“We got real lucky that night,” a US colonel said regarding a joint strike fighter pilot’s ability to overcome a display malfunction while trying to land a fifth-generation F-35 in the dark. New footage shows what F-35 pilots experience while landing in the dark.
Watching an F-35 land on the USS America at night with low-light conditions gave sailors on the amphibious assault ship the “heebie jeebies” – and fixes for the helmet were only incorporated after sailors kicked up a fuss.
The pilot’s helmet-mounted display, which normally offers the pilot a clear view of where he’s landing, appears to have failed. Additionally, low-light conditions led to poor visibility, which could not have made the feat any easier.
“He’s looking out trying to establish where he is,” Lt. Col. D. Tom Fields said at a Flight Test Safety conference in Arlington, Virginia in May. In the footage, the pilot continues looking to his right to avoid hitting the carrier’s control tower.
The Pentagon wouldn’t say what had gone wrong, or what was being done to improve the situation, only that a fix would be ready for testing in a few months. An F-35 Joint Program Office spokesman admitted the helmet “did not perform as expected,” though offered little else in the way of explanation for the mishap, one of many mysterious glitches afflicting F-35s.