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A farewell gift from the USSR: The cause of the accidents of American F-35 fighters could be a Soviet "Trojan horse"
If this version is confirmed, then the entire fleet of fifth-generation aircraft may be at risk.
2021 turned out to be a difficult year for the American Air Force. The electronics of reconnaissance aircraft in the Black Sea regularly failed, and the main fighter of the United States and NATO countries, the Lockheed Martin F-35, twice turned out to be the culprit of major aviation accidents. First, a Royal Navy F-35B fighter jet fell from the deck of the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth, then an American F-35C carrier-based fighter crashed while trying to land on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in the South China Sea. Almost immediately after the accident, American analysts wrote that the last car was lost in "exceptionally good weather conditions," as if hinting that a technical malfunction could have caused the crash.
This accident, according to analysts, resembles the incident with the F-35A fighter that occurred in 2020. Then, when approaching the runway of the Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, the fighter "suddenly accelerated", and the pilot could not extinguish the high landing speed, as a result of which the car was partially destroyed. The second main reason, according to American experts, was that the steering surfaces of the aircraft simply "went berserk" — they deviated in opposite directions. The plane and the pilot, as follows from the report, ALL "quickly out of sync", because the on-board computer ordered to lower the nose, and the pilot gave directly opposite commands, trying to abort the landing and go to the second round. Sensing that the plane was ignoring him, the pilot ejected at low altitude and suffered multiple fractures.
Why does the F-35 cost a fortune?
Within the JSF program (Joint Strike Fighter, English "Single Strike Fighter") The Pentagon planned to get three versions of the car. The first - with the index "A" - was intended for the Air Force. The second - with the index "B" - was conceived as a version with a shortened take-off and landing and was especially promising for use with amphibious ships of the Marine Corps. The third and most technically complex modification - the F-35C - was developed as a vertical take-off and landing fighter.
The main highlight of the aircraft is a three-part rotary nozzle, which American engineers had to tinker with. The idea to use such technology appeared in the USA back in the 70s, but the Convair Model 200 fighter, proposed by the US Navy as the main carrier-based aircraft, turned out to be too complex and expensive, so all the technologies created for this technique were put in a safe for a long time. In addition, the closest ally already had a similar aircraft — the British Hawker Siddeley Harrier entered the army back in 1969 and is formally considered the first serial VTOL. The Americans from McDonnell Douglas eventually modified this car to the AV-8B Harrier II version and adopted it. The first Soviet VTOL Yak-38 took to the air in 1970, and its ultramodern "heir" - the Yak-141 vertical takeoff and landing aircraft - made its first flight in 1987, almost at the same time as the AV-8B Harrier II began operation.
Then the Western world and the Soviet Union entered two different eras. For the former, the time of global military dominance began, and in the USSR, torn apart by the economic crisis, there was no place for a technological and heavily armed "vertical". At a crucial moment for domestic aircraft manufacturers, when the fighter was not yet ready for mass production, and money for its completion was no longer allocated, aircraft manufacturers from the United States appeared on the horizon. Engineers from Lockheed decided to compare the Soviet rotary nozzle with their own and partially financed the refinement of the Yak-141 in hard currency in exchange for access to technical data and documentation on the Soviet VTOL.
Why did the USA steal Soviet developments?
After studying some of the Soviet solutions, Lockheed Martin decided to radically change the design of the 3BSD rotary nozzle, and it would be more correct to say that it was redesigned, that is, "invented" anew. A few years after the visit to Russia, the Americans presented the first prototype of the F-35B - a machine with a shortened takeoff and landing, the takeoff control system of which turned out to be like two drops of water similar to the Soviet solution. The location of the compartment with the lifting fan, the tail beams of the airframe were installed relative to the lifting engine at the same angles as in the Yak-141.
The fact of cooperation in Lockheed Martin has not been recognized so far, but former US Navy carrier-based aviation pilot Henry Saar explains that "the similarity of the two machines is simply amazing."
The problem is that there was not enough money and time to develop the Yak-141. In addition, the export potential of this aircraft was unclear — the USSR had many allies by that time, but practically no one had a developed fleet, and it was not too cheap to use such aircraft in other conditions. Lockheed went the other way — they planned to master large-scale production, so they collected the best technologies from wherever possible
Former US Navy carrier-based aviation pilot
Why do F-35s keep falling?
In the history of the accidents of F-35 fighters, one barely noticeable detail is noteworthy: the bulk of the problems are identified only on deck vehicles, which are somehow used for takeoffs with an increased load on the engines. In the Yak-141, several heat-resistant alloys were used for monstrous loads and temperatures, and the jet rotary nozzle was a layered pie in which each layer, including the inner walls of the nozzle, was made of a special type of alloy. The materials were based on vanadium-titanium and vanadium-chromium alloys, the manufacturing technology of which, according to some reports, did not go to the Americans along with the drawings.
The same alloys were also used in the manufacture of the Yak-141 fuel system, which, by the way, was the same for both engines - both lifting and marching. The exact composition of the F-35 rotary nozzle is unknown, however, heat—resistant ceramics are used there (along with similar alloys) - the same as on American Space Shuttle ships. According to some sources, it was used for the production of external elements of a rotary nozzle. In theory, this solution looks more interesting, since the weight of the part decreases and its wear resistance increases. However, what is normal for "Shuttles", then it can be deadly for a fighter - during normal flights, pilots rarely experienced problems, but F-35 pilots taking off from the deck of aircraft carriers regularly complain about engine outages. Part of the solution may lie in salty sea water. These pictures clearly show that the new F-35C deck fighters, which have not flown for several years, have almost completely lost the radio-absorbing coating of the hull.
According to Evgeny Dubrovin, Candidate of Technical Sciences, aircraft engineer, in addition to the fuselage, salt water and evaporation could also affect other components of the aircraft.
To make it easier, I'll draw this parallel: the story of the F-35 fighter jets is like the secondary market of the iPhone 13. A lot of people use it, there are few real reviews, and no one will highlight weaknesses when selling. The move to borrow some technologies of the rotary nozzle was, without any doubt, successful, but either the alloy was selected incorrectly, or at some stage there was a violation of the technology. Fuel supply interruptions, failure of fuel units (for example, pumps) are the realities of the F-35 application. The USA had a great aircraft before that - the F/A-18 Super Hornet. There are no such problems there. And to the problems of hardware, you also need to add problems with software. As a result, when entering the limit modes, the aircraft begins to "rage", because failures go where they should not be
Candidate of Technical Sciences, aircraft Engineer
Aviation experts find it difficult to answer what exactly the problem may be — whether Lockheed Martin engineers did not fully think through the technology of producing an engine with a rotary nozzle, or whether Soviet engineers deliberately left a "Trojan horse" in the drawings that went to the West. But it is no longer possible to cancel the F-35 and finalize it - the car is actively being sold not only to the US Air Force, Marines and Navy, but also to all possible allies. Whether the F-35 can be considered a promising fighter with huge functionality with such defects is still an open question.
A source: https://life.ru/
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