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Warrior Maven Video Special: War in the F-35 - Pilot Interview

By Kris Osborn

Lockheed Martin F-35 Pilot Billie Flynn is a former F-18 Pilot Who Flew Attack Missions Over Serbia

Billie Flynn & Warrior Maven

On F-35 Stealth

F-35 Pilot Billie Flynn:Stealth contributes to the survivability of the platform. The only way to achieve that survivability is to build an aircraft that is stealthy from the word "go" -- from the very beginning. The fuel is carried internally, 18,000 pounds of gas in an F-35A and 20,000 pounds of gas in an F-35C. The antennas are embedded into the skin of the airplane and every sensor is flush mounted into the airplane. This allows us to fly with less drag than any legacy platform, go farther and remain on station - and be survivable.

...... One of the most fascinating parts of the F-35 is how every hinge, every panel, every fastener and every bolt is closed back up when we are done with the maintenance of the airplane. Every time we take off in an F-35, we are in that stealth, non-visible configuration. We designed it so the stealth robustness will be maintained over many decades.

On Real-Time Combat Networking

F-35 Pilot Billie Flynn:One of the best capabilities of the F-35 is our capability to see and detect everything that exists over the ground the sea and in the air and share that information through our Multi-function Advanced Data Link, we call it MADL. We can share information from one F-35 to the next. Everyone in our formation sees what everyone else sees. Situational awareness is more elaborate and more comprehensive than anything we could have imagined in a legacy airplane. We see everything out there and share it.

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On Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance

F-35 Pilot Billie Flynn:One of the most interesting developments with the F-35 is the integration of automatic ground collision avoidance into the aircraft. We've learned through implementing it in the F-16 fleet that it saves lives and what may be billions of dollars worth of aircraft. As we looked to the future, we knew we needed this capability for the F-35. As we speak we are accelerating the testing and implementation of Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance into the F-35.

On F-35 Flying into 2070s

F-35 Pilot Billie Flynn:One of the interesting things about 5th Gen capability is the effectiveness and survivability compared to any legacy platforms. The F-22 and F-35 are orders of magnitude more effective in missions and more survivable against any defense. As we look forward, we are enhancing capabilities inside this jet and integrating new weapons to make us effective in the high threat environments we know we may have to face in the future. We are certainly not standing still with this aircraft. We know we have to push the technologies to maximize what the F-35 can do.


Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army - Acquisition, Logistics& Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has a Masters in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

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Kris Osborncan be reached