Pilots who eject from America’s most expensive military jet could break their neck if they weigh less than 136 pounds (9.7 Stone.) It has emerged that the Martin-Baker US16E seats on the $350billion F-35s proved to be flawed during tests. While challenging the new Generation 3 helmets during trials, it was discovered that the ejection snapped the necks of light-weight test dummies.
The US military services have now decided to ban pilots under the weight of 136 pounds from operating the plane. It’s the latest in a series of setbacks, which has delayed production by up to eight years and put it hundreds of billions of dollars over budget.
Comparison with its predecessor – F16.
Role: Stealth multirole fighter
First flight: December 15, 2006
Unit cost (not including engine):
F-35A – $98million
F-35B – $104million
F-35C – $116million
Number built: 115 (as of November 2014)
Max speed (F-35A): 1,930kph
One of the most highly anticipated features of the F-35 armament is the Small Diameter Bomb II (SBD II).The bomb is able to guide towards its target using laser, imaging infrared or radar homing. It can hit moving or stationary targets in any weather, or at night, with unprecedented reliability and accuracy. The ‘super weapon’ is predicted to be the most versatile air-to-ground munition in the Pentagon’s air combat inventory. The cost per SDB II is said to be around $250,000 and the US military plans on buying as many as 17,000 of them.
Role: Multirole fighter
First flight: January 20, 1974
F-16A/B – $14.6million
F-16C/D – $18.8million
Number built: 4,540+
Max speed (F-16C): 2,120kph
The F-16 has served in the Air Forces of 26 nations, including the U.S., Israel, Egypt, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway. During Operation Desert Storm, the 1991 assault on Iraq, F-16s flew over 13,000 operations, more than any other Coalition aircraft. The U.S. has employed the F-16 in operations over the Balkans, Afghanistan and Libya. At its production peak in 1987, the F-16 team in Fort Worth was also making history, by producing 30 F-16s in just 30 days. Thanks to frequent upgrades improving and incorporating new technologies into the cockpit, avionics, sensors and weapons, the aircraft has become more reliable over its 40 years.
My Lords, Ladies & Gentlemen… I have the solution to the problem of minimum weight pilots, who fall below the safety threshold – compulsory consumption of (doffing my cap and holding it close to my heart) ‘Guinness!’ (AKA The Black Stuff, Irish Champagne, Diesel, Bunkers, The Black Nectar, Vitamin G, Black Custard.) The top brass at the Pentagon can have that one for free. Sláinte mhaith… Yours_Aye.