple interference, such as driving into a tunnel? Unavailability of GPS would be inconvenient
for drivers on the road, but could be disastrous for military missions. DARPA is working to protect against such
a scenario, & an emerging solution is much smaller than the navigation instruments in todays defense systems.
DARPA researchers at the University of Michigan have made significant progress with a timing & inertial
measurement unit (TIMU) that contains everything needed to aid navigation when GPS is temporarily unavailable. The single chip TIMU prototype contains a six axis IMU (three gyroscopes and three accelerometers) and
integrates a highly-accurate master clock into a single miniature system, smaller than the size of a penny. This
chip integrates breakthrough devices (clocks, gyroscopes and accelerometers), materials and designs from
DARPAs Micro-Tech-nology for Positioning, Navigation and Timing (Micro-PNT) program.

Three pieces of information are needed to navigate between known points A and B with precision:
orientation, acceleration and time. This new chip integrates state-of-the-art devices that can measure all three
simultaneously. This elegant design is accomplished through new fabrication processes in high-quality
materials for multi-layered, packaged inertial sensors and a timing unit, all in a tiny 10 cubic millimeter package.
Each of the six microfabricated layers of the TIMU is only 50 microns thick, approximately the thickness of a
human hair. Each layer has a different function, akin to floors in a building.
Both the structural layer of the sensors and the integrated package are made of silica, said Andrei Shkel,
DARPA program manager. The hardness and the high-performance material properties of silica make it the
material of choice for integrating all of these devices into a miniature package. The resulting TIMU is small
enough and should be robust enough for applications (when GPS is unavailable or limited for a short period of
time) such as personnel tracking, handheld navigation, small diameter munitions and small airborne platforms.
The goal of the Micro-Technology for Positioning, Navigation and Timing (Micro-PNT) program is to develop
technology for self-contained, chip-scale inertial navigation and precision guidance. Other recent breakthroughs
from Micro-PNT include new microfabrication methods and materials for inertial sensors.



eloped and demonstrated a new microNuclear Magnetic Resonance Gyro (micro105* SURWRW\SHIRUWKH'HIHQVH$GYDQF
ation requirements along with a successful prototype demonstration marksthe
fourth and final phase of DARPAs Navigation-Grade Integrated MicroGyroscopes
(NGIMG) program. The culmination of the eight-year program is a micro-NMRG
that offers near navigation-grade performance for the next generation of highprecision inertial sensors.

Northrop Grummans micro-NMRG technology uses the spin of atomic nuclei to detect
and measure rotation, providing comparable performance to a navigation-grade fiber-optic
gyro in a small, lightweight, low-power package. Additionally, the gyro has no moving
parts and is not inherently sensitive to vibration and acceleration. The technology can be
used in any application requiring small size and low power precision navigation, including
personal and unmanned vehicle navigation in GPS-denied or GPS-challenged locations.
Our miniature gyro technology offers unprecedented size, weight and power savings in a
compact package, exceeding program requirements, said Charles Volk, vice president of
Northrop Grummans Advanced Navigation Systems business unit. This important technology can help protect our warfighters by offering highly accurate positioning information,
regardless of GPS availability.
The NGIMG effort is part of DARPAs Micro-Technology for Positioning, Navigation and
Timing program that aims to develop technology for self-contained, chip-scale inertial navigation and precision guidance. Northrop*UXPPDQEHJDQWKHILUVWSKDVHRIWKH1*,0*

A win/win for the carrier

and aircraft teams
continued from page 17
Basically we are dealing with a
completely different method of landing,"
said Pete Symonds of the Aircraft Carrier
With STOVL landing you stop and
land; CV landing is land and stop. So
its a completely different set of lights
in completely different positions. Then
the aircraft is different. Weve built a
new model into the system as clearly the
control laws are different with many
different characteristics including an
arrester hook.
The team has adapted well to the
changes though. From the ship point of
view it has been an easier task to organise
the lighting system as we are now
following how the Americans do it. The
American layouts have been our starting
point and were trying to improve on
them, said Mr Symonds.
And were helped by the fact that
the actual size of the carrier ight deck
was driven by the requirement to be
adaptable. The STOVL ship could have
been smaller but the adaptable design
was driven by the size of the runway,
which was needed to recover the aircraft.

Weve taken the ight deck, and started

again. After the decision was made to
move to the Carrier Variant we had a
period of looking at variable equipment
selection before we started the work. We
now have the ight deck at what we call
level two maturity, so effectively the big
bits are already xed. The design of the
ight deck is pretty well sorted. Testing
will soon move to other simulators to test
recovery of helicopters to the carriers.
From DE&S Joint Combat Aircraft
point of view the F-35C will be equally
capable from sea or land. The current
focus for the JCA team is ensuring the
aircraft is integrated onto the carrier in
the most optimal way, said Wg Cdr Willy
Hackett, the teams UK Requirements
This aircraft will be the rst stealth
platform to operate from an aircraft
carrier which will bring new challenges.
Recovering an aircraft to a small moving
aireld, especially at night or in poor
weather, has always focused the mind of
any pilot who has own at sea.
The F-35 will bring new technology
which in time will make landing on an
aircraft carrier just another routine part
of the mission. On entry into service

Landing on the QEC carrier

what the pilot sees
AIRCRAFT APPROACH the stern as the carrier steams into the wind. Pilots aim for
the second or third of the arrester wires, the safest, most effective target, writes
Steve Moore.
Aircraft are guided by deck personnel the Landing Signal Ofcers via radio
and the collection of lights on deck.
When the aircraft has landed the pilot powers up the engines to make sure that, if
the tailhook doesnt catch a wire, the plane is moving fast enough to take off again.
Pilots will look at the Improved Fresnel Lens Optical Landing system the lens
for guidance, a series of lights and lenses on a gyroscopically stabilised platform.
Lenses focus light into narrow beams directed into the sky at various angles.
Pilots will see different lights, depending on the planes angle of approach. On
target, the pilot will see an amber light in line with a row of green lights. If the amber
light is above the green, the plane is too high; below green it is too low. Much too low
and the pilot will see red lights.
So how did I do? My rst attempt saw my F-35 scream way past the carrier,
too fast, too high, and with no hope of landing. A second was just as wayward,
overshooting by a distance and just missing the island superstructures necessitating
a stomach-churning go-around.
A third and nal approach needed a last-second drop in height, allowing me to
nd the last of the arrester wires, ending in a landing more akin to Fosbury than any
of the elite pilots who have been using the simulator for their landings. What was that
about four football pitches?

the aircraft will be equipped with Joint

Precision Approach and Landing System
(JPALS) which will guide the aircraft
down to a point where the pilot can take
over and land the aircraft manually.
Future upgrades intend to allow JPALS
to actually land the aircraft without pilot
input in very poor weather.
He added: A new ight control
system, combined with new symbology
in the helmet mounted display, looks
to drastically reduce pilot workload
on a manually own approach. This
technology is being investigated by the
US and UK, and if successful will see a
major reduction in the training required
to keep pilots competent at landing on
aircraft carriers from the middle of the
next decade.
Once this new technology is invested
in the F-35C the pilot will be able to
focus on the mission to an even greater
extent than is possible now in the current
generation of carrier variant aircraft. UK
JCA squadrons will therefore be more
operationally focussed than current
generation sea-based aircraft and will
keep UK airpower at the front rank of
military powers.
So who wins from the current carrier

Pictures: Andrew Linnett

testing? Back to Mr Symonds Well

actually its both the Aircraft Carrier
Alliance and the Joint Combat Aircraft
teams, he said. From the aircraft side
the team has to be satised it is safe to
operate the aircraft at sea efciently.
So in terms of the JCA safety case, it is
critical that we are able to demonstrate
safe F-35C recovery operations.
From the ACA perspective, we
have to prove that the ship is safe to
operate the aeroplane so we have to
provide sufcient visual landing aids
to demonstrate to our safety case that
it works. Both teams must be condent
that what we will be putting on the deck
works. We will be making sure it is a win/
win for both teams.

 T h e f l i g h t d e c k h a s a b o u t 2 5 0 m e t r e s
o f r u n w a y d i s t a n ce f o r l a n d i n g
aircraft. A runway on land would be
a r o u n d 12 t i m e s l o n g e r. A n d d o e s nt
 L a n d i n g o n a c a r r i e r d e c k p i tc h i n g u p
a n d d o w n b y u p to 3 0 f e e t i n a r o u g h
sea can be daunting enough. A pilot
h a s to p l a c e t h e a i r c r a f t s t a i l h o o k i n a
p r e c i s e p a r t o f t h e d e c k 15 0 f e e t l o n g
b y 3 0 f e e t w i d e to c a tc h t h e a r r e s te r
w i r e s , a n d d o i t a t n i g h t to o .
 T h e a r r e s t i n g w i r e s y s te m c a n s to p
a 2 5 - to n n e a i r c r a f t t r a v e l l i n g a t 15 0
miles per hour in just t wo seconds in a
3 0 0 - f e e t l a n d i n g a r e a . D e ce l e r a t i o n i s
up to 4Gs.

...the aircraft will be equipped with

Joint Precision Approach & Landing System (JPALS) which will
guide the aircraft down to a point
where the pilot can take over and
land the aircraft manually. Future
upgrades intend to allow JPALS to
actually land the aircraft without
pilot input in very poor weather....

December 2012


Joint Precision Approach

and Landing System (JPALS)
As of this writing, a JPALS engineering unit is being installed onboard the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) for at-sea
test and evaluation with an F/A-18, MH-60, and King Air test aircraft in early 2013. This takes the next step beyond the
LSO OAG presentations, Fleet Project Team forums, and technology demonstrations, and gives Paddles the opportunity
to view the next generation precision approach and landing system at work in the operational environment.

Figure 1: JPALS Increment 1 Operational Concept Graphic

JPALS brings a number of benefits to the fleet, some of which are presented below for the fixed wing pilot/LSO perspective:
x Once the pilot tunes in and the aircraft is processing the data link, he gets instant feedback that JPALS is up and runDesigned to replace aging sea-based and land-based aircraft landing systems, JPALS is a GPS-based system to provide
ning versus having to wait until flying into the ICLS/ACLS region behind the ship.
enhanced joint operational capability in a full spectrum of environments ranging from CAVU to Sea State 5 in all weathers in a hostile environment. By complying with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for Ground Based x JPALS slaves to the IFLOLS setting for nominal hook touchdown points for each cross deck pendant allowing the
Augmentation System (GBAS) and Space Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS), JPALS provides an interoperable civil
pilot to not only change glide slope, but even target a specific wire. For MOVLAS, JPALS uses the last commanddivert capability. JPALS incorporates both encrypted data link and GPS anti-jam technology with high levels of accuraed IFLOLS HTDP setting prior to switching to MOVLAS.
cy, reliability and capabilities beyond what we have today.
x The legacy System Waveoff has been eliminated, so the pilot can degrade (and uncouple as applicable) to another
approach means and not view a flashing W/O with a JPALS malfunction. Protection levels are established, but the
NAVAIR is developing JPALS with an incremental strategy to meet all requirements from replacing the SPN-46, SPNplatforms and aviation community are still developing specific degrades and alert indications.
35, and PAR for manned aircraft to landing unmanned aircraft both ashore and at sea. The first step of which is to
x Air Boss/LSO initiated waveoff will continue to be displayed as a waveoff to the pilot within 1 NM and on final
achieve 200 ft. decision height with NM visibility at CVN and L-Class ships.
approach (except for F-35 with UDB).
System Overview
x Although the system retains the legacy requirements of Closed Deck and CATCC waveoff, with the exception of the
UDB system they are now displayed as a Discontinue Approach. The JPALS Incremental acquisition approach
Figure 1 (on page 2) depicts the Operational Concept of the nodes and information exchange for JPALS Increment 1. The
includes a non-GPS based back-up system.
JPALS data link provides shipboard information for the aircraft to determine a Relative Navigation (RelNav) location to
the ship.
Landing Signal Officer Display System (LSODS) Integration
The development schedule calls for two separate data links for JPALS. For Increment 1, the JPALS UHF data link is for
the air wing aircraft (F/A-18 E/F, EA-18G, E-2D, C-2A, MH-60R/S and other future platforms) with a line of sight limit
of 200 NM (for RelNav). Within 60 NM, the aircraft logs into the network and initiates two-way data link for aircraft
parameters to be sent to the ship for surveillance and air traffic control. Within 10 NM, the high rate data link provides
the required precision navigation (20 cm vertical accuracy). The F-35B/C requires an interim capability, a separate oneway data link, called the UHF Data Broadcast (UDB), which provides RelNav for the pilot out to 30 NM and supports
precision approach out to 10 NM, as well as on-deck RF alignment.

JPALS interfaces with a number of legacy systems on the ship to provide operators the required information to conduct
launch and recovery operations with JPALS equipped aircraft. The F-35 UDB does not have a surveillance downlink,
so it depends on other systems to provide controller and LSO display information. As briefed at the LSO OAG this
year, the F-35 UDB approach to the CVN will be limited to 300 ft. and NM, achieving only 200 ft. and NM with an
ACLS Mode III lock-on to display ACLS final approach data to the operators. The F-35 is implementing a flight director with UDB, but does not plan to couple the flight control system on UDB approaches.

JPALS data populates the LSODS to display an approaching aircraft very similar to the way SPN-46 depicts
it today. The LSO School, NAWC Lakehurst, and Naval Air Traffic Management Systems (PMA213) coordinated to integrate a small change depicting JPALS equipped aircraft on approach and whether or not the
aircraft is coupled. This is displayed in the line-up section of the LSODS screen, as shown in Figure 2:
The conventional display is portrayed on the right, showing tail number and button. With JPALS incorporated, additional lettering to the right of the button shows: JC if JPALS Coupled (AFCS engaged), a J
if JPALS aircraft not coupled, and the lower is SPN-46 Mode I, II, or III (III depicted). The lower panel of
the LSO Workstation Control Panel continues to carry only a SPN-46 function, as there is no Lock-on or
System Waveoff with JPALS.
Program Coordination
In addition to the at-sea testing onboard CVN-77, JPALS testing continues ashore at the Landing Systems
Test Facility in Patuxent River, MD. Although production JPALS will begin with CVN installs in 2015, it
will take time for the C-2A, E-2D, F/A-18 E/F, EA-18G, and MH-60R/S platforms to integrate JPALS.
CVN-79 is expected to deploy without SPN-46, so until that time, both JPALS and SPN-46 will co-exist
during the transition.
PMA213 looks forward to continue coordination with OPNAV, platform OEMs, the air traffic controller and
the LSO community to field a system that meets the operator needs as the next generation precision landing
system. LSO involvement is critical to success, and details of aircraft integration procedures will continue to
- Ken Waldo Wallace is a former Tomcat pilot
be briefed to the fleet for feedback.
and currently the JSF and JPALS liaison for Navy
PMA-213 at Coherent Technical Services

JPALS slaves to
the IFLOLS setting
for nominal hook
touchdown points
for each cross deck
pendant allowing
the pilot to not only
change glide slope,

but even target a

specific wire.

Core Avionics Master

Plan 2012 Appendix A-3
- Navigation 3
...Baseline to Objective
Transition Strategy (continued).
Radars are currently the primary enabler for precision approach and recovery in low ceiling, low visibility conditions. Automated hands-off fixed wing
approach to the carrier deck using differential GPS has already been demonstrated using relative GPS. Insertion of
this capability requires significant platform modifications. The Joint Precision
Approach and Landing System (JPALS)
Program is developing these technologies to replace the antiquated radar
Automated Carrier Landing System
(ACLS) equipment that is facing obsolescence and driving high sustainment
costs. This capability is being developed for rotary wing platform recovery
to single spot ships, and is considered
a key element of unmanned air vehicle operations at sea. JPALS is planned
to replace precision approach systems
at military installations and to provide
a capability for all-weather recover to
temporary expeditionary airfields and
landing zones. The strategy is to evolve

platform cockpits to provide a Digital

Flight Environment (DFE) with the level
of integrity to support precision navigation in all phases of flight and weather
GPS User Equipment (UE) has
evolved significantly over the last decade. The latest all-in-view receiver
modules incorporate Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module (SAASM) GPS
receiver cards to prevent spoofing and
enhance security of crypto keys. Additional robustness and enhancements
are being achieved through the Navigation Warfare (NAVWAR) program
with the integration of Controlled Reception Pattern Antennas (CRPAs) that
possess significantly improved anti-jam
characteristics, such as the GAS-1 and
Advanced Digital Antenna Production
(ADAP). The next generation of GPS
UE, known as Military GPS User Equipment (MGUE), will replace legacy components and be capable of processing
both the new M-Code signal and legacy GPS. The M-Code signal possesses
even further improved anti-jam characteristics and will be available exclusively for military use. Additionally, MGUE
integration will incorporate an enhanced security architecture which provides for layered information assurance

and anti-spoofing capability. MGUE and

NAVWAR development are managed by
the U.S. Air Force led GPS Directorate
and PMW/A-170 respectively.

Mandates and Milestones:

JPALS Ship-based Initial Operational Capability (IOC). (2017) The
US Navy is the lead for the Joint Service JPALS program, and is responsible
for the development of the shipboard
solution. JPALS will deployed on the
newest aircraft carrier and its assigned
carrier aircraft, including C-2A, E-2D,
EA-18G, F/A-18E/F, F-35 and MH-60R/S.
Required Navigational Performance (RNP)2 above FL290 in
National Airspace System (NAS).
(2018) RNP is a form of performancebased navigation that calls for accuracy of position location on a GPS route
to be within a specified number of nautical miles (nm) of intended position.
RNP compliance requires 95% fidelity of position accuracy to ensure proper containment for all modes of flight.
The GPS receiver must provide Integrity using Receiver Autonomous Integrity Monitoring (RAIM), which ensures
that all of the satellites being utilized to
determine position are providing useful

aircraft will utilize data-linked ship position and altitude information to establish more efficient aircraft marshalling procedures and approaches
to the ships Expected Final Bearing
(EFB). The SRGPS link between the
ship and the aircraft on the EFB will enable the aircraft to perform very laterJPALS Land-Based IOC. (2018) The
ally and vertically precise approaches
Air Force is charged with development
to the ship in all weather and all tactiof land-based JPALS ground stations.
cal conditions to minimize aircraft reDifferential GPS will be used to provide
covery time. Utilization of tighter patan additional military PPS datum referterns has already demonstrated time
ence signal via an encrypted UHF daand fuel savings in commercial airport
talink, and an additional civil interopoperations, and should provide simierable SPS datum reference signal via
lar benefits in CVN and multi-spot ama VHF datalink or SATCOM signal. A
phibious ship operations. JPALS precifixed station will be installed at every
sion navigation will require 24 channel
DoD airfield that currently has preciGPS receiver upgrades and processing
sion approach capability. A deployable
upgrades that enable procesing both
variant will be developed for remote
L1/L2 PPS GPS signals. The first platlocations....
form planned to utilize JPALS for marshalling will be the Unmanned Carri...3. Funded Enhancements and
er-Launched Airborne Surveillance and
Potential Pursuits.
Strike (UCLASS).
Digitally Augmented Ship Approach
Digital Airfield Sequencing (JPALS).
Sequencing (JPALS). (2018) JPALS
(2018) Aircraft that are configured
will provide for increased ship-to-airwith JPALS will be able to immediatecraft relative position accuracy to suply take advantage of improved apport ship recovery operations using
proach sequencing when JPALS units
Shipboard Relative GPS (SRGPS). After
are established at shore bases. Shore
launch and during recovery operations,
based JPALS at military air stations had
data. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will require RNP-2 (accurate
within a circle with a radius of two nm)
for all operations at or above FL 290 in
the NAS (similar to Continental United States CONUS, but also includes
Alaska and Hawaii) by 2018.

planned to implement supplemental

ground-based signals (Local Area Augmentation Signal LAAS) that would
utilize one-way unique military datalink information for GPS augmentation to enable precision approach capabilities, but that initiative and solution
strategy has been deferred. Instead,
JPALS equipped naval aircraft will perform GPS augmented precision approach procedures at civilian airfields
by leveraging Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) signals,
which will not require a datalink to receive the correction signal. Air Force is
the lead for this program. USAF Mobility and Combat Commands are negotiating the necessity and prioritization of
resources to enable MGUE to support
this functionality, but it is still currently
tracking as a part of the program of record for availability to configured users
in 2018....

...D. Recovery.
1. Current Capabilities.
Current shipboard ACLS radars have
critical reliability and obsolescence issues. Naval aircraft use Link 4A to
conduct assisted approaches and

recoveries. The most advanced tactical

jets have hands off recovery capability.
Helicopters do not have automated recovery. Only the largest surface vessels
offer precision approach. Some aircraft employ Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) transceivers for precision
approaches to equipped airfields. Most
civil airfields are equipped with ILS approaches, but most Navy and Marine
Corps airfields typically are not. Aircraft not equipped with ILS are limited to locations with precision radar for
alternative low weather ceiling emergency divert recoveries. Receivers that
work ILS frequencies must be equipped
with filters to prevent FM station interference. The P-3C is the first Navy aircraft certified to fly GPS-based SIDS,
STARS and RNP-0.3 approaches.

2. Advanced Research and

Technology Development.
Degraded Visual Environment
(DVE) Recovery. (2010-2012) The
Naval Aviation Center for Rotorcraft Advancement (NACRA) office and PMA261
(H-53 variants) are analyzing technologies and system options that can present an affordable near term solution
for this capability gap. Technologies
being tested in multiple Small Business

Innovative Research (SBIR) efforts include Laser Radar (LADAR), Millimeter

Wavelength (MMW) and Passive MMW
(PMMW) or other fused spectrum sensors that can see through airborne
particles to increase SA. The challenge
will be to affordably leverage limited existing on-board sensors or to design something that is small and light
enough to practically integrate which
does not affect flight performance

3. Funded Enhancements and

Potential Pursuits.
Digitally Augmented GPS-based
Shipboard Recovery (JPALS).
(2017) JPALS is a joint effort with the
Air Force and Army. The Navy is designated as the Lead Service and is responsible for implementation of shipboard recovery solutions (Increment
1). The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)
Block 5 will be the first JPALS configured platform. It will start with a temporary solution that will provide needles to the operator to enable a JPALS
assisted approach. The interim solution will not equip the aircraft to broadcast its position in a manner that can
be monitored by JPALS equipment on
the ship. Legacy radar will have to be

used for the shipboard monitoring of

the approach. The Unmanned Carrier-Launched Aircraft Surveillance
and Strike (UCLASS) will be the second platform. It will be forward fit with
full functionality. JPALS will also be installed on air-wing aircraft (C-2A, E2C/D, EA18G, F/A-18E/F and MH-60
R/S) to support CVN-79 around 20212022. JPALS will eventually replace the
ACLS on carriers, SPN-35 radars on LH
Class Amphibious ships, and may replace ILS, TACAN, and Precision Approach Radar (PAR) systems at shore
stations. JPALS will be interoperable
with civil augmentation and FAA certifiable. Shipboard JPALS will use Differential GPS (D-GPS) to provide centimeter-level accuracy for all-weather,
automated landings. D-GPS provides a
SRGPS reference solution for the moving landing zone. A JPALS technology equipped F/A-18 has demonstrated
fully automated recoveries to the carrier. JPALS will also enable silent operations in Emission Control (EMCON)
Digitally Augmented Civil Airfield
Recovery (JPALS). (2018) Every aircraft that is equipped with JPALS capability for ship operations will automatically be able to conduct civil airfield

GPS precision approaches. UCLASS

will be the first equipped aircraft. They
will be able to use Satellite Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS) such as the
FAAs WAAS, the Indian GPS and GEO
Augmented Navigation (GAGAN), the
Japanese Multifunctional Satellite Based
Augmentation System, or the European
Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) which was recently activated. JPALS will also be interoperable
with FAA civil Ground Based Augmentation Systems (GBAS), which also uses
differential GPS to enhance GPS signal
correlation for improved position accuracy. JPALS adds the protected military
PPS GPS signal, anti-jam and UHF datalink to military approaches but the Civil
approaches will utilize the unprotected
SPS signal. Civil system interoperability will enable aviators to use hundreds
of additional divert airfield options. The
Air Force is designated to develop and
implement shore station JPALS capability. One JPALS land-based unit (Increment 2) can replace all the existing non-precision approach beacons
and precision radars required for each
major runway, providing increased capability for less capital investment and
sustainment costs. The Army is developing portable tactical JPALS systems

that will enable precision recovery in

remote expeditionary locations....

...2. Advanced Research and

Technology Development.
Military Space Signal and User
Equipment Enhancements. (20102013) Smaller GPS antennas and AE
are being developed for space-constrained aircraft and small Unmanned
Aerial Systems. JPALS compatible
beam-steering AE is also being developed for JPALS platforms....

Appendix A-4 Cooperative Surveillance

...Mandates and Milestones:
Joint Mode 5 Initial Operational Capability (IOC). (2015) The March
2007 Joint Requirements Oversight
Council Memorandum (JROCM) 04707 calls for Mode 5 Joint IOC in 2015
and Full Operational Capability (FOC) in
JPALS Ship-based Initial Operational Capability (IOC). (2017) The
US Navy is the lead for the JPALS program, and is responsible for the development of the shipboard solution

(Increment IA). JPALS will initially be

deployed on the newest aircraft carrier and its assigned aircraft, including
C-2, EA-18G, E-2D, F/A-18E/F, F-35 and
JPALS Land-Based IOC. (2018) The
Air Force is charged with development
of land-based JPALS ground stations
(Increment II). Differential GPS will
be used to provide an additional military PPS datum reference signal via
Satellite Based Augmentation System
(SBAS) Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) signals. A fixed station will
be installed at every DoD airfield that
currently has precision approach capability. A man-pack variant may be developed for remote locations....

...2. Advanced Research and

Technology Development.
Military Collision Avoidance (Mode
5). (2011-2012) A Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) projects is
exploring utilization of TACAN Air-toAir mode to perform aircraft collision
avoidance functions within the battlespace. This utility was reportedly demonstrated by Spanish F-18 aircraft. Algorithms were developed to
place a range bubble around aircraft

based upon proximity to another cooperating aircraft who was also operating on TACAN using a specific channel

from all on-board sensors, as well as

from tactical information data-linked
from outside sources. If multiple sensor
track parameters are similar, a contact
attribute can be considered more reli3. Funded Enhancements and
able than if it were derived from a sinPotential Pursuits.
gle source data point. Similarly, intelligence and sensor data combinations
Improved Ship and Shore Approach
can be used to discount parameters
Sequencing (JPALS). (2018) F-35B
that may not be as reliable from a sinand C early block deliveries will emgle range or condition limited sensor, or
ploy a one-way JPALS data-link integraone that may be getting spoofed. Autotion to facilitate Shipboard Relative GPS
mated fusion will produce a higher con(SRGPS) aided recoveries. Block four
fidence factor CID solution....
or five will incorporate the full two-way
datalink, which will enable ship controlAppendix A-5 Flight
lers to manage improved marshalling
for more efficient recoveries. Utilization Safety
of tighter patterns has already demon...Shipboard Recovery Animation.
strated time and fuel savings in com(2020) The current MFOQA [Military
mercial airport operations, and should
Flight Operations Quality Assurance]
provide similar benefits in carrier and
program of record does not include
multi-spot amphibious ship operations.
complex analysis and software develFor more JPALS details, see the Naviopment required to enable the abiligation appendix..... [excerpts relevant
ty to visualize takeoffs or landings in
to JPALS above already]
the highly dynamic shipboard environment.
MFOQA Increment 3 is planned
Fused Sensor and Tactical Data
to include enhancements that would inCollaborative Combat ID (CID).
corporate ship position and motion into
(2015) The fusion server integratthe visualization module to enable aced into the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)
hosts software that combines and com- curate portrayal of a flight during empares target track information obtained barked operations....

...Structural Prognostics and Health

Management. (2015) Joint Strike
Fighter (JSF) will field Structural Prognostics and Health Management (PHM)
capability in support of mission sortie
generation/readiness objectives. Wirelessly downloaded parameters will include fuel state, ammunition state, expendables state, and component health
conditions requiring maintenance in
order to minimize turnaround time.
Real time, accurate down-link of specific component conditions supports
CBM [Condition Based Maintenance],
which will significantly enhance readiness by enabling maintainers to move
from time-scheduled removals and inspections to removing items only when
required. Removing components only
when they have achieved their tolerance limit of safe operations can also
return significant cost avoidances by
extending the lives of the parts beyond
their engineering estimates, thereby reducing the costs of repairs or replacements. CBM may also result in
reduced requirements for spares inventories or deployed spare support

Two U.S. arms programs face live-or-die reviews after costs jump
18 Apr 2014 Andrea Shalal

...a precision ship-landing system built by Raytheon Co

face mandatory reviews that could lead to their cancellation after quantity reductions drove unit costs sharply
higher in 2013, the Pentagon announced on Thursday....

...The cut in quantities of Raytheon's Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS) came
after the Army and Air Force decided to pull out of
the joint program, which resulted in the need for 10
fewer shore-based training systems, the report said.
The cost increase in the JPALS program also was
partly due to an extension in the development program
aimed at increasing the capability of the system, and
higher material costs....

Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS)

DASD(DT&E) FY 2013 Annual Report

March 2014


Executive Summary: The JPALS is

being developed to meet the
requirement for a next-generation
GPS-based precision approach and
landing system. It is intended to
function in environments ranging
from clear skies (no jamming or
precipitation) and unlimited visibility
to obscured skies with GPS jamming,
heavy precipitation, and low


The Federal Aviation Administration

(FAA) decision to postpone retiring
the civilian instrumented landing
system led to the Air Force decision
to withdraw from this joint program. The Navy continues to pursue this capability for incorporation
in the F-35B/C and the UCLASS system onboard Navy ships.
The Navy proposes to re-scope the structure of JPALS to reflect the focus on F-35 and UCLASS as
forward-fit platforms, combining the previous planned multiple increments of development into a
single increment.
Lead DT&E Organization: NAWCAD AIR 5.1.1

Summary of FY 2013 DT&E Engagement and Assessments

x DASD(DT&E) oversees the integrated test program phase and assesses system capability and
performance as satisfactory based on shore- and ship-based performance. JPALS has
demonstrated the capability to guide Navy aircraft to touchdown within precision standards.

Summary of FY 2013 DT&E Activities

x Two Navy F/A-18C aircraft and an MH-60S helicopter underwent test-specific modifications to
support the 2013 and beyond integrated test periods.
x MayJuly 2013, PMA-213 with HX-21 and VX-23 completed initial sea-based testing,
comprising more than 120 approaches with JPALS-equipped surrogate test bed, MH-60S and
F/A-18C aircraft, on USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH (CVN 77).
x October 2013, VX-23 successfully completed an initial demonstration of the auto-land mode in
the F/A-18C with 77 approaches to touchdown at the landing systems test facility at Naval Air
Station, Patuxent River, Maryland.
x November 2013, VX-23 conducted additional risk reduction flights utilizing the JPALS-equipped
F/A-18C onboard USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71) to demonstrate the auto-land
capability of the EDM.
x JPALS demonstrated the ability to support fully automatic approaches and landings to an aircraft
carrier in an operational environment, and under a variety of weather conditions and sea states,
conducting more than 100 manual and 70 fully automatic landings aboard CVN 71.

The Navy and DASD(DT&E) are assessing T&E strategies if the decision is made to combine
the JPALS program Increment 1 (ship system), Increment 3 (auto-land), and Increment 4
(unmanned aircraft) into a single increment to accelerate system IOC in support of F-35
deployment and full auto-land capability for the UCLASS platform. DASD(DT&E) assess the
JPALS Increment 1A development and test to be on track. If the program restructures to
combine multiple increments, the initial fielding date of the ship-based system will be extended
to 2019.
Key development risk areas include integration on the F-35 and UCLASS aircraft. Because of
the aircraft development cycle, integration on these platforms will follow IOC of the ship-based
The JPALS program did not request a waiver or deviation from requirements in the TEMP.

...The Federal Aviation Administration

(FAA) decision to postpone retiring the
civilian instrumented landing system led
to the Air Force decision to withdraw
from this joint program. The Navy
continues to pursue this capability for
incorporation in the F-35B/C and the
UCLASS system onboard Navy ships.
The Navy proposes to re-scope the
structure of JPALS to reflect the focus
on F-35 and UCLASS as forward-fit platforms, combining the previous planned
multiple increments of development into
a single increment....

Joint Precision Approach and Landing System Increment 1A (JPALS Inc 1A)
of Selected Weapon Programs
JPALS Increment 1A is a Navy-led program to
develop a GPS-based landing system for aircraft
carriers and amphibious assault ships to support
operations with Joint Strike Fighter and Unmanned
Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike
System. The program intends to provide reliable
precision approach and landing capability in
adverse environmental conditions. We assessed
increment 1A, and as a result of restructuring,
previously planned additional increments are no
longer part of the program.

Program Essentials
Prime contractor: Raytheon
Program office: Lexington Park, MD
Funding needed to complete:
R&D: $641.5 million
Procurement: $525.8 million
Total funding: $1,167.3 million
Procurement quantity: 17


development start

design review


low-rate decision

Program Performance (fiscal year 2015 dollars in millions)

Research and development cost
Procurement cost
Total program cost
Program unit cost
Total quantities
Acquisition cycle time (months)

As of



The latest cost data do not reflect the June 2014 restructuring of the program as a new acquisition
program baseline has not been approved.

JPALS Increment 1A began development in July

2008, and both of the program's currently
identified critical technologies were demonstrated
in a realistic environment during flight testing in
2013. Program officials reported completing
baseline software development as of April 2012.
The program began system-level development
testing in July 2012 and sea-based testing in
December 2012, completing 108 approaches as
of July 2013 with no major anomalies reported.
According to program officials, no critical
manufacturing processes have been identified as
JPALS relies primarily on off-the-shelf
components. In March 2014, the JPALS program
reported a critical Nunn-McCurdy unit cost breach
and a new cost and schedule baseline is currently
being developed.
Page 99 GAO-15-342SP Assessments of Major Weapon Programs

Mar 2015

Technology, Design, and Production Maturity

In June 2014, the JPALS program was restructured
to accelerate the development of aircraft auto-land
capabilities. The program's technology and design
maturity will need to be reassessed to account for
this alteration of capabilities, and the program has
not yet determined what changes are required.

System development

JPALS Inc1A Program

Attainment of Product Knowledge

As of January 2015
Resources and requirements match
Demonstrate all critical technologies in a relevant

Demonstrate all critical technologies in a realistic

Complete preliminary design review

Product design is stable

Release at least 90 percent of design drawings
Test a system-level integrated prototype

Manufacturing processes are mature

Demonstrate critical processes are in control
Demonstrate critical processes on a pilot production line
Test a production-representative prototype
Knowledge attained

Information not available

Knowledge not attained

Not applicable

Prior to this restructuring, the program had

completed a number of activities to mature its
technology and design. JPALS Increment 1A began
development in July 2008, and, according to
program officials, the two currently identified critical
technologies were demonstrated in a realistic
environment during sea-based flight testing in 2013.
JPALS functionality is primarily software-based, and
the program's baseline software development and
integration efforts were complete as of April 2012.
JPALS Increment 1A held a critical design review in
December 2010 and released its all of its expected
design drawings at that time. The program began
testing a system-level prototype in July 2012, 19
months after its critical design review. Sea-based
testing of the system in its current configuration
began in December 2012, and program officials
reported completing 108 approaches as of July
2013, with no major anomalies identified. The
program also completed 70 ship-based auto-landing
demonstrations using legacy aircraft as of
November 2013. According to JPALS officials, the
Increment 1A program has not identified any critical
manufacturing processes, as the system's hardware
is comprised primarily of off-the-shelf components.
The program has accepted delivery of eight
engineering development models, seven of which
were considered production-representative.
Other Program Issues
In 2013, the Navy conducted a review of its
precision approach and landing capabilities to
address budget constraints and affordability
concerns. In light of these concerns, as well as
other military service and civilian plans to continue
use of current landing systems, the Navy
restructured the JPALS program. The program was
reduced from seven increments to one intended to
support the Joint Strike Fighter and Unmanned
Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike
System. The Navy also accelerated the integration
of auto-land capabilities originally intended for the

future increments, and eliminated both the

integration of JPALS with other sea-based legacy
aircraft and the land-based version of the system.
These changes increased the development funding
required for auto-land capabilities and reduced
system quantities, resulting in unit cost growth and
a critical Nunn-McCurdy unit cost breach reported in
March 2014. The Under Secretary of Defense for
Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics certified the
restructured program and directed the Navy to
continue risk reduction efforts to incorporate the
auto-land capabilities and return for a new
development start decision no later than June 2016.
The Navy plans to conduct a preliminary design
review for the new system in fiscal year 2016 and a
critical design review in fiscal year 2017.
Program Office Comments
In commenting on a draft of this assessment, the
program noted that it concurred with our review. The
Nunn-McCurdy unit cost breach was a direct result
of a reduction in quantities and an acceleration of
auto-land capability into the JPALS baseline. The
quantity reduction was due to changes in the
planned transition to GPS-based landing systems.
The Navy decided to terminate both JPALS legacy
aircraft integration efforts and ground based
systems, and accelerate auto-land capabilities to
meet Joint Strike Fighter and Unmanned CarrierLaunched Airborne Surveillance and Strike System
requirements. The Joint Strike Fighter will utilize
JPALS interim capability as part of its Block 3F
software, and the Unmanned Carrier-Launched
Airborne Surveillance and Strike System will utilize
JPALS as a baseline capability for its precision
approach landing requirement. The restructured
JPALS eliminates future incremental development.

Page 100GAO-15-342SP Assessments of Major Weapon Programs

How Day/Night Vision of HMDS III will see the sea...

f-35 lightning II DAS system

Future Carrier Recovery Methods

How will the carrier-based systems work? Basically, the ship provides precise GPS/INS
measurements and other data such as hook touchdown points and glide slope information via the
encrypted data link to the aircraft. This data is combined with data from the aircraft itself to determine its exact relative position. The relative positions of the aircraft and ship will then be used to
display relative position in relation to glide slope and centerline to the pilot via standard cockpit instrumentation.

NAVAIR engineer Buddy Denham presented some interesting developments on how methods of carrier recovery may progress in the future, especially regarding the introduction of the next
generation of carrier-based aircraft. What will the composition of a carrier air wing look like in
2020? How will these aircraft make their approach and landing on the CV? As F/A-18s begin to
be replaced with F-35 and UCAS (and already-existing aircraft are equipped with JPALS), will NaThe JPALS hook touchdown points (HTDPs) will be fully selectable and slaved to the
val Aviation shift toward using auto land systems as the primary method of aircraft recovery or still IFLOLS. As of now, the system is being developed to allow for four possible commanded HTDPs
rely on the traditional technique of Meatball, Line-up, Angle-of-Attack and pilot skill?
for 4-wire ships and three for 3-wire ships. Each of these selectable HTDPs will be 20.4 feet prior
to the target CDP on the 4-wire ships and 15.4 feet prior to the CDP on the three wire ships. UnInitially, it was thought that the advanced navigation and guidance capabilities of UCAS and fortunately, selectable HTDPs will not be available for field-based JPALS approaches. While this
F-35 would allow for greater reliance (maybe even total reliance) on purely auto land systems
would be an excellent capability for fly-in arrestments at the field, FAA regulations would require
with the hope that this would eliminate pilot error as a causal factor in landing mishaps as well as
a NOTAM be issued anytime the parameters of a precision approach changes.
significantly reduce pre-deployment FCLP requirements. However, a total reliance on automated
methods of carrier landing would leave Naval Aviation vulnerable to signal jamming as well as
GPS-denied environments.

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Carrier Integration

Could their possibly be a third way that would be so simple for the pilot to fly, yet not susceptible to jamming or electronic failure? What was proposed by Buddy Denham is the integration
of a system called the Bedford Array Landing Reference System that would augment our current
IFLOLS system. The system would consist of a series of high intensity centerline lights as depicted below:

LCDR Eric Magic Buus from VX-23s F-35 Carrier Integration team gave an excellent update on the status of the F-35C (The Navys CV version). As would be expected from any carrier
based aircraft, the F-35C will feature more structural integrity than the F-35A in addition to slightly
larger control surfaces. Reference the specs below to see how the F-35C will compare to the F/A18C and F/A-18E:

See Next Page for full page

view of this graphic on right
These lights would be approximately twelve feet apart and would shift in order to display not only
glide slope information but also glide slope trends during the pass, similar to a PAPI or VASI but
stabilized with regards to deck motion. For more detailed information, please see the complete
56 ft
brief on the LSO Schools Website:
37.4 ft
Or, contact Buddy Denham directly at:
Wing Area
400 ft2
Internal Fuel
10,800 lb
Spot Factor

JPALS Update

The Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS) is a GPS-based system that
will eventually replace the current radar-based methods of carrier approach and landing. It will be
comprised of both ship and aircraft based systems and supported by a JPALS-specific data link.
This system will become the Joint Service standard, completely interoperable across each military
branch, and 100 percent compatible with the civilian GPS-based systems scheduled to replace
ILS, NDB, and VORTAC navigational aids.


Wing Area
Internal Fuel
Spot Factor

50.8 ft
43.0 ft
620 ft2
19,145 lb

Wing Area
Internal Fuel
Spot Factor

60.38 ft
42.0 ft
500 ft2
14,708 lb

As you can see, the F-35 will have wingspan similar to the Rhino but with a smaller flight
deck footprint and a very impressive internal fuel capacity of more than 19,000 pounds. Currently
two airframes have been delivered for testing and the third is expected to arrive soon. Some
things that will take some getting used to will be the lack of a FLAPS switch and coming into the
break with the hook up (Due to hook airspeed limitations). Also worth mentioning is the fact that
as of now only the Air Forces F-35A will feature and internal gun.

The F-35C will also not include a HUD and, like the F-16, will feature a sidemounted control stick. Most notably is the fully-customizable 8 by 20 touch
screen that will replace the separate displays that Hornet and Rhino pilots
have become accustomed. Test pilots indicate that the F-35 is a very stable
platform and overall flies slightly better than a Hornet, and initial Sea Trials
are scheduled for the First Quarter of 2013.

















August 2011






LSO School Welcomes Royal Navy Chief

For the third time in as many months, the U.S. Navy Landing Signal Officer School played host to yet
another flag officer from a foreign navy. On this particular occasion we had the pleasure to welcome
Admiral Sir Trevor Soar, RN. Admiral Soar commands all deployable fleet Royal Navy units, including the Royal Marines. A career submariner, Admiral Soars visit to the LSO School was part of a
comprehensive tour of NAS Oceana as the Royal Navy continues to broaden its exposure to American carrier aviation methods. As many are already aware, the United Kingdom is returning to the
fixed-wing carrier aviation business after several decades of operating only Harriers from its current
fleet of flat deck ships.

Currently, the British are deep in the development and construction of the HMS Queen Elizabeth and
then subsequently the HMS Prince of Wales. By the end of the decade, the Royal Navy plans to be
conducting fixed-wing carrier launch and recovery operations from these two ships using the F-35C
version of the Joint Strike Fighter. Understandably, the Landing Signal Officer is a key piece of the
puzzle that they must develop in order to stand up an effective carrier aviation program.
Over the course of the past few months, the LSO School has been actively assisting the RN with
everything from the proper development of an LSO program to effective flight deck layout. This visit
follows other official visits from both the Brazilian CNO as well as the Commandant of the French
Naval Aviation Command. Over the course of the next few years, Landing Signal Officers across the
fleet should not be surprised to be involved in assisting various foreign militaries as they look to develop carrier aviation programs.


Salty Dogs

LCDR Robert Timmay!! Bibeau

Acting VX-23 Ship Suitability Department Head


C-2, E-2, and Prowler pilots, have you ever made fun of a Hornet guy for declaring an emergency at the
boat for a HUD failure? Doesnt everyone realize that the HUD is our primary attitude reference? Have you ever
thought less of someone for doing a Mode I? Well things are about to get better or worse, depending on how you
look at it. This months article is about the Tomorrowland projects coming down the pipe.
One of the Navys UAV programs had its first flight last month at Edwards Air Force Base. Future Navy
UAVs will be able to seamlessly integrate themselves into the Case I, II and III patterns with manned aircraft. The
Air Boss will have a control screen in Pri-Fly where he can click on Charlie and the UAV will sequence itself
into the break, come around and land itself on an OK 3-Wire. If the pattern is full, he can click on Spin It and
around she goes. Aside from giving me job security worries, it sounds really cool.
In the next few years UAVs will be landing autonomous at the boat using GPS technology. Completely
autonomous landings at the field and the following first landings at the boat will mark a turning point in Naval
Aviation. We have fought for years to keep real FCLPs and not do all our CQ prep in the simulator. If a plane can
land itself with the click of a button in any Case and weather you wouldnt have to FCLP, CQ, and maintain day or
night currency anymore. The cost savings would be HUGE. With todays tight budgets, auto landings could save
tens of millions of dollars. That makes them seem very attractive.
In the future the pilot may fly the tactical portion of the flight but the admin portion of the flight will be
automated. The Super Hornet and JSF can very easily become auto-landers. Auto landings will one day become
the standard way to recover on the CVN. A pass flown manually will be an emergency! In the future, it is possible that it may be the first time the pilot has ever done one outside of the simulator. Luckily there are a few technical hurdles to overcome, so dont expect it during our careers.
The first and most important technology required is JPALS (Joint Precision Approach and Landing System). This is the replacement for the ACLS and the TACAN. Its a differential GPS system similar to civilian
WAAS approaches. It will be capable of coupled Mode I approaches at the boat and precision approaches at the
field. The data link portion will generate TACAN symbology and provide the same information to the airplane
that a TACAN receiver supplies. JPALS is a Triplex system with 3 independent paths of communication with the
airplane so roughly 1 in 10 million passes would be unreliable. A version of JPALS technology is what will guide
UAVs. It is scheduled to IOC in FY 2016.
JPALS will also allow auto landings. But before we can get rid of FCLP and CQ requirements we have to
make the Super Hornet and JSF really, really easy to land at the boat. To do this we need things like the ship stabilized velocity vector I mentioned a few months ago. We may also need to add another lens-type glideslope indicator. One idea is called a Bedford Array. You can see in Figure 1 that a Bedford Array is like a lens spread of
over the length of the LA. Unlike an IFLOS which has 12 cells that are always on to create a glideslope reference,
the Bedford Array is a set of Christmas lights and only the light corresponding to current position of the touchdown point is illuminated. Just as the dynamic touchdown point moves across the deck on the LSODS screen, the
Bedford Array lights would move forward and back across the deck corresponding to the dynamic touchdown
point. Figure 2 shows what your HUD may look like. You keep the ship stabilized velocity vector on top of the
Bedford light that is illuminated. The datum is a reference line in your HUD. As long as the 3 all line up you are
on glide path.

Artists Concept of Completed QEC

First Section of Completed Hull of QEC

(Continued on the next page.)


The last improvement for flying glideslope is Direct Lift Control (DLC). Increasing the throttle spools up
the engines, this increases the airspeed, more lift is generated and the aircraft climbs. Pulling back on the stick
produces down force on the tail, this increases the AOA which produces more lift and the aircraft climbs. These
processes that change glideslope all take time. This is why as pilots you learn to anticipate or lead everything.
DLC like the name implies is DIRECT lift control. When you actuate it you get a very quick increase or decrease
in lift. The F-14 and S-3 both had spoiler-activated DLC. In those two aircraft, the spoilers would be deployed a
little bit for the entire approach. When you wanted to go down the spoilers would move up spoiling lift. To go up
you retract the spoiler and you get more lift back (the S-3 only had down control). The response is not instantaneous but it is pretty close. The JSF is going to have DLC. Its DLC is incorporated into the flaps and ailerons.
When you want more or less lift both ailerons extend or retract very quickly. DLC will be incorporated into the
flight control computers so there is no need for a DLC switch on the stick like the Tomcat. The FCCs will decide
if you need to move the tail, the ailerons, or both. A similar system could be developed for the Super Hornet as
well. I flew a model of the Super Hornet in the simulator with DLC and in an autopilot mode similar to FPAH
called Glide Path Hold. The simulated ship also had a Bedford Array model. It took me about two seconds to figure out how to fly a rails pass almost hands off.

The first question most people ask is: Why work on the Hornet? Its already a good ball flyer!! While this
is true, their are still plenty of ramp strikes and hook slaps that show room for improvement still exists, and the
goal is to make it so easy the E*TRADE baby can do it. Some of these systems will be operational in a few years,
some may be developed in the future, and some may only be ideas on paper and in the simulator forever. In any
case, things will be changing in the future. Even the movie Top Gun 2 is going to be about UAVs. As always any
questions or feedback is greatly appreciated.
Figure 1 Bedford array concept on CVN.
Dan "Butters" Radocaj
Test Pilot/LSO
A Bedford Array and a ship stabilized velocity are indicators of glideslope that will show you if you are off
VX-23 Ship Suitability
glideslope more precisely but they still dont make the airplane respond differently. Stick and throttle corrections
in any airplane are not instantaneous. You put in an input and some finite time later a response happens. That is
why we have rules like never lead a low, always lead a high and never re-center a high ball in close. When you
make a power correction in the T-45 it takes several seconds to take effect, a hornet is much faster and the E-2 is
even better, but it is still not instantaneous. The F-4 Phantom was supposedly one of the best ball flyers ever.
They called the throttle the ball controller. Those huge J79 turbojets had a fast response rate and when on-speed, a
lot of the thrust component was in the vertical direction. There are engines being developed with nozzles that can
pucker very quickly. By puckering the nozzles, very fast increases in thrust are possible. This can improve the
rate of glideslope corrections.

...The JSF is going to have DLC. Its DLC is incorporated into the flaps and ailerons.
When you want more or less lift both ailerons extend or retract very quickly. DLC will
be incorporated into the flight control computers so there is no need for a DLC switch
on the stick like the Tomcat. The FCCs will decide if you need to move the tail, the
ailerons, or both. A similar system could be developed for the Super Hornet as well. I
flew a model of the Super Hornet in the simulator with DLC and in an autopilot mode
similar to FPAH called Glide Path Hold. The simulated ship also had a Bedford Array
model. It took me about two seconds to figure out how to fly a rails pass almost
hands off....


Trials Ahead for Navy Carrier Landing Software

-by Armed Forces International's Defence Correspondent

New software designed to assist US Navy pilots landing combat jets on aircraft carriers will be tested in 2012, the Office
of Naval Research said in a 20 October press release. The flying skills demonstrated by naval aviators are often applauded - given that theirs is a role that demands extreme accuracy and concentration. Bringing high performance combat aircraft like the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet into a comparatively small space, on a moving platform, is a tricky business. It requires constant speed and flight control surface adjustments to ensure the correct trajectory's being followed.

Navy Carrier Landing Software

The new naval carrier landing software aims to simplify this process, bringing an unprecedented degree of precision to
the maritime arena. "The precision that we can bring to carrier landings in the future will be substantial", the deputy
chief of naval research for naval air warfare and weapons, Michael Deitchman, explained in the release, adding: "The

flight control algorithm has the potential to alter the next 50 years of how pilots land on carrier decks."

The algorithm is designed to work in tandem with a so-called Bedford Array lighting system
positioned on the aircraft carrier and a series of symbols presented in the pilot's HUD (Heads-Up
Display). It connects the control stick straight to the aircraft's trajectory with the result that, rather than
have to make minute shifts, the pilot directs the aircraft so it beams a fragmented green line in the HUD.
"You're tracking a shipboard stabilized visual target with a flight path reference, and the airplane knows what
it needs to do to stay there", Naval Air Systems Command representative James Denham stated, in explanation.

Naval Landing Software Trials

Live tests involving the navy carrier landing software haven't yet been performed, but the algorithm's been trialled in a
Super Hornet simulator. Next year, though, the naval landing software trials will get underway and both US Navy and
Royal Navy pilots will be involved. The Royal Navy no longer has a fixed-wing naval strike capability but will receive
F-35C Joint Strike Fighters in around 2018.
[Since then changed back to F-35Bs again for RN/RAF on CVFs.]

The advent of the new carrier landing software will present several advantages. Pilot workloads will be reduced but, alongside this, carrier landing training programmes won't need to be as rigorous as they are now.
Additionally, while naval aircraft like the Super Hornet typically have strengthened undercarriages, to withstand the impact of heavy deck landings, they're not necessarily indestructible. Consequently, the potential's
there for related repair and maintenance costs to reduce, too."

On October 8, 2010, Flight Global

reported that Lockheed Martin had
received $13 million to incorporate a
shipboard rolling vertical landing
(SRVL) capability into the STOVL
F-35B. The funding came from the
U.S. Navy, but the work
will be performed on behalf of the United Kingdom.

UPDATE: The Ups and Downs of the F-35 Program

An aid according to claim 1 comprising an

Visual Landing Aids 2.array
of lights distributed along the platform

which are arranged to be lit selectively to indi[Bedford Array/SRVL] cate

the position of such aim point at any time.
Justin David Billot Paines 3. An aid according to claim 2 wherein said
A visual aid for the pilot of an aircraft approaching to land on an aircraft carrier comprises a
series of lights (9) embedded along the landing
deck and controlled in response to pitch and
heave of the vessel so that the light(s) illuminated at any time indicate a visual aim point
which is stabilised with respect to a specified
glideslope (5) onto the vessel irrespective of
such vertical excursions of the vessel. It is used
in conjunction with a marker on a head up display or helmet mounted display for example so
that registry of the marker with the illuminated
light at any time indicates that the aircraft is on
the correct glideslope.
Inventor: Justin David Billot Paines
Current U.S. Classification: 340/945
Application number: 13/054,934
Publication number: US 2011/0121997 A1
Filing date: Aug 7, 2009

1. A visual aid for the pilot of an aircraft
approaching to land on a moving platform
whereby in use a visual aim point is defined on
the platform and the apparent position of such
visual aim point along the platform is adjusted
in response to excursions of the platform in
the vertical sense so that registry of the visual
aim point with an associated visual marker on
or in the aircraft at any time indicates that the
aircraft is on substantially the same specified
glideslope fixed in space relative to the overall
platform irrespective of such excursions thereof

lights are arranged in a row or parallel rows

along the platform and controlled such that the
light in the or each row which is nearest to the
intended aim point at any time is lit.

4. An aid according to claim 2 wherein said

lights are arranged in a row or parallel rows
along the platform and controlled such that a
single light is lit in the or each row when the
intended aim point is within a specified distance
of that light and two successive lights are lit in
the or each row when the intended aim point
is within a specified distance of the mid point
between those two lights.

aircraft carrier or the like vessel whereby in use

a further visual indication is defined on the deck
and the apparent position of such further visual
indication is adjusted along the deck in response
to excursions of the vessel in pitch so that when
viewed along a specified sightline from the
aircraft said further indication corresponds to
the aftmost limit at which the aircraft will safely
clear the stern of the vessel when following a
specified glideslope parallel to said sightline
irrespective of such excursions of the vessel.

9. A visual aid for the pilot of an aircraft

approaching to land on the deck of an aircraft
carrier or the like vessel whereby in use a visual
indication is defined on the deck and apparent
position of such visual indication is adjusted
along the deck in response to excursions of
the vessel in pitch so that when viewed along
a specified sightline from the aircraft said
indication corresponds to the aftmost limit at
5. An aid according to claim 2 wherein lights
which the aircraft will safely clear the stern of
are also lit to indicate the effective limits of said the vessel when following a specified glideslope
array at any time.
parallel to said sightline irrespective of such
excursions of the vessel.
6. An aid according to claim 2 wherein said
array extends along a length of the platform
10. A method of approaching to land an aircraft
such that different longitudinal sections
on a moving platform by use of a visual aid
thereof are capable of functioning to provide an according to claim 1.
adjustable aim point for a plurality of specified
glideslopes fixed in space in different positions
11. A method according to claim 10 wherein the
along the platform.
aircraft is a V/STOL or STOVL aircraft executing
a rolling vertical landing.
7. An aid according to claim 1 wherein said
visual marker on or in the aircraft is presented
12. A method of approaching to land an aircraft
in a head up display, helmet mounted display, or on the deck of an aircraft carrier by use of a
forward-looking camera display, or comprises a visual aid according to claim 9.
physical marker on the aircraft structure, and
represents a depression angle from the horizon 13. A method according to claim 12 wherein the
equal to the specified glideslope angle.
aircraft is a V/STOL or STOVL aircraft executing
a rolling vertical landing.
8. An aid according to claim 1 for the pilot of an
aircraft approaching to land on the deck of an


various flying techniques, such as shipborne rolling vertical landing.

MAI Magazine Issue 14 BAE Systems
Weve brought together a cross section
individuals to do that, from very experiMAI is playing an important role in the deenced Harrier pilots with legacy experience
velopment of the Royal Navys new Queen
to US Navy conventional F18 pilots, and also
Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier. We caught
Navy and other Airforce pilots who
up with test pilot Pete Kosogorin ahead
have no shipborne or STOVL experience.
of the official naming ceremony for HMS
has been done to ensure the design is
Queen Elizabeth to get the inside track on
optimised for all levels of ability, and all levthe work that is taking place to integrate
els of scale.
F-35 with the new carrier.
Obviously I work for BAE Systems, but
.The beauty of this is the carrier has
the fact that weve got a team of 30
been designed with the aircraft in mind,
out here who are intimately
explains Pete.
involved in this, not just on the STOVL side
Its not an anti-submarine carrier
the B model but we also have one of the
that has been modified for F-35 the QE
lead engineers on the C model which is the
carrier has been designed for F-35 right
US Navy variant, is a great success story.
from the outset, so I think the two will
Some of these guys have been working
integrate very well.
on the design and development side for 10
That work began many years ago and
years plus, and now we are into the flight
the stuff weve done in the simulator at
test stage, they are either working on the
Warton has been incredibly important beflight tests directly or they are engineers
cause many of the results of those trials
fed into the design of the deck the mark- who are looking at and analysing the data
we produce from those flight tests.
ings on the deck, the lighting on the deck,
It may be weeks later before we find out
the systems. There are various shipborne
that the point we flew was good, or there
systems that will help the pilot when landwas a problem in the point that we need to
ing, particularly in high sea states when
the conditions are challenging and the deck look at again, or we might need to change
the software.
is moving around quite a bit, or at a night
So its not just about expanding the enwhen there is limited visibility.
velope of the aeroplane, its also about deBut the sim work hasnt just been
veloping the software to make the airabout developing the flight controls
software in the aircraft, its also about craft better, and each member of the BAE
Systems team is vitally important to that
finding out how to fly and carry out
certain manoeuvres, and working out

But what can those test pilots lucky

enough to be chosen for those trials expect? And how will the F-35B compare to its
predecessor, the Harrier, which was the aircraft of choice for the old Invincible class
By the time the F-35 comes into service and has been fully tested, there wont
be many Harrier pilots flying it it will be a
much younger generation, says Pete. The
aircraft itself, and the control and handling
it has in slow speeds in STOVL mode 4, is
Ive landed at night on a ship in the Harrier and thats a really exciting but also
scary event.
You are probably the most aroused you
will ever be as a pilot in terms of focused
concentration, but that doesnt mean you
cant make a mistake.
When a pilot is working really hard, hes
using up a high proportion of his capacity
and his ability to spot things, to see things,
and to cope with things is affected. In the
Harrier, you could easily miss one aspect of
your technique, miss a problem with the aircraft, or not hear a radio call, so it was easy
to lose track of what was going on.
But this aircraft works so well for
you, the extra capacity that allows you
is a big bonus. It means a pilot can deal
with an emergency better, or follow a
particular technique better, so the execution of your approach and landing on
a ship is going to be way more efficient.

U.S. Navy LSOs Pay a Visit to the UK
In previous editions of Paddles Monthly you have probably read about the growing involvement of U.S. Navy LSOs in the United Kingdom. The LSO School Staff continues to
remain highly active in the development of the United Kingdoms fixed wing carrier aviation
program. This past month, former CAG Paddles LCDR HUDA Stickney & LCDR Trigger
Condon both traveled to the UKs F-35C facility, to include the simulator facility in Warton,
England. During the evolution, LSOs from the United States used the simulator to fly Case I
& Case III approaches around a simulated HMS Queen Elizabeth (QEC). During this process,
they were able to offer advice during the final evaluation of the QECs visual landing aids &
flight deck layout. The QEC will be equipped with IFLOLS, MOVLAS, & landing area lights
very similar to U.S. Navy aircraft carriers.
Some differences include a solid white line drop light system, six unique lights to highlight the LA at range, & additional wave-off lights on the round-down & the tower. Another
portion of the project involved testing the Bedford Array (highlighted in a previous months
Paddles Monthly) & Ship Referenced Velocity Vector (SRVV) landing aids. These systems,
currently being developed at NAS Patuxent River, are able to operate in all wind conditions
& sea states.
At the end of the trip, just before Trigger and HUDAs last golf tee time, [tea time in UK
has a completely different meaning] the Paddles evaluated BAEs LSO simulator linked with
the F-35C simulator. With Paddles help, two Royal Navy Harrier pilots successfully trapped
on multiple approaches, proving again that paddles are invaluable."

VX-23 Strike Test News 2014 a multi-part power correction


using the throttle, while influencing angle of attack with the stick.
Furthermore, this method allows
the pilot to correct significant
glideslope deviations precisely and instantaneously, without
waiting for the engines to spoolProject Magic Carpet includes a
up or spool-down. It also reduces
new set of Powered Approach
the potential of the aircraft be(PA) flight control laws for the
coming dangerously thrust defiF/A-18E/F Super Hornet, combined with innovative new Head- cient when correcting from a high
position during the final phase of
Up Display (HUD) symbology
the approach.
designed to significantly simpliCombined with the new flight
fy the carrier landing task. The
flight control laws take advantage control laws are several new additions to the Head-Up Display, to
of advances in the flight control
computers and increased hydrau- include a Ship Relative Velocity
Vector (SRVV) and a Glideslope
lic actuator bandwidth to allow
the aircraft to correct glideslope Reference line. Together, these
two tools allow the pilot to preposition errors using Integrated
Direct Lift Control (IDLC), as op- cisely measure not only the magnitude of present errors, but also
posed to the current method of
modulating thrust. This provides the magnitude of commanded
the pilot with direct control over corrections, completely removing
the guesswork currently involved
glidepath using a single controller (the stick) instead of requiring in flying the ball.


These advanced control laws

and displays are currently under
development and test at the
Manned Flight Simulator (MFS) at
Patuxent River, Maryland. They
are slated to undergo initial flight
testing in the Super Hornet later
this year, with the goal of testing them at the ship in 2015. If
these modes prove as compelling
in the aircraft as they do in the
simulator, they have the potential to revolutionize the manner
in which the U.S. Navy lands aircraft aboard aircraft carriers.
Delta Flight Path F-35C JSF Roundtable West Feb 2014


Flight Deck Comparison

Naval Aviation Vision 2014-2025

...Magic Carpet: Magic Carpet is an acronym for Maritime Augmented Guidance
with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling
Technologies. It is a cockpit system that makes carrier approaches and landings
easier and safer for Navy and Marine Corps pilots by reducing the vulnerabilities
associated with fully-automated systems that are susceptible to jamming, poor
reliability, and electronic failure. Magic Carpets integrated direct lift improves
short-term flightpath response, which is critical to final glide slope corrections prior
to landing. This system is currently flown in the F-35C and being retrofitted for testing in the F/A-18E/F. The potential cost-saving impacts of Magic Carpet are significant. Millions of dollars are spent yearly on landing practices ashore and actual carrier qualifications while underway. The money saved could be repurposed to train
pilots to employ the weapon systems of their aircraft, dramatically changing their
priorities from landing proficiency to warfighting proficiency. Conservative estimates indicate that Magic Carpet could save tens of millions of dollars per year, which
include reducing the maintenance and repairs after hard landings aboard ship....


0$*,&&$53(7 Vol. 10 | Spring 2013

Mr. John Kinzer, Program Officer, Air
Vehicle Technology, Office of Naval Research




































Flight-Control Advances
Promise Big Savings

Approach and Recovery Precision

Enabling Technologies, or Magic
Carpetwas shown in simulaNew U.S./U.K.-developed flight-control technology might make carrier landings easier
tor tests to reduce pilot workload
03 Jul 2014 Bill Sweetman from borderline-acceptable levAviation Week & Space Technology els to minimal, and it will be installed for the fighters long-deNew flight-control and guidance
technology developed by the U.S. layed carrier trials later this year.
Magic Carpet has been installed
Navy and British researchers has
been shown to allow carrier fighter and tested without any hardware
pilots to land more accurately and changes.
In a conventional carrier landconsistently, and will be applied
to both the Boeing Super Hornet/ ing, the pilot follows an optical glideslope guidance from the
Growler and the Lockheed Martin
ship, with flaps deflected to a preF35C Joint Strike Fighter.
set angle. If the aircraft descends
Developers of the technology predict it will reduce the num- below the glideslope, the pilot has
ber of training landings needed to to pull the stick back and pitch the
qualify pilots for carrier operations nose up to increase lift. This increases drag, so the pilot has to
and reduce fatigue on airframes.
Magic Carpet could sharply re- add power to maintain speed, then
recover the original angle of attack
duce the number of FLCPs needed to keep pilots qualified for car- (alpha), and throttle back to avoid
rier ops.
In a Magic Carpet approach,
In the case of the F-35C, the
the pilot can engage a Delta
new systemknown as MariPath law once the aircraft is on
time Augmented Guidance with
the glideslope. The flight-control
Integrated Controls for Carrier

system commands a reference

flightpath, in combination with pilot-entered ship speed, which corresponds to the optical signal from
the carrier. The aircraft will follow
this path automatically, with the
pilot correcting for any excursions.
A ship-relative velocity vector is
projected on the head-up display.
A major difference in the
Magic Carpet approach is that
the flaps are not fully deflected, and the flight control system uses them to add or reduce lift. If the aircraft falls below
the glideslope, the pilot still pulls
the stick back, but the control system deflects the flaps downward,
reducing descent rate at a constant alpha. Once the aircraft regains the glideslope, Magic Carpet
uses the flaps to readjust the vertical speed, again with no change
in alpha. The auto-throttlewhich
on the Super Hornet is set to hold
a constant alpha at an airspeed
proportional to aircraft weightwill
make necessary adjustments.

Both the basic F/A-18E/F and

F-35C flight-control systems had
provision for direct lift control, but
the innovation in Magic Carpet is
to add the Delta Path mode. In
simulator tests at BAE Systems
Warton, England, site, the workload for an F-35C carrier landing
was reduced from a Cooper-Harper
handling qualities rating of 6 (extensive pilot workload), to 2 (minimal pilot workload), according to a
Navy document.

Nawcad, tells Aviation Week that

the idea stemmed from tests of
the Qinetiq-modified Vectored-

thrust Aircraft Advanced Control

(VAAC) Harrier aboard the U.K.s
aircraft carrier Illustrious, aimed at
developing a shipboard rolling vertical landing mode for the F-35B.

Denham proposed a system

that would give other aircraft the
same rate-command flight-control capability demonstrated on
the VAAC Harrier, and obtained
A second element of Magic
some seed money from the OfCarpet will help pilots fly through fice of Naval Research to conduct
the burble of turbulent air be- some simulation research. The rehind a moving carrier. The inersults justified follow-on funds from
tial reference system and attitude ONR to develop control laws for
sensors can be used to provide
the Super Hornet, leading to flight
micro-corrections before the pilot tests in 2012.
can reactresponding to a 0.1g
Simulated and flight tests have
departure in as little as 0.4 sec.
shown that pilots using Magic CarMagic Carpet originated at the pet land more consistently than piU.S. Naval Air Warfare Centers
lots using conventional controls,
aircraft division (Nawcad) at the
with less variability (in terms of
Patuxent River, Maryland, flighttouchdown dispersion) between
test center. Team leader James
different pilots and across multiDenham, a senior engineer at
ple landings. Improvements are

sustained in turbulence and high

sea states.
ONR predicts Magic Carpet will
reduce the number of field carrier
landing practice approaches that
are required to requalify pilots before each cruise, reducing both direct flight hour costs and the consumption of airframe life, and
estimates that Magic Carpet could
save the Navy $1 billion per year.
Boeing is under contract to
build Magic Carpet functions into
the Super Hornet/Growler operational flight program (OFP)
with the goal of making it available to the fleet in 2018. The first
phase is to build a fully certifiable
OFP modification, which will start
tests at Patuxent River in the fall
of 2014 and undergo sea trials in
early 2015. That is to be followed
by a second phase that adds the
anti-burble stabilization mode
head-up display symbology and integrates the air data and inertial
systems more fully.

In early September, a team of NAVAIR engineers and test

pilots took an example of an emerging NAVAIR innovation to

Magic Carpet Meets The Fleet

the fleet.

Victor Chen NAWCAD Public Affairs

30 Oct 2014 Publication : Tester

Courtesy photo Magic Carpet,

also known as Advanced
Flight Controls and Displays,
was the center of attention at
NAVAIRs presence at the 2014
Tailhook Association reunion.
Magic Carpet features a new
set of powered approach
flight control laws for the
F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet
including new, innovative
symbology for the Head-Up
Display (HUD) to significantly
simplify the carrier landing
task. Magic Carpet will make
its first test in a live, at-sea
environment on the F/A-18
platform early next year.

Magic Carpet, an advanced software aid aimed at landing

aircraft aboard heaving carrier decks, made its Tailhook
Association reunion debut through a NAVAIR-built, highfidelity flight simulator.
Heavily attended by current fleet pilots, the Tailhook reunion
enabled test pilots and landing signal officers (LSOs) from the
Carrier Suitability Department of Air Test and Evaluation
Squadron (VX) 23 to collect feedback from more than 500
fellow pilots.
The overall response from the fleet was exceptionally
positive, said Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Bookey, department head for
Carrier Suitability at VX-23. I thought most fleet aviators
were very receptive, even enthusiastic about [Magic Carpet]

The ability of the team at Manned Flight Simulator (MFS) to pull this together on short notice was incredible, Bookey

and its potential impact on the carrier landing task. Most

said. It was an extremely effective tool to get the feedback we were looking for and demonstrate NAVAIR capabilities to

people were asking, When are we getting this?

the fleet.

Carrier landings are inherently dangerous because of the

According to the MFS team, creating the simulator was a group effort.

large number of inputs that pilots must simultaneously

The demonstrator is indicative of the we can do that mentality of the simulator engineers and flight control software

absorb, understand and react to in order to safely land on

developers in the MFS facility, said Christian Riddle, a lab architect at MFS. With a very short deadline, we created an

a runway moving through the ocean. Magic Carpet

amazing demonstrator. It not only looked impressive but, more importantly, it conveyed the true power of Magic Carpet

alleviates pilot workload during the carrier landing process

and it how it will help naval aviation.

by automatically flying a set rate-of-descent based on pilot

input, allowing the pilot to focus more attention on
maintaining line-up while the aircraft flight controls maintain
the proper glideslope.
At Tailhook, pilots including air wing commanders and
strike group commanders waited in line well past official
closing time to try their hand at NAVAIRs prototype.

Even with only a few weeks with which to work, the MFS team had to scale back their ideas for the simulator.
Given the time compression we were working with, we had to focus on the art of the possible. Our pilots from VX-23 were
instrumental in helping us focus on what was important to get the message across to the fleet, Riddle said. We used
near off-the-shelf solutions when more elegant answers were calling to us. Engineers always strive for perfection and, at
some point, you have to bound your design and produce something on time, within budget.
Magic Carpet will make its first test in a live, at-sea environment on the F/A-18 platform early next year.

Semi-autonomous aviation
controls coming to the fleet
05 Feb 2015 Meghann Myers

They say the most stressful job in

the world is landing on an aircraft
carrier at night in rough weather.
On Thursday, Navy aviation officials
are carrying out another round
of tests on a control system that
promises to take the edge off that
sometimes harrowing experience.
Meanwhile, showgoers at the
Naval Future Force Science and
Technology Expo in Washington, D.C.,
got a chance to sit in a faux cockpit
and try out the Naval Air Warfare
Center Aircraft Divisions system.
Maritime Augmented Guidance
with Integrated Controls for
Carrier Approach and Recovery
Precision Enabling Technologies,
or MAGIC CARPET, is already
integrated into the F-35Cs that
pilots from Air Test and Evaluation
Squadron will take for a spin,
NAWCAD aerospace engineer Steve
Moss told Navy Times on Wednesday.
MAGIC CARPET allows a jet to
self-correct its altitude, Moss said,
as opposed to the constant pushing
and pulling pilots do now to stay on
course while approaching a carrier.

Youre constantly moving the

throttles, because a jets engine
is always lagging, Moss said. So
youre doing a three-part power
correction: You add the power to go
forward, pull power off because its
always too much, then add power
because youve overcorrected.
With the other hand, Moss added,
the pilot is steering the jet left or
right to line up with the carrier. But
with every lateral movement, the
plane tilts and loses altitude, so the
pilot has to balance every movement
with another shot from the throttle.
Its very complicated and very
hard to do, and hard to keep that
currency up, Moss said. So you
have to keep training for it, keep
taking training life off of our jets to
do that.
With MAGIC CARPET, pilots are
able to steer the jet to the carrier
without losing lift, because selfadjusting flaps in the jets wings
compensate for any path changes,
without having to hit the throttle.
So lets have the flight controls
do the hard part, do the integration
part, Moss said. Instead of fixed
flaps, raise the flaps up a few
degrees so you have authority,
so the longitudinal stick is now

commanding symmetric flaps.

Youre not fighting it, youre
just flying, Moss said.
To make things even easier, the
cockpits heads-up display shows the
carriers relative velocity, taking into
account its horizontal movement, to
help pilots aim at the flight deck.
The Navys F-35Cs come with
MAGIC CARPET, Moss said, while
the fleets F/A-18 Hornets will get an
upgrade in the 2017-18 time frame.
The integration will be purposely
slow, he added. First-tour pilots
wont be flying with MAGIC CARPET,
he said, but second-tour pilots
whove mastered the old system will
But the question is, will they
want to? Navy fighter pilots have
a notoriously difficult job, and are
well known for the pride they take in
mastering it.
Every single pilot thats flown
in this has come in with the hairy
eyeball like, Are you kidding me? You
cant change this. You cant change
the way we fly the aircraft its
supposed to be hard, Moss said.
Their attitudes quickly changed to,
Why dont we have this already?
he added.

First airborne
flights completed
16 Mar 2015 Naval Air Warfare
Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD)


engineers and test pilots at the
Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft
Division successfully transitioned
the newly-developed F/A-18 flight
control software called MAGIC
CARPET from the virtual world
of the simulator to the blue skies
above the Chesapeake Bay.
MAGIC CARPET is an acronym
for Maritime Augmented Guidance
with Integrated Controls for
Carrier Approach and Recovery
Precision Enabling Technologies.
The software is designed to
make landing on an aircraft
carrier easier by maintaining
a commanded glideslope and
angle of attack, giving the pilot
the opportunity to focus more
attention on maintaining a proper
On Feb. 6, Navy test pilot

Lt. Cmdr. Tyler Hurst flew the

first flight in Salty Dog 222, an
F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to
Air Test and Evaluation Squadron
(VX) 23. On Feb. 11, Navy test
pilot Lt. Brent Robinson flew a
follow-on test flight to expand the
MAGIC CARPETs flight envelope.
With the initial set of flights,
we were able to confirm that
these new flight control laws performed very much in line with our
predictions from the simulators,
said Robinson, MAGIC CARPET
project officer. The initial
airborne response characteristics
observed in both Path and Rate
modes with both Full and Half
flaps are very encouraging.
Test pilots from VX-23, working
closely with engineers manning
the control rooms of the Atlantic
Test Ranges, will put the flight
control system through its paces
over the next few weeks with
myriad of approaches and touchand-go landings in preparation
for the initial shipboard testing,
Robinson said.
The engineering group
responsible for developing the

flight control software, new

heads-up displays, and simulators
was encouraged by the first initial
flights, which included practice
field carrier landings.
After the first test flights, we
needed only minor tweaking
of a few feedback gains which
showed good correlations with
our aerodynamic models and
flight response predictions, said
James Buddy Denham, a senior
engineer in the aeromechanics
division at NAVAIR. We also
received very positive feedback on
the enhanced heads-up displays,
we are now completing much of
the off-nominal work, and the
initial results and pilot feedback
are favorable.
Test pilots, engineers, and
landing signal officers (LSO) from
VX-23 will continue to test MAGIC
CARPET on F/A-18E/F aircraft
through nominal and off-nominal
approaches in the coming weeks,
leading up to an at-sea testing
period scheduled for later this

Safer Approach MAGIC CARPET

Delta Flight
Easier, more accurate  repeatable carrier landings promise improvements
Graham Warwick Washington

ew ight-control and guidance

software for carrier landings
will require a culture change
within the naval aviation community if
it is to deliver on its promise of easier,
safer and more repeatable recoveries
that reduce pilot workload and wear
and tear on the aircraft.
U.S. Naval Air Systems Command
(Navair) has completed land-based
testing of the Magic Carpet software
in the Boeing F/A-18E/F at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, and shortly will
begin at-sea evaluations on an aircraft
carrier off the U.S. East Coast.
Tests show the new flight-control
laws and head-up display (HUD) symbology provide the reductions in pilot
workload that were predicted in simulations. The Magic Carpet software
upgrades are slated to be elded on the
F/A-18E/F in 2018.
In a carrier approach, the pilot must
maintain a glideslope angle to clear the
stern of the ship and stay aligned with
the centerline of the ight deck to keep
the wings clear of the superstructure,
but also control the angle of attack to
within 1 deg. to ensure the lowered arrestor hook catches the wire.
The pilot manually follows optical
glideslope guidance from the ship,
controlling descent rate with power,
airspeed with pitch attitude and heading with roll. But these control axes
are cross-coupled, and maintaining
glideslope, lineup and angle of attack
requires constant throttle and stick



If I make a small power correction,

I change angle of attack, which affects
glideslope, and at the same time I can
drift off lineup. There are a lot of things
going on, says Lt. Brent Robinson, test
pilot with U.S. Navy evaluation squadron VX-23 at Patuxent River.
The F/A-18E/F also has an autothrottle approach mode, which attempts to maintain angle of attack.
When you make an aft-stick corretion, the throttle will see the aircrafts
nose come up and add power to maintain angle of attack, but fairly loosely,
he explains.
The workload is a little less, allowing the pilot to focus on lateral stick
control to maintain lineup, but Robinson says only senior naval pilots are
allowed to use the autothrottle mode.
More-junior pilots are required to y
approaches manually to hone their
baseline skills.
I am primarily trying to hold glideslope, but to have the glideslope accurate I have to be on speed [angle of
attack]. I focus so much on glideslope
and angle of attack that my lineup ends
up drifting. It takes a lot of practice to
build up the muscle memory to do the
corrections, Robinson notes.
In Magic Carpet, gains and settings
in the digital ight-control computer
are ne-tuned to hold angle of attack
tightly while longitudinal and lateral
stick inputs are decoupled. The primary factor in glideslope is longitudinal stick and in lineup it is lateral
stick, he says.

The control system melds aileron,

stabilator and rudder control to maintain attitude. Then the aps are raised
a few degrees from their nominal half or
fully deployed position. This gives the
control system a few degrees of flap
movement to use for direct lift control.
With aft stick, the flaps lower
slightly to increase lift, the stabilator
balances pitch, and I get almost pure
vertical movement because angle of
attack is being held for me. Near-pure
lift increase or decrease gives me very
high-delity control over glideslope,
Robinson says.
The flight-control computer also
calculates and maintains the ideal
glideslope3.5 deg.using sensed
windspeed and ship speed, either estimated by the pilot from the carriers
wake or called out by the landing signal officer on deck.
If high or low, the pilot can make
a longitudinal stick input, hold it until centered on the optical guidance
meatball, then release the stick, and
the aircraft will return to the ideal
glideslope. Now I have fine control
available. I need to make much less
input, he says.
The new glideslope-holding ightcontrol law is called Delta Path. Magic
Carpet also includes a Rate mode,
which holds ightpath command and
not glideslope. This is for use in the
pattern and holds bank angle and
pitch attitude in the turn to intercept
the glideslope.
The other part of Magic Carpet
is new HUD symbology that ties the
ight control changes together. This in-

cludes a horizontal line drawn 3.5 deg.

down from the horizon. If this is close
to the optical guidance cue from the
ship, Robinson explains, the aircraft
will be near the required glideslope.
The bigger piece of the new symbology is the ship-referenced velocity vector. This is referenced to the ship by
basic geometry from the ship speed,
and if I put it on the centerline and
hold 3.5-deg. glideslope, I will land on
the centerline, Robinson says.
Simulator and ight tests indicate
that, of the decrease in pilot workload and increase in the accuracy and
repeatability of landings from using

Magic Carpet, three-quarters come

from the ight-control changes and a
quarter from the HUD symbology, he
Navair has completed land-based
testing of Magic Carpet, ying carrier
approaches from nominal to extreme
off-nominal to a shore-based eld with
the aid of an optical guidance system
and landing signal officer.
We have tested and refined the
gains and feel they are as good as we
can get them, says Robinson. Six pilots were involved, only two of whom
had experience with Magic Carpet.
The real-life performance is very

F/A-18E/F pilots must

maintain an 8.1-deg.
angle of attack to
ensure that a tailhook
catches deck wires.

close to the simulator, which shows

our models are correct and the design
is holding up.
Land-based testing involved some
pretty extreme cases we will not perform at the ship, where we will run a
bunch of nominal approaches to build
up a touchdown dispersion database
as well as some less-extreme off-nominal approaches, Robinson notes.
When Magic Carpet comes to the
eet in the next few years, there has
to be a large cultural change for pilots, says Robinson. We are attempting to make this the primary mode
of landing and to make manual and
autothrottle approaches obsolete.
Presently, competition between
pilots is a major factor in improving
their manual-approach ying skills.
We make it competitive. Its part of
the learning curve, of staying sharp.
Everyone wants a better score, he
With Magic Carpet we will lose that
competitive edge, but it will be far more
safe and repeatable and will make it
easier on maintaining the jets and the
aircraft carriers, Robinson concludes.
But it will be hard to change the mindset. I expect it will start out slow and be
phased into the eet. c

...the flaps are raised a few degrees from their nominal half
or fully deployed position. This gives the control system a
few degrees of flap movement to use for direct lift control...

Navy Starts Sea Testing

New Carrier Landing Software for Fighter Jets

24 Apr 2015 Kris Osborn

The Navy is preparing for its first atsea test of a new software program
for F-18s designed to make it easier
for the multi-role fighters to land on
Were going to take it to the
ship this month, Rear Adm. Michael
Manazir, Director of Air Warfare, told in an interview.
The Navy will test the automated
landing software system at sea
following a string of recent successful
land-based tests at Naval Air Systems
Command, Patuxent River, Md.
The software is called Magic Carpet,
an acronym for Maritime Augmented
Guidance with Integrated Controls
for Carrier Approach and Recovery
Precision Enabling Technologies.
The technology is slated to deploy
by 2019 on F/A-18E/F Super Hornets
and E/A-18G Growler electronic
jamming aircraft.
It is designed to make landing on an
aircraft carrier easier by maintaining
a commanded glideslope and angle of
attack, giving the pilot the opportunity
to focus more attention on maintaining
a proper line-up, a Navy statement

A pilot can take symbology on

the HUD (heads up display) and he
can move it to a symbol or a place
on the flight deck and let go of the
controls. The airplane knows with
that symbol that is where I want
to land. It will continually land on
that spot, Manazir explained.
The software helps the
approaching aircraft lock in on
the correct landing approach,
removing the need for the pilot to
continuously adjust the aircraft.
Landing on a carrier requires the
pilot to account for the aircrafts
speed, the speed of the ship
along with wind and weather
considerations. Pilots seek to
maintain the proper glide slope as
they approach the carrier deck.
When we land an aircraft on
an aircraft carrier, it is kind of a
three connection thing. You see
the deviation, you correct, you
re-correct and then you correct
one more time as you go so
there you are kind of chasing the
parameters, Manazir said.
With magic carpet, the pilot
can move the stick and move
reference point and the stick does
not have to re-correct. That is
where the airplane is going to go.
It is control law software and it
actually moves the flight control

surfaces to make that work to

where the aircraft is going to go.
It is not just symbology, Manazir
Navy test pilot Lt. Brent Robinson
said the recent land-based flight and
landing of Magic Carpet showed the
technology could perform as was
demonstrated in simulations.
With the initial set of flights, we
were able to confirm that these new
flight control laws performed very
much in line with our predictions from
the simulators, said Robinson, a Magic
Carpet project officer. The initial
airborne response characteristics
observed in both Path and Rate
modes with both Full and Half
flaps are very encouraging.
The flight control algorithms for
Magic Carpet were developed by Naval
Air Systems Command and the Office
of Naval Research.
If Magic Carpet becomes widely
used throughout the Navy and
emerges as a new standard for landing
aircraft on carriers, pilots could then
use more of their valuable training
time working on weapons systems and
other key avionics issues instead of
practicing as much on how to land the
plane on a carrier, Navy officials said.

Salty Dog 100, an F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to Air Test & Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 at
Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., lands on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) 20 Apr 2015. The
landing was part of the first sea trials for MAGIC CARPET, new flight control software & display
symbology for F/A-18 aircraft designed to make carrier landings less demanding for Navy pilots.

First sea trials completed


the data, but from the [landing signal

officers] position, the landings looked
very good.
NAWCAD engineers and VX-23
07 May 2015 NAWCAD Public Affairs
test pilots specifically used the two
wire for testing because unlike most
Nimitz-class carriers, CVN 77 has
Warfare Center Aircraft Division
3 arresting gear wires and aiming
engineers and test pilots successfully
for the number 2 wire is standard
completed the first at-sea testing of the operating procedure.
newly-developed F/A-18 flight control
The flight test team, which included
software on USS George H. W. Bush
engineers from NAWCAD, the Atlantic
(CVN 77) April 20.
Test Ranges, and industry partner
The Maritime Augmented Guidance
Boeing, executed more than 180 touchwith Integrated Controls for Carrier
and-go landings with 16 arrested
Approach and Recovery Precision
landings in the advanced control modes
Enabling Technologies, or MAGIC
during three days of testing. The two
CARPET, is designed to make landing
F/A-18F test aircraft were flown in both
on an aircraft carrier easier by
nominal and off-nominal approaches and
incorporating direct lift control, an
in varying wind conditions.
augmented pilot control mode that
The engineering group responsible
maintains a commanded glideslope,
for developing the flight control software,
and improvements to heads-up display
new heads-up displays, and simulators
symbology tailored for the shipboard
was encouraged by the sea trials.
landing task.
This initial sea trial confirmed that
Navy test pilot Lt. Brent Robinson
carrier landings can be achieved at
hit the two wire as planned when he
lower pilot workload while maintaining or
landed Salty Dog 100, an F/A-18F
reducing current touchdown dispersions
Super Hornet assigned to Air Test and
performance, said James Buddy
Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23.
Denham, a senior engineer in the
This was a huge technology
aeromechanics division at NAVAIR. The
milestone in the history of carrier
results from this test clearly show the
landings, said Robinson, MAGIC CARPET benefits we expected to achieve with
project officer. What we saw at sea was this level of flight control augmentation.
essentially the same as the land-based
The data we have now collected in both
testing we did at [Naval Air Station
the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the
Patuxent River]. We are still analyzing
F-35C Lightning II in the Delta Flight

Path mode show that the Navys fleet

of tactical aircraft, to include the EA18G Growler, is well on its way with
a safer, more predictable method of
accomplishing the unique naval aviation
task of shipboard landings.
According to Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Radocaj,
carrier suitability testing department
head at VX-23, MAGIC CARPET reduces
touchdown dispersion, which refers to
the repeatability of aircrafts tailhooks
to land in approximately the same spot
on the carrier deck, and improves the
overall success rate for carrier landings.
As an added benefit, MAGIC CARPET
can help to minimize hard landings,
reduce the number of required post-hard
landing aircraft inspections, and improve
overall aircraft availability. The results
from this initial round of testing give
good confidence that MAGIC CARPET
can provide substantial benefits to
reduce initial and currency training
for pilots and lower the costs of Naval
Aviation, said Radocaj.
Test pilots, engineers, and landing
signal officers (LSO) from VX-23 will
continue to test MAGIC CARPET
demonstration software on F/A-18E/F
aircraft for the remainder of 2015 and
early 2016. Production-level software
for the Fleet is scheduled to start
flight testing in 2017, with general fleet
introduction to follow via the F/A-18 and
EA-18G program office.

Blog: Naval Aviation Focuses on Information Technology

11 Feb 2015

Robert K. Ackerman


Software is vying with hardware for upgrade priorities. Information technology systems, elements
& methodologies are becoming more of a factor in U.S. naval aviation. Virtual capabilities are supplanting physical training, & new architectures may allow faster incorporation of new technologies.
Some of these approaches were outlined in a panel discussion at West 2015, being held in San
Diego, February 10-12. Vice Adm. David A. Dunaway, USN, commander, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), was blunt in his assessment of the current NAVAIR budget environment. The
current cost profile is prohibitive, he declared. Its a going-out-of-business profile. He called for
an open architecture, which he described as the key to NAVAIR modernization. When it is achievedin both a hardware and software perspectiveNAVAIR will be able to modernize more quickly. Having an open architecture processor will allow information technology companies to plug
into it and demonstrate their products.

NAVAIR already has incorporated an automated carrier landing system

that simplifies the process for pilots. As a result, they do not need to
practice carrier landings ashore as much as they used to. And, NAVAIR is
working to introduce simulated enemy aircraft into a cockpit situational
awareness system, so pilots could train for air combat without having to
face actual aggressor aircraft.
Above all, NAVAIR must not develop its systems using a stovepipe mentality. The admiral noted
that it builds platforms along the lines of program silos. But the Navy does not fight like an F-18, he
said, offering instead that it fights like a carrier strike force. It needs to proceed along those lines,
and he said his office is hard at work writing technical standards for warfighting capabilities.

Delivery of first fleet F-35C starts countdown to debut

(NAVY TIMES 08 JUL 13) Mark D. Faram
...Flies Beautifully

Tabert, a test pilot, is one of the Navys most experienced pilots in the JSF, with more than
130 hours of stick time to date. He was the first military pilot to fly all three F-35 variants
Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy and was involved in the initial tests of the Navy and
Marine versions at Patuxent River, Md., before reporting to VFA-101 in February. As the
Navys most experienced F-35 pilot, its his job to get the squadrons other pilots nearly
all with 3,000-plus hours flying F/A-18s off carrier decks up to speed as instructor pilots.
Its not a difficult airplane to fly, Tabert said. The systems and the sensors are very
new and state of the art. One main difference between the Lightning II & pre-

vious Navy fighters is the placement of the control stick, used to steer the
aircraft. This is the first side stick control [carrier-based] aircraft the Navy
has, he said. Thats a little bit different than the center-stick Hornet we
came from. They did a great job aligning it & the aircraft flies beautifully.
Another improvement, he said, is the helmet-integrated head-up display, or HUD, which
gives pilots their most critical information such as speed and altitude without requiring them
to look down. The F/A-18 Hornets HUD rests on top of the cockpits front panel. Though
Tabert said it took a little getting used to, having the display in the helmet saves you time in
making important decisions that in legacy airplanes you may have to take a second to look
down, he said. It makes flying better and makes you a more lethal war fighter....

NAVAIR Flight Ready:

Magic Carpet [video transcript]

The broader idea of MAGIC CARPET

[Maritime Augmented Guidance with
Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach
and Recovery Precision Enabling
Technologies] is simply to make landing
at the ship easier; to make it repeatable,
to make it safer and just in general less
work or easier for the pilots to do a very
difficult task, to do that repeatedly.
Magic carpet is kind of a two-part
program; it is a change to the flight
controls on the Super Hornet so it adds
direct lift control and then the other part
is the HUD symbology, it gives us some
ships cueing that makes it easier to land
on the boat.
What we are doing differently here
is we are really providing the pilot direct
control of what he is trying to do which
is to control the flight path; so the
flight control computer is controlling
and closing the loops around flight path,
which is important for landing on the
carrier and is something we dont do
As you are trying to land on the boat,
the boat is moving away from you, [and
to the] right, so you have to continuously
chase after the boat to get to it. All of
the symbology we have right now in the
HUD, or in our heads up display, is kind
of in reference to the actual airplane, so
what is the airplane doing? Well, this

new HUD symbology, you actually input

the speed of the boat and it takes into
account the winds, so now, it accounts
for that movement of the boat, so I
dont have to worry about that, so I
dont have to lead, I dont have to have
that experience to figure out what is the
boat doing, I just put the velocity vector
now in the landing area of the boat and
that is exactly where the airplane goes
because it already compensates for the
movement of the boat.
It is going to reduce the workload so
we can focus on maintaining the proper
glide slope and proper approach so we
dont get too low and we dont get too
high and it will be easier for day and
night and we can take that reduction in
workload and stress overall throughout
the flight and maybe apply that to other
areas, to tactics or whatever. So they
can focus more on that and make the
ship landing a more administrative task.
It definitely makes it a lot safer. I
flew about 30 touch and gos in a 2-hour
period, and I dont think I would have
had the mental capacity to be able to do
that safely if it wasnt for this technology.
And I think that is just going to make it
safer when guys are coming back from
long missions, six to seven hours over
Iraq or Afghanistan or whatever and
they come back to the boat, and they
are tired and exhausted and this is just
going to make it a no-brainer to land at
the boat.
Another perspective is from the LSO

perspective, the landing signal officer,

the guys on the ship that are helping the
planes land, safety is their number one
concern, so (cut) the LSO knows, that
the jet hopefully the throttle is linked up
and the altitude of the jet is constant, so
he is not worried as much about the new
pilot, (cut) pulling the throttles back to
idle and possible crashing into the back
of the ship.
So to date, we are really getting very
good correlation with our simulation
results to what we are seeing in the
airplane, so in terms of lowering the
pilots workload, in terms of performance
on the flight path, holding and controlling
the meatball for landing is all there.
So the overall result has been
much more repeatable, much more
consistent between pilots even with
different techniques and that is the goal
with taking this to the fleet between
new guys and very old Salty guys that
have been around for 25-30 years, the
deviations that you should expect are
now going to be much smaller across the
It is awesome to be able to be in
one of the first landings in Magic Carpet
to experience this technology, and you
know, I just want to tell everyone in the
fleet that it is awesome and the first
time anyone gets to fly it they are going
to be like, this is wow, this is what I
want, this is what I need.

Magic Carpet F/A-18EnF&G EMALS AAG X-47B Hook14

An F/A-18E Super Hornet is on a night field carrier landing practice (FLCP) at Iwo To, Japan. Magic Carpet could sharply reduce the number of FLCPs needed to keep pilots qualified
for carrier ops. Credit: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist Trevor Walsh

X-35C Handling Qualities

X-35C Handling Qualities
Model-Based Development of
X-35 Flight Control Software
Greg Walker 2 May 2002

Pilot Comments
IDLC Performance was
Excellent.(Throttle Modes)
Crosswind Landing was
Easily Controlled.

Straight-In Field Landing

Offset Field Landing
Offset Correction
FCLP (VMC, Case 1) - Nominal
FCLP (VMC, Case 1) - Overshooting Start

X-35C Flight Test

Airplane is Solid Through
The Pattern. AOA Control Straight-In Field Landing
is Solid. Good Control of
Glideslope.(Manual FCLPs) Offset Field Landing

Use of APC Reduced

Workload Significantly
Throughout the Pattern.

Manual Powered Approach

Level 1
Level 2
Level 3

min avg max


Approach Power Compensation

Level 1
Level 2
Level 3

Offset Correction
FCLP (VMC, Case 1) - Nominal


Naval joint strike fighter: A glimpse into the future of naval aviation by Weatherspoon, Steve | Mid 2002

...The fuselage and weapon system of the carrier version are nearly identical with the other two versions. The major difference is
the larger wing area and larger control surfaces for low carrier approach speed and outstanding low speed flying qualities. The
wingspan of 42 feet is reduced to 31 feet using a wingfold for compact spotting and handling aboard ship.
The carrier variant of JSF is 5 feet shorter in overall length than the F/A-18 CID and 9 feet shorter than the F/A- 18E/F. Its maximum density spot factor, a measure of the relative space it takes up aboard ship, is 1.11 (relative to an F/A-18C at 1.0 & an F/A-18E
at 1.24). Overall height, deck clearance, elevator compatibility, and servicing spotted tail-over-water are easily accommodated in
the relatively compact design.
One Key Performance Parameter (KPP) for the program is for the Navy JSF to achieve a minimum combat radius of 600 NM on
a representative combat profile. With the larger wing and an internal fuel capacity of over 19,000 lbs, the Navy JSF achieves

well over 700 NM radius on that profile. That extra internal fuel not only means more radius, it means not having to
take up weapon stations with external fuel tanks, it means less reliance on mission tanking, and it means having a decent fuel
package above the fuel ladder to do realistic training at sea.

Up and away combat maneuverability and speed are in the F/A-18 and F-16 class. The Navy JSF corner speed is near
300 kts and top end speed is over 1.6 M at altitude. As noted earlier, the major deviation from commonality in the whole
JSF family are design features for carrier suitability. The larger wing enables an approach speed of less than 140 knots
with nearly 9,000 lbs of bringback. Just as importantly, the addition of ailerons, larger horizontal tails and rudders, and
an innovative integrated direct lift control (IDLC) assure precise ball flying. The designers recognized early on
that a relatively slick (due to stealth) configuration combined with a powerful, high rotational mass engine, could
cause glide slope control problems. By integrating direct lift control (using drooped ailerons) with the throttle, the
pilot is able to make near instantaneous glide slope corrections, using throttle only to precisely fly the ball. Full
autothrottle & Mode I capabilities are also available. Outstanding results were demonstrated in 250 field carrier landing
practice (FCLP) landings with contractor and Navy pilots in the X-35C Navy JSF test aircraft in the winter of 2001....

Steve Weatherspoon, Manager of Navy Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Business Development for the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company JSF Team, is a 1972 graduate of
the Naval Academy. He received his MS in Engineering from Princeton in 1973, graduated from the USAF Test Pilot School in 1979, and completed the senior course of
study at the Naval War College in 1990. In a 20 year Navy career he logged more than 3,500 F-14 hours and over 900 carrier landings. He completed three operational
tours with F14 squadrons, culminating with command of VF-143 aboard USS Eisenhower. As a test pilot, Mr. Weatherspoon performed Navy RDT&E flight testing at the
Pacific MissileTest Center This included F-14 software development testing as well as development testing of AIM-9M, AIM- 7M, AMRAAM and AIM-54C missile programs.
Joining Lockheed Martin in 1992, he was responsible for a carrier suitable design for the Navy's AFX Program. He has been associated with the JAST/JSF Program since
its inception in 1994, leading Innovative Strike Concepts studies, proposals, technology assessments, testing programs, and assuring JSF design carrier suitability.

Despite Setbacks, JSF Achieves Milestones by Chuck Oldham (Editor) Nov 22, 2010
...While the F-35A and F-35B can be mistaken for each other in some flight modes
due to their identical wingspan and flight surfaces, the F-35C shows some clear differences. The wing area is 35 percent larger, at 668 square feet, against 460 square feet
for the F-35A and B. Likewise wingspan is 43 feet for the F-35C, in comparison with 35
feet for the other two variants. The bigger wing of the F-35C employs inboard flaps
[flaperons] and outboard ailerons, beginning at the wing fold, for better control and
slower approach speeds in the carrier landing environment, the other two variants
using full span flaperons. Likewise, the horizontal and vertical tail surfaces are noticeably larger. One result of the increased wing area is an overlap (when seen from
above) between the mainplane and the horizontal tail not seen in the other variants, to
the extent that the inboard flaps on the F-35C have a cutout near the fuselage at the
same angle as the trailing edge of the tail surfaces, presumably to preserve edge
Beefier landing gear to stand the shock of carrier landings, including a twin-wheel
nose gear with catapult bar, and a more robust tailhook assembly are also noticeable,
although a heavier internal structure is largely hidden by the skin.
The larger wing area carries a bonus of increased fuel tankage (around 19,750
pounds [total]) & therefore longer range than the other two variants. How much the
increased wing area will affect transonic performance remains to be seen, but it has to
be said that the F-35C looks right....

...From October 2000 through August 2001, the JSF X-35 demonstrator aircraft established a number of flight-test standards. X-35C CV- demonstrated a
high level of carrier suitability with 252 field carrier landing practice (FCLP) tests, extremely precise handling qualities, and prodigious power availability;
first X-plane in history to complete a coast-to-coast flight (Edwards Air Force Base, California, to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland).
This variant of the Lockheed Martin JSF family first flew on 16 December 2000. Afterwards, the F-35C began a series of envelope-expansion flights & on
25 January 2001, the F-35C completed tanker qualification trials with a series of air-to-air refuelings behind an U.S. Air Force KC-10. The F-35C then
completed its first supersonic flight on 31 January 2001 before being ferried from Edwards AFB, California to Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Maryland.
The X-35C touched down at Patuxent River NAS on 10 February 2001, completing the first-ever transcontinental flight of a JSF demonstrator aircraft and
initiating a series of flight tests that demonstrated carrier suitability in sea-level conditions. The F-35C's flight-test program included a series of Field
Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP) tests to evaluate the aircraft's handling qualities and performance during carrier approaches and landings at an airfield, &
also included up-and-away handling-quality tests and engine transients at varying speeds and altitudes....

Genesis of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; Paul M. Bevilaqua JOURNAL OF AIRCRAFT 2009; WRIGHT BROTHERS LECTURE
Vol. 46, No. 6, NovemberDecember 2009'7D%2FQKS%2B%2FRP%23IW%40%20%20%0A&urlb=!*0%20%20%0A&urlc=!*0%20%20%0A&urld=!*0%20%20%0A

...The primary requirement for the Naval variant was the ability to take off and land on a carrier in
300 ft or less with a 20 kt wind over the deck. Lockheed Martin considered three alternative approaches. The
first alternative was for the Navy to operate the same STOVL aircraft being developed for the Marines; this was certainly
the easiest solution, but this aircraft would have less range/payload performance than a conventional Naval aircraft.
The second alternative was to remove the lift fan and adapt the roll control jets to blow the wing flaps. This would
increase the wing lift, reducing the aircraft takeoff and landing speeds and enabling it to use the carrier catapult and
arresting gear. However, the blown flaps on the F-4 Phantom had proved difficult to maintain and Lockheed Martin did
not feel the Navy would favor this approach. Instead, it was decided to increase the wing area by enlarging the flaps and
slats and adding a wingtip extension. The increased lift of the larger wing also reduced the takeoff and landing speeds
and enabled use of the catapult and arresting gear. An additional benefit of the larger wing is that it gives the Naval variant greater range than either the Marine or Air Force variants, both by reducing the induced drag and by providing additional volume for fuel.
[Faster Download Site: ]
Because the carrier arresting system imposes greater loads on the landing gear and airframe than a conventional
landing, the landing gear of the Naval variant was redesigned for a 25 fps vertical velocity,

rather than 10 fps used for the conventional and STOVL variants. Similarly, the nose gear was
redesigned for catapult launches. The additional airframe loads were handled through the use of cousin parts, which are
stronger parts that replace conventional parts without changing the basic structural arrangement. For example, on the
Air Force and Marine variants, the bulkhead that takes the main landing gear load is made of aluminum and is approximately 1/2 in: thick. The same bulkhead on the Naval variant is made of titanium and is about 3/4 in: thick. This technique was adapted from the F-16 production line, in which cousin parts were used to create variants of the same basic
airframe for different customers who preferred different subsystems....
...The Skunk Works proposal was to build two aircraft. One would be devoted to STOVL testing, because this had
always been perceived as the greatest challenge. The other would be first flown as the Air Force variant and then be
modified by replacing the wing flaps and slats to become the Naval variant. Both aircraft would be built with the Naval
structure. To reduce the cost of the demonstration, available components were used for subsystems that were not
critical to the test objectives. For example, these aircraft used the nose gear from the F-15 and modified main landing
gear from the A-6. The increased weight of these off-the-shelf components was offset by not including mission avionics
and weapons bays on the demonstrator aircraft....
[This did not happen because the X-35A was converted to X-35B]

F-35C Integrated Direct

Lift Control: How It Works
Written by: Eric Tegler on October 9, 2012

glide path control. I felt that was a little vague, so I called NAVAIR and chatted with F-35C test
pilot Cmdr. Eric Magic Buus to break down what IDLC does in more concrete terms.
IDLCs job is to quickly help the pilot make glide slope adjustments during the carrier approach,
Buus explains. It is resident within all three F-35 variants, not just the C model.

What provides a huge benefit to the pilot is that [IDLC]

moves the trailing edge flaps up or down to increase or
decrease lift, which gives the airplane a very precise glide
path control. It almost feels like a predictive control
because it happens so quickly and you can get such
effective changes in glide path. The trailing edge flaps are
pretty large on the F-35C. For a carrier approach we
nominally set them to 15 degrees trailing edge down,
which is a half-flap configuration. So theres room for the
flaps to come down and to come up and either increase or
decrease lift.
In essence, one could call IDLC automatic flap response. Its effect is to literally heave the
airplane in the vertical axis, Buus says.
The F-35C is designed to be an auto-throttle
flyer on approach. So the pilot will engage
auto-throttles and then he just has to fly glide

Two Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II carrier variant test aircraft launch together & conduct
formation flying at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., April 18, 2012. The F-35's IDLC will
make carrier landing approaches much easier for future Navy pilots. Lockheed Martin photo

path and lineup with the stick. When he

makes pitch-stick inputs to control the glide

IDLC will make carrier approaches easier

A few months ago NAVAIR issued a press release touting the F-35Cs new Integrated Direct Lift
Control (IDLC), highlighting its potential to make flying carrier approaches easier.
The press release described ILDC as new flight control software that translates pilot commands
into choreographed changes to engine power and control surface movement, greatly improving

Cmdr. Eric Magic Buus touches down at Patuxent

River Naval Air Station in F-35C airframe during a
test sortie. Lockheed Martin photo

slope if he pulls back on the stick a little

the airplane will respond by lowering the flaps
to increase lift. The seat-of-the-pants feel is a
lot more in the vertical axis. It actually
changes the G-level of the airplane; as the
flaps come down, they add lift, increasing G
and vice versa.

The pilot is indirectly flying the flaps with the stick, Buus says. From the cockpit, IDLC gives the
F-35C exaggerated throttle/pitch response, the test pilot affirms. Its almost immediate. It takes
longer to make the correction in legacy airplanes.

NAVAIR contends that IDLC can potentially shorten the carrier qualification learning curve for
new pilots by offering more control during the approach, and Buus agrees.
The flight control engineers have really done an amazing job. IDLC is just one part of it. Its an
easier airplane to fly behind the ship. The easier the airplane is to fly, the safer it is and the
easier to train pilots to fly it well. Over time, I think it will reduce some of the training costs and
burden to the Fleet.

In a few years the F-35Cs flight control system will pair with the
Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS) to enable data-linked approaches controlled from the carrier. IDLC
will take relevant incoming data from the flight control computer and aid in making the process that much more precise.
With its larger wing and flaps and control harmony, the F-35C benefits more from IDLC than its
sister variants. But they too enjoy more precise approach control with the system, Buus
maintains. And he adds that it could be integrated into legacy aircraft such as the F/A-18E/F
Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler.

Benefit of IDLC for F-35 (& 'Magic Carpet') 14 Jun 2014

'johnwill': 14 Jun 2014:
A couple of points to be made about IDLC. First, note in the video that the flaps and tails are both operating to maintain flight
path. The preceding discussion has mentioned the flap movement to control incremental lift to adjust flight path. However, as
the flaps are providing lift changes, they are also changing airplane pitch moment, which would change angle of attack (and
lift) in the wrong direction. Say the flap goes down a few degrees, increasing lift. But the lift is aft of the CG (negative pitch
moment), so the AoA goes down, reducing lift, not what you want. Trailing edge up tail movement is needed to provide a positive pitch moment, to maintain AoA and get the desired positive lift increment.
Second point is that this is nothing new, as in 1982 (!) the AFTI F-16 demonstrated this same capability, plus other similar
capabilities in both vertical and lateral axes. The airplane could move vertically without AoA change, could point the nose up
or down without flight path change. could move laterally without any sideslip, and could point the nose left or right without
changing the flight path. These new control modes were for up and away flight, not landing as the Navy uses the F-35C. So
give the Navy credit for using old technology in a new application.
Even further back in time, the F-111B (1966) and F-14 (1972) used wing spoilers to provide partial direct lift control. The
spoilers were closer to the CG, so did not provide much pitch moment effect. However, the spoilers could provide only down
direct lift, not upward.
Note that Leading Edge Flap is not used for IDLC, probably because it is not as effective as the TEF and its surface rate is
too slow to give the necessary response. Which brings up another point - the LEF is not a control surface. Flaps, ailerons,
tails, and rudders are control surfaces since their deflections provide the forces and moments to change the airplane flight
path. But the LEF deflection is a response to airplane motion (AoA, g, etc).

'quicksilver' 14 Jun 2014: To add to what JW said, from a pilot perspective the IDLC allows the pilot to affect
'glide slope transfer' with the application of one inceptor (control) input. Glide slope transfer is also referred
to in some places as the pop-up maneuver. A pilot flying on-speed, but a ball or more low has to move the jet
from the low ball to a centered ball while staying on-speed, and needs to do so with minimal down-range
travel and without changing aircraft attitude (which would alter the hook geometry relative to the wire) or
speed. The control inputs and pilot skills necessary to successfully do so in the past were very complex and
varied greatly from aircraft to aircraft.
Not so in more recent times. Hornet very good. SH better. F-35C HQs looking like the best ever but yet to prove same
at the ship.

New Flight Control Mode

Improves F-35C Handling

IDLC, said Marine Corps Lt.Col.

Matthew Taylor, an F-35 test pilot.
would have been comfortable
on Landing Approach Imaking
the approaches in the carby Tamir Eshel July 25, 2012 rier environment after just two to
VIDEO NOW ON NEXT PAGE three passes. Precise glide path
VIDEO: F-35 New Flight Control Software: control is critical to landing safely on the carrier as a pilot concenqRo3oBYZ8&feature=player_embedded trates on maintaining glide slope,
Flying approaches for a carrier
angle of attack and lineup.
landing just might be a little easier
Landing on a carrier with curin the future. The F-35 Integrated
rent fleet aircraft requires the pilot
Test Force at Patuxent River
to make dozens of precise threecompleted the first dedicated test
part power corrections, said Lt.
flight May 4 to evaluate the F-35C
Cmdr. Robert Bibeau, carrier suitLightning II Joint Strike Fighters
ability department head for Air Test
approach handling characteristics
and Evaluation Squadron (VX)23.
with new flight control laws. Part of Its an acquired skill, needs pracsoftware version 2A the new flight tice and intense concentration, like
control software, called Integrated hitting a baseball.
Direct Lift Control (IDLC), transPilots typically qualify to land
lates pilot commands into choreoon a carrier by completing around
graphed changes to engine power
30 landings while in initial flight
and control surface movement,
training and at their fleet replacegreatly improving glide path control, ment squadrons. We have to
according to one test pilot.
spend a significant amount of trainIve landed [F/A-18] Hornets on ing time on carrier landings, espea carrier, and I can tell you there is cially night landings, Bibeau said.
a lot less lag in the F-35C with the To make all the little high-pressure

adjustments takes headwork, intellect and reflexes. Its unforgiving.

But with the new flight control
software IDLC in the F-35, Taylor
sees the potential to reduce the
training burden for new pilots going
to the ship.
The F-35C carrier variant of
the Joint Strike Fighter is distinct
from the F-35A and F-35B variants
with its larger wing surfaces and
reinforced landing gear to withstand catapult launches and deck
landing impacts associated with the
demanding aircraft carrier environment. The F-35C is undergoing test
and evaluation at NAS Patuxent
River prior to delivery to the fleet.
Another change to the F-35C
is the redesigned tail hook.
Lockheed Martin is confident the
redesigned tailhook will be ready
for the planned carrier flight tests
currently scheduled for 2014. The
original hook did not perform well
and caused the aircraft to miss the
arresting cable too often.

Click Screen to view an F-35C Test Pilot Talk about New Flight

Control Software for Integrated Direct Lift Control (IDLC)

Tailored to Trap Frank Colucci Dec 2012 Avionics Magazine


...The F-35 uses a BAE Helmet Mounted Display (HMD) instead of a conventional Head-Up Display (HUD).
Like a classic HUD, the HMD shows the pilot a flight path marker (or velocity vector), with a bracket to indicate if the aircraft is on speed or flying fast or slow. Meanwhile, a caret moves up or down in reference to
the flight path marker to give an acceleration-deceleration cue.
Ashore, when the aircraft is on glideslope, the pilot simply puts the flight path marker by the meatball
and the aircraft stays on that glideslope. At the ship, since the landing area is moving through the water,
the pilot needs to put the flight path marker out in front of it. He needs to put it where the landing area will
be when he gets there, which again requires judgment. A better system would be put the velocity vector
into the moving reference frame of the boat, Canin said.
Though not currently part of the F-35 plan, implementing a ship-referenced velocity vector (SRVV)
would allow the pilot to put the SRVV on the intended touchdown point to hold glideslope. All we would
need to know from the ship is its current velocity, so we can put the airplane symbology in that reference
frame, Canin said. [SRVV will be available for the UK F-35Bs for SRVLs etc.]
Readily rewritten control laws have other possibilities. With the current flight control law, the pilot commands pitch rate with the stick, and uses that pitch rate to establish a glideslope, noted Canin. Theres no
reason, though, why the flight control system couldnt establish a baseline glideslope, and allow the pilot to
apply control stick pressure to command tweaks around that glideslope in response to ball deviations. A
glideslope command mechanization of this sort is not in the baseline airplane now, but is an example of
the type of changes that could relatively easily be incorporated in the F-35 control system.
For recoveries in the worst weather, the A-7 and other carrier aircraft flew coupled automatic landings
based on radar tracking and datalinked commands from the ship. Canin confided, Id break out of it inclose the few times I did one. The pilot doesnt get a [landing] grade if he lets George [autopilot] fly it to
The JSF test program currently has no autolanding requirement, [????????] but plans call for an F-35C
autolanding capability based on the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System. The F-35 will take
more of a self-contained approach an internally generated glideslope from GPS....


) 5,'$<0$5&+  


http://oldnfo. RII 



Please see next page...






F-35 System Development and

Tailored to Trap Demonstration
(SDD) plans now call

Frank Colucci 01 Dec 2012 for first arrested carrier landings in

early 2014. With common control

laws and largely common airframes,
the Joint Strike Fighter has always
Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) test pilots been three airplanes in one the
F-35A flown from concrete runways,
in July began using an Integrated
the F-35B for Short Takeoff/VertiDirect Lift Control (IDLC) scheme
meant to improve approach perfor- cal Landing (STOVL) on small ships,
and the F-35C to launch and trap
mance and reduce pilot workload
aboard aircraft carriers. The flight
in carrier landings. Tailored control
control software, hosted in identiresponses in part differentiate the
cal Vehicle Management Computcarrier-based F-35C from its runers (VMC), uses a scheme called
way and small-deck siblings. Lockheed Martin test pilot Dan Canin at dynamic inversion (DI). DI allows
Patuxent River Naval Air Test Center, the desired aircraft response linear and angular accelerations to
Maryland, explained, What IDLC
be implemented directly in control
does is improve the flight path response of the airplane, allowing the laws, thereby reducing the control
pilot to make almost instantaneous gain tuning required in the develcorrections to glideslope while main- opment process.
At the heart of the JSF DI imtaining a constant angle of attack.
plementation is a variant-specifThe landing approach in the
ic On-Board Model (OBM). The OBM
F-35C is flown with the stick only,
predicts, for the current state of the
noted Canin. The throttle is automatic. IDLC may someday facilitate aircraft, the response that will rehands-off landings and other possi- sult from various control surface
deflections. Given pilot commands,
ble F-35 shipboard enhancements.
F-35C control laws give Navy pilots Integrated
Direct Lift Control for easier carrier landings,
& they open the door for future landing aids.

the VMCs invert the OBM in realtime to determine what control surface deflections will provide the desired response. Canin, a Former
Navy A-7 pilot, has flown all the JSF
versions and now tests the F-35B
and C models at Pax River. Across
all three variants, theres almost
no difference in the response to
pilot inputs, only in the aerodynamic models used to achieve the response, he said. We define the response we want, and the software
figures out what to do with the control surfaces.
Canin added, Thats the beauty
of using this approach when youre
developing three airplanes concurrently. By restricting the differences
to the onboard models, the aircraft
response developed for one variant
transfers naturally to the others.
Common control law development
affords cost savings across the JSF
Safe carrier approaches require
the airplane be stabilized in the correct glideslope and attitude to touch
down with the proper geometry and

rate of descent. Carrier pilots maintain that glideslope with visual reference to an optical landing aid on
the ship, or meatball. They make
continuous power changes while
holding the aircraft at a near-constant angle of attack (alpha). According to Canin, If were going to
hold alpha constant, then the only
way to change lift is by accelerating
or decelerating the airplane. We do
this with power, but because of engine lag and aircraft inertia, theres
a lot of anticipation required, and a
lot of corrections and counter-corrections. Doing that well requires
skill, seat-of-the-pants [flying], and
a lot of practice.
He offered, A much better approach would be to control the coefficient of lift itself, by changing
the camber of the wing.
All three F-35 versions have
trailing edge flaps to change camber. In addition, the longer-wing F
35C has ailerons. The flaps normally droop 15 degrees in the landing
configuration. However, active IDLC
moves the flaps up and down from

that reference point proportional to the rate of throttle movement.

Canin said, With IDLC, we change
the symmetric deflection of the
flaps and the ailerons in response
to pitch and throttle commands by
the pilot. The glideslope response
is immediate, and doesnt require
a speed or alpha change. This is a
tremendous advantage over a stiffwing airplane.
Legacy F-14 fighters and S-3
patrol jets had simple Direct Lift
Control that let pilots command
spoilers in or out with a dedicated button. Ours is much more intuitive and natural, said Canin. Its
an integral part of the flight control
system and responds to the pilots
normal stick and throttle movements, without requiring a separate
control. The flight control system
also compensates for the pitching
moments induced by the lifting surface deflections F-35C ailerons
pitch the airplane on approach almost as much as the big horizontal
stabilizers to maintain the proper
angle of attack.

IDLC is commanded by an Approach Mode Control button on the

F-35 active inceptor stick. You really could have done this with any
other airplane, acknowledged
Canin, but the implementation
would have been more complicated.
He added, Its easier and cleaner
to do this with a flight control system thats naturally a pitch-ratecommand system.

Flying With Feeling

The triplex-redundant flight control

system of the F-35 has flight control
laws embedded in three identical,
independent Vehicle Management
Computers (VMC) made by BAE
Systems in Endicott, N.Y. Corin Beck,
BAE product director for fixed-wing
control systems, said typical quadredundant legacy flight control systems route all interfaces back to a
central Flight Control Computer. The
F-35 VMCs are separated for survivability and work as network controllers. They interface with aircraft
sensors, active inceptor controls,
actuators, and utilities and subsystems, and they provide a bridge to

the pilot tactile cues with resistance

the F-35 mission system network.
The distributed network replaces big, ramps, gates and stops to provide
aircraft feel and warnings. Undedicated wire bundles with highlike traditional springs, stick shakers
speed serial buses to save weight.
and other mechanical force-feedThe VMC was also designed
back mechanisms, the motorized
for affordability and meant to control life-cycle sustainment costs with sidestick varies feedback forces
with aircraft condition.
managed obsolescence. The baseThe throttle is likewise backline configuration supports two Freescale PowerPC 7410 processing ele- driven to give the pilot situational
ments and can expand to support up awareness about the energy state
of the airplane and the corrections
to four such processors and three
SAE AS5643 1394b high-speed seri- being made. If or when the pilot
breaks out of Approach Mode, the
al buses. Based on BAE experience
throttle position is synchronized to
with F-22A, F-16, F-15 and F/A-18
the engine thrust request (ETR). If
flight control systems, Beck stated
the expandable VMC design is more the throttle is physically jammed,
the approach mode will still work.
than sufficient to manage any likely growth or added functionality over One of the redundancy features
of the airplane is that the physithe life of the F-35 program.
cal throttle linkage is no longer reBAE Systems Electronic Systems in Rochester, U.K., also makes quired, Canin said.
Engine thrust request is the
the F-35 active inceptor system including the active throttle quadrant driver for IDLC surface deflection.
The Moog electro-hydrostatic acassembly, active side-stick control
tuators that move the F-35 conassembly, and an interface control
unit. The motorized inceptors trans- trol surfaces promise survivability and maintainability advantages
mit pilot inputs to the F-35 fly-byover more conventional hydraulic
wire flight control system and give

actuators. They also provide slightly greater bandwidth than hydraulic

actuators for IDLC. However, Canin
observes, We could have done this
with hydraulic actuators. The magic
is in the control laws.

Implementing IDLC

Lockheed Martin engineers develop F-35 control law software using

MATLAB and Simulink tools from
MathWorks in Natick, Mass. Software and hardware come together
in the Vehicle Systems Integration
Facility (VSIF) in Fort Worth, Texas.
VSIF consists of an F-35 spread out
over a gymnasium-sized area. Its
a hardware-in-the-loop testbed that
runs real code on real hardware, including the flight control surfaces themselves. When you fly that
simulator, the flaps actually move.
Theres even equipment producing
forces that oppose them, replicating
the expected airloads, said Canin.
The big systems integration facility full of F-35 hardware is nevertheless costly to operate. For
routine control law development,
Lockheed Martin engineers and

the baseline control law, said Canin.

test pilots use a VIF motion-based
Since F-35 production software and
simulator made by Rexroth in the
test software are the same, LRIP
Thats what we use for more of aircraft will actually have the FTAs
incorporated but no FTA switch with
the pilot-in-the-loop development
which to activate them.
work, said Canin. The VIF runs
All three variants of the F-35
the actual flight control software
in actual VMCs, but it doesnt have provide some measure of IDLC.
Glideslope is always important, oball the power systems, hydraulics
served Canin. Anything you can do
and actuators of the VSIF. We can
do carrier landings, formation flight to improve flight path control on approach is a good thing. Wave-off
and other high-gain control tasks.
performance is also improved with
Proposed control law changes can
be checked out very quickly in this IDLC, since it can stop or reduce
your rate of descent while youre
sim, and then given to us to fly.
waiting for the engine to spool up.
Unlike production F-35s, the
The IDLC function is not idenJSF SDD aircraft have a Flight Test
tical in all the three F-35 variants,
Aid (FTA) system that allows pilots
however. The IDLC gain is much
to evaluate different control gains
and mechanizations in flight. Using higher in the C-model than the other
FTAs, for example, pilots were able two, said Canin. We only have one
to look at IDLC gains of 150 percent, release of software for the three
200 percent and 300 percent of the variants. It configures itself when it
wakes up and discovers which type
original baseline gain, eventually
of F-35 its in. The F-35B does not
settling on 300 percent.
We can do this safely, because use IDLC at all in jet-borne (vertical
if we ever see anything we dont like, landing) mode, when aerodynamic
we can press a paddle switch on the control surfaces are fixed.
Even with its innovative flight
stick to put us immediately back to

controls, the F-35C, from the pilots perspective, is relatively conventional coming aboard the carrier. Determining where you are with
respect to lineup and glideslope
is all visual, acknowledged Canin.
For lineup, you look at the ship and
line up on centerline easy enough
if the ships heading is steady, but
tricky if the ship is wallowing,
noted Canin. As for glideslope, you
have to watch the meatball and see
small deviations. Then you have to
put the ball back in the middle, with
the right rate of descent so it stays
there. None of thats changed with
this airplane, but what were giving the pilot is more responsiveness
and bandwidth to do that.
The F-35 uses a BAE Helmet
Mounted Display (HMD) instead of a
conventional Head-Up Display (HUD).
Like a classic HUD, the HMD shows
the pilot a flight path marker (or velocity vector), with a bracket to indicate if the aircraft is on speed
or flying fast or slow. Meanwhile, a
caret moves up or down in reference
to the flight path marker to give an

acceleration-deceleration cue.
Ashore, when the aircraft is
on glideslope, the pilot simply puts
the flight path marker by the meatball and the aircraft stays on that
glideslope. At the ship, since the
landing area is moving through the
water, the pilot needs to put the
flight path marker out in front of it.
He needs to put it where the landing area will be when he gets there,
which again requires judgment. A
better system would be put the velocity vector into the moving reference frame of the boat, Canin said.
Though not currently part of the
F-35 plan, implementing a shipreferenced velocity vector (SRVV)
would allow the pilot to put the
SRVV on the intended touchdown
point to hold glideslope. All we
would need to know from the ship
is its current velocity, so we can put
the airplane symbology in that reference frame, Canin said.
Readily rewritten control laws
have other possibilities. With the
current flight control law, the pilot
commands pitch rate with the stick,

and uses that pitch rate to establish

a glideslope, noted Canin. Theres
no reason, though, why the flight
control system couldnt establish a
baseline glideslope, and allow the
pilot to apply control stick pressure
to command tweaks around that
glideslope in response to ball deviations. A glideslope command
mechanization of this sort is not in
the baseline airplane now, but is an
example of the type of changes that
could relatively easily be incorporated in the F-35 control system.
For recoveries in the worst
weather, the A-7 and other carrier aircraft flew coupled automatic landings based on radar tracking and datalinked commands from
the ship. Canin confided, Id break
out of it in-close the few times I did
one. The pilot doesnt get a [landing] grade if he lets George [autopilot] fly it to touchdown.
The JSF test program currently
has no autolanding requirement, but
plans call for an F-35C autolanding
capability based on the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System.

The F-35 will take more of a selfcontained approach an internally

generated glideslope from GPS.
IDLC is just one part of the F-35
test program which will now include tests of a refined tailhook for
arrested landings. We look at approach handling qualities every
chance we get, said Canin. Where
the rubber meets the road, though,
is at touchdown. Until recently we
havent had a loads clearance that
allowed us to do carrier-type landings, but now we do, so now well
be able to look at our control precision to touchdown.
Canin concluded, Carrier landings, particularly at night, are still
considered to be the hardest thing
to do in aviation. But I think we now
have an airplane, and the people in
our control laws group, that can kill
that notion forever. The carrier approach is a very well-defined problem, and theres no reason why this
airplane cant completely change
the game.

SRVV Ship Referenced Velocity Vector

Explanation next page...

Paddles Monthly August 2011 What the Future Beholds...

Dan "Butters" Radocaj Test Pilot/LSO VX-23 Ship Suitability:

...We may also need to add another lens-type glideslope indicator.

One idea is called a Bedford Array. You can see in Figure 1 that a Bedford Array is like a lens spread of over the length of the LA. Unlike an
IFLOLS which has 12 cells that are always on to create a glideslope
reference, the Bedford Array is a set of Christmas lights and only the
light corresponding to current position of the touchdown point is illuminated. Just as the dynamic touchdown point moves across the deck
on the LSODS screen, the Bedford Array lights would move forward
and back across the deck corresponding to the dynamic touchdown
point. Figure 2 shows what your HUD may look like. You keep the ship
stabilized velocity vector [SRVV] on top of the Bedford light that is
illuminated. The datum is a reference line in your HUD. As long as the
3 all line up you are on glide path. A Bedford Array & a ship
stabilized velocity are indicators of glide-slope that will show you if
you are off glide-slope more precisely but they still dont make the
airplane respond differently....

JSF wing spreads by Bill Sweetman

...The F-35C is unusual among modern carrier aircraft in having a simple highlift system, comprising part-span flaps and drooped ailerons. The
Super Hornet, about equal in weight, has a
smaller wing fitted with massive
trailing-edge flaps that extend
across the entire
span. The inner
sections actually extend
rearwards as well as downwards,
to increase the wing area.
Why doesn't the F-35C have a similar
system? Part of the answer is geometry - the
close-coupled tail may not have the leverage to
overcome the trim change of bigger flaps. A more
complex system would also reduce commonality
with the other variants.

Cross-Country First
The X-35C arrived in Maryland on 10
after a precedent-setting cross2001/articles/arp_01/x35c/index.html February
country trip from Edwards AFB in
California. The 2,500-mile journey,
completed in two legs in two days, was
the first transcontinental flight for any Xplane.
Print friendly version of this article (text only)

X-35C Navy Flight Testing

By Eric Hehs

This article appeared in the

Second Quarter 2001 issue of Code One Magazine.

The X-35C banks left over a choppy

Chesapeake Bay on approach to NAS
Patuxent River, Maryland. Flaps
hanging low, the aircraft straightens
and glides over the water to the
approach end of runway 32. At less
than 135 knots airspeed in a brisk
headwind, the jets relative ground
speed is slightly more than DC
commuters speeding to work on the
freeways below. The roar of the Pratt &
Whitney engine intensifies as the
aircraft nears. Puffs of smoke signal
the tires of the main gear have touched
down. Suddenly, the pilot throttles to military power and the X-35C jumps back into the air for
another circuit around the air station.
This completed landing, brief though it was, creates more data points for a database already
filling with field carrier landing practices, or FCLPs. These landings and takeoffs represent a large
portion of the testing to be done by the X-35C at the Naval Air Warfare Centers Aircraft Division
at Patuxent River. NAWCAD, as it is known, supports research, development, test, evaluation,
engineering, and fleet support of Navy and Marine Corps aircraft. It is the steward of the ranges,
test facilities, laboratories, and aircraft necessary to support the Navys acquisition requirements.
It is also home to the United States Naval Test Pilot School. It is now the home of the X-35C, the
Navy variant of Lockheed Martins JSF demonstrator aircraft.

We brought the X-35C to Pax River because it is the Navys premier test facility, explains Joe
Sweeney, Lockheed Martin test pilot for the first leg of the trip, from Edwards to Fort Worth, and
the first pilot to fly the X-35C. At Pax, Navy
personnel can see their airplane up close in the their own environment. Besides, NAVAIR
headquarters is here, the JSF program office is here, and political decision makers are nearby.
We can give more people a first-hand look at the airplane.
Flying any new single-seat, single-engine airplane across the United States is an
accomplishment. Making that journey in an X airplane that has been flying for less than three
months is a tremendous accomplishment, says US Marine Corps Maj. Art Tomassetti, pilot for
the second and final leg from Fort Worth to Patuxent River. Pilots dream of becoming test pilots.
Test pilots dream of flying X airplanes. So I guess X airplane pilots dream of doing something
spectacular in an X airplane. Bringing the X-35 to my home base at Pax River after flying it cross
country qualifies as something pretty spectacular in my book.
Moving the X-35C from the high desert of California to the sea level environment at Pax has a
technical rationale as well. Edwards sits at 2,200 feet above sea level, continues Sweeney, who
is also lead Lockheed Martin test pilot for the X-35C. Aircraft carriers sit at sea level. For a true
one-to-one comparison and evaluation of the fidelity of our airplane and its capabilities in a
carrier environment, Pax is the place to be.
Pax also has the tools and the flight test engineers who specialize in carrier suitability, adds Lt.
Cdr. Greg Fenton, the Navys newest test pilot for the X-35. For the X-35C, carrier suitability
involves testing how well we can fly the airplane on a landing path, how precisely we can fly it to
a touchdown point, how quickly we can get it back in the air, and several other performance and
handling characteristics.
FCLPs, Bolters, and Waveoffs
Carrier suitability testing for the X-35C
encompasses three essential categories
FCLPs, bolters, and waveoffs. FCLP testing
covers the flying qualities necessary to get
the aircraft in a position to land on an
aircraft carrier. In these tests, pilots
progress from a nominal or ideal approach

to less ideal approaches. This range of

approaches is conducted at varying
distances from the touchdown point and at
varying high and low offsets at each
distance. The pilot intentionally deviates
from an ideal landing path, explains Glen
Harbison, the lead flight test engineer for
the X-35C, so that we can evaluate how
well the aircraft allows the pilot to
compensate for these deviations. We also
evaluate how quickly the airplane and pilot
can recover from an offset approach and still land safely.
A bolter occurs when the aircrafts arresting hook fails to catch a wire. This may be caused by
ships motion, a hook skip (where the hook bounces over a wire), wind gusts, or pilot technique.
Bolter testing ensures the flying qualities and performance of the aircraft are sufficient enough to
allow the aircraft to touchdown after the last arresting cable and to allow the aircraft to safely lift
off again by the time it reaches the end of the landing area. Because many factors can cause
the aircraft not to catch a wire, Navy pilots always prepare for the possibility that they are going to
miss the arresting cables on a carrier landing, explains Tom Briggs, the carrier suitability flight
test engineer, one of three Navy flight test engineers working on the X-35 program. As soon as
the wheels touch the deck, the pilot immediately throttles to full military power to prepare for
another takeoff. If the pilot catches the wire, he decelerates. If he misses the wire, he takes off
and tries to land again.
Waveoff testing covers the performance of the aircraft during an aborted landing. We try to land
aircraft every forty-five seconds on a carrier, continues Briggs. If the crew has a hard time
clearing an aircraft from the landing area, they have to make a fouled deck waveoff.
Pilots rely on the landing safety officer on
the deck to signal a waveoff with a Fresnel
lens optical landing system. By pressing a
button, the LSO activates a pattern of
colored flashing lights on this system. (The
landing system is normally used to give
pilots a visual indication of their relative
position with respect to a prescribed
glideslope.) Waveoff commands are also
issued over the radio.

Waveoff testing determines how much altitude the aircraft loses and how much time it requires
to go from a stabilized rate of decent to a positive rate of climb, explains Briggs. In other words,
we want to determine how far down the glideslope the pilot can initiate a waveoff and not touch
down or catch a wire when the hook is extended. The LSOs will use this information in

determining how to safely bring the aircraft aboard the carrier.

Landing on a carrier has to become second-nature to every Navy pilot, adds Harbison. This
testing ensures that we have designed an airplane that makes carrier landings second nature.
The X-35C is designed to survive carrier landings, which tend to be more severe than typical Air
Force landings. In numerical terms, when a pilot flies the X-35C on a carrier landing, the rate at
which the aircraft hits the runway, called the sink rate, is approximately eleven feet per second.
The aircraft is designed to withstand a sink rate of almost eighteen feet per second. By
comparison, the typical sink rate for an X-35A landing, the conventional takeoff and landing
variant of the JSF demonstrator, was around two feet per second.

X-35A/X-35C Differences
As for performing the mission, the
distinction between what makes a good
Navy fighter and what makes a good Air
Force fighter is fairly insignificant, notes
Fenton, who comes to the X-35 program
from a recent fleet tour in F-18s on the USS
Enterprise. In both services, the airplane
must have a decent amount of time on
station and provide an advantage against
any current or projected foes. The big
difference between the two services
involves carrier suitability. A Navy fighter has to take off and land from an aircraft carrier, which
requires some structural considerations and flying qualities.
Those structural considerations and flying qualities explain most of the differences between the X35A and the X-35C. Internally, the X-35C is a little beefier to handle the harder landings.
Externally, the wing area and control surfaces are larger to improve low-speed handling
characteristics essential for carrier landings. The X-35C also has two extra control surfaces in the
form of two ailerons outboard of the flaperons.
The difference in performance between the X-35C and X-35A at landing speeds is very
noticeable, explains Sweeney, who flew the X-35C on its first flight and has flown the X-35A as
well. The X-35C can fly about 130 to 135 knots on the landing approach, about twenty-five knots
slower than the X-35A.
When I raise the landing gear, the airplane flies
The landing approach control laws and
flying qualities for the X-35 were designed very smoothly. The landing gear is sequenced,
which is unique for a fighter. The nose gear
primarily for the Navy environment,
Sweeney continues. Most of those control comes up first, then the main gear follows. The
laws were used in the X-35A to keep the gears drop down in reverse order. http://www.
variants flying qualities common.

Commonality also reduced cost. Everyone

who flew the X-35A including test pilots
with Navy, Marine, and Air Force
backgroundswas very pleased with the
way it landed: It was very easy to land. Both
variants are also very similar in up-andaway flight. Handling characteristics
between the two aircraft are not noticeably
different. Performance differences are more noticeable, for example how fast the aircraft
accelerates and climbs and how well it maintains energy in turns. The control laws on the X-35C
have a couple of extra features that take advantage of the extra control surfaces. These features
give the pilot more precise control of the glide path.
On every approach, we look for good glideslope control, adds Fenton. We have to be able to
put the airplane down with pinpoint accuracy to hit one of the four wires on a carrier deck, within
plus or minus forty-five feet or so. The airplane has to track glideslope precisely and make small
glideslope changes on short order.
A carrier box painted on the runway at Pax River indicates the amount of deck area the aircraft
has to land and then takeoff again. During bolters, I could tell from the cockpit that the aircraft
was well off the ground before the edge of the carrier deck, reported Fenton in one of his many
flight debriefs. Engine and aircraft response was positive and quick.

the guys in Fort Worth did a great job. The developmental work in the simulator has led to a final
configuration that has worked nicely. The capability is useful for conventional landings as well. Air
Force test pilot T.P. Smith noted that the APC is a must for the Air Force variant.
In the X-35C, the APC is a mode in the flight controls, explains Briggs. In other aircraft, the
APC is often a separate component, like a radio. Regardless of its system location, the APC
works like the cruise control of a car. The pilot can
deselect it or move the throttle to override it.
The Bottom Line
While carrier suitability is a critical factor in
evaluating the Joint Strike Fighter for the
Navy, it isnt the only one. Test pilots at Pax
will be expanding the flight envelope of the
X-35C and evaluating the up-and-away
performance of the aircraft as well. Like
any other fighter pilot, a Navy fighter pilot
will probably go straight for the max
performance numbersMach, g, range,
Briggs says. But the Navy guys are also
going to ask, How does it fly on the ball?
That question gets away from raw
performance figures and into handling
qualities, which we are evaluating closely
here at Pax.

If landing a 30,000-pound aircraft on a fortyfive-foot postage stamp in a rolling sea
sounds simple, youve been playing too
many video games. But technology has
made the job easier with an autothrottle
system called an approach power
compensator, or APC. Almost every Navy
airplane since the F-8 has had one. The
autothrottle takes the pilots left hand
(throttle) out of glideslope control, explains
Harbison, leaving him only the control stick
to maintain glideslopeand lineup.

edge flaps and the rudders to slow the

airplane. Unlike the F-22, the F-35A and
F-35B have no ailerons. That explains why
it uses a combination of leading- and
trailingedge flaps and rudders to slow
down. I found that the buffet levels were
very low, essentially the same as buffet
levels of the F-16 with the speed brake in
operation. Deceleration rates in the F-35
are similar to the F-16 as well, which is a
design goal. http://www.codeone

The F-35, like the F-22, doesn't have a

dedicated speed brake like most
previous fighters. Instead, it decelerates
through the flight control software by
deflecting control surfaces in the same
manner as the Raptor. We use the
leading-edge flaps as well as the trailing-

And thats the primary reason we are hereto prove that the Lockheed Martin JSF design
meets the Navys carrier suitability requirements, says Sweeney. Being at Patuxent this early
should instill confidence in our program and in our approach. In the next phase of the program,
we get into the detailed evaluations necessary to make this a fleet-capable airplane. Since the
design were proposing for the next phase is so similar to the X-35C, everything we are doing
here will support the transition to an operational aircraft.

The APC mode can greatly reduce the pilots workload during a carrier approach. The APC on
the X-35C has been very smooth and although we have yet to finish all the testing, it looks like
Eric Hehs is the editor of Code One.

Scorecard - A Case study of the Joint Strike Fighter Program April 2008
Geoffrey P. Bowman, LCDR, USN:
...The capability to operate from a carrier is not as easy as it sounds. Additional weight
comes in the form of stronger landing gear, fuselage center barrel strength, arresting
hook structure, and additional electrical power requirements. The Navy has added approach speed as a service specific key performance parameter. The threshold for approach speed is 145 knots with 15 knots of wind over the deck. This must be possible at
Required Carrier Landing Weight (RCLW). The RCLW is the sum of the aircraft operating weight, the minimum required bringback, and enough fuel for two instrument approaches & a 100nm BINGO profile to arrive at a divert airfield with 1,000 pounds of fuel.
The minimum required bringback is two 2,000 pound air-to-ground weapons and two
AIM-120s. The Navy further requires that the CV JSF be capable of carrier recovery with
internal and external stores; the external stations must have 1,000 pound capability on
the outboard stations and maximum station carriage weight on the inboard....



...F-35C Shipboard Bringback ~10,000 lbs...

F-35C Opt AoA: VX-23 'Salty Dogs' F-35C Update - LCDR Ken Stubby Sterbenz
VX-23 Ship Suitability Department Head - Paddles Monthly - Sept 2010
...The max trap weight will be around 46k lbs, with an empty weight of about 35k lbs [10-11K
Load]. It will fly an on-speed AOA of 12.3 at 135-140 KCAS [Optimum AofA or Donut]....
Selective Acquisition Report

31 Dec

(Ch-2) The current estimates changed from

the Dec 2009 SAR due to design maturation.
Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (STOVL)
Mission Performance changed from 524 ft to
544 ft.
Combat Radius Nautical Miles (NM) - STOVL
Variant changed from 481 to 469.
Combat Radius NM - Aircraft Carrier Suitable
(CV) Variant changed from 651 to 615.
CV Recovery Performance, Approach Speed
changed from 143.0 kts to 144.6 kts.

Current Est.

speed (Vpa)
at RCLW of
less than
144.6 kts
with 15 kts
WOD at
RCLW (of
46,000 lbs
Max Landing


141103-N-MX772-359 PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 3, 2014) Landing signal officers

observe an F-35C Lightning II carrier variant Joint Strike Fighter as it lands
on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). Nimitz is currently underway conducting routine training exercises. (U.S. Navy photo by
Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Siobhana R. McEwen/Released

LM's Navy JSF Completes Historic Flight-Test Program.

PATUXENT RIVER, Md., 12 March 2001 /PRNewswire/

"I could tell from the first flight that the X-35C was going to be representative of a very good
carrier plane. When we began aggressive FCLPs (field carrier landing practices) the aircraft
really showed off its superb responsiveness and controllability," said test pilot Joe Sweeney,a
former U.S. Navy carrier pilot. "We deliberately forced errors in the
glide slope, speed and line-up, challenging the plane's ability
to respond, and it performed exceedingly well. I can't say
enough about this engineering and flight test team."
During an FCLP (FCLP = Field Carrier Landing Practice)
the pilot shoots an approach exactly as he would on an aircraft
carrier. The X-35C, which features a larger wing and control
surfaces than the other JSF variants, completed 250 FCLPs during testing.
"We put the airplane through a battery of practice carrier approaches in a very short
time. The airplane's performance was outstanding," said Lt. Cmdr. Greg Fenton, a U.S.
Navy test pilot assigned to the X-35. "Several of Strike's Landing Signal Officers (LSOs) got an
opportunity to observe the airplane 'on the ball', and were quite impressed with its ability to
handle intentional deviations during the practice carrier landings."'s+Navy+JSF+Completes+Historic+Flight-Test+Program-a071562471

JSF Carrier Variant Meets First Flight Goals By Graham Warwick 7 June 2010

Handling qualities of the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter exceeded expectations

on the June 6 first flight, says Lockheed Martin test pilot Jeff Knowles.
Handling with landing gear down was a key focus of the first flight as the
F-35C has a 30% larger wing and uprated flight controls to reduce takeoff and
landing speeds compared with the other F-35 variants.

Knowles says the aircraft approached at 135 kt., compared with 155 kt.
for the smaller-winged F-35A and B variants at the same 40,000-lb. gross
weight. Takeoff rotation speed was 15-20 kt. slower, he says.
The first F-35C, aircraft CF-1, was formally rolled out in late July 2009
and was expected to fly before the end of the year, but was held in the
factory to incorporate late parts and design changes, says Tom Burbage,
executive vice president and general manager, F-35 program integration.
The 57-min. first flight focused on gear-down handling & formation flying
with the F/A-18 chase aircraft in an early look at handling around the carrier,
says Knowles, adding The approach was very stable, with good roll response.
The landing gear and arrestor hook were cycled and throttle slams conducted to check engine operation. This was the first flight of a production-configuration Pratt & Whitney F135 engine, says Burbage....

F-35C CF-01

F-35C Opt AoA: VX-23 'Salty Dogs' F-35C Update - LCDR Ken Stubby Sterbenz
VX-23 Ship Suitability Department Head - Paddles Monthly - Sept 2010 (1.3Mb PDF)
"The F-35C is 51.5 ft long and has a wingspan of 43 ft and 668 ft2 of wing area (7 ft longer
wingspan and 208ft2 more wing area than the Air force or Marine versions.) It also carries
19,800 lbs of internal fuel - 1,000 pounds more gas then the Air Force version. It is powered
by a Pratt and Whitney F135 engine that produces 28k lbs and 43k lb of thrust in MIL and AB
The max trap weight will be around 46k lbs, with an empty weight of about 35k lbs.
It will fly an on-speed AOA of 12.3 at 135-140 KCAS [Optimum AofA or Donut].
Due to the fact that flap scheduling is completely automatic, the cockpit
was designed without a flaps switch. Additionally, the tail hook retracts into the fuselage and is covered by hook doors that
have an as-yet-to-be-determined airspeed limitation..."
LT. Dan "Butters" Radocaj VX-23 Ship Suitability


AOA of 12.3
at 135-140

Planned Not to
Exceed Weight
Empty=34,868 lbs


F-35C CF-03 showing Optimum Angle of Attack Light USS Nimitz Nov 2014

Scorecard: A Case study of the Joint Strike Fighter Program

by Geoffrey P. Bowman, LCDR, USN 2008 April [PDF 325Kb 'bowman0558.pdf']

"The capability to operate from a carrier is not as easy as it sounds. Additional weight comes in
the form of stronger landing gear, fuselage center barrel strength, arresting hook structure, and
additional electrical power requirements. The Navy has added approach speed as a service specific key performance parameter. The threshold for approach speed is 145 knots with 15 knots of
wind over the deck. This must be possible at Required Carrier Landing Weight (RCLW).

The RCLW is the sum of the aircraft operating weight, the minimum required
bringback, and enough fuel for two instrument approaches & a 100nm BINGO
profile to arrive at a divert airfield with 1000 pounds of fuel. The minimum required
bringback is two 2000 pound air-to-ground weapons and two AIM-120s.
The Navy further requires that the CV JSF be capable of carrier recovery with internal and
external stores; the external stations must have 1000 pound capability on the outboard stations &
maximum station carriage weight on the inboard."

KPP = Key Performance Parameter

"The USMC has added STOVL performance as a service specific key performance parameter. The
requirement is listed as follows: With two 1000# JDAMs and two internal AIM-120s, full expendables, execute a 550 [now 600] foot (450 UK STOVL) STO from LHA, LHD, and aircraft carriers
(sea level, tropical day, 10 kts operational WOD) & with a combat radius of 450 nm (STOVL profile).
Also must perform STOVL vertical landing with two 1000# JDAMs and two internal AIM-120s, full
expendables, and fuel to fly the STOVL Recovery profile.
The Marine Corps has used the more limiting deck launch, rather than a simple expeditionary
airfield, to frame its requirement." USN & USMC F-35C & F-35B Landing KPPs + Bringback

Pentagon Slackens Difficult-To-Achieve JSF Performance Requirements J. Sherman Mar 1, 2012

The Pentagon last month relaxed the performance requirements for the Joint Strike Fighter, allowing the Air Force
F-35A variant to exceed its previous combat radius -- a benchmark it previously missed -- and granting the Marine
Corps F-35B nearly 10 percent additional runway length for short take-offs, according to Defense Department
sources. On Feb. 14, the Joint Requirements Oversight Council -- in a previously unreported development -- agreed
to loosen select key performance parameters (KPPs) for the JSF during a review of the program convened in
advance of a high-level Feb. 21 Defense Acquisition Board meeting last month, at which the Pentagon aimed to reset
many dimensions of the program, including cost and schedule. Pentagon sources said a memorandum codifying the
JROC decisions has not yet been signed by Adm. James Winnefeld, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
and the JROC chair. Sources familiar with the changes, however, said the JROC -- which also includes the service
vice chiefs of staff -- agreed to adjust the "ground rules and assumptions" underlying the F-35A's 590-nautical-mile,
combat-radius KPP. Last April, the Pentagon reported to Congress in a selected acquisition report that "based on
updated estimate of engine bleed," the F-35A would have a combat radius of 584 nautical miles, below its threshold
-- set in 2002 -- of 590 nautical miles.
To extend the F-35A's combat radius, the JROC agreed to a less-demanding flight profile that assumes near-ideal
cruise altitude and airspeed, factors that permit more efficient fuel consumption. This would allow the estimate to be
extended to 613 nautical miles, according to sources familiar with the revised requirement.
The estimated combat radius of the short-take-off variant, which is being developed for the Marine Corps, is 15%
lower than the original JSF program goal even though the aircraft is slated to carry fewer weapons than originally
intended, according to the April report.
The short-take-off-and-landing KPP before the JROC review last month was 550 feet. In April 2011, the Pentagon
estimated that the STOVL variant could execute a short take-off in 544 feet while carrying two Joint Direct Attack
Munitions and two AIM-120 missiles internally, as well as enough fuel to fly 450 nautical miles. By last month, that
take-off distance estimate grew to 568 feet, according to DOD sources. The JROC, accordingly, agreed to extend the
required take-off distance to 600 feet, according to DOD officials.
The JROC review of the F-35 program last month was held in accordance with a policy adopted by the council in
June 2010, which requires a reassessment of requirements for all programs with cost growth exceeding 25 percent
of the original program baseline. One goal of the policy is to determine whether a decision to relax requirements
should be made to improve acquisition cost and schedule estimates.


F-35 Aircraft

December 2014 SAR

Logistics Footprint - CV Variant

Less than or equal to
34,000 cu ft., 183 ST

Performance Characteristics
Current APB

SAR Baseline



With four 1000# JDAMs

and two internal AIM120s, full expendables,
execute a 600 foot (450
LHA, LHD, and aircraft
carriers (sea level,
tropical day, 10 kts
operational WOD) and
with a combat radius of
550 nm (STOVL profile).
Also must perform
STOVL vertical landing
with two 1000# JDAMs
and two internal AIM120s, full expendables,
and fuel to fly the STOVL
Recovery profile.

With two 1000# JDAMs

and two internal AIM120s, full expendables,
execute a 600 foot (450
LHA, LHD, and aircraft
carriers (sea level,
tropical day, 10 kts
operational WOD) and
with a combat radius of
450 nm (STOVL profile).
Also must perform
STOVL vertical landing
with two 1000# JDAMs
and two internal AIM120s, full expendables,
and fuel to fly the STOVL
Recovery profile.


Execute 569
ft. STO with 2
(internal), 2
(internal), fuel
to fly 456nm


SAR Ex Summary
December 2014
(for 2015) DOT&E
Report ...In summary, the F-35
program is showing steady progress in all areas including development,
flight test, production, maintenance, and
stand-up of the global sustainment enterprise. The program is currently on the right
track and will continue to deliver on the
commitments that have been made to the
F-35 Enterprise. As with any big, complex
development program, there will be challenges and obstacles. However, we have the
ability to overcome any current and future
issues, and the superb capabilities of the
F-35 are well within reach for all of us.




















Combat Radius NM -CV Variant



Less than or
equal to
29,410 cu ft.,
243 ST

Less than or equal to 4 C- Less than or equal to 4 C Less than or equal to 8 C TBD
17 equivalents
-17 equivalents
-17 equivalent loads

Less than or
equal to 5 C17

Logistics Footprint - STOVL Variant L-Class

Less than or equal to
15,000 cu ft, 104 ST

Less than or equal to

15,000 cu ft, 104 ST

Less than or equal to

21,000 cu ft, 136 ST


Less than or
equal to
17,500 cu ft,
102 ST

3.0/2.0/1.0 2.5 ASD


2.5 ASD

3.0/2.0/1.0 1.8 ASD


1.8 ASD

4.0/3.0/1.0 1.1 ASD


1.1 ASD

Vpa at required carrier

landing weight (RCLW)
of less than 145 knots.


speed (Vpa)
at required
(RCLW) of
less than 144

Sortie Generation Rates - CTOL Variant

4.0/3.0/2.0 2.5 ASD

4.0/3.0/2.0 2.5 ASD

Sortie Generation Rates - CV Variant

4.0/3.0/1.0 1.8 ASD

4.0/3.0/1.0 1.8 ASD

Sortie Generation Rates - STOVL Variant (USMC)

6.0/4.0/2.0 1.1 ASD


Combat Radius NM -STOVL Variant



6.0/4.0/2.0 1.1 ASD

Combat Radius NM -CTOL Variant


Less than or equal to

46,000 cu ft., 243 ST

Logistics Footprint - STOVL Variant

STOVL Mission Performance - STO Distance Flat Deck

With four 1000# JDAMs
and two internal AIM-120s,
full expendables, execute
a 600 foot (450 UK
LHD, and aircraft carriers
(sea level, tropical day, 10
kts operational WOD) and
with a combat radius of
550 nm (STOVL profile).
Also must perform STOVL
vertical landing with two
1000# JDAMs and two
internal AIM-120s, full
expendables, and fuel to
fly the STOVL Recovery

Less than or equal to

34,000 cu ft., 183 ST

CV Recovery Performance (Vpa)

Vpa. Maximum approach
speed (Vpa) at required
carrier landing weight
(RCLW) of less than 140

Vpa at required carrier

landing weight (RCLW)
of less than 140 knots.

Mission Reliability - CTOL Variant



Mission Reliability - CV Variant




December 2014 SAR


Classified Performance information is provided in the classified annex to this submission.

Mission Reliability - STOVL Variant



Logistics Footprint - CTOL Variant

Less than or equal to 6 C- Less than or equal to 6 C Less than or equal to 8 C TBD
17 equivalents
-17 equivalents
-17 equivalent loads

Less than or
equal to 6 C17

Change Explanations
(Ch-1) The biggest factor causing the change was data maturation from recent flight test data which resulted in a lowering
of the fuel flow factor margin from a ~5% to a 4% margin. Lower fuel burn means greater range. STO distance is tied to a
takeoff weight for a fixed mission radius. Less fuel was needed so less weight and lower STO distance.
1/ The F-35 Program is currently in developmental testing, and will provide demonstrated performance with the Block 3F
full capability aircraft.

Requirements Reference
Operational Requirements Document (ORD) Change 3 dated August 19, 2008 as modified by Joint
Requirements Oversight Council Memorandum 040-12 dated March 16, 2012

Acronyms and Abbreviations

ASD - Average Sortie Duration

CTOL - Conventional Takeoff and Landing CU FT - Cubic Feet
CV - Aircraft Carrier Suitable Variant JDAM - Joint Direct Attack Munitions
KTS - Knots
NM - Nautical Miles
RCLW - Required Carrier Landing Weight ST - Short Tons
STO - Short Takeoff
STOVL - Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing Vpa - Max Approach Speed
WOD - Wind Over the Deck


Hook Touch Down Point

IFLOLS 230 Nominal
ACLS 230 Nominal
(doesnt change with
Trappable Length
HTDP to 4-Wire
Nominal HTDP (230)
291 230 = 61


4-Wire Configuration


Trappable Length
HTDP to 3-Wire
Nominal HTDP (212)
Nominal 3-Wire
261-10 212 = 49-10
11 feet less trappable length than
4-wire configuration
Target 205 results in a trappable
length of approx 57

3A Wire

268 10

CVN 76 3-Wire Configuration

Cats, Traps &

a Rooster Tail

support the development of ini- 20 to 30kt and high is in extial aircraft launch and recovery cess of 30kt. The teams goal
bulletins for F-35C carrier opera- for DT I was to gain as much
tions and Naval Air Training and data with cross winds and varDec 2014 Mark Ayton Air International
Operating Procedures Standardi- ious head winds to allow us to
start writing our aircraft launch
sation (NATOPS) flight manu[Cdr Shawn Kern is the Direcal procedures. Test results from and recovery bulletins.
tor of Test and Evaluation for
F-35 Naval Variants and the se- DT I will also influence follow-on OPERATIONAL TESTER
Cdr Christian Sewell is a test
nior military member within the developmental and operational
F-35 Integrated Test Force (ITF) testing required to achieve F-35C pilot assigned to a detachment of Air Test and Evaluation
initial operational capability.
based at Patuxent River] He
Squadron 9 (VX-9) Vampires
[Lt Cdr Ted Dyckman said:]
told AIR International: Launch
When the weather started to de- from Naval Air Weapons Station
testing included minimum
teriorate we had such confidence China Lake in California based at
catapult end speed deterNaval Air Station Patuxent River
in how the aircraft was flymination as well as perforing that we lowered the weather in Maryland. The unit is the US
mance and handling during
minimums to those used by the Navys [b]fast jet operational test
high and low energy catapult launches and crosswind fleet. I knew that when I lowered squadron. Cdr Sewell works as
a liaison officer between the opconditions at representative the hook I was going to trap.
That says a lot for the airplane. erational test (OT) and developaircraft gross weights. Apmental test (DT) teams. He told
evaluated approaches
proach and recovery testing
AIR International: I update the
with crosswinds behind the
focused on aircraft perforOT community (including the
mance and handling qualities ship out to 7kts.
Joint Operational Test Team at
We also evaluated apduring off-nominal recoverEdwards Air Force Base, Califories in low, medium, high and proach handling qualities in
low and high wind conditions: nia) on the status of DT testing,
crosswind wind conditions.
Data and analysis from DT I will low is 10 to 20kt, nominal is current air system performance,

deficiencies and developments

to aid them in their OT test design and planning. Conversely, as a developmental test pilot
with OT experience, I aid the DT
test team [the F-35 ITF at Pax
River] in identifying issues that
may pose problems during operational testing before the jet
reaches an OT period. The goal
is to identify areas that may affect operational effectiveness
and suitability early in the programme so they can be addressed, hopefully leading to
successful OT periods and fleet
Carrier suitability is extremely
important to the navys OT community. My participation in DT I
was undertaken from an operational tester and a fleet operators points of view to help ensure the F-35C is suitable for its
intended operational environment, the aircraft carrier. Information gained from DT I will be

used to help plan F-35 OT test

periods embarked onboard an
aircraft carrier.
Tom Briggs was designated Chief
Test Engineer for development
test and oversees the execution
of testing and approving any required changes to the test plan
or the conduct of testing from an
engineering perspective.
As Chief Test Engineer, he
helped prepare the ITF team
(comprising more than 230 people from the F-35 ITF and the
crew of the USS Nimitz) for testing at sea and helped co-ordinate the expectations of the
ships crew as to what would be
tested and how planned testing would integrate with their
Tom told AIR International: The main test points were
to verify that the F-35Cs approach handling qualities were

satisfactory across a variety of

wind conditions; to determine its
launch characteristics and performance from all four of the
ships catapults and across a variety of wind conditions; to look
at the integration of the aircraft
with the ship both on the flight
deck and in the hangar bay; and
to test the ability of the F-35C to
use the ships flight-related systems to perform inertial alignments, instrument approaches
and basic navigation to and from
the ship.
Use of the aircrafts sensors
and its fuel dump function
were also tested. Data obtained from the tests will now be
analysed to support the overall
verification of the F-35C against
the Joint Contract Specification
as well as developing the initial
aircraft launch bulletins and verifying that the initial aircraft recovery bulletins are satisfactory.
pp 42-47 Air International Dec 2014

The Distributed Aperture System and 360-Degree Situational Awareness | p.24
SLD: How does the new helmet for the F-35 interact with the DAS? Rossi: The
DAS provides 360-degree NAFLIR (Navigation Forward Looking Infrared) capability. So if you think about it were out there staring at the world. We have all
this information. We can then take and post-process where the pilot is looking
on his helmet. We also have an auxiliary channel where he can dial in any particular sector that he wants to keep track of and we can give him near 20/20 IR
imagery of the world about him. So now night landings on carriers are fully
enabled. We show this stuff to Navy pilots and theyre just awestruck that
they can even see the horizon, let alone the boat out there and the wake....
Image from: F-35 Tail Hook.ppt (4.6Mb)

October 2011


Many issues had to be addressed concerning how British LSOs and Air Bosses will safely launch,
recover, taxi, and park F-35s and how the design of the carrier should be adapted in order to accomplish the mission. One of the primary concerns was the precise location of the LSO platform.
Because the Queen Elizabeth was initially designed for vertical launches and recoveries, an American-style LSO platform was not initially thought to be a requirement. Several proposals were initially
put forward. One thought was to place the LSO in the tower (similar to AV-8 VSTOL LSOs) with a
custom-designed digital display system that the LSO would use to monitor an approaching aircraft.
Also under careful consideration; locate the platform on the port side of the ship just outside the foul
line, a location familiar to U.S. Navy LSOs.

Building the Queen Elizabeth

As many Paddles Monthly readers are already well aware of, the Royal Navy is well on its way to
joining the United States in the fixed-wing carrier aviation business. As mentioned in a previous
month, the Queen Elizabeth is already under construction and a second ship of the same class - the
Prince of Wales - is planned. If the program stays on timeline, the Queen Elizabeth and her air wing
of F-35s are scheduled to become operational near the end of the decade.

LSO School OIC, CDR Weeds Wedertz and LCDR

Frodo Beaty discuss carrier design issues with engineers from Aircraft Carrier Alliance

British Officers and Engineers review flight deck design

specifics of the Queen Elizabeth with Captain Stoops
and the LSO School Staff

Original Queen Elizabeth Design - Utilizing F-35B

Current Angled Flight Deck Design - Utilizing F-35C

Over the course of two weeks in September, officers from the Royal Navy and engineers from Aircraft Carrier Alliance (the company spearheading the design and development process) conducted a
development seminar at the Landing Signal Officer School. In addition to the LSO School Staff,
Captain Stoops (Former CVN-73 Air Boss) and CDR Bulis (Current CVN-75 Air Boss) were also in
attendance to lend their expertise.


Initially, the Queen Elizabeth was intended to operate as a VSTOL carrier with the F-35B, similar to After much debate and discussion, to include extensive LSO-related presentations by the LSO
how the Royal Navys Invincible-class ships operate with AV-8s Harriers. However, following the de- School Staff, the decision was made for the LSO Platform to be located at the exact same position
cision to procure the F-35C carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter in place of the F-35B, the Queen in relation to the intended hook touchdown point as it is on our Nimitz class ships. While this will reElizabeth has had to undergo a mid-construction redesign in order to accommodate catapults, arrest- quire some additional design changes to be made to the QECs flight deck, as well as the need for a
ing gear, and Landing Signal Officers.
custom-designed LSO Display System, all U.S. Navy LSOs will recognize the advantages of choosing this option over the others. Not only will American LSOs be able to furnish the maximum
amount of long-accumulated corporate knowledge to their colleagues from the United Kingdom, similarities of operations will also allow significant cross training opportunities for prospective Royal
Navy LSOs.


first half of 2011 by becoming the first pilot to debut the F-35C at an air show.

Three months previously, Buus had become the first U.S. Navy pilot to fly the F-35C after the


prototypes (CF-2 and CF-3).



first C model prototype CF-1 was delivered to Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Md.,
in late 2010 to begin flight testing. CF-1 has since been joined by the second and third F-35C

The trio comprises the test fleet for the

Eric Tegler
03 Oct 2011

carrier variant of the F-35, distinguished by

its larger, folding wing and control surfaces,
carrier-spec landing gear, tailhook, and other
details. Lockheed Martins press materials
proclaim the F-35C to be The Worlds Only
5th Generation Carrier Aircraft, lauding its
ruggedized stealth and its internal/external
weapons carriage. Stealth efficacy and
weapons flexibility will be tested over the
coming few years, but first the F-35C must
prove its compatibility with an aircraft carrier.


The C had begun to do so before delivery of

the second and third prototypes, when in
March CF-1 performed the first test hookup
with the TC-7 catapult at NAS Pax River. The
test gave rise to a minor alteration to the
aircrafts launch bar, giving it a greater range of motion. Enlightening though that preliminary test
was, it will be a footnote to the carrier-suitability testing begun at Joint Base McGuire-DixLakehurst (MDL) in New Jersey in late June.
The very first MDL tests focused on Jet Blast Deflector (JBD) analysis, assessing deck heating,
JBD panel cooling, and vibro-acoustic, thermal, and hot-gas ingestion environments. The tests
were expected to take about two weeks, and on June 25, CF-2 arrived at MDL with Buus at the
controls. Testing commenced the following week.


As thousands on the flight line at Joint Base Andrews outside of Washington, D.C., craned their
necks skyward during the Memorial Day weekend open house, Lt. Cmdr. Eric Magic Buus
made a low pass in an F-35C prototype, adding to the career distinctions hed racked up in the

From there, Buus said, Were going to return in mid- to late July to do the initial catapult
launches and the initial arresting gear roll-in arrestments.
The launches began on July 27, 2011, and are taking place during the Navys yearlong

Centennial of Naval Aviation celebrations. Despite the concurrent development of EMALS (the
new Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System) at Lakehurst, the bulk of F-35C carrier-suitability
testing will be done with the current steam catapults owing to their ubiquity in the fleet.

There was no requirement for EMALS [testing] in the STD

test phase of the program, Buus said. But obviously
EMALS is going to be out there in the fleet, so logically
there will be some EMALS testing with the airplane at
some point.


The F-35C prototypes at Patuxent River represent two

different software configurations. The flight science
aircraft, CF-1 and CF-2, operate with basic Block 0.5
software while CF-3 is a mission-systems aircraft, flying
with the Block 1 software version. As of spring 2011, the
standard software version for Initial Operational
Capability (IOC) will be Block 3 for the USAF and USN
while the Marines plan to declare IOC with Block 2B.

F-35C carrier-suitability testing will hinge on

The various software blocks are essentially the same across all variants, with little tailoring to

sticking to the test schedule, a feat not easily

accomplished with such a complex, new
aircraft. In early June, F-35C testing was
suspended for six days to remedy a software
problem. On June 17, flight test engineers at
Pax River discovered a logic fault that
affected the wing folding mechanism. Flight
testing resumed with some minor restrictions
and a software fix was in progress in late

each specific model. However, the F-35Cs different aerodynamics and structure do require
different flight control laws and other variations within each software block. Buus added that
modifications within each block are possible and each of the software packages is configurable
to meet future requirements. Nevertheless, he stressed that the differences across type models
are minimal at this point.

On board carrier testing is slated for 2013,

and in May the F-35C made good strides
toward reaching that goal. According to
Lockheed Martin, the three variants of the F35 flew a combined 94 System Development
and Demonstration (SDD) flights, the most
achieved in a single month thus far. As of
May, the F-35C lagged behind its sister
variants, having flown 62 times in 2011
versus 183 and 166 flights for the (more
numerous) F-35A and B test aircraft.

The same can be said for the F-35s Pratt & Whitney F135 engine. Save for some attached
accessories for the B model, there are no significant changes to the 43,000-pound thrust engine
whether situated in an A, B, or C model. Buus added that the engine has the same thrust rating
across all three variants and that no special anti-corrosion or FOD (foreign object damage)
tolerance modifications have been made for the F-35C.
Id go so far as to say nothing at all. Its the same engine.
The F-35C test team stresses that they are
very early in the aircrafts development
phase, a view echoed by a May report from
the Government Accountability Office that
stated just 4 percent of the F-35s overall
capabilities had been proven in lab or flight
tests. The Pax River-based team has used
some of the development done for the A and
B models to expand the F-35C flight
envelope a bit faster, but Buus acknowledged
that not all the development work transfers.

Hornet. With respect to the F-35C, Buus, whose flying

background is predominantly in legacy and Super
Hornets, thinks the comparison is a fair one.
Were early on in flight test so we havent fully expanded the envelope, but its certainly
comparable. The projected E-M diagrams are similar and what weve found thus far in testing
hasnt differed from that too much.
Aside from its maximum performance parameters, the user-friendliness of the F-35C is, as with
all fleet aircraft, of major importance. Its qualities will soon enough be put in front of fleet pilots.
Because it is a different airframe, most of
the flight envelope expansion with the C
model has had to be done on its own. The
aerodynamic and structural properties of the
C are probably the most different compared
to the other airplanes.


Through late spring and early summer 2011,

F-35A development continued, with the first low-rate initial production (LRIP) airplanes (AF-6
and AF-7) in use as test aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) and later at Eglin AFB for
maintenance training. At that time these LRIP aircraft were expected to be limited to a 350
knot/4 g flight envelope for training.

The first Navy F-35 Fleet Replacement Squadron, VFA-101, is slated to stand up at Eglin in
March 2012 and is scheduled to receive its first aircraft in September 2012.

What the initial cadre of VFA-101 instructors and

operational test pilots are likely to find is a Joint Strike
Fighter that, early testing indicates, handles much like a
Hornet or Super Hornet, according to Buus.
We havent flown the airplane a whole lot yet
but it flies very well. In general the aircraft is
similar to a Hornet/Super Hornet. The folks
whove designed the flight control laws have
really done a nice job. You can put the
airplane where you want to and let go of the
controls and it stays right there.

When asked if the C prototypes were similarly limited, Buus replied, All
I can tell you is that our test aircraft here are flying a faster and higher g envelope than that

The limits of that envelope are not yet concretely known,

but in late spring published reports compared overall F-35
flight characteristics to the F/A-18, citing EnergyManagement (E-M) diagrams (which convey aircraft
energy and maneuvering performance within its airspeed
range and load factors) that resembled those of the


Throughout the initial phases of F-35B

testing, BAE Systems Lead STOVL (short
takeoff/vertical landing) Pilot Graham
Tomlinson sang) the praises of the B and its
ease of operation in STOVL flight modes as
compared to the Harrier. Ease of operation
around the carrier will be an important
characteristic for the F-35C as well.


Favorable carrier approach/landing

characteristics not only enhance pilot safety,
the test team points out; the increased
boarding rates they generate improve the
tactical efficiency of the carrier strike group.
Along with the physical development of the F-

35Cs launch and recovery equipment and techniques, its around-the-boat flying qualities will be
further fleshed out.
Were working on the development to do that, Buus explained. I dont know how soon well
actually start those handling evaluations, but I will tell you that right out of the chocks the

strike load. Internally, it will be able to carry 4,000 pounds of air-to-ground ordnance plus two
AMRAAMs [advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles], which is certainly an effective loadout.
Theoretically, such a loadout would enable the airplane to fly the kind of loiter missions Hornets
have been flying in Iraq and more recently, Afghanistan without external stores. And with a
maximum trap weight of 46,000 pounds, the F-35C will have slightly better bring-back than a
Super Hornet, Buus added.
The fact that the C will not have the tanker capability that the Super Hornet and Growler do is
not seen as a negative by Buus.
For many years to come the air wing is going to be a mix of F-35s, F/A-18Es, Fs, and Gs, so

airplane flies really nice on approach. There are certain things well need to tweak a bit but its
currently comparable to a Hornet in how it flies on approach.

there will be tankers available. There will always be recovery tankers flying around the aircraft

While the pace of C-model testing has thus far been light compared to the F-35A/B, the flights
the aircraft have made since March 2011 have turned up little in the way of surprises, Buus said.

USN F-35Cs will have company aboard ship, with the Marine Corps planning to buy 80 copies of

There are certainly things here and there in flight test that we discover that dont quite react the
way the engineers were expecting, but no major issues have been discovered.
Among the carrier-centric qualities yet to be fully test/operationally verified is the F-35Cs range.
Lockheed Martin nominally lists the Cs max range at 1,200 nautical miles and its combat radius
at 640 nautical miles. Boeings Super Hornet has a combat radius of 390 nautical miles. Working
in the F-35Cs favor is a considerably larger internal fuel capacity, at 19,750 pounds versus the
single-seat F/A-18Es 14,400-pound capacity. Likewise, the aircraft will have internal weapons
carriage, aiding its aerodynamic drag profile in addition to its stealth.

Just from a pilot perspective, Buus said, for a

comparable loadout, the F-35C is going to be clean,
stealthy with no external weapons or pylons out there. It
will be a slick airplane with more fuel.


the C to fill out five squadrons. The carrier variant of the JSF is now the type model of choice for
the United Kingdom as well, and at last report, the British expect to receive their first F-35C in
the 2014-2015 time frame. The U.K. test contingent remains at NAS Patuxent River and Buus
confirmed that their focus has certainly shifted.
Along with remaining an integral part of the F-35 test program, the U.K. has decided to place a
number of its pilots in exchange positions with the USN flying F/A-18s and eventually F-35Cs to
maintain aircraft carrier operational acumen while it awaits construction of its own new
conventional deck carriers.
Predictably, the JSF program still faces headwinds as the test program goes forward. In late
June, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. John McCain,
specifically said the pending defense authorization bill did not go far enough to stop cost
overruns on the F-35 and indicated he may vote against the bill when it goes before the full
In amusing contrast, Lockheed launched a new website ( complete with a Fort
Worth, Texas, rock band playing the company-commissioned song Ill go anywhere/Ill do
anything to shots of the F-35C and other variants in a club setting.

Though the C will have seven external weapons stations in addition to its four internal stations, it
will likely be flown in clean configuration more often than the Hornet, Buus said.

Back in the hangar at Pax, Buus and the test team just get on with test sorties, refining the F35s C legs.

It will be able to carry off the ship what a Super Hornet will and it will have a meaningful internal

We feel very good about the work with respect to the C model, Buus said. In fact, since weve
gotten test airplanes here at Pax, I believe weve been beating our flight test expectations for
this year. Im feeling very positive about the airplane so far.

F-35C Carrier Tests Slated for November on USS Nimitz

25 Sep 2014 Dave Majumdar

The Lockheed Martin F-35C Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is on track for sea trials
onboard the carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-65) in November off the West Coast. That is
despite flight envelope restrictions imposed after an engine fire destroyed a landbased F-35A aircraft on take-off in July.
The event we have planned in November to bring to two C-model F-35s to an
aircraft carrier on the U.S. West Coast is still on track, JSF program manager Lt.
Gen. Chris Bogdan told reporters at an F-35 Joint Executive Steering Board (JESB)
meet in Oslo, Norway, on Thursday.
We have some work to do as we lead up to that point in November.
The outcome of those efforts will determine if both F-35Cs will be qualified to
conduct catapult launches and arrested recoveries onboard Nimitz. If everything
goes well, both jets will be fully qualified to fly from the 100,000-ton warship,
Bogdan said.
If the work is not completed in time for Novembers sea trials, one jet will fly
while the other aircraft will be used onboard the carrier to conduct logistical tests,
Bogdan said.
The November deployment will happen, Bogdan said. It will most likely
happen with two airplanes. Whether both airplanes are fully capable of doing all the
work remains to be seen....

...Chairman [LM] Marillyn A. Hewson ... She said the F-35C carrier variant being built for the Navy

successfully completed shore-based testing for arrested landings and catapult launches and will
be tested on a carrier in October.... & ...The 2B software program that is the minimum needed
for the Marines to declare initial operational capability (IOC) of the short-takeoff, vertical-landing
F-35B version in 2015 is tracking to be complete by year end, she said. The 3i software that the
Air Force needs for IOC of its F-35A model started flight test two weeks ago, Hewson said....
10 Jun 2014 OTTO KREISHER:

F-35C CF-01

SCHEDULE FRICTION 22 Sep 2014 Amy Butler Aviation Weak & Spec Technology 22 Sep 2014
....He [LtGen. Bogdan] was referring to events such as the first arrested landing & catapult trials on the USS
Nimitz planned for November,... He affirms that Nimitz tests are still on the table, and a program source notes
that of the two aircraft slated for those tests, CF-3 is cleared to get to the deck. CF-5 is still undergoing validation flights for deck work, but these are not impeded by the flight-envelope restrictions, the source adds....

...Sealing the gap between the inboard &

outboard leading-

edge flaps on
the Navy version of
the F-35 eliminated
lateral activity or
the activity to a
higher angle-ofattack.

Transonic Free-ToRoll Analysis of the

F/A-18E and F-35


Tailored to Trap [Quotes]

Its an integral part of the flight control system and responds to the pilots nor01 Dec 2012 Frank Colucci mal stick and throttle movements, without requiring a separate control. The flight
F-35C control laws give Navy pilots
Integrated Direct Lift Control for easi- control system also compensates for the
er carrier landings, and they open the pitching moments induced by the lifting
surface deflections F-35C ailerons pitch
door for future landing aids.
the airplane on approach almost as much
Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) test pilots in
the big horizontal stabilizers to mainJuly [2012] began using an Integrated Ditain the proper angle of attack.
rect Lift Control (IDLC) scheme meant to
IDLC is commanded by an Approach
improve approach performance and reduce
Mode Control button on the F-35 active inpilot workload in carrier landings. Tailored
stick. You really could have done
control responses in part differentiate the
this with any other airplane, acknowlcarrier-based F-35C from its runway and
Canin, but the implementation
small-deck siblings. Lockheed Martin test
pilot Dan Canin at Patuxent River Naval Air would have been more complicated. He
added, Its easier and cleaner to do this
Test Center, Maryland, explained, What
with a flight control system thats naturally
IDLC does is improve the flight path rea
pitch-rate-command system.
sponse of the airplane, allowing the pilot
to make almost instantaneous corrections
Flying With Feeling
to glideslope while maintaining a constant
The triplex-redundant flight control sysangle of attack.
tem of the F-35 has flight control laws emThe landing approach in the F-35C
bedded in three identical, independent Veis flown with the stick only, noted
hicle Management Computers (VMC) made
Canin. The throttle is automatic.
by BAE Systems in Endicott, N.Y. Corin
IDLC may someday facilitate hands-off
BAE product director for fixed-wing
landings and other possible F-35 shipboard
control systems, said typical quad-redunenhancements.
dant legacy flight control systems route all
With IDLC, we change the symmetric
interfaces back to a central Flight Control
deflection of the flaps and the ailerons in
Computer. The F-35 VMCs are separated
response to pitch and throttle commands
by the pilot. The glideslope response is im- for survivability and work as network controllers. They interface with aircraft senmediate, and doesnt require a speed or
alpha change. This is a tremendous advan- sors, active inceptor controls, actuators,
and utilities and subsystems, and they
tage over a stiff-wing airplane..

provide a bridge to the F-35 mission system network.

BAE Systems Electronic Systems in
Rochester, U.K., also makes the F-35 active
inceptor system including the active throttle quadrant assembly, active side-stick
control assembly, and an interface control
unit. The motorized inceptors transmit pilot
inputs to the F-35 fly-by-wire flight control system and give the pilot tactile cues
with resistance ramps, gates and stops to
provide aircraft feel and warnings. Unlike traditional springs, stick shakers and
other mechanical force-feedback mechanisms, the motorized sidestick varies feedback forces with aircraft condition.
The throttle is likewise back-driven to
give the pilot situational awareness about
the energy state of the airplane and the
corrections being made. If or when the
pilot breaks out of Approach Mode, the
throttle position is synchronized to the engine thrust request (ETR). If the throttle is physically jammed, the approach
mode will still work. One of the redundancy features of the airplane is that the physical throttle linkage is no longer required,
Canin said.
Engine thrust request is the driver
for IDLC surface deflection. The Moog
electro-hydrostatic actuators that move
the F-35 control surfaces promise survivability and maintainability advantages over more conventional hydraulic actuators. They also provide slightly greater

have one release of software for the three

bandwidth than hydraulic actuators for
IDLC. However, Canin observes, We could variants. It configures itself when it wakes
up and discovers which type of F-35 its in.
have done this with hydraulic actuators.
The F-35B does not use IDLC at all in jetThe magic is in the control laws.
Unlike production F-35s, the JSF
borne (vertical landing) mode, when aeroSDD aircraft have a Flight Test Aid
dynamic control surfaces are fixed.
(FTA) system that allows pilots to evalEven with its innovative flight controls,
uate different control gains and mech- the F-35C, from the pilots perspective,
anizations in flight. Using FTAs, for ex- is relatively conventional coming aboard
ample, pilots were able to look at IDLC the carrier. Determining where you
gains of 150 percent, 200 percent
are with respect to lineup and glideslope is all visual, acknowledged Canin.
and 300 percent of the original baseFor lineup, you look at the ship and line
line gain, eventually settling on 300
up on centerline easy enough if the
We can do this safely, because if we ships heading is steady, but tricky if the
ever see anything we dont like, we can ship is wallowing, noted Canin. As for
glideslope, you have to watch the meatpress a paddle switch on the stick to
ball and see small deviations. Then you
put us immediately back to the baseline control law, said Canin. Since F-35 have to put the ball back in the middle,
production software and test software with the right rate of descent so it stays
there. None of thats changed with this
are the same, LRIP aircraft will actually have the FTAs incorporated but no airplane, but what were giving the pilot
FTA switch with which to activate them. is more responsiveness and bandwidth
to do that.
All three variants of the F-35 provide
The F-35 uses a BAE Helmet Mountsome measure of IDLC. Glideslope is aled Display (HMD) instead of a conventionways important, observed Canin. Anyal Head-Up Display (HUD). Like a classic
thing you can do to improve flight path
control on approach is a good thing. Wave- HUD, the HMD shows the pilot a flight path
marker (or velocity vector), with a brackoff performance is also improved with
IDLC, since it can stop or reduce your rate et to indicate if the aircraft is on speed
of descent while youre waiting for the en- or flying fast or slow. Meanwhile, a caret
moves up or down in reference to the flight
gine to spool up.
path marker to give an acceleration-decelThe IDLC function is not identical in all
eration cue.
the three F-35 variants, however. The
Ashore, when the aircraft is on glidesIDLC gain is much higher in the C-model
lope, the pilot simply puts the flight path
than the other two, said Canin. We only

marker by the meatball and the aircraft

stays on that glideslope. At the ship, since
the landing area is moving through the
water, the pilot needs to put the flight path
marker out in front of it. He needs to put
it where the landing area will be when he
gets there, which again requires judgment.
A better system would be put the velocity
vector into the moving reference frame of
the boat, Canin said.
Though not currently part of the F-35
plan, implementing a ship-referenced velocity vector (SRVV) would allow the pilot
to put the SRVV on the intended touchdown point to hold glideslope. All we would
need to know from the ship is its current
velocity, so we can put the airplane symbology in that reference frame, Canin said.
Readily rewritten control laws have other
possibilities. With the current flight control
law, the pilot commands pitch rate with the
stick, and uses that pitch rate to establish a glideslope, noted Canin. Theres no
reason, though, why the flight control system couldnt establish a baseline glideslope,
and allow the pilot to apply control stick
pressure to command tweaks around that
glideslope in response to ball deviations.
A glideslope command mechanization of
this sort is not in the baseline airplane now,
but is an example of the type of changes
that could relatively easily be incorporated
in the F-35 control system.

Code, Builds & Blocks

AIR International F-35 Special Edition
July 2014 Ian Harding
The F-35 Lightning II is a software-driven aircraft with 8.1 million source lines
of code for airborne operation, four times
the amount used for the F-22 Raptor the
worlds first fifth-generation fighter.
Development of the F-35 is based on iterative builds of software known as Blocks.
The software controls all of the aircrafts
functions: flight controls, radar, communications, navigation and identification, sensor
fusion, electronic protection, electronic warfare, electronic attack and weapons.
All Blocks are a continuation of the
previous build. For example, Block 2B expands on the infrastructure and initial sensor work included in the previous Blocks and
adds sensor modes, weapons and data link
capabilities. Sub-sets are contained within
each Block: there are eight in Block 2B.
Specific requirements are integrated in each
Block by Computer Software Configuration
Items. Concurrent development is ongoing
within mission systems and vehicle systems:
the two major components of the aircrafts
airborne software.

Block by Block
Throughout this publication there is reference to the different Blocks of software
some are already in service, others are
yet to be released. The following overview

provides the main aspects of each different

Block 0.5 provided the infrastructure
with some initial sensor capabilities. Blocks
1A and Block 1B added to that. Block 2A and
Block 2B provided further capability. Block
3i will include some new capability and will
operate on new hardware: the updated
integrated core processor which runs faster
and offers increased memory storage. Block
3F will give more sensor modes, datalink,
and the capability to carry more types of
Block 1 comprises 76% of the
source lines of code required for full
combat capability. Block 1A was a training
configuration, while Block 1B provided initial
multi-level security.
The final Block 2A build was released
in June 2013 to specifically enhance training.
It includes mission debrief capabilities and
increases functionality to the fusion engine,
as well as enhancing sensor integration,
initial datalinks, and basic electronic warfare
and electronic attack capability.
Block 2B has an additional 500,000
lines of code. It adds new electronic warfare
and radar operating modes, an initial
weapon capability (AIM-120 AMRAAM missile,
GBU-12 laser-guided bomb and GBU-31/
GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munitions) and
expanded data link capabilities.
The development and integration subsets within Block 2B are 2BR1 (the initial
flight test release), 2BR1.1, 2BR2, 2BR4,
2BR4.1, 2BR4.2 (completed in February
2014), and the final flight test releases

2BR4.3 (completed in March 2014) and 2BR5

(completed in May 2014).
The last two are problem report cleanup fixes for the aircrafts mission system
and offer no new capability. Block 2BR5 will
remain in flight test with Lockheed Martin
until the end of the final quarter of 2014.
The US Marine Corps plans to declare
its F-35 initial operating capability in 2015
with Block 2B. Block 3i is an intermediate
version that the US Air Force will use to
work up to its full operational capability with
Block 3F.
Development of Block 3i is on-going.
Its integration is scheduled to run until mid2015 this will be after the flight test phase
finishes because the last Block 3i integration
phase will include updates for air vehicle
systems that will cut into Low Rate Initial
Production (LRIP) lot 8.
Block 3F is the final build for the
F-35s initial operational test and evaluation
phase: once certified it will be used by all
three US services, the UK, Norway and
the Netherlands. It will have 8.1 million
lines of code. Of that total approximately
98% is already developed; 89% of which is
currently in flight test at Fort Worth.
The build is designed to give the F-35
full combat capability including datalink
transfer of imagery, more sensor modes
and additional weapons: AIM-9X Sidewinder
missile, GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bomb
Increment I, GAU-22/A Cannon and the UKs
Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile
AIR International F-35 Special Edition July 2014


Lockheed remains confident in F-35 ahead of international debut

26 Jun 2014 Jon Hemmerdinger

Art Tomassetti, Lockheeds F-35B Marine Corps project manager, notes that tests continue to uncover ways Block 2B can be improved. The improvements have included fixes
to software problems and updates recommended by pilots, such as changing the colour
of cockpit indicator lights, says Tomassetti, a former USMC F-35 instructor who flew the
models experimental predecessor, the X-35. The challenge is trying to get all this new
stuff in before we hit the deadline, he says.
Lockheed expected to reach initial flight clearance for 2BR5, the version of the 2B
software that will allow the F-35B to reach IOC status, within the first half of June. By the
end of May it had completed seven weapons delivery accuracy tests with the software;
15 such tests are required to verify combat capability, the company says. It adds that
more information about software development will be available in a Congressionally mandated review that the DoD says will be released by the end of June.
Confidence has also come from USAF Lt Gen Christopher Bogdan, head of the militarys F-35 programme. On 26 March, Bogdan told the US House Armed Services Committee that he expects the F-35B to reach IOC by summer 2015, saying the software is within 30 days of being completed on time. There is fundamentally very, very little risk in
delivering the [software] capability to the US Marine Corps, he said.
But Bogdan said a more pressing threat is the programmes ability to quickly upgrade
the IOC aircraft, which will have already been delivered, to the 2B standard. He told Congress that modifications of older aircraft is even more [of] a problem than the software
in 2015....

Pentagon Develops F-35s 4th Generation Software 16 Apr 2014 Kris Osborn
...Block 4 will be broken down into two separate increments, Block 4A is slated to be
ready by 2021 and Block 4B is planned for 2023. The first portion of Block 4 software
funding, roughly $12 million, arrived in the 2014 budget, Air Force officials said. Block
4 will include some unique partner weapons including British weapons, Turkish
weapons and some of the other European country weapons that they want to get on
their own plane, said Thomas Lawhead, operations lead for JSF integration office.
Lawhead added that Block IV will also increase the weapons envelope for the U.S.
variant of the fighter jet. A big part of the developmental calculus for Block 4 is to work
on the kinds of enemy air defense systems and weaponry the aircraft may face from the
2020s through the 2040s and beyond.
Coming up with requirements always starts with the threat. How are we going to
meet national security objectives in the future? Based on those objectives we look at
the threat and then we decide how we are going to counter the threat, Schaefer said.
The rationale for the Block 4 software increment is to keep pace with technological
change and prepare technology for threats likely to emerge 20 years into the future,
Schaefer and Lawhead explained.
If you look back to 2001 when the JSF threat started, the threats were mostly European centric Russian made SA-10s or SA-20s. Now the future threats are looking at
more Chinese-made and Asian made threats. Those threats that are further out are the
ones that are being focused on for Block 4, Lawhead said.

Cost Savings through

the Use of Optical

Interconnects for JSF

2014 Navy MANTECH Project Book
...A2337 Photonic Printed Wiring Board


The objective of this Navy ManTech

Electro-Optics Center (EOC) project
is to develop electronics using optical interconnections with focus on the
Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Integrated
Core Processor (ICP). This project will
develop new manufacturing technologies that will enable both electrical
and optical signal transmission in ICP
modules, while also redesigning the
ICP Fibre Channel Switch (FCS).

The JSF ICP demands extremely high

performance processing that will utilize optical interconnects. Success
of this effort will prevent processing
systems from becoming I/O bound
and therefore realizing higher performance for a constant Size, Weight,
and Power (SWaP). This project will

validated against performance and

environmental requirements, will be
the project acceptance criteria for
approval by the JSF Joint Program
Office (JPO) representative.
This ManTech project will develop the photonic printed circuit board
technology and manufacturing processes specifically intended for use
within the F-35 ICP FCS module, provide performance testing and a limited set of environmental tests intended to bring qualification risk to
an acceptable level. The JSF JPO will
fund the development of an Engineering Change Package designed to
coordinate configuration changes and
qualification activities which are necThe transition event for this project
essary to accomplish incorporation
will occur with the build of the JSF
of the new design and its integration
ICP FCS module prototype and proof into a future JSF ICP build. The JPO
that manufacturing processes can
will also fund the build of production
produce interconnect systems that
JSF ICPs which are configured with
meet performance requirements. The the Photonic Printed Wiring Board
FCS switch sits at the center of the
technology. Implementation is targetF-35 Mission Systems Network and
ed for the JSF Mission Systems Aviprovides 32 Fibre Channel interfaces onics Suite with the planned producfor module-to-module and system-to- tion insertion point in FY16.
system communication. A demonstra
tion of the FCS module using PhotonDirectorates/Transition/Manufacturing-ManTech/~/
ic PWB manufacturing technologies,
be the first implementation of an optical wave guide on a printed circuit board, which will enable lower
cost, high bandwidth transmission for
many platforms. The programs that
will benefit are those that demand
high performance at a minimal SWaP,
including F-35, F-18, E-2D, UCLASS,
BAMS, and MMA.
The initial benefit is for the JSF
F-35 ICP module, specifically the
Fibre Channel Switch. The cost savings is estimated at $58K per aircraft
for a projected return-on-investment
of 51 and payoff within one year of
f-35_VRC-droptest.jpg OR

Click above - DROP TEST

VIDEO clip

FLY NAVY: Carrier operations account for most of the differences between
the Navy and other JSF variants. Carrier landings, for example, are so
severe, they're often referred to as "controlled crashes." The JSF, in a low
speed approach to a carrier landing, will descend at about 11 fps, and will
withstand sink rates up to almost 18 fps. By comparison, the typical sink
rate for an Air Force JSF will be about two ft/sec.
To help handle better at low speeds, the aircraft will have larger wing
and tail-control surfaces. The increased wingspan also boosts the strikefighter's range and weapon or fuel load. Even without external fuel tanks,
the JSF has almost twice the range of the F/A-18C. Larger leading-edge
flaps and wingtips provide the extra wing area, while the wingtips fold so
the aircraft takes up less space on the carrier's crowded flight and hangar
decks. The Navy's JSF will also have two extra control surfaces ailerons
outboard of the flaperons on the wings for additional lowspeed control
and flying precise glide slopes. The Navy JSF currently flies landing
approaches at about 130 to 135 knots, about 25 knots slower than the Air
Force version.

The tests were successfully carried

out between March and April [2010],
and included dropping CG-01 95 inches
at 20 feet per second, with an 8.8 deg
pitch [near Optimum AoA 12.3], two
degree roll, and 133 knot wheel speed,
simulating a carrier-deck landing.

F-35C carrier variant successfully completed testing in

which it was dropped from heights of more than 11 feet
during a series of simulated aircraft-carrier landings. The
tests validated predictions & will help confirm the F-35C's
structural integrity for carrier operations. The jet, a groundtest article known as CG-1, underwent drop testing at Vought
Aircraft Industries in Grand Prairie, Texas. No load
exceedances or structural issues were found at any of the
drop conditions, & all drops were conducted at the maximum carrier landing weight. The drop conditions included
sink rates, or rates of descent, up to the maximum design
value of 26.4 feet per second, [1,600 fpm] as well as various
angles & weight distributions. The tests were used to mimic
the wide range of landing conditions expected in the fleet.

An Aircraft Carrier at Jefferson Street?

The F-35 Lightning II is produced

in three variants: conventional
takeoff and landing (CTOL)
designed for the U.S. Air
Force, short takeoff/vertical
landing (STOVL) designed for
the U.S. Marines, and carrier
variant (CV) designed for the
introduce profound capability
improvements over existing
variants share the same avionics
suite the most powerful and
are built on the same assembly
line, share the same engine and
are up to 80 percent common in
their structures and systems.

is measuring every quiver, shudder, and

pulse that is emitted from the test jet.
Technically speaking, however, F-35
Drop Test Director Tom Foster says
they are measuring strain, acceleration,


There are 512 data channels
   ! # 
hundred data samples are gathered per
second per channel during each drop
test for this aircraft. Per Eric Moore,
Test Control and Data Acquisition
group lead, high speed video of each
landing gear is simultaneously recorded
at two thousand frames per second and
synchronized with the aircraft test data
for post-test, image-to-data correlation.
In other words, each high speed video
picture can be directly compared to the


recorded on each landing gear. This was


Three F-35
Lightning IIs

F-35 Drop
p Test

not possible in the old days when high

recording equipment was used in this
Eventually, there will be about 53
landing gear drop tests at various
aircraft roll, pitch and landing sync
rates performed on this one jet. A
stack of bombs in the corner of the
room awaits their turn alongside a row
of missiles to be loaded onto the jet
to test for maximum landing weight
conditions. Of course, they are dummy
ordnance but they are fabricated to
weigh in as a real load.
Today, Vought is one of only two
test labs remaining in the United
States that has full-scale carrier
suitability drop test capabilities.
The other is at Boeing, St. Louis.
According to John Vaught, Test Lab
Manager, the F-35 Drop Test Program
in total represents a very high level
of complexity generally not seen on

Vought Test Lab Simulates Jet Landing on an Aircraft Carrier

The anticipation was palpable as Vought engineers
and our customer watched Lockheed Martins F-35C
Lightning II Carrier Variant dangle from its harnessed
position just below the rafters in building 94 at the
Jefferson Street site. When the wheels reached their
138 knot speed, the countdown began. 10, 9, 8, 7
The lanyard releasing the quick release safety latch


brief seconds.
This drop test is done to simulate a landing on an

of a carrier, forty-six thousand pounds of airplane is
traveling at 138 knots and hitting the deck with a thud,
stressing the airframe and especially the jets landing

gear with thousands of pounds of pressure. Every part

of the gear must withstand that tremendous stress time
after time with no structural failure.
So how can we assure that the gear is suitable for
carrier landings, and there wont be any catastrophic
failures? How do we prove that the design engineering
was correct? Thats where Voughts Test Lab comes
in. The lab is capable of lifting a fully-loaded, full         

dropping it. Lockheed Martin has contracted with us
to drop test the F-35C Lightning II Carrier Variant,
Hundreds of wires snake along the sleek lines of the
light green jet, connected to an array of instruments
that are streaming signals back to a computer for
correlation to computer models that engineers spent
many months designing. This data acquisition system



Continued from page 1

Vought Test Labs

Since 1948, Voughts test
laboratories have been offering
state-of-the-art capabilities in
  # $$  $
facility. With U.S. Air Force,
U.S. Navy and Federal Aviation

$ %

and Department of Defense
security clearances, Voughts
test labs are the only testing
facilities not operated by prime
aerospace original equipment
manufacturers (OEMs) with full
life-cycle testing capabilities
including full-scale structures.



previous drop test programs. The

ability and know-how to do these drop
tests are very unique, he said.
With the level and type of test
capabilities the labs possess, Vought has
a long, and very reputable history of
accomplishing carrier suitability testing
for the Navy, said John. We can go all
the way back to the XC-142, F-8, A-7,
S3A, and now the F-35. All of these
legacy aircraft programs required fullscale drop testing to qualify for aircraft
carrier operations. Full-scale dynamic
tests of this nature present a very
complex test set of problems to run,
he said.
The F-35 tests at Vought should
be completed within the next few
months; then it will go back to
Lockheed Martin for a series of
additional tests. They estimate that
the Carrier Variant F-35C

quarter of 2010.

The Joint Strike Fighter: A plane for all reasons 07 Mar 2002
Stephen Mraz | Machine Design

Carrier operations account for most of the differences between the Navy and other JSF
variants. Carrier landings, for example, are so severe, they're often referred to as "controlled crashes." The JSF, in a low speed approach to a carrier landing, will descend at

typical sink rate for an Air Force JSF will be about two ft/sec.
about 11 fps, and will withstand sink rates up to almost 18 fps. By comparison,

To help handle better at low speeds, the aircraft will have larger wing and tail-control
surfaces. The increased wingspan also boosts the strike-fighter's range and weapon or
fuel load. Even without external fuel tanks, the JSF has almost twice the range of the
F/A-18C. Larger leading-edge flaps and wingtips provide the extra wing area, while the
wingtips fold so the aircraft takes up less space on the carrier's crowded flight and hangar decks. The Navy's JSF will also have two extra control surfaces ailerons outboard
of the flaperons on the wings for additional lowspeed control and flying precise glide
slopes. The Navy JSF currently flies landing approaches at about 130

to 135 knots, about 25 knots slower than the Air Force version....

The tests were successfully carried out between March and April [2010], & included
dropping CG-01 95 inches at 20 feet per second, with an 8.8 deg pitch [near Optimum AoA
12.3], two degree roll, and 133 knot wheel speed, simulating a carrier-deck landing.

LM F-35 Navy Jet Confirms Carrier-Landing Strength Predictions

2010, June 23 -- A Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II carrier variant success-fully completed testing in which it
was dropped from heights of more than 11 feet during a series of simulated aircraft-carrier landings. The tests
validated predictions and will help confirm the F-35C's structural integrity for carrier operations.
The jet, a ground-test article known as CG-1, underwent drop testing at Vought Aircraft Industries in Grand
Prairie, Texas. No load exceedances or structural issues were found at any of the drop conditions, and all drops
were conducted at the maximum carrier landing weight. The drop conditions included sink rates, or rates of descent, up to the maximum design value of 26.4 feet per second, as well as various angles and weight distributions. The tests were used to mimic the wide range of landing conditions expected in the fleet. "The completion of
the drop tests is an important step in clearing the way for field carrier landing testing and shipboard testing at
high sink rates a necessary feature for a carrier-suitable strike fighter," said Larry Lawson, Lockheed Martin
executive vice president and F-35 program general manager. "This testing also validates the design tools &
analysis used in building a structurally sound, carrier-suitable fighter."...

'johnwill' 14 June 2014: This statement from prnewswire 23 June, 2010 The

drop conditions included

sink rates, or rates of descent, up to the maximum design value of 26.4 feet per second is
incorrect. The maximum design sink rate is 21.4 fps.
Airplane structural certification almost always involves a lab test, followed by flight test. The lab
test conditions usually apply 150% of the largest loads expected in service usage. Flight test requires
demonstration at 100% of the largest loads expected in service usage. In the case of carrier airplanes,
flight test is conducted on land first, followed by carrier landings, up to 100% limit conditions. The
26.4fps sink rate test was a lab drop test, designed to provide assurance the airplane could withstand
150% of design load for high sink rate conditions. The sink rate limit of 21.4fps will result in 100% of
design load on service airplanes. Why was 26.4 fps chosen for the lab test? Because gear loads at
high sink rate landings are roughly proportional to sink rate squared. (26.4 /21.4) ^2 = 1.52 very close
to the ratio of 150% to 100% gear load.

& Robust

core system integrators on the basis of capability, competency, resources and cost.
Goodrich is the F-35 landing gear integrator across all three platforms for the same
reasons today.

Design Specific
Systems include specially-designed and developed non-metallic strut bearings
to be used with titanium cylinders on the F-35B STOVL variant, a novel lightweight
mechanism to shrink the F-35C CV variant main landing gears for stowage, and an
internal uid-level sensing capability.
When Goodrich started designing the F-35B STOVL landing gear, a standard cantilevered
strut capable of being used with titanium cylinders did not exist. A typical cantilever strut
has an upper bearing that slides under high pressure and at high velocity on the internal
oodrich Corporations landing gear business has introduced many
diameter of the cylinder. Titanium, the material selected for the F-35B strut cylinders, has
technological breakthroughs in the aerospace industry making it one of
a propensity to wear and transfer debris to another material, a condition known as galling,
the worlds premier suppliers of landing gear. Goodrich pioneered the use resulting in a degradation in service life.
of a gas-oil strut, introduced high-strength steel and advanced titanium alloys,
The challenge Goodrich faced was to identify a strut-bearing material that was
unique fracture-resilient material for carrier operations and smart health
compatible with the titanium in a high load, high-speed sliding contact environment.
management systems.
Goodrich funded the development and testing of a specially-designed non-metallic bearing
Many of these technologies and others were adopted to meet the performance
compatible with the titanium cylinders.
requirements of the F-35 Lightning II programme. The company received multiple design
According to Bill Luce, F-35 Landing Gear Program Manager and Chief Engineer with
specications to meet the aircrafts requirements for applied loads, stroke, landing gear
Goodrich, the design team identied a non-metallic material that would withstand sliding
length and operating environment.
contact with titanium permitting the cylinders to be made from that metal and reducing the
From the inception of the design requirements through the design and testing
overall weight of the landing gear.
phases, Goodrich integrated the design and performance requirements for the
Another main design consideration was the restricted space into which the main gear
landing gear strut, sub-systems design, and test requirements, including rolling
is retracted, which meant the Goodrich designers had to nd a way of shortening the gear
stock (wheels, tyres, and brakes), nose wheel steering, and electrical/hydraulic
when it was being stowed. They therefore introduced an additional piston inside the shock
systems from the prime contractor Lockheed Martin. At the beginning of the F-35
strut positioned immediately below the upper bearing on the main piston. A small hydraulic
programme, Lockheed Martin subcontracted various sub-systems to companies as system injects hydraulic uid in between the extra piston and the lower bearing to stroke
the main piston. Stroke refers to moving the piston up and down in the cylinder.
We have a specic volume that we stroke in. Rather than directly connecting the
chamber up to the aircrafts hydraulic system, we attach a transfer cylinder to the aircrafts
high-pressure hydraulic system which is a relatively low ow rate system, said Bill Luce.
We use the high pressure to stroke a piston with a mechanical disadvantage, to stroke
a larger volume of uid, at a lower pressure, into the shock strut chamber using the higher
pressure uid from the aircraft with a smaller volume. A series of locks and safety systems
ensure that the gear remains shrunk during retraction.
All the landing gears used by the three F-35 variants are tted with a system to detect
levels of uid inside each strut.
The original design concept for the F-35 landing gear system was to utilize a common
structural geometry for both the F-35A CTOL and F-35B STOVL systems with a completely
unique system for the F-35C CV. Different materials were to be used in the CTOL and STOVL
systems in identically gauged structural components. The CTOL version was to be primarily
made of 300M grade steel (a commonly used material in commercial landing gear) and
the STOVL variant was to be made primarily of Aermet 100 (a grade for ship-based aircraft)
and is the US Navys choice for high strength steel.
Patented by Carpenter Steel, Aermet 100 has very high strength and slow crack
propagation properties, so if a crack develops in the material, the crack will spread slowly
with further load applications. By contrast 300M or 4340M grade steel has the same
strength quality, but poor crack propagation. This gives more opportunities to discover
cracks in the structure before a catastrophic failure occurs.
ABOVE: The CV nose gear staged shock strut carries a very complex mechanism to position the
launch bar on to the catapult. KEY MARK AYTON
Each type of F-35 landing gear has a Goodrich-proprietary system integrated within the
OPPOSITE: Landing gears for the F-35C CV variant are unique and differ to the F-35A and F-35B
systems to withstand the extreme high energy landings typical of naval aircraft operating from an aircrafts maintenance system to help the maintainer assess the level of the gas and oil in
each shock strut during servicing.
aircraft carrier. LOCKHEED MARTIN

Mark Ayton explains the highly complex

landing gear systems used on the F-35
Cats and Traps
Landing gears for the F-35C CV variant have to be able to withstand extreme high
energy landings typical of naval aircraft operating from an aircraft carrier as well
as the nose tow launch. Both the F-35C nose and main gears are made primarily of
Aermet 100 steel.
The nose gear of the CV variant is a dual stage gas over oil cantilever strut with a staged
air curve that provides a source of high energy, which helps the aircraft to achieve adequate
angle of attack when released from the catapult during take-off from the aircraft carrier.
The CV nose gear carries a complex mechanism which positions the launch bar in
readiness for various stages of operation during the launch of the aircraft off the carrier.
The mechanism is driven by a power unit comprising a number of powerful springs and a
small internal actuator.
There are two reasons for having a staged shock strut for the nose gear on the F-35C
CV variant. One is to provide a stable platform for loading and unloading weapons and
for engaging the catapult equipment. The second is to store energy gained from the
compression of the strut under the high pressure effect of the catapult. When the catapult
lets go of the launch bar, the energy is released, providing a rotation that helps achieve the
angle of attack necessary to get off the deck.
Similarly when the aircraft hits the deck on landing the strut is compressed and energy
is stored to help rotate the aeroplane and get it back off the deck if the arrestor cables are
missed and a go-around or bolter is required. Bolter is the term used when the aircrafts
tail hook misses the arrestor cables on the carrier deck forcing the pilot to go around for
another landing.
The CV nose gear also has a locking drag brace and a launch bar that acts to transmit the
high launch load from the catapult equipment to the airframe. A separate retract actuator
provides the force to retract the gear into the wheel well. One end of the retract actuator is
attached to the landing gear structure and the upper end to the airframe structure.
Fitted to the aft of the strut is a power unit housing an actuator that hydraulically lowers
the launch bar to the deck to engage the catapult. When the launch bar hits the deck a
second set of springs inside the power unit provide lighter power so that the launch bar can
move up and down to engage the shuttle, without jamming or binding, or badly wearing the
deck or the launch bar. Large powerful springs are able to pull the launch bar back up to an
intermediate position when the hydraulic power is released.
The power unit also has a linkage that operates off the motion of the drag brace during
retraction to position the launch bar in a stowed position (virtually parallel to the strut)
when the gear is retracted. During the retraction process the launch bar moves upwards
but also rotates around the strut to reduce the actual footprint within the stowage bay.
The torque arms that typically maintain alignment between the strut piston and
the steering unit are on the aft of the strut as well, and have a tting at the apex that
engages the repeatable release holdback bar (RRHB) of the ship. This bar holds the
aircraft back during engine runs and while the load builds during the start of a catapult
sequence. Once the load reaches an adequate level, the RRHB releases the torque arm

An F-35A CTOL nose gear in a test jig. GOODRICH

BELOW: Main gears of the F-35B STOVL variant are dual stage gas over oil cantilever struts
manufactured primarily from Aermet 100 steel. LOCKHEED MARTIN

tting, allowing the aircraft to be catapulted to ight. In comparison to the F-35A CTOL
and the F-35B STOVL, the nose gear of the F-35C CV has a dual wheel/tyre arrangement to
straddle the catapult equipment and to adequately react to the loads. Nose wheels are
the same as those used on the other variants but the tyre was developed specically for
the F-35C.
Like the CTOL and STOVL variants, the CV main gear is a dual stage gas over oil cantilever
strut with staged air curves that provide a stable platform for loading and unloading
weapons and hold stored energy to assist in getting airborne in the case of a bolter during
carrier operations.
The main gears have a retract actuator between the strut and the airframe, providing
the force to retract the gear into the wheel well. Each also has a drag brace with locking
linkage and locking actuator with backup springs to react fore and aft ground loads. The
F-35Cs drag braces attach to a collar on the strut and a pivot pin in the aircraft that roll
around the strut centreline during retraction to minimize the amount of space in the bay
when retracted.
Featuring a long main strut the F-35Cs main gear has a shrink mechanism to shorten
the strut prior to retraction so it will t within the available space. The Goodrich-proprietary
shrink mechanism utilizes a novel transfer cylinder to convert high pressure and low ow
aircraft hydraulics into a low pressure and high ow shock shrink hydraulics.
Unlike the nose gear, the CV main gear system utilizes the same main wheel and
brake as the F-35A CTOL. All tyres used on the F-35C CV variant are signicantly more
robust than the CTOL and STOVL variants, because of the high energy landings on
top of arrestor cables.

Navy Prepares F-35C for Carrier Landing

By Kris Osborn 13 June 2014

Navy test pilots are conducting numerous shore-based test landings of the F-35C of the next-generation Joint
Strike Fighter in anticipation of its first at-sea landing on an aircraft carrier later this year, service officials said.
The shore landings, taking place at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., are designed to replicate the range of
conditions which the F-35C is likely to encounter at sea to the extent that is possible.

The cable is four to six inches above the deck of the carrier and hydraulic fluid controls the pace of deceleration for
the aircraft, Burks said. A hook lowers from the back end of the F-35C aircraft, designed to catch the cable and slow
down the plane.
In order to maintain our stealth configuration, we had to put the hook internal to the airframe. On all the legacy
systems, the tail hook sits up underneath the engine externally. We have three doors that open up to allow the tail
hook to fall down, Burks said.


The aircraft also needs to be able to withstand whats called a free flight, a situation where the pilot receives a late
wave off to keep flying after the hook on the airplane has already connected with the wire, he explained.

We need to be sure that the engine and the aircraft itself can handle the stress of essentially being ripped out of the
air by the interaction between the cable and the hook, Burks added.
Test pilots are working on what they call a structural survey, an effort to assess the F-35Cs ability to land in a wide
range of scenarios such as nose down, tail down or max engaging speed, said Lt. Cmdr. Michael Burks, or Sniff, a
Describing landing as a controlled crash into the aircraft carrier, Wilson explained that pilots look at a light on the ship
Navy test pilot.
called the Fresnel Lens in order to orient their approach.
Max engaging speed involves landing the aircraft heavy and fast to determine if it is the aircraft or the arresting
The whole purpose of the lighting system is to show us where we are in reference to a specific glide slope. What this
gear that gets damaged, Burks explained.
lens does is it tells us where we are, Wilson said.
The whole purpose is to make sure the landing gear and the aircraft structure are all suitable to take the stresses
In total, the Navy plans to acquire 340 F-35C aircraft. So far, five F-35Cs have been delivered for pilot training at
that the pilot could see while trying to land aboard the deck of an aircraft carrier, Burks explained.
Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
While recognizing that the mix of conditions at sea on board a carrier cannot be replicated on land, Burks said the
test landings seek to simulate what he called unusual attitudes such as instances where the aircraft is rolling with
one side up or descending faster than normal with whats called a high sink rate.

Both Burks and Wilson, former F-18 hornet and super hornet pilots, said flying the F-35C represents a large step
forward in fighter jet technology.

Weve done about 90 carrier-style landings, said F-35 Test Pilot Lt. Cmdr. Tony Wilson, or Brick.

Wilson referred to the JSFs touchscreen cockpit display which combines information from a range of sensors,
cameras, radars.ect.

High sink rate is reached when an aircraft is descending 21-feet per second, much faster than the typical 10-feet per
Unlike our legacy aircraft where I might have to look at several different displays the F-35Cs integrated core
second descend rate, Burks explained. The shore landings also seek to replicate an airplane condition known as
processor integrates all the information for the pilot. It very neatly and concisely displays all that information in one
yawing when the body of the aircraft is moving from side to side.
location, making tactical decisions much easier, Wilson said.
The F-35C is engineered to be larger than the Air Forces F-35 A or Marine Corps short-take-off-and-landing F-35B
because the structure of the aircraft needs to be able to withstand the impact of landing on a carrier. Also, the F-35C
has larger, foldable wings to facilitate slower approach speeds compatible with moving ships, Navy officials said.
In order to withstand the forces experienced during an arrested landing, the keel of an F-35C is strengthened and
the landing gear is of a heavier-duty build than the A and B models, an official with the F-35 Integrated Test Force
The wings of the F-35 C are also built with whats called aileron control surfaces designed to prevent the aircraft
from rolling. ailerons help the F-35C roll (for lineup) at low speed Optimum Angle of Attack IAS
At sea, pilots must account for their speed as well as the speed of the wind, the weather or visibility conditions as
well as the speed of the boat, Burks explained.
The landing area is constantly changing. This is a challenge to structure of the aircraft because there is no way of
knowing for certain how hard we are going to hit the deck or at what angle they are going to be at, he added.
On an aircraft carrier, the ship has arresting wires or metal cables attached to hydraulic engines used to slow the
aircraft down to a complete stop within the landing area.
On an aircraft carrier, the landing area is off about 10-degrees. The boats motion itself is moving away from you
so you cant just aim at the boat, Burks said.

Navy test pilot says JSF is easy to fly By Joshua Stewart Staff writer - Feb 20, 2011
The plane frees aviators to focus on mission, Cmdr. Eric Magic Buus says.
Cmdr. Eric Magic Buus was the first Navy test pilot to fly the F-35B and C. But hearing his take on
it, you have to wonder how much the Lightning II variants really need a warm body in the cockpit.
Compared with other fighters, Lockheed Martins F-35C the carrier version of the joint strike
fighter doesnt require pilots to think as much while in the air, letting them dedicate brain cells to
handling complex weapons and the details of the mission, Buus said.
The point of the multirole fighter is to make it easy to fly. We dont have to put much thought into
flying, he said.
Buss, who has spent nearly his entire career on F/A-18 Hornets, was the first Navy test pilot to fly
both the F-35B the Marine Corps short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing JSF variant and the F-35C. He
flew the Marine version Feb. 3 and the Navys on Feb. 11. Both flights were from Naval Air Station
Patuxent River, Md. On the F-35C flight, he flew for a little over two hours and tested the planes flutter
execution system to measure loads on the airframe.
One of the biggest things that jumps out to me is that its very easy to fly, he said.
The thrust is good, and theres no indication that the F-35 has only one engine, instead of two like
on the Super Hornet, he said.
Compared to the Hornet, it seems a bit more solid, Buus said.
Other test pilots say the F-35 feels stiff, but no matter the adjective, Buus said its fly-by-wire
controls and flight computers make it very responsive. The cockpit, which has its stick on the side
instead of the center, is comfortable and has a large touch-screen display.
I really like a lot of things they have done with this airplane, he said.

Unlike with other aircrafts, F-35 pilots will fly their first training plane solo; pilots training for
other aircraft are accompanied by a flight instructor. Buus said spending the last year in a simulator and doing engine runs left him prepared for his first flight, even though he would fly alone.

F-35 Offers Dream Capabilities for Pilots Who Have Flown It

11 Feb 2014

Robert K. Ackerman

Ease of operation and new technologies outweigh the problems that remain to be solved for the expensive
Lightning II. Military and civilian pilots who have flown the F-35 Lightning II praise its performance and are optimistic
about its superiority in the future battlespace. However, even with fixes that have been made, some issues need to
be addressed and support crew will need to adopt new ways of maintaining the flight line, these pilots say.
Four pilots sitting on a Tuesday panel at West 2014, co-sponsored by AFCEA International and the U.S. Naval
Institute and being held February 11-13 in San Diego, discussed the state of the F-35 program as well as the jets
prognosis. Lt. Cmdr. Michael Burks, USN, senior Navy test pilot for the F-35 and integrated test force operations
officer, described the aircraft as having unbelievable flying qualities and being easy to fly. Cmdr. Luke Barradell,
USN, operations officer, Carrier Air Wing 11, said that the aircraft is very docile in the administrative phase of
flight, and it is going to be a delight to fly off carriers.
The lone civilian on the panel, William C. Gigliotti, F-35 FW site/production lead test pilot, Lockheed Martin, noted
that his 14-year-old son has his heart set on being a naval aviator. I want my son to fly one of these going into
combat, Gigliotti said, adding, not that I want him to go into combat, but I want him to have an unfair advantage.
We dont want parity.
Cmdr. Burks offered that the aircrafts technologies will change the way air missions are carried out. Equipped
with a plethora of sensors and datalinks, the vehicle offers a range of potential alternatives with the synergy it
brings to the battlespace. In the future, it may not matter where the weapon comes from, the commander said of a
bombing run. I may pass the data along, or I may fire a weapon and it may come from somewhere else. That is
where we are heading.

Still, the F-35s advanced technologies are offering some unforeseen challenges. Its low-observable
stealth material will require different handling than traditional carrier aircraft. Cdr. Burks said here will
have to be a paradigm shift out in the fleet to maintain its low observability. No longer can we allow
these aircraft to get grimy at sea as was the practice with conventional jet aircraft, he observed. Gigliotti
said that sailors and Marines have been developing new practices for that purpose. The incredibly noisy
engine also will change life for deck crews during takeoff, Cmdr. Burks added, saying they probably will
need noise cancellation earphones.

Grim Reapers

pilots and maintainers will transfer over

to that squadron as the seed corn the
expertise to help complete its
July 2014 Mark Ayton
AIR International F-35 Special Edition transition. Consequently, we will lose a
lot of experienced folks and have a dip in
...Between the summer of 2014 and July manpower when that happens, he said.
2016, VFA-101 is also tasked with trainThe first squadron to transition from
ing Navy pilots who will undertake opthe F/A-18 is planned for the west coast,
erational tests of the F-35C with Air Test but a specific Naval Air Station has yet
and Evaluation Squadron 9 (VX-9) Vam- to be determined....
pires, as part of the Joint Operation...In a change of command ceremoal Test Team with its own in-house perny held at Eglin on September 13, 2013,
sonnel at Edwards Air Force Base in
CDR Rick Crecelius, a former F-14 TomCalifornia....
cat, Hornet and Super Hornet pilot, took
...CDR Enfield [VFA-101s command- command of VFA-101....
er between August 2012 and August
...To declare IOC, the Navy must
2013] outlined the method to be adopttransition one strike fighter squadron
ed: Our first goal is to build up our pool from F/A-18 to F-35C, and do so in time
of instructors and get them trained in
for the unit to undertake the standard
time for a F/A-18 unit to stand-up as the air wing work-up ahead of deployment.
first F-35C fleet squadron. To accomplish Crecelius outlined the requirements:
that, we [VFA-101] trained the mainteDeployable combat capability is impornance department in how to maintain
tant for the Navy and, in order to dethe F-35C and their pilots how to fly it.
clare it, the squadron has to be able to
Its a very similar model to the one function within the air wing. The carrier
used for Hornet to Super Hornet transtrike group is a combat tool available to
sition. The entire unit will come to Eglin, the theatre commander, that has to be
learn the new systems and procedures,
able to synergise with all of its assets as
and start to operate aircraft in a staged a single functioning unit. Its not enough
way, all under the supervision of VFA-101. just to have the squadron trained in the
When the squadron is ready to go on
aeroplane; the squadron has to underits own, it will stand up as an F-35C unit stand its role and be able to function
and move to its home station to begin
within the air wing, and the air wings
unit level training. A lot of the junior

capability has to integrate seamlessly,

and complement the strike group so that
its deployable.
Based on the latest published plan,
the first squadron is due to arrive at
Eglin in July 2016 and go to the boat
for carrier qualification in the early part
of 2017. This reflects a six- to eightmonth syllabus, but the timeline depends on various factors that include
how the transition process works, the
weather, and aircraft availability....
...Between the summer of 2014 and
July 2016, VFA-101 is also tasked with
training Navy pilots who will undertake
operational tests of the F-35C with Air
Test and Evaluation Squadron 9 (VX-9)
Vampires, as part of the Joint Operational Test Team with its own in-house
personnel at Edwards Air Force Base in
...Then, of course, we undertake
landing pattern work both at Eglin and
Naval Air Facility Choctaw, which is located to the west on the coast. Choctaw
is equipped with a Fresnel lens and arrestor gear for FCLPs. We send a Landing Signals Officer [LSO] there for all
landing pattern work, enthused the
skipper. We are currently limited in our
rate of descent for landing, which prevents us from doing true carrier bouncing [a naval term for carrier style touch

and goes], but we do fly a standard

Navy pattern at 600 feet AGL [182m]
with a standard approach turn, as used
at the ship. [b]We cant fly that type of
pattern at Eglin[/b].
Prior to receiving NATOPS qualification, the pilot has to be chased by another jet: either an F-35C or an F/A-18.
The fam syllabus culminates with a NATOPS emergency procedures check in
the simulator. Once the check ride is
complete, the pilot is NATOPS qualified. His next objective is to complete
15 more hours currency training before
starting the IUT (Instructor Under Training) syllabus. This is a qualification that
allows an instructor to teach the basic
fam and formation phases of the standard syllabus.

fly, they may not get a chance to qualify,

but they will be on the LSO platform and
work with the air boss and the carriers
commanding officer to make sure they
gain experience of the challenges of carrier integration, said Crecelius.
If we are able to accomplish that
on DT I, two or possibly three LSOs
from VFA-101 will actually carrier qualify [make arrested landings on the carrier flight deck for the first time] at the
end of DT II, which is the second carrier evolution currently planned for the
summer of 2015. If DT II does not work
out for us, then we will look to schedule a specific carrier to qualify our LSO
cadre, and possibly one or two other instructors. And if there is a DT III, which
would occur sometime in the summer of
2016, thats when 101 would go to the
ship, he said....

also attain pilot-friendly landing pattern handling characteristics that resemble those of an F-18C thats good for a
single-engine aeroplane.
In the fleet I have always flown
twin-engine aeroplanes, so jumping into
a single-engine type opens your eyes to
different considerations when compared
to flying an F/A-18. When flying Tomcats
and Hornets I was always very aware of
where my diversion fields were. In the
F-35, that sense of awareness is heightened just because Ive got one motor. If
you have a problem you dont have anything to fall back on. So its a subtle, but
very distinct, change in mentality, especially flying over open water, and you
pay very close attention to where you
are going to go if you have an issue.
The saving grace is that Pratt &
Going to the Boat
Whitney has a fantastic track record
with the Raptors F119 engine, so the
Lockheed Martin is currently finalis...Flying
expectations are very high for the reing the configuration of two System
liability of this engine, too, concludes
Development and Demonstration air...Based on the way it handles in the
CDR Crecelius. We also have to train
craft (CF-03 and CF-05) that will delanding pattern I would say it certainly
ploy aboard the USS Nimitz (CVN 68)
wouldnt be any more difficult to land on differently and do precautionary flame
out approaches in the simulator, which
for Development Test Phase One, or DT the ship than a Super Hornet. The F/AI. This is the first period at sea for the
18C Hornet is one of the most enjoyable we dont do in F/A-18s. Its a new animal,
F-35C, currently scheduled for October. aeroplanes to land on the boat, because something that we have to train to. The
mentality of flying a flame-out approach
There is a vested interest in DT I at VFA- you can put it exactly where you want
is new stuff for us Navy cats.
101, and to the maximum extent possiit to be. Based on what the engineers
ble it intends to send its LSOs to each
and test pilots say about the F-35C, with
AIR International F-35 Special Edition July 2014
F-35C carrier evolution. They may not
flight control law upgrades, it should

Navy Test Pilot Knows His ABCs Lexington Park, MD April/5/2012

...On March 23, Lt. Christopher Tabert completed the government acceptance
flight for AF-14, a production-level F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) for
the U.S. Air Force.
In doing so, he became the only military test pilot to fly the A, B and C versions
of the F-35, said Marine Corps Col. Art Tomassetti, vice commander of the 33rd
Fighter Wing, Air Education and Training Command at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla....
...The ability for a pilot to move seamlessly across the F-35 variants really puts
the Joint in JSF, Tomassetti said. Well be able to leverage the capability in
training and in future joint operations.
For Tabert, the differences between the models are slight.
The flying qualities of the A felt a lot like the B and C, Tabert said. You really
cant tell much of a difference between the three from the cockpit.
Even though Tabert started testing the F-35 only nine months ago, he already
has a number of milestones on the aircraft under his belt: the first steam catapult
launch; the first weapons pit drop for an inert 1,000 pound GBU-32 GPS-guided
bomb; a supersonic flight; and the first launch from the Electromagnetic Aircraft
Launching System....

VIDEO [with captions]:


Navys F-35C Takes Historic Step Navys commitment to the Joint Strike
Forward Following Budgetary Turmoil Fighter program.
The ongoing maneuvers on the
14 Nov 2014 Kris Osborn
Nimitz are part of a 14-day developABOARD THE USS NIMITZ IN THE mental test period designed to gather data and assess the F-35Cs abiliPACIFIC OCEAN With smoke risty to achieve the proper glide slope,
ing from the deck of the carrier and
moderate winds churning up the seas, handle catapult takeoffs, and land on
the flight deck under a variety of wind
the Navys F-35C took off from the
aircraft carrier Nimitz as part of a his- conditions.
If you look across the inventory at
toric series of test flights marking a
where we have stealth technology, it
major milestone in the services first
is all ground based. Now we have seacarrier-launched stealth fighter.
based stealth technology. That proFollowing the first landing of the
F-35C on Nov. 3, test pilots have con- vides us capabilities that we currently do not have, said Rear Adm. Dee
ducted more than 100 approaches,
landings and takeoffs on the Nimitzs Mewbourne, commander of Carrier
Strike Group 11.
flight deck. Last weeks successful
Navy leaders, pilots and engineers
landing offered both history and relief for a Joint Strike Fighter program said the initial testing has gone well.
Ultimately, the Navy and Marine Corps
that Pentagon leaders say will revoplan to acquire 680 F-35Cs and Flutionize airpower, but has also been
plagued by countless delays and bud- 35Bs the Marine Corps short-takeoff-and-landing variant of the aircraft.
get overruns.
Our job is to identify the issues
The Navys variant of the fifthand report on them. All the issues
generation fighter is arguably the
that we have been finding are very
most complex because it must execute catapult shots and landings from minor, said Navy Cmdr. Tony Wilson,
an F-35C test pilot. The main focus
the flight deck. And its also the one
of the test has been catapult shots
facing the most questions as many
defense analysts have questioned the and landings. We did do shore-based

testing to make sure we were ready

to come out here. However, the big
difference is you cant simulate rolling off the edge of an aircraft carrier
when you are shore based.

Success Amidst Budget Problems

Successful test flights on the F-35C
program could be seen as a welcome
development for a program that experienced budget cutbacks earlier this
year. The Navys five-year budget plans
outlined in the services 2015 budget
request cut the planned buy of F-35C
aircraft almost in half, from 69 to 36.
Although service officials at the
time said the numbers would be made
up in future years, some observers
questioned if the reduction indicated
hesitations about the program overall.
A second round of developmental
testing is slated for next summer to
study the aircrafts ability to operate on a carrier while carrying weapons internally, Wilson said. A third period of testing with external weapons
on board is also slated, all designed to
bring the aircraft to operational status
by 2018, Navy officials said.
In this main round of testing, were
looking at the basic aircraft. Were

looking at the approach and handling

qualities. Were looking at high headwinds, low headwinds, crosswinds and
a bunch of different wind variations
as well, said Chris Karapostoles, an
F-35C test pilot.
Being engineered for a carrier, the
F-35Cs 51-foot wingspan is larger
than the Air Forces F-35A and Marine
Corps F-35B. An empty F-35C weighs
34,800 pounds, carries up to 19,000
pounds of fuel and 18,000 pounds of
weapons. It is configured to fire two
AIM-120C air-to-air missiles and two
2,000-pound guided bombs, or Joint
Direct Attack Munitions. It can reach
speeds up to Mach 1.6 and travel
more than 1,200 nautical miles.

is on the right center line or glide

slope, Karapostoles said.
If he [the pilot] is on glide slope,
he will see a centered amber ball in
between the horizontal green lights.
If he goes high on glide slope, he
will see the ball rise above the green
lights. If he goes below glide slope, he
will see the ball fall below the green
lights, he explained.
The F-35C is also engineered with a
technology referred to as Delta Flight
Path, a system that uses software to
help the flight control computer automatically correct course and adjust
the aircrafts flight path as needed.
Instead of manually controlling
thrust and pitch attitude, our flight
control engineers have cut out the
Landing a Stealth Fighter at Sea
middle work so the flight path is conAs part of the testing, pilots practrolled directly. It gives us spare catice maintaining their glide slope by
pacity to monitor the other systems
watching a yellow light on the flight
on the jet. We are landing the jet aldeck called the Fresnel Lens. It inmost exactly where we want almost
cludes a vertical row of yellow lights
every time, said Cmdr. Christian
between two horizontal rows of green Sewell, a F-35C test pilot.
lights. Using a series of lights and
Pilots try to land the F-35C in bemirrors, a pilots approach is reflected tween the second and third of four
by the position of the yellow light in
cables arranged on the landing deck,
relation to the green lights above and Sewell explained.
below, displaying whether the aircraft
In order to properly align for an

approach to the flight deck about

three-quarters of a mile away, pilots
make a sharp, descending 180-degree
turn to slow the aircraft and begin descending from about 600 feet, Wilson
Once we arrive on center line and
on glide slope, that is where the precision comes in because your runway is essentially moving sideways on
you, he explained.
The testing is also assessing how
the F-35C catapults off the deck. The
steam catapult on board the Nimitz is
thrusting the aircraft off the deck at
a range of speeds in order to test the
slowest and fastest potential takeoff
speeds, said Lt. Eric Ryziu, catapult
arresting gear officer.
Aircraft are able to reach speeds up
to 160 knots in about 2.5 seconds as
a result of being thrust forward by the
steam catapult, which stretches about
300 feet. The steam catapult generates 520 PSI (pounds per square inch)
of pressure pushing pistons forward.
The pistons push cylinders connected
to a shuttle attached to a launch bar,
which pulls the aircraft forward, Ryziu

The US CVN 21 Aircraft Carriers

Programme: Capability
Requirements, Concepts and Design
by Rear Admiral David Architzel
David Architzel is the US Program Executive
Officer (PEO), Aircraft Carriers. He describes
the concept and design of the future US
aircraft carriers and how they will provide a
major increase in capability at lower cost
than the current class.

he US Navy is currently
engaged in one of the largest
ship designs in history. The
Navys CVN 21 Program is for
the design and build of the future
aircraft carrier that will replace the
NIMITZ class in the 21st Century. The
lead ship of the new class will have hull
number CVN 78, following sequentially
from the ships of the NIMITZ class
(Figure 1). CVN 78 takes advantage of
the efficiencies of the NIMITZ class hull
form, but the similarities end there. The
ship has been completely rearranged
from the island down to the keel,
providing more warfighting capability
with 10001200 fewer sailors than

With all the additional

capability and
flexibility, the new ship
will be operated by a
smaller crew

NIMITZ class ships with their embarked

air wing. With detailed design work well
under way, Northrop Grumman
Newport News Shipyard is already
building the first advanced construction
hull units for the CVN 78. The lead ship
of the class will be delivered in 2015 and
will operate for 50 years.

Figure 1: Artists Conception of CVN 78

Identifying the Requirement

The quest for required capabilities of the
future aircraft carrier began as long ago
as 1996, when an Analysis of Alternatives
was conducted to balance the mission
need against the state of the art in ship
systems and equipment. In October
1998, it was determined that a large deck
(75+ aircraft), nuclear-powered aircraft
carrier would best meet the projected
mission needs of the US Navy, winning
out over other small- and medium-sized
ship designs for reasons of speed,
endurance, economy of scale,
survivability and striking power.
An evolutionary acquisition strategy
was envisioned: a new integrated warfare
system would first be incorporated into
a transitional NIMITZ class ship (CVN
77), then a new propulsion and electric

plant would be designed for the first new

ship, called CVNX1, which would
capitalise on significant manpower
reductions, and have the electrical
capacity to introduce the first
electromagnetic aircraft launching
system. The CVNX2 would then afford
the Navy the opportunity to introduce
other technologies, which would provide
dramatically increased survivability,
sustainability, and aircraft sortie
generation rates. In December 2002, this
three-ship evolutionary strategy was
replaced by a single leap to the CVN 21
Program. The lead ship of the CVN 21
Program will deliver all the thresholdlevel mission capabilities originally
planned for CVNX1 and CVNX2, but in
the time frame originally planned for

Key Performance Parameters

The Key Performance Parameters for
the CVN 21 Program are shown in Table
Sustained SGR
Surge SGR
A higher aircraft sortie generation
Service Life Allowance
5%Wt / 1.5 ft KG
7.5%Wt /2.5 ft KG
rate requires the ability to re-arm, refuel
Attain Critical IERs
Attain all IERs
and service aircraft with a speed and
Electrical Capacity
agility beyond that of any aircraft
Manpower (ships force)
500 reduction
900 reduction
carrier, while at the same time, the new
class must reduce the manpower
required to deliver this capability. The
Table 1: CVN 78 Key Performance Parameters
new ship will have nearly three times the
electrical generating capacity of the
The enhanced flight deck, which will
The new propulsion and electric plant
NIMITZ class, which will allow the
feature deck expansions in two areas
with a new high-voltage zonal
introduction of high power systems,
the finger extension will reduce launch
electrical distribution system
such as EMALS (Electromagnetic
restrictions from catapult number four,
incorporating an enhanced design and
Aircraft Launching System), and of
and a shelf extension on the starboard
arrangement that will contribute
other new technologies over the life of
side aft of the island will increase
significantly to the ships warfighting
the ship. The Service Life Allowance for
aircraft parking space or allow for a
capability. The system will triple the
Weight and Stability will allow flexibility
helicopter launch and recovery
ships electrical output, allowing for
for future growth and improvements in
location. With a smaller island
improved aircraft launch systems, ship
ship systems and aircraft. The USS
structure and three aircraft elevators,
self-defence and combat systems. This
Midway (CV-41) started off flying
there will be more room on the flight
new design propulsion plant will cost
propeller-driven F-6F Hellcats, and was
deck for aircraft handling, contributing
less to build and operate, cut Reactor
flying F-18 Hornets when it was retired.
to increased sortie generation rates.
Department manning by 50% and
From Hellcats to Hornets on one ship is
reduce maintenance requirements by
a testament to the adaptability of the
Advanced Weapons Elevators and
over 30%.
carrier. The CVN 21 Program is
dedicated ordnance handling areas,
designed for adaptability. The
which will streamline the process of
requirement for interoperability means
moving ordnance, thus reducing
that the ship will seamlessly operate in a
manpower, increasing ship survivability
net-centric environment.
and contributing to increased sortie
With all the additional capability and
generation rates.
flexibility, the new ship will be operated
by a smaller crew. Shipboard billets are
Pit stop servicing, which will allow
being engineered out of the design by
aircraft to be fully serviced with
simplifying the flow of materials, and
electrical, fuelling and armament needs
work, as well as by reducing
at one location.
watchstanding and crew maintenance
requirements. An added benefit from the
Perhaps the most striking upgrade
ships reduced manning will be a
feature in the CVN 78 will be the
significant improvement in quality of life
unprecedented adaptability and
The Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch
for our sailors. Large elevators will
flexibility of the command centres and
System (EMALS), which will replace
simplify material movement, all but
mission control spaces. These spaces are
steam catapults. EMALS will use
eliminating the need for labour-intensive
being designed to be easily
electrical linear motors to generate a
working parties. The CVN 78 berthing
reconfigurable and adaptable to
moving magnetic field to propel
compartments will each have a smaller
changing mission requirements.
aircraft to launch speed. EMALS
number of accommodations, more
Modularity in design will allow for easy
benefits include reduced manpower
personal storage space, adjoining
movement of lighting and ventilation,
and operational costs, and reduced
sanitary facilities and lounge areas that
furniture and even joiner bulkheads. The
stress on the aircraft.
can be closed off from the sleeping
flexible, adaptable spaces are a vital part
quarters. This will not only afford sailors
of the programmes technology
The Advanced Arresting Gear, which
more privacy, but it will also enable far
will replace the arresting gear currently insertion strategy. The shipbuilder will
greater flexibility in terms of the ships
be able to easily install the latest displays
installed on NIMITZ class carriers.
ability to accommodate mixed gender
and command and control systems at
Benefits include reduced manpower
and maintenance requirements, and an the end of the ship construction period,
Some of the major design features in
which means more capability for the
enhanced recovery envelope.
the lead ship (CVN 78) include:

Even with its increased

capability, the CVN 21
is projected to reduce
acquisition life-cycle
costs by over $5Bn
per ship

Handling with landing gear down was

Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet
of the first flight as the
F-35C has a 30% larger wing & uprated flight controls to reduce takeoff and
landing speeds compared with the
other F-35 variants. Knowles says the
aircraft approached at 135 kt., compared with 155 kt. for the smaller-winged
F-35A and B variants at the same
40,000-lb. gross weight. Takeoff rotation speed was 15-20 kt. slower, he
says.... & ...The 57-min. first flight
focused on gear-down handling and
formation flying with the F/A-18 chase
aircraft in an early look at handling
around the carrier, says Knowles,
adding The approach was very stable,
with good roll response.
Jeff Knowles,
06 June 2010

warfighter when the ship is delivered.

The new flexible spaces will also make
tech refresh much simpler for the Fleet
throughout the life of the ship.
The CVN 78 is being designed to
accommodate a host of new aircraft
currently under development. From the
new, more advanced Joint Strike Fighter
to advanced unmanned vehicles, EA-18G,
F/A-18E/F, and MH-60S/R, the air wing
of the future will ensure that US Naval
Aviation capability will remain the preeminent warfighting force into the
foreseeable future. Design features such
as electromagnetic catapults and
advanced arresting gear will have
broader operating envelopes to
accommodate the aircraft of the future.
Figure 2 shows the CVN 78 notional
flight deck layout and the air wing
projected to be in place during her
operating life.

Increased Capability at Less Cost

The big payoff for the CVN 21 Program
is increased capability, while reducing the
manpower and maintenance
requirements, which reduces the total

ownership costs for the Navy. Even with

its increased capability, the CVN 21 is
projected to reduce acquisition costs by
over $300M and life-cycle costs by over
$5Bn per ship compared to the legacy

Perhaps the most

striking upgrade feature
will be the
adaptability and
flexibility of the
command centres and
mission control spaces

NIMITZ class aircraft carriers. With a

$5.6Bn investment in state-of-the-art
technology and design and construction
tools, the CVN 21 represents a
technological leap in capability while

simultaneously reducing acquisition

costs. The lead ship acquisition cost is
projected at $8.1Bn, which is nearly
$300M less than the acquisition cost to
procure an 11th NIMITZ Class ship in
FY08. The 10001200 billet reduction,
system simplifications and design
improvements will contribute an
additional $5Bn in reductions for lifecycle costs, over the life of each ship.
Now, and into the future, the aircraft
carrier with its embarked air wing will
continue to be a dominant force in the
battle space. Centrepiece of the Sea
Strike Pillar, and integral to Sea Shield
and Sea Basing, the aircraft carrier is the
premier forward asset for crisis response
and early decisive striking power in a
major combat operation. CVN 21 Class
ships and the Carrier Strike Group will
provide forward presence, rapid
response, endurance on station and
multi-mission capability. The future
aircraft carrier will balance improved
warfighting capability, quality of life
improvements for our sailors and US
Navy requirements for reduced
acquisition and life cycle costs.

Figure 2: CVN 78 Flight Deck and Projected Air Wing of 2020

CV Loading

March 2009

Iraq, Feb. 25, 1991 F/A-18C Hornet Lt. Col. Jay Stout, VMFA-451 ...I was an F-4S Phantom II pilot
when I converted to the F/A-18A/C Hornet. After the first flight in the Hornet, there was nothing about
the Phantom I missed. The Hornet was easier to fly, more modern, with reliable systems, & incredibly
maneuverable. It was comfortable. The ability to see almost 360 degrees contrasted tremendously
against the Phantom, where you couldnt look out the canopy and see your own wings.
The Hornet was a little slower at the top end but I never flew the Phantom that fast....

High Threat (Stealth)

~ 5,200 lbs internal
High Threat (Stealth)
~ 5,200 lbs internal
~ 18,000 lbs total
~10,000 lbs


operate from austere bases and a range of air-capable ships near front-line combat zones.
In 2012 and 2013, the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin teamed up to
test the F-35Bs ship suitability in ship trials known as Developmental Test 1 and 2
(DT-1 and DT-2, respectively).
With F-35B ship trials complete, the F-35C is now on deck literally. Starting this year,
Developmental Test 1 (DT-1) for the F-35C will commence aboard the USS Nimitz to test
normal carrier operations, as well as the new arresting hook package.
An Inside Look at F-35C Carrier Operations
To get a firsthand account of how daily procedures are performed on a ship, we sat down
with Lockheed Martin F-35C expert and retired U.S. Navy Captain (Ret) Tom Halley:

How it Works: F-35C Carrier Operations

1. Lets start from the beginning. How do the aircraft launch from the ship?

Tom Halley: A typical day on-ship is about 15-18 hours, with approximately 13 hours of
that being launch and recovery on a one and a half hour cycle. Ships today use steampowered catapults (cats), and can typically launch 15 aircraft per cycle at a time within
Aircraft carriers provide a vital first line of defense for militaries around the world. But,
seconds of each other using both sets of two cats (two on the bow and two on the waist).
operating an aircraft from a ship hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of miles from shore
The launch and recovery of aircraft is performed as fast as possible to limit the amount of
is not for the faint of heart. In fact, it can be downright nerve-wracking for even the most
time a ship is turned into the wind. When turned into the wind, a ship is predictable and
experienced pilot.
therefore vulnerable to the enemy.

Feature Article // October 28, 2014

The F-35C at Sea


The F-35C carrier variant combines the unique capability of operating from a carrier deck
with the unmatched 5th Generation capabilities of stealth and sensor fusion, making the
F-35C the Navys first low observable stealth fighter at sea.

2. After the pilots have completed their mission and are coming back to land on
the ship, what happens?
Tom: As pilots, we are innately aware of several things going on with our aircraft at all
times one of those is our fuel level. Luckily with the F-35, keeping track of this will be
easier on our pilots due to the advanced avionics, sensor fusion and helmet display that

The F-35C is designed and built explicitly for carrier operations. It has larger wings and
keep this information at the pilots fingertips. Plus, the F-35C carries almost 20,000 pounds
more robust landing gear than the other variants, making it suitable for catapult launches
of fuel internally, which is approximately 6,000 pounds more than our current fighter fleet.
and fly-in arrestments aboard naval aircraft carriers. The F-35Cs wingtips also fold to allow
When a pilots mission is complete, or when we are running low on fuel during a routine
for more room on the carriers deck while deployed.
carrier sortie, we head back to the ship in order to make our recovery time. Fighter aircraft
In addition to the F-35C, the F-35B variant is also built for aircraft-capable ship operations.
With its unique short takeoff and vertical landing capabilities, the F-35B is designed to

are always first to land since they have a higher burn-rate of fuel and typically have a
lower fuel capacity than other aircraft.

During daylight hours and good weather conditions, a pilot will monitor tower frequency
while overhead the carrier to keep in contact with the Airboss. The Boss as we call him,

their landing. The second challenge is that the runway is on an eight degree angle to the
left from the line the boat is traveling on. This slight angle means our pilots are constantly

is responsible for everything that goes on aboard the flight deck and the airspace inside

correcting for line-up as theyre coming down the chute.

10nautical miles of the carrier. We will monitor his tower frequency, but the entire
recovery is done Comms Out. In other words, for the entire launch and recovery, pilots
shouldnt hear any radio transmissions if the launch and recovery is going well.

Once lined up with the landing area, pilots use the data on their cockpit displays and a tool
called the Fresnel Lens, or ball, on the deck of the ship to guide them to the wire. The
Fresnel Lens is simply an amber light centered between two horizontal rows of green lights
As pilots come back to the boat, each squadron is assigned an altitude overhead the carrier that lets each pilot know where they are on the glide slope at all times during the descent.
and is put into a stack above the boat. For instance, my squadron might be overhead at
If the ball is above the horizontal row of green lights, the pilots aircraft is high. If the
3,000 feet, our sister squadron will be at 4,000 feet and the E-2D squadron(less fuel
ball is below the green lights, they are approaching low. If the ball shows red, the pilot is
dependent) might be at 7,000 feet. Depending on the number of aircraft, a pilot could
really low and could be in danger of hitting the boat, known as a ramp-strike. This is
have another jet 1,000 feet below and above them in a holding pattern until its their turn
definitely not good.
to land. When at the bottom of the stack, one cardinal rule is that you never descend until
As a second line of defense, all landings are monitored by a team of Landing Signal
you are aft and abeam of the boat. This is a safety measure that keeps jets at 5,000 feet
Officers (LSO) that are stationed just to the left of the landing area to watch every landing
from descending through the middle of the overhead marshal stack. Trust me, it happens!
and grade that landing for safety. All LSOs are also pilots themselves. If there is trouble
3. Lets say Im now at the bottom of the stack and its my turn to come in for a with an approach, the LSO will come on the radio and tell the pilot to add power, check his
landing. As a pilot, what do I do?
line-up, or wave-off if theyre making an unsafe approach. Ideally, if a pilot has a good
Tom: When at the bottom of the stack, pilots are, what we call, hawking the deck, which
means that they are still circling, but have a keen eye on the flight deck to watch for the
last aircraft to be shot off the catapult. As soon as this last aircraft clears the catapult, our
pilots have about a minute until the deck will be ready for them to catch the wire, or trap
as we call it. A good flight lead will have his section or division of aircraft approaching the
stern of the ship for the break to land as soon as the last plane leaves the deck.
When at the stern, or back of the boat, pilots are at 800 feet in right echelon. When its
time for them to land, the lead aircraft will break and his wingmen will break about 17
seconds afterwards. This will allow for the perfect 45 second interval between all landing
aircraft. Once a pilot is downwind and heading toward the stern of the boat, they can
descend to 600 feet. At this point, the pilot is 1.2 to 1.3 miles from the back of the ship
and should have their gear down, flaps full down and arresting hook down. This is the
start to a perfect approach.
Once in position, our pilots will start their left-hand descending turn to line up with the

start, flies a smooth approach, constantly corrects line-up, and keeps the ball in the middle
of the lens theyll be rewarded by catching a three- wire, which is considered excellent in
terms of landings.
There are four arresting wires stretched across the deck and the Fresnel Lens is usually
adjusted for the pilots to target the three-wire. This means that the pilot snags the third of
the four wires with their arresting hook when landing. Once a pilots wheels touch down on
the flight deck, they instantly go to full power on their throttles. That may seem counterintuitive, but if you miss the wire and you pull the throttle to idle youre going to be going
swimming because the plane will not have the power to get airborne again. If they do miss
the wires and go to full power theyll be fine. This maneuver is called a bolter.
Once a pilot has successfully caught the wire and gone to full power, theyre going from
about 145knts to 0knts in two seconds. Its pretty eye-opening. Once theyre safely in the
wire, one of the taxi directors will tell the pilot to throttle back and raise your hook. The
pilot then quickly taxis out of the landing area because the next plane is probably already
in the landing groove. Every 45 seconds this will happen until the recovery is over, then
these planes will be turned around, refueled and made ready for the next launch.

ship and both F-35Cs will stay at sea for the next two weeks, during which time the envelope for
Navy's newest aircraft lands perfectly on its oldest The
flight operations will continually be opened. Changes will be made in the attitudes of the landings as
SAN DIEGO 03 Nov 2014 well as direction and speed, Buss said. The test pilots will next try cross-wind landings, landings with
aircraft carrier

Just after noon on 3 November, a Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II shot into view over the stern of
the USS Nimitz for a low pass, the first of three before the pilot made a picture perfect landing on the
third arresting wire of the aircraft carrier.
The F-35C flight test aircraft, CF-3, hooked the third arresting wire at 12:58, about 40nm (74km)
southwest of San Diego. An hour later, CF-5 performed a fly-by, then a touch-and-go and finally an
arrested landing.

the deck at variable pitch angles. Night landings are scheduled for 13-15 November.
Developmental testing phase two is scheduled to begin in 10 months, aboard an undesignated carrier.
Final testing phase three is scheduled for 2016, when the navy will decide whether it does indeed want
to operate a stealth fighter from its 11 carriers. The F-35C has larger wings than the A and B models in
order to create the lift required to take off from a carrier.
The Marine Corps' F-35B is capable of vertical takeoff and landings on the navy's big-top amphibious
ships, but Nimitz-class carriers would be damaged by the heat of the engine downwash. Marine Corps
ship decks have been resurfaced to withstand the jet engine downdraft.

Thirteen years after signing the development contract, the two F-35Cs recorded the first landings on
board and aircraft carrier and marked a major milestone for the programme that has been beset by As the F-35C completed shipboard landings off the US west coast, Lt Gen Christopher Bogdan was in
Israel. He was finalising an order for 25 F-35As, adding to 19 acquired last year. No export customers
developmental delays and cost overruns in its 14-year history.
have emerged yet for the F-35C.
No one aboard the Nimitz was thinking of such setbacks on 3 October. The most common phrase used
by officers and enlisted sailors was making history, as the jet finally came aboard followed shortly by Mark Johnson, a Lockheed spokesman, said Mondays momentous landings might well send a
message to other nations about the worthiness of the carrier-based version of the F-35.
an F-18 Hornet, which it will eventually replace.
For them to see us land this aircraft aboard a ship at sea in a very controlled manner, this is a good
Vice Adm Dave Buss, commander of naval air forces, said it was a great and historic day that will be message for our partners, Buss says.
used as a springboard into the future of naval aviation.
Photo by US Navy
The aircraft made an hour-long flight from Yuma, Arizona, where they underwent preliminary
maintenance in preparation for their two-week deployment aboard the Nimitz. Plans were to both land
and then launch at least one jet on 3 November by way of the ships steam-powered catapult system,
but the launches were scrapped because of telemetry issues.
Its nothing that we cant recover from for tomorrow, Buss said.
The arrested landings were especially remarkable because the F-35Cs tailhook required a redesign
after the original was found to be inadequate to stop the jet in the short space given for carrier
landings. The redesigned horse-hoof shaped hook worked as planned.
The F-35C is designated to replace the F/A-18 models C-D, but not the E/A-18G Growler electronic
attack aircraft.
What most impressed Buss was the stability of the F-35 on approach. Both CF-3 and CF-5, as the test
jest are designated, made ideal arrested landings on the third deck wire.
The most remarkable thing was how steady and stable it was on approach. I didnt see a lot of control
surface movement, he says. Both aircraft landed exactly where we wanted them to.
The F-35C is augmented with a new delta control law to improve stability on a fixed glideslope to a
carrier deck, a first for a manned aircraft landing on a carrier.

Clean Sweep: F-35 Fighter conduct night ops on the first

det, meaning developmental test.
Confounds Critics With
To say that carrier-based air opPerfect Performance In
erations are challenging is an unFirst Tests At Sea
derstatement. Jets designed to

21 Nov 2014 Loren Thompson fly faster than the speed of sound

Theres a tradition in the U.S. Navy

that when missions are a complete
success, a broom gets raised up
the mast to signal a clean sweep.
Thats what happened on November 14 when the F-35C Lightning II
completed its first series of developmental tests on the U.S.S. Nimitz
aircraft carrier. Sailors sent a broom
up the mast below the flag to signal
the tests had gone very well.
How well? For starters, the two
weeks of scheduled tests were
completed three days early with
100% of threshold test points accomplished. For the first time ever,
a new carrier-based aircraft conducted night operations during its
initial round of testing at sea operations that are usually performed
in later rounds. As one Navy test
pilot observed in an official news
release, Its unheard of to

must take off and land on a short

runway while the ship is pitching in
the sea and wind is blowing across
the decks. The catapults that provide the initial push to get airborne
accelerate the planes from zero to
170 miles per hour in two seconds.
The arresting wires that trap the
planes when they land bring them
to a dead stop in two seconds. And
since theres always a chance the
plane could miss the arresting wires
while attempting to land, the thrust
cant be cut too much because a
pilot might have to get his or her jet
back into the air real quick. So the
risks are high and the physical forces at work are extreme.
In this harrowing environment,
two F-35C fighters managed to accomplish 124 catapults and arrestments, 222 touch-andgo landings, and a host of other

operations without a hitch. On their

first try. It was a world-class performance for the carrier version
of what used to be called the Joint
Strike Fighter, and a vindication for
prime contractor Lockheed Martin. As the Navy news release put
it, The aircraft demonstrated exceptional performance throughout
its initial sea trials. Two follow-on
sets of tests are scheduled in 2015
and 2016, but the Navy can now
be confident that the F-35C will be
ready for its first scheduled fielding
with the fleet in 2018.
The success of the tests has important implications for the whole
joint force. Pentagon leaders are
warning that other countries have
begun closing the technology gap
with U.S. warfighters, and the
fighters the Navy operates today
wont be able to survive in contested air space indefinitely. The
F-35 program was conceived to replace the Cold War tactical aircraft
of three U.S. military services and
over a dozen allies with affordable
multi-role fighters that not only can

survive, but will sweep the skies

of enemy aircraft while destroying
well-defended ground targets. The
F-35 accomplishes this with an integrated stealth design that makes
it nearly invisible to enemy radar
and an advanced sensor package
that provides comprehensive situational awareness to the pilot. Precision-guided munitions give it pinpoint accuracy in attacking surface
targets, while its electronic-warfare suite can defeat a wide array
of hostile emitters.
When these features are combined with the speed and maneuverability afforded by Pratt & Whitneys revolutionary F135 engine,
the result is what military experts
call a fifth-generation fighter. Developing such an aircraft in multiple
variants for three different services may well be the most challenging military-technology project ever.
The Air Force variant needed to be
cheap enough for overseas allies
to afford, the Marine version needed a mid-fuselage lift-fan and vectored thrust for vertical takeoffs

and landings, and the Navy version

needed to be sufficiently rugged
to withstand the stresses of carrier
catapults and arresting wires.
The F-35C the carrier version may be the most challenging variant to build. It has bigger wings, stronger landing gear,
and greater fuel-carrying capacity than the other variants to meet
the Navys unique operating requirements. Those features make
it possible for the plane to fly farther with a larger payload, while
being able to conduct its final carrier approach at a slow enough
speed for safe landings. One key
feature on the naval variant
that performed well in the recent tests was a system called
Delta Flight Path that enables
the F-35C to automatically capture and maintain the optimum
glidepath on final approach to
the carrier reducing the pilot
workload, increasing safety,
and making F-35C, in the words
of the Navys testing team leader, a carefree aircraft from the

pilots perspective.
This may be the first time ever
that the word carefree has been
used by a Navy tester to describe
the performance of a new carrierbased aircraft. Adjectives like arduous and challenging are far
more commonly used. So the F-35C
has set a high standard for all naval
aircraft to come in the maturity and sophistication of its design.
Perhaps there is a lesson to be
learned about our culture from the
fact that the Navys very positive
experience with its F-35 variant this
month has gone largely unnoticed
in the general media, even though
every supposed problem with the
plane up to this point has gotten
headlines. The Navy and its industry partners have just demonstrated that when it comes to aerospace
technology, America still leads the
world by a healthy margin. So lets
get that plane into the fleet, where
it can start making a difference in
maintaining global security.

3 Wire!


Automated Carrier Landing

of an Unmanned Combat Aerial
Vehicle Using Dynamic Inversion







Layout of the landing area of the flight deck of a Nimitz Class aircraft carrier. The aft end of
the ship is on the left side of the figure. Notice that there are 4 wires spaced 40 feet apart.
They are numbered in increasing order from the one most aft, i.e. 1 wire, 2 wire, etc. It is
desired that aircraft catch the 3 wire when landing. The width of the runway area is 65 feet.

Navy Closer to Unmanned Aircraft Operation on Carriers

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonnie Hobby, USS Harry S. Truman Public Affairs

USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At sea (NNS) -- The Navy's Unmanned Combat Air
System Demonstration (UCAS-D) program conducted a series of unmanned
air vehicle (UAV) surrogate recoveries and launches aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), July 18-22.
Sailors assigned to the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 recovered their first UAV-equipped F/A-18D Hornet, containing in-flight software replicating the software installed in the unmanned X-47B, July 18.

"The focus during this at-sea period is to test the hardware inside the Hornet to make sure our unmanned system is able to operate the same way manned aircraft operate aboard a carrier," said Lt.
James Reynolds, UCAS-D surrogate project officer from VX 23.
Since the beginning of July, a team of more than 50 Sailors and engineers
have performed tests to ensure Truman's on-board UAV software and the
UCAS-D surrogate aircraft's software were properly interfacing....
...The UCAS-D testing had many criteria to meet, including launching the
surrogate aircraft from all 4 catapults & touch-and-go tests, said Benner....

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Air Test & Evaluation
Squadron 23 Newsletter 2013 Issue

Navy: Carrier Drones Wave- combat air system demonstration, or carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower in April.
But simulation results have
UCAS-D, program, a project designed
Off Window Shorter Than
been positive, Engdahl said. Comto determine how an unmanned airContractors Claim
(NAVY TIMES 15 0CT 12) Joshua Stewart

The Navy is disputing claims the unmanned X-47B cant be waved off in
less than five seconds before a carrier landing.
Safety issues were raised at this
years Tailhook Symposium in Sparks,
Nev., after a Northrop Grumman official made the claim. A manned aircraft can be diverted as late as three
seconds before landing.
Landing signal officers, whose job
it is to ensure there are no hazards
on the deck, were worried an extra
two seconds was enough time for a
sailor to wander into the planes path.
But Capt. Jaime Engdahl, program manager for unmanned combat air system demonstration program, said he is confident the X-47B
can be diverted much closer to touchdown. He could not estimate how
much closer, however, citing the need
for additional testing.
The Northrop-built X-47B is a tailless, unmanned aircraft with a 62-foot
wingspan. Its part of the unmanned

craft can operate from a carrier

alongside manned aircraft.
The Northrop Grumman employees evaluation at Tailhook came from
old requirements for the program that
are no longer relevant, Engdahl told
Navy Times in September.
Early in the UCAS-D program,
engineers set a wave-off window
that was two seconds further out
from its manned counterparts. A
wave-off window is the last point in
an aircrafts, approach where it could
safely abort a landing, using regular
It was expected, however, that
the distance would change as the
programs capabilities became clearer,
said Engdahl, who serves under Naval
Air Systems Command.
We set it pretty far out and said,
Lets learn a little bit more about the
vehicle, Engdahl said.
The exact wave-off window for
the X-47B wont be known until carrier testing. An official from Northrop
Grumman said that its expected to
complete its first trap on the aircraft

puter models have used a variety of

sea conditions and 96 percent of the
landings caught either the two or the
three wire the ideal landing zone,
depending on the carrier.
The X-47B is programmed to fly
a precise, GPS-guided flight plan, an
advancement that shortens the response time and makes it more predictable, Engdahl said.
Adding to the complexity, however, is the planes tailless design. Its
uncertain how it will perform while
flying through the burble, or the
wake in the air created by the carriers superstructure, Engdahl said.
He also said it takes around a
tenth of a second for an LSO, who
monitors flight paths, to signal a
wave-off and abort a landing. It takes
another tenth of a second for the
X-47B to respond, Engdahl said.
At that point, a variety of factors
could effect the wave-off, including
the amount of fuel onboard and wind,
Engdahl said.

Navy One Step Closer To UAV Carrier Ops | July 7th, 2011

"The U.S. Navy just got a little closer to its goal of routinely flying combat drones off carriers by the close of the decade when an
F/A-18 Hornet landed itself on the deck of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) using flight control software designed for the
Northrop-Grumman-built X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator or UCAS-D. On July 2, the F/A-18 performed dozens
of arrested landings without any input from the pilot in the Atlantic Ocean off the Virginia Capes. Whats really interesting about
this is that the jet wasnt controlled by someone in the carrier the way current drones are controlled from ground stations. No, this
jet simply received a command from the carriers air traffic control to enter the landing pattern and execute the landing all on its
own; the same way a piloted jet would. Once hes on his approach, we actually take control of the aircraft via the systems we
have installed as part of the demo and actually the aircraft is controlled by flight [rules] we put in place, all the way down to trap,
said Don Blottenberger, Navy UCAS-D Dep. Principal Program Manager during a phone call with reporters this morning. There is
no remote control of the aircraft, there is no pilot control of the aircraft; weve given it instructions and it executes those instructions. Just to make it clear, Blottenberger added: There is no remote control, meaning there is no joystick, theres

no one thats flying this aircraft from the carrier, we give it commands via the network we have in place
tying in with existing carrier systems & then the aircraft executes those commands.
The system, which uses precision-GPS navigation data transmitted over Rockwell Collins Tactical Targeting Network
Technology (which I thought was defunct), allows the air traffic controllers, air boss and landing signals officer to tell the plane to
enter the approach and perform all the necessary adjustments in heading, altitude and speed necessary to perform a trap. In the
final phase of the approach, the LSO can even order the jet to wave off using his terminal that has been modified to communicate
with an unmanned jet, according to NAVAIR officials. According to the Hornets pilot, Lt. Jeremy DeBons, the landing felt no
different from when an F/A-18 lands using the Automated Carrier Landing System, although. Still, he kept his hands very close
to the controls during the hands-off landings.
The new, GPS-based system developed for the UCAS-D has 360-degree coverage around the ship; the ability to control multiple
aircraft and allows the actual airplane to determine how it will fly according to the commands from air traffic control. The older
radar-based auto-land system has limited coverage off the stern of the carrier, determines what type of stick and throttle inputs
should be performed for the plane and can only control a limited number of aircraft, according to NAVAIR officials.

Now the Navy has proven the auto-landing system works, the two X-47Bs will be flown to NAS Patuxent River in
Maryland where theyll do everything from perform cat shots and arrested landings to practice operating on a crowded
carrier deck mock up and flying in its airspace throughout next year. If all goes well, this will pave the way for an actual
carrier landing by an X-47B sometime in 2013, according to NAVAIR."

Navy UCAS Achieves

Milestone Aboard Eisenhower

Patuxent River, MD - 5 July 2011

"The Navy is one step closer

to demonstrating the first
carrier-based recoveries and
launches of an autonomous,
low-observable relevant
unmanned aircraft.
Aboard USS Dwight D.
Eisenhower (CVN-69) July
2, a team from the Navy
Unmanned Combat Air
System program office (PMA268) accomplished the historical first carrier touchdown of
an F/A-18D surrogate aircraft
emulating an unmanned vehicle using systems developed
as part of the Unmanned
Combat Air System Carrier
Demonstration (UCAS-D)
What we saw here today
is cutting edge technology for
integrating digital control of
autonomous carrier aircraft
operations, and most importantly, the capability to automatically land an unmanned
air system aboard an aircraft
carrier, said Capt. Jaime

Engdahl, N-UCAS Program

Manager. Successfully landing and launching a surrogate
aircraft allows us to look
forward to demonstrating
that a tailless, strike-fightersized unmanned system can
operate safely in the carrier
Demonstrating the
UCAS-D system with a
proven carrier aircraft, the
F/A-18D, significantly reduces
risk of landing an unmanned
system aboard the ship for
the first time. The F/A-18
surrogate aircraft, provided
by Air Test and Evaluation
Squadron (VX) 23, is controlled with actual avionics
and software that are being
incorporated on X-47B
UCAS-D aircraft.
Surrogate testing allows
us to evaluate ship systems,
avionics systems, and early
versions of the unmanned
vehicle software with a pilot
in the loop for safety, said
Glenn Colby, team lead
for UCAS-D Aviation/Ship
Integration. With this we
can verify our interfaces and
functionality while minimizing

the risk to an unmanned

Along with the F/A-18, the
test team employed a King
Air surrogate aircraft operated by Air-Tec, Inc. According
to Colby, the King Air gives
the team a low-cost test bed
to evaluate the ability of the
UCAS-D avionics and ship
systems to properly adhere
to existing carrier operations
procedures. PMA-268 is using
the King Air to test all of the
system functionality that
does not require actually
landing on the ship.
The most important thing
we have done is adapted the
ships systems to handle a
vehicle without a pilot, then
seamlessly integrated it into
carrier operations, said Rob
Fox, UCAS-D Aviation/Ship
Integration deputy team lead.
Were using both current
aircraft carrier hardware and
software systems and processes, and introducing new
systems and processes to
accommodate an unmanned
The vast majoity of todays
carrier flight operations are

flown manually and visually

by Naval Aviators. The pilot
gives the ship information
about the aircraft over the
radio; all air traffic control
instructions are by voice
and even a good portion of
navigation data has to be
read over the air by the ship.
The purpose of the UCAS-D
integration effort is to digitize
the communications and
navigation information flow
to incorporate capabilities
required for UAS flight operations aboard a carrier, with
minimal impact to existing
hardware, training and
This test period shows
us very clearly that the carrier segment hardware and
software, and the Precision
Global Positioning System
(PGPS) landing technologies
are mature and ready to
support actual unmanned
operations with the X-47B,
said Engdahl.
To support an autonomous
vehicle, PMA-268 has modified shipboard equipment
so that the UCAS-D X-47B
air vehicle, mission operator

and ship operators are on

the same digital network.
For current fleet aircraft,
the Landing Signal Officer
(LSO), who is charged with
safe recovery of aircraft
aboard the ship, uses voice
commands and visual signals
to communicate with a pilot
on final approach. Since a
UAS cannot reliably respond
to voice and visual signals,
the LSOs equipment communicates directly with the
aircraft through the digital
network via a highly reliable
interface. Similar digital
communication capability
has been integrated with
the ships primary flight
control (tower) and Carrier
Air Traffic Control Center
(CATCC) facilities. Most
importantly, the UAS operators equipment, installed
in one of the carriers ready
rooms, is integrated with the
very same network.
In addition to communications, an unmanned system
requires highly precise and
reliable navigation to operate
around the ship. Todays
first arrested landing of the

F/A-18D surrogate aircraft

aboard the Eisenhower
was enabled by integrating
Precision Global Positioning
System (PGPS) capabilities
into the ship and the aircraft.
According to Engdahl,
these tests demonstrate that
PGPS landing technologies
and the carrier segment
hardware and software are
mature and ready to support
actual unmanned operations
with the X-47B. In addition,
these capabilities have the
potential to make manned
aircraft operations safer and
more efficient.
Our team has worked
vigorously over the past five
years to modify and develop
systems required to operate
unmanned aircraft around
and aboard a carrier, said
Adam Anderson, team lead
for UCAS-D Aviation/Ship
Integration System Build,
who has worked on the program since 2006. This was a
very complex and challenging
task that required innovative,
hard-working and dedicated
individuals to get the job

The first experiments

supporting unmanned carrier
operations were conducted
in 2002 followed by at-sea
testing of a King Air in 2005.
With the basic concept proven, the UCAS-D team began
the detailed design of the
carrier integration in 2007.
The PMA-268/NAVAIR team
worked closely with experts
from PEO (Carriers) and the
Naval Sea Systems Command
(NAVSEA) to determine the
details of system installation
on a carrier, while working to
minimize impact to ongoing
missions and capabilities
aboard the ship. Initial capability of the ship equipment
was verified in January 2010
during testing aboard the
USS Abraham Lincoln.
In fall 2010, ship
modifications began on the
Eisenhower. The UCAS-D
team worked closely with
ships company personnel
to lessen disruption to other
activities required for normal
operations and maintenance
of the ship. Initial surrogate
testing took place during the
ships sea trials the week of

June 13, which validated the

systems readiness for carrier
This was truly a team
effort with our industry
partners, including Northrop
Grumman, Rockwell
Collins, Honeywell, L-3
Communications, SAIC,
ARINC and Sierra Nevada
Corporation, PEO Carriers,
NAVSEA and, of course, the
crew of the USS Dwight D.
Eisenhower, Engdahl added.
The exceptional support and
collaboration of the entire
team has set us up very
well to achieve our ultimate
milestone autonomous landing of an actual unmanned,
low-observable relevant
aircraft on the aircraft carrier
in 2013.
The UCAS-D program
continues ship integration
and X-47B flight test activities in preparation for sea
trials in 2013. Flight testing
is underway at Edwards Air
Force Base and will transition
to Pax River later this year."

130517-N-FU443-090 ATLANTIC OCEAN (May 17, 2013) An X-47B unmanned combat air system (UCAS) demonstrator prepares to execute a
touch and go landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). This is the first time any unmanned aircraft has
completed a touch and go landing at sea. George H.W. Bush is conducting training operations in the Atlantic Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by
Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Walter/Released) May 17, 2013


X The Deans Corner




October 2012






NUCAS and Paddles

There are two primary goals in developing the Navys Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS-D) when it comes to landing aboard ship. First, if an unmanned aircraft can't land safely and consistently on the boat, it's not fit for naval service
and we don't want it. This is non-negotiable. Second, the LSOs need to be able to wave unmanned vehicles, as much as
practical, the same as they do a manned aircraft. LSOs cannot be asked to have procedures different than those they use
for manned aircraft; that would be a training nightmare and a recipe for disaster. This second point is somewhat negotiable due to available technologies and budget constraints, but remains an important target for implementing LSO requirements during the UCAS demonstration.
Building on these fundamental premises, the Navy UCAS program has been very intentional in working with the Navy
LSO School to ensure we get this right, and has enjoyed a close, open working relationship throughout UCAS-D development and testing. What follows is an overview of the systems developed through this cooperative relationship, a brief
description of unique requirements, and a discussion to address a potential concern.
System Overview: The vision was not to build a new LSO system, but to incorporate UCAS-D requirements into existing systems. This resulted in minor hardware and some software modifications to the LSO Display System (LSODS) and
installing an IFLOLS interface box in the lens room. All cut and waveoff switches on the LSO pickles, the LSODS, and
in the tower activate the IFLOLS relay box, which in turn initiates electronic cut and waveoff datalink messages. Here is
how the system works with an approaching air vehicle or AV (refer to fig 1):

When the AV approaches mile (Case I) or 1 to mile (CATCC selectable - Case III) in the landing configuration, it will electronically call the ball via a digital message. A red Ball Call indication appears on LSODS primary
and secondary screens when this digital message is received.

When the LSO presses the cut switch, an electronic Roger Ball message is sent to the AV and will be displayed
on LSODS in red along with the cut indication. A smaller electronic UCAS cut icon will also illuminate when a
separate loopback systems receives the electronic cut signal. This loopback system will be discussed later.

Once the AV receives the Roger Ball message, it replies with a digital message stating it received the Roger Ball
and the red Roger Ball on LSODS will turn green.

(Figure 1)


If the Ball Call is not Rogered by 200 AGL (140 above flight deck level), the AV will wave itself off. The AV
will not continue below 200 without a Roger Ball.
The LSO can wave off the AV from the time it calls the ball until the AV touches the deck. There is a dualredundant system that activates both the primary and emergency waveoff circuits to ensure the AV will wave off.
When the waveoff button is actuated, a waveoff uplink discrete message commands the AV to waveoff. The X47B will respond immediately, within 0.2 seconds of actuating the waveoff button. Additionally, a separate AV
heartbeat message a signal always pulsing between the AV and the ship has discrete fields that also send cut
and waveoff for dual-redundancy. When waveoff is pressed, waveoff will illuminate on LSODS along with a
smaller electronic UCAS-D waveoff indication when it receives the electronic waveoff signal through the loopback system.
If there is a loss of datalink where the heartbeat signal is not being received by the AV and the AV is outside the
autonomous waveoff inhibit region, then the AV will wave itself off. If the heartbeat is lost inside the autonomous
waveoff inhibit region, then the AV will continue its approach to landing. The autonomous waveoff inhibit region
is software adjustable and will be matched as closely as possible to the 10 ft waveoff window, initially set to 3 seconds. Only the LSO and PriFly can command a waveoff inside the autonomous waveoff inhibit region. The AV
cannot get to the three second window without an accurate Precision GPS solution propagated to touchdown, or it
will waveoff well before this point.
If the AV is waved off, bolters, or does a touch and go, it will go into the bolter/waveoff pattern identical to a
manned aircraft.


The LSO can wave off the

AV from the time it calls the
ball until the AV touches
the deck. There is a dualredundant system that activates both the primary and
emergency waveoff circuits
to ensure the AV will wave
off. When the waveoff button is actuated, a waveoff
uplink discrete message
commands the AV to waveoff. The X- 47B will respond
immediately, within 0.2
seconds of actuating the
waveoff button. Additionally, a separate AV heartbeat message a signal
always pulsing between the
AV and the ship has discrete fields that also send
cut and waveoff for
dual-redundancy. When
waveoff is pressed, waveoff will illuminate on
LSODS along with a smaller electronic UCAS-D
waveoff indication when
it receives the electronic
waveoff signal through the
loopback system.

Paddles Monthly October 2012 PaddlesMonthlyOctober2012.pdf

NUCAS and Paddles (cont.)

Unique Requirements: Since all interaction between the LSOs and the AV is through digital messaging, there needed to be some
way to ensure these messages were being sent and received. LSODS Roger Ball indication changing from red to green when the
AV responds to the Roger Ball message is one example of this. Another came at the request of the LSO community three years
ago. Prior to recovery, the LSOs do a functional test of the cut and waveoff lights. The LSOs wanted some way to test whether cut
and waveoff electronic messages were being sent to have confidence the UCAS-D ship systems were functioning end-to-end. An
LSO Loopback System was designed with an independent receiver that listens for the cut and waveoff signals and displays this with
separate icons on LSODS. Additionally, the small antenna icon illuminates green when the UCAS-D systems are transmitting the
heartbeat signal properly. This icon will illuminate yellow if there is a system degrade or red if there is a systems failure; it will not
display at all if the system is powered off.
Addressing a Potential Concern: One of the most common fears expressed in the fleet is that the AV would make an approach to
the boat and nobody would be able to wave it off. The procedures used today by manned aircraft were written from years of experience and unfortunate mishaps. Experience molded the framework for UCAS-D systems design:

The AV will not continue below 200, let alone land, without a Roger Ball.

The AV will attempt to execute a waveoff anytime the LSO or Air Boss presses the waveoff button.

If the AV is outside its established parameters to land, which are much tighter than those for a manned aircraft, and it is outside
the autonomous waveoff inhibit region it will wave itself off.

If the AV loses its datalink outside the autonomous waveoff inhibit region (three seconds or greater from touchdown), it will
wave itself off.

If the AV loses its datalink inside the autonomous waveoff inhibit region (inside three seconds), the AV will land.

There has been much discussion concerning the autonomous waveoff inhibit region. A recent news article poorly articulated an old
and already rectified issue, one that was signed off by the LSO School OIC and briefed openly at the 2012 LSO OAG. There were
no concerns expressed by anyone in the LSO community at that time. During development of the Performance Specification documentation several years back, the autonomous waveoff inhibit region was initially set at five seconds based on a holdover from the
SPN-46 landing system. That value was instituted to prohibit a CATCC controller from waving off an aircraft inside five seconds to
touchdown on a mode I approach. However, anticipating the potential need to adjust it, a caveat was included that read, The value
of 5 seconds may be adjusted, if needed, during flight test based on feedback from the Landing Signal Officers. During the LSO
OAG in 2011, the LSOs express concern that five seconds was too long for a lost link AV to attempt to land. The Navy UCAS Program Manager agreed and directed that the autonomous waveoff inhibit region be software adjustable, and that analysis of X-47B
waveoff performance and approach simulations be conducted to determine a better value. In laboratory simulation three seconds
was determined as a more reasonable value that showed safe landing performance at up to sea state 5 and closely matched the X47B 10 ft waveoff window. At Patuxent River a high fidelity LSO in a Dome simulator has been developed using the X-47B
flight dynamics model and this month representatives of the LSO community will wave the aircraft in the simulator to practice procedures and prepare for the carrier demonstration next year.
Digitizing LSO communications and operating unmanned systems aboard carriers is a new capability that challenges our paradigms
and nobody takes this lightly. The Navy UCAS program leadership actively seeks and values the LSOs views and is responsive to
input precisely because the fundamental premise in Naval Aviation will always hold true: if any aircraft cannot land safely and consistently on the boat, then we dont want it.

-Marty Paulaitis works for AIRINC, has attended the

last several LSO OAGs, and has a close working relationship with the LSO School.

F/A-18 Shows UCAS-D Can Land On Carrier

| Jul 8, 2011 By Graham Warwick Shows UCAS-D Can Land On Carrier


Surrogate flight tests of the software and systems for the Northrop Grumman X-47B unmanned combat aircraft
system demonstrator (UCAS-D) have resulted in hands-free landings of an F/A-18 Hornet on a U.S. Navy carrier.
Controlled by the avionics and software from the X-47B, the F/A-18 conducted 58 coupled approaches to the USS
Eisenhower on July 2, including 16 intentional touch-and-gos & six arrested landings, program officials say.
The tests keep the UCAS-D program on track for carrier trials of the unmanned X-47B in 2013. The first aircraft
has flown at Edwards AFB, Calif., and both air vehicles will be delivered to the NAS Patuxent River, Md., test
center for shore-based testing in 2012. Acting as a surrogate, the F/A-18 showed the X-47B will be able to land
autonomously under command from the ship.
The tests included 28 straight-in, or Case 1, instrument approaches where the unmanned system took over
control 8 mi. behind the ship. The other 30 were visual, or Case 3, approaches where the system took over control
as the F/A-18 passed the carrier on the downwind leg & then turned the aircraft on to its final approach, says
Capt. Jaime Engdahl, Navy UCAS program manager. Flights were conducted using precision GPS & Tactical
Targeting Network Technology high-speed data links to navigate relative to the carrier and send commands to the
Engdahl says the tests demonstrated the Navys distributed control concept, in which a mission operator on
the carrier always has positive control of the aircraft, but the ships air traffic controller, the air boss in the tower
and landing signals officer on the flight deck can send commands to the unmanned vehicle as they would to a
manned aircraft. You send basic commands to the aircraft and the system calculates all the paths itself and puts
together a profile, says Don Blottenberger, deputy program manager. The carrier exercises oversight and override, everything else is automated.
The next steps are to complete flight-envelope expansion at Edwards and then ship the X-47Bs to Patuxent
River for shore-based catapult launches, arrested landings and carrier pattern work through 2012, Engdahl says.
Further surrogate test flights are planned next year, working with the USS Truman, and one of the X-47Bs will be
hoisted aboard the carrier to evaluate maneuvering of the unmanned aircraft on the flight deck. Carrier trials of
the X-47B in 2013 will be followed in 2014 by flight tests of autonomous aerial refueling. Flight tests for this phase
of the program will begin late this year using a Learjet as a surrogate.

X-47B Demonstrator
Moves Closer To
Carrier Demo

Using the control display unit

(CDU), the deck operator will maneuver the unmanned aircraft around the
flight deck, in and out of the arrestor
By Graham Warwick 03 Dec 2012 wires and catapult, and up and down
the elevators, says Don Blottenberger,
Source: Aerospace Daily & Defense Report
Navy deputy program manager.
The U.S. Navys unmanned combat air
Demonstrated in earlier ground
system demonstrator has taken two
taxi tests at Patuxent River, the CDU
key steps toward demonstrating auenables the operator to wirelessly contonomous operation from an aircraft
trol engine thrust, nose-wheel steercarrier at sea next summer.
ing, main-wheel braking, flight-control
On Nov. 29, the first Northrop
sweeps and lowering and raising the
Grumman X-47B air vehicle, AV-1,
made its first catapult launch from a
Back at Pax River, the Navy will
land-based test facility at NAS Patuxclear the limited catapult-launch enent River, Md. A second launch was
velope planned for the demonstration
planned for Nov. 30.
while it completes development of the
Earlier in the week, on Nov. 26,
software load required to begin shorethe second X-47BAV-2was hoisted
based arrested landings. These are exaboard the aircraft carrier USS Truman pected to begin early in 2013, Blottenat NAS Norfolk, Va., to begin a few
berger says.
weeks of deck-handling trials in port
A redesign of the tailhook point to
and at sea.
ensure it catches the wire has been
So far, AV-2 has completed ensuccessful, says Capt. Jaime Engdahl,
gine runs, telemetry and communicaNavy program manager. The original
tions checks, and been moved around design used an F-14 hook point, but
the flight deck and hangar bay. Once
did not reliably catch the wire in tests.
the Truman is underway, the X-47B will
We did a quick redesign, in 45
be maneuvered through simulated car- days, and have done three arrestrier operations using a wireless hand
ment roll-ins, all successful, he says.
The problem is caused because the

tailhook is closer to the main gear on

the tailless X-47B and has less time to
bounce back.
On the first steam-catapult launch,
the X-47B reached 147.6 kt ground
speed and 151.3 kt airspeed at launch,
says Mike Mackey, Northrop Grumman
UCAS-D program manager. On climbout the aircraft reached 12.5-deg. peak
pitch, with nominal loads, he says.
The unmanned aircraft reached
1,200-ft. altitude during its 10-min. autonomous flight and flew a standard
carrier precision-approach pattern,
Mackey says, flying a 3.25-deg. glideslope to a landing rollout and full stop
on the runway at Pax River.
Blottenberger says there is an option to fly AV-1 into the carrier-controlled airspace around the Truman
while it is at sea, conducting deck-handling trials with AV-2. The carrier to be
used for the 2013 launch and recovery
demonstration has not been identified.
All of the Navys East Coast-based
Nimitz-class carriers are being modified temporarily to operate with the
X-47B, Engdahl says. This includes installing a mission control element, relative navigation system and data links.

X-47B Program Update, 06 Aug 2013
The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) program
demonstrated an acute level of precision and repeatability
during at-sea trials this spring/summer. On May 21 2013, the
nose gear of the X-47B landed on the same relative spot on
the deck of the USS George H.W. Bush seven times consecutively. The success of this at-sea trial, and the proceeding
shore-based arrestments were key milestones that led to the

X-47B UCAS first-ever carrier arrestment on 10 July.

Northrop Grumman, U.S. Navy Conduct First Arrested Landing of X-47B

Unmanned Demonstrator

Shore-based test adds momentum, confidence for upcoming carrier trials. NAVAL AIR STATION
PATUXENT RIVER, Md. May 6, 2013 Northrop Grumman Corporation and the U.S. Navy have
conducted the first fly-in arrested landing of the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS)
demonstrator. A video accompanying this release is available on YouTube at:
Conducted May 4 [2013] at the Navy's shore-based catapult and arresting gear complex here, the
test represents the first arrested landing by a Navy unmanned aircraft. It marks the beginning of the
final phase of testing prior to carrier-based trials planned for later this month. "This precision, shorebased trap by the X-47B puts the UCAS Carrier Demonstration [UCAS-D] program on final approach
for a rendezvous with naval aviation history," said Capt. Jaime Engdahl, the Navy's UCAS program
manager. "It moves us a critical step closer to proving that unmanned systems can be integrated
seamlessly into Navy carrier operations."
During an arrested landing, the incoming aircraft extends its landing hook to catch a heavy cable
extended across the aircraft landing area. The tension in the wire brings the aircraft to a rapid & controlled stop. Carl Johnson, vice president and Navy UCAS program manager for Northrop Grumman,
said this first arrested landing reinforced what the team already knew. "The X-47B air vehicle performs
exactly as predicted by the modeling, simulation and surrogate testing we did early in the UCAS-D program," Johnson said. "It takes off, flies and lands within a few feet of its predicted path."

The arrested landing test culminates more than three months of shore-based carrier suitability testing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. The testing included precision approaches, touch-and-go landings, and precision landings by the X-47B air
vehicle. For the arrested landing, the X-47B used a navigation approach that closely
mimics the technique it will use to land on an aircraft carrier underway at sea....

Another Big Milestone For The X-47B: Its First Touch & Go Landing
21 May 2013 Clay Dillow:

...the Unmanned Combat Aerials System (UCAS) executed its first touch and go landings that's when an
air-craft touches down like it's landing but then accelerates and takes off again aboard the USS George
H.W. Bush on Friday [17 May], bringing this technology demonstrator ever closer to being fully carriercapable.... ...Critical to UCLASS are the precision GPS and relative navigation technologies aboard both
aircraft and carrier that link the two together into a seamless system, and that's what we're seeing at work in
the video... ...In the video, the X-47B makes two passes over the carrier deck before executing a couple of
touch and go maneuvers, which are essentially aborted landings wherein an aircraft touches down on the
carrier deck and takes off again. They are a typical training maneuver, used when a pilot is practicing landing
approaches. In carrier ops touch and go maneuvers are quite a bit more significant, as pilots must quickly
take off again if they miss the arresting cable on the carrier deck when landing (although technically this is
called a "bolter" rather than a "touch and go").
The two initial flyovers aren't just for show, however, and that's perhaps the most interesting part of the
this video. During the two approaches wherein the X-47B doesn't touch down it is basically practicing its
landing approach plus a "wave off" in which either the Landing Signal Officer on the flight deck or the
aircraft itself decides the landing is unsafe. This could be because something on the flight deck becomes
unsafe (a person or vehicle wanders into the landing area, for instance) or because the X-47B's flight
computers detect something amiss with the aircraft's glide path or angle of approach.
In other words, those first two flyovers are testing the ability of the carrier and aircraft to talk to each
other over the super-fast datalink that they share which is really the linchpin of this system. And the touch
and go moments show the system working spectacularly, putting the X-47B on the deck and then sending it
skyward again off the other end. The Navy is still certifying the X-47Bs tail hook and landing capability on a
terrestrial carrier simulator at nearby Naval Air Station Patuxent River on Maryland's Chesapeake Bay (the
USS George H.W. Bush is tooling around at some undisclosed set of coordinates off the Virginia/Maryland
coast so the aircraft can fly between the two), but by the looks of things it shouldn't have any problem
completing carrier landings and its mission once it is cleared to do so.

130710-N-YZ751-426 ATLANTIC OCEAN (July 10, 2013) Secretary of the

Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus and Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm.
Jonathan Greenert, observe an X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System
(UCAS) demonstrator preparing to make an arrested landing on the
flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), July
10. George H.W. Bush is the first aircraft carrier to recover an unmanned aircraft at sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tony D. Curtis/Released)

09 Nov 2013

Navy Tests X-47B on Another Carrier

11 Nov 2013 Kris Osborn

The U.S. Navy is increasing the rigor of its Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator aircraft by conducting flight exercises and take-off-and-landing drills aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier, service officials said. After successfully landing on an aircraft carrier for the first time this past
summer, the UCAS or X47-B air vehicle is now going through a series of technical risk reduction tests as
a way to refine and further develop the technology for the service and better establish the concepts of
operation, or con-ops, for sailors. Being able to house and fly an unmanned aircraft system of this kind
from an aircraft carrier at sea brings an unprecedented and historic technological accomplishment to
the Navy. We are introducing a first-ever capability to our carriers, Rear Adm. Mat Winter, Program
Executive Officer, Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons, said in an interview with
As opposed to the initial flights this past summer which first demonstrated take-off and landing ability for
the UCAS, these technical risk tests are designed to assess the air vehicles performance & technological integration in more difficult sea conditions, Winter added. The UCAS-D is focused on demonstrating the feasibility of operating an aircraft carrier-sized unmanned system in the harsh carrier environment, he said.
The main goal of this phase of testing is to obtain navigation and air system performance data in
more stressful conditions than were experienced previously, according to Capt. Beau Duarte, who
manages the Unmanned Carrier Aviation Program Office. Were going to be looking at higher winds &
winds of varying directions that will create more dynamic conditions and tower interactions with the
carrier, he said. This will be a little more stressful on the navigation system and the air data system
in the vehicle. Duarte said the assessments are also looking at touch-down and landing points of the
air vehicle in relation to planned touch-down point in the landing area right in front of the wires.
Winter explained that the testing is focused on three elements including the air vehicle itself, the digitization of the aircraft carrier needed to operate an unmanned system of the deck and the actual control
system. The control system includes the networks, algorithms and software products along with the
hardware, transmitters and radios needed to send control signals, Winter said. The X-47B program has
to continue to mature to understand the dynamic elements of those three segments, Winter said....

Pilotless Aircraft Performs US Carrier 'Touch & Go' Landings [USS Theodore Roosevelt 09 Nov 2013]
X-47B Program Update: Published on Aug 6, 2013
The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) program demonstrated an acute
level of precision and repeatability during at-sea trials this spring/summer. On May
21 2013, the nose

gear of the X-47B landed on the same

relative spot on the deck of the USS George H.W. Bush
seven times consecutively. The success of this at-sea trial, and the
proceeding shore-based arrestments were key milestones that led to the X-47B
UCAS first-ever carrier arrestment on 10 July.

The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D) has conducted flight operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt
(CVN 71). The aircraft performed precise touch and go maneuvers on the ship and In addition took part in flight deck handling drills, completed arrested
landings and catapult launches. Mission operators monitored the aircraft's autonomous flight from a portable command and control unit from Theodore
Roosevelt's flight deck during each of its 45-minute flights. "It is a tremendous opportunity for the 'Big Stick' to be a part of the development and testing
of the future of Naval Aviation," said Capt. Daniel Grieco, Theodore Roosevelt's commanding officer. The UCAS is an impressive system that gives us all
a glimpse into the support and strike capabilities we can expect to join the fleet in the years to come. The tactical and support possibilities for such
platforms are endless, and I know the crew of TR are proud to be able to be a part of that development." Carrier-based tests of the X-47B began in
December 2012 with flight deck operations aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Carrier testing resumed in May 2013 aboard USS George H.W. Bush
(CVN 77), where the X-47B completed its first carrier-based catapult launch, followed by its first carrier-based arrested landing in July 2013.

Navy X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System completes carrier tests

20 Nov 2013

PEO(U&W) Public Affairs


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. The Navy concluded another round of carrier
testing Nov. 19 to further demonstrate and evaluate the X-47B unmanned air system integration within the
aircraft carrier environment. Tests aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) included deck ha