USMC Variant Proving Toughest
Part Of New Fighter Effort
by Norval G. Kennedy
04/18/00 12:29:35 PM U.S. EDT
The “most challenging variant” of Boeing’s Joint Strike Fighter development program is turning out to be the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) version for the Marine Corps, which puts heavy demand on software, says Boeing’s Michael Heinz, deputy JSF program manager.
Complicating the issue is the loss of two weeks’ software development time – time that must be absorbed, not made up – when Boeing’s engineers went on strike, adds Boeing JSF chief Frank Statkus.
“The U.S. Marine Corps needs STOVL to meet its operational requirements,” Heinz says.
Transition is the toughest part – commanded only by a thumb switch on the stick – which can occur in one second, he said. Boeing has 100 transitions of the direct-lift propulsion system on a test stand, Heinz reports. Complexity of the automatic transition demands the tricky software delayed by the strike.
Meanwhile, Statkus notes the Boeing program is meeting JSF operational requirements, and first flight of the X-32A aircraft – the Boeing contestant in the JSF competition against a Lockheed Martin-led team – is slated for July.
Boeing briefed attendees on the JSF this morning at the Navy League’s Sea Air Space Exposition in Washington, D.C.