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The Marine Corps? ?No. 1 priority? for the F-35 involves a rough landing in hot environments

WASHINGTON ? It was a hot day aboard the amphibious assault ship Essex when a pilot brought his F-35B in for what is known as a ?mode four? flight operation, where the jet enters hover mode near a landing spot, slides over to the target area and then vertically lands onto the ship.

It?s a key part of the F-35B?s short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing capability, known as STOVL. And normally, everything in a ?mode four? landing goes smoothly. But on this day, when the pilot triggered the thrust to slow his descent, something went wrong.

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When US Navy and Marine F-35 pilots most need performance, the aircraft becomes erratic

WASHINGTON ? The U.S. Navy?s and Marine Corps? F-35s become unpredictable to handle when executing the kind of extreme maneuvers a pilot would use in a dogfight or while avoiding a missile, according to documents exclusively obtained by Defense News.

Specifically, the Marine short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing variant and the Navy?s carrier-launched version become difficult to control when the aircraft is operating above a 20-degree angle of attack, which is the angle created by the oncoming air and the leading edge of the wing.

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The Navy’s “Operational” F-35C Is Fully Mission Capable Less Than Five Percent Of The Time

Newly available data shows that less than 15 percent of the U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Joint Strike Fighters and around just two percent of the U.S. Navy’s F-35Cs were fully mission capable at any given time, on average, for more than two years at least.

The details come as the readiness rates for aviation fleets across both services have plummeted in recent years. It is also a clear indication that they will have a difficult time meeting the target of 80 percent mission capability rates for both aircraft by the end of the 2019 Fiscal Year that former Secretary of Defense James Mattis had mandated last year.

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