A joint-test effort has fixed a dangerous flaw in the F-35 Lightning II that was blinding KC-135 Stratotanker crewmen during night refueling operations.
The Aerial Refueling Certification Agency, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, has approved a redesigned refueling probe light on F-35 B and C models, a decision that will soon clear Marine Corps and Navy Lightning II pilots for night refueling operations with the Air Force tanker, Daryl Mayer, a Wright-Patterson spokesman, told Military.com recently.
In March, teams from Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, and Edwards Air Force Base, California, completed tests of a redesigned light, which attaches to the refueling probe on the F-35B and F-35C.
The existing lighting system was too bright, and the design made it difficult for the KC-135 boom operator to see the silhouette of the F-35. The Air Force requires the boom operator to monitor the process to ensure the pilot safely separates from the refueling boom.
"The current probe light was too bright, blinding the KC-135 aerial refueling boom operators," Michael McGee, 418th Flight Test Squadron (FLTS) aerial refueling project manager at Edwards, said in a news release from Edwards in March. "The new light was designed to be less bright, but still bright enough for the F-35 pilot to see clearly."
The Air Force F-35A does not have a probe, so no change is required for that model. (end of excerpt)
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