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Lockheed Unveils New Tailhook Design Allowing for F-35 Carrier Landings

New Design to be Tested this Summer

Lockheed Martin has designed a new tail hook for the F-35C Navy variant that is meant to allow the plane to land on carriers and be deployed to the fleet, according to a DoD Buzz article.

The most expensive weapons program ever undertaken by the Defense Department has not only been hampered by organizational mistakes but various design flaws.

The initial design of the tail hook, had it concealed within the airplane to enhance stealth capability which led to it failing to catch the arresting wires that are stretched across a carrier's flight deck to bring the aircraft to a halt.

"Our original design was not performing as expected," said Lorraine Martin, Lockheed Martin's EVP for the F-35 program.

"It's now in line with what the legacy aircraft uses," Martin said of the new F-35 tailhook.

She added the new design will be tested this summer at the Navy's Lakehurst, N.J., facility and carrier tests were expected later this year.

"There's a little bit of pressure coming down on our heads" on the F35s, said Vice Adm. David Dunaway, head of the Naval Air Systems Command.  "We're now in the meat of this program where we're either going to succeed or fail. The Joint Strike Fighter has to fit in - it has to fit into the carrier air wing, and it has to fit into the Marine Air Ground Task Force," Dunaway said.

It was also reported that refits of the big-deck L-class of helicopter assault ships must be done to deal with the heat and noise generated by the Marine Corps' vertical-landing version of the F-35.

The more than $400 billion F-35 program has a number of international partners who have been backing away from the deal as problems have continued to mount.

According to the DoD Buzz article, the U.S. still plans to buy 2,443 of the aircraft.

More Stories By Tim Watson

Tim Watson supervises all media production at Executive Mosaic, a digital media company that provides insight, information and analysis on several industries, including government contracting.

He previously produced byline coverage with the economics team at USA Today and evaluated lending proposals for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

Tim was born and raised in Washington, DC and holds a bachelor’s degree in Business-Journalism from Washington and Lee University and a certificate in budgeting and finance from Georgetown University's School of Continuing Professional Education.