字幕列表 影片播放 列印英文字幕 [plane engine roaring] This is the F-35B Lightning II. The Marine Corps' multi-role fighter jet is equipped with the most advanced sensor suite of any fighter in history -- [plane engine roaring] and the most powerful engine of any jet in the world, which can reach a top speed of 1,200 miles per hour. Cory Kuhn: It's just revolutionized what fighter aircraft are capable of. Narrator: And these are the pilots training to fly that $100 million aircraft. Michael Watts: A lot of people just think you show up, fly, and then go home, have a beer, but it's not at all like that. Kuhn: Not only are you flying, but you're talking on four different radios. You're working the radar, you're working the TFLIR, you're working the electrical optical system there while you're still navigating, talking to ATC, and then working weapons on top of that. Narrator: Student pilots spend a year training to fly the F-35 Bravo here, at the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, South Carolina. This is a pilot's last stop before getting deployed to a fleet squadron overseas. And it's here they learn to handle the multi-role fighter jet in a variety of missions. Kuhn: We do strikes, so aerial interception. We do OCA/DCA, so offensive counter air/ defensive counter air, armed reconnaissance, and then really the bread and butter though is SEAD, so suppression of enemy air defenses. Narrator: The pilots we met are part of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 501, also known as the Warlords. Diego Rayas: Once you complete here, they send you out to the fleet squadrons out in Yuma or Japan. Narrator: Student pilots in the training squadron have already completed flight school, so training is focused specifically on operating the F-35B. Kuhn: Eventually, every fighter pilot that comes through the Marine Corps is going to go fly an F-35. I'm Michael Watts. I'm a major in the Marine Corps. My grandfather was a pilot in World War II, and I would always go to his house, see his models of his B-25 bomber, and also my father was a Navy pilot in Vietnam. So I kind of grew up with it in my blood. Right here, we're just basically starting to learn how to fly the airplane, and then you go through all the different mission sets and basic skills. Narrator: Because there are only so many jets that can fly at a time, most of the pilots' instruction comes on the ground, in the simulator and in the classroom. We weren't allowed to film some classified aspects of the pilots' instruction. But we were allowed to film the pilots practicing the aircraft's most unique capabilities and go behind the scenes as they suited up for a training mission. During training, it's crucial for the pilots to get comfortable executing the F-35B's STOVL maneuvers, because they'll have to master those techniques on an aircraft carrier. Rayas: Really, the main thing is when we fly off the ship. So, when I get out to Japan here in a few weeks, I'll eventually be learning how to fly off the ship. How do we get on there? We do vertical landings. How do we take off? We do short takeoffs. And so that's really the big reason why we're doing it. Narrator: Lockheed Martin makes three variations of the F-35 Lightning II, but the Marine Corps' F-35 Bravo is the only one with STOVL capabilities. This feature is a big reason why the Marine Corps' 2019 aviation plan called for replacing its current fleet of aircraft with more than 350 F-35Bs. Kuhn: We're replacing all of the Hornets, all the Harriers, and all the Prowlers with F-35s. Narrator: Conventional jets need about 3,000 feet for takeoff. But in optimal conditions, an F-35B can take off in just a couple hundred feet. Rayas: For a takeoff, we get onto the runway, and then at that point is when we initiate a conversion. We literally just hit a button, and then the plane goes through its transformer sequence. Once that's complete, we're in now what's called STOVL mode. There's different kinds of short takeoffs we can do. My favorite's the button. It's called the button STO. And as I'm accelerating down the runway, and literally just click a button and then the plane will take off by itself. It's pretty incredible. And then shortly after takeoff, we can convert back to conventional mode once we get to a certain air speed. Narrator: Once in the air, actually handling the jet isn't the most difficult aspect of operating it. Watts: It's actually a really easy airplane to fly. It's more difficult to process the amount of information it provides to you. I would say knowing where to look at the right time. Narrator: The student pilots already have experience flying jets, so much of their training is focused on utilizing technology unique to the F-35B. Kuhn: A lot of the difficulty is trying to absorb all of the information the jet's giving you, operate all the sensors and the systems at the same time, and fly. And really, that's probably the No. 1 struggle. Narrator: Once a practice mission is complete, pilots must take on another of the jet's unique features, executing a vertical landing. Kuhn: Having never done it, it was an experience. My brain telling me not to slow down, because in the Hornet, slow down, that meant you're gonna fall out of the sky. Rayas: It's a normal approach to landing, as if you're going to the runway. And then you're gonna level off and then set a certain ground speed. And then at a certain distance from the pad, you're gonna start a deceleration. And all that is is just a click of a button. And then from there, you're making sure that you're centered on the pad. Then you just push forward on the stick and then descend right onto the pad. Watts: I would say the first time doing a vertical landing in the F-35B is pretty crazy. You practice it a lot in the sim. You do it dozens of times in the simulator. But the first time you do it in a plane, just slowing down for the first time like that and hovering over a pad with over 30,000 pounds of metal 150 feet in the air is pretty neat. Rayas: Usually, you have the world kind of coming at you when you're flying. And so you're kind of sitting there just looking outside, as if you're in a tower or something. And you trust that you're fine there, you know, that you're still flying. Narrator: Before stepping foot in the cockpit, student pilots need to familiarize themselves with the gear needed to operate the F-35B, starting with their antigravity suit, which helps prevent them from losing consciousness while operating the jet. Watts: It's a fabric material that has bladders inside of it, and whenever you pull a G, it uses pressure from the engine to inflate, and then it prevents your blood from pulling down to your legs and it pushes it up to your abdomen as much as possible. Narrator: Each pilot's G suit is custom-made to fit perfectly around their lower body. Watts: And then we have a flight jacket that we put on, and it has a bunch of survival gear. Narrator: The pilot's flight jacket is filled with a multitude of survival tools in the event that they have to eject from the aircraft, including a flare, emergency strobe light, compass, survival knife, extra water, whistle, radio, and an oxygen mask. They have a code card for hand and arm signals, just to signal search and rescue basically. Then they have a signaling mirror, just to signal the aircraft with just a mirror and the reflection. Narrator: Some less conventional survival tools are supplied by the pilots themselves. I always try to take my wallet, in case I have to land somewhere else other than back here. That's happened to me before. You land somewhere and you stay the night and you don't have any wallet or phone or anything, which is kind of difficult. So I definitely take my wallet with me every time. Narrator: In the event the pilots have to eject from the jet, their flight jacket is embedded with a unique safety feature. There's arm-restraint lines that are routed throughout the jacket. When you eject, they pull your arms basically in towards your body. You're basically ensuring that your arms aren't gonna get flailed out into the wind. Narrator: The jacket is also equipped with a flotation device, in case the pilot has to eject over a body of water. Marek: So, as soon as it touches the water, it will inflate the entire jacket, so they don't have to do anything if their arms are broken or anything after ejection. Narrator: Last but not least, the pilots learn to utilize the most technologically advanced piece of equipment, their $400,000 helmets. Each helmet is custom-fit to its wearer based on a 3D scan of the pilot's head. It's also equipped with noise-canceling headphones, night vision, and a forward-facing camera that records each flight. The pilot's heads-up display is projected directly onto their visor rather than on the glass at the front of the cockpit thanks to two small projectors inside the helmet. This allows the pilot to easily view key data, such as altitude, air speed, and direction. Kuhn: Since the jet is able to help us so much, really flying should be second nature. That way, you can focus on all of the information that the jet's giving you. Narrator: Finally, the F-35's Distributed Aperture System creates a 360-degree view of the jet's surroundings by stitching together feeds from six cameras mounted on the plane, enabling the pilot to see through the base and walls of the aircraft. Watts: I think a lot of people underestimate the amount of work it takes to become a pilot, and a fighter pilot specifically. Narrator: A one-hour flight, even a simulated one, might mean up to six additional hours of briefing, gearing up, flight inspections, and debriefing, not to mention the hours spent studying for each mission. Watts: So you could spend a whole day preparing and debriefing one single hour of flight. I think it's awesome to be in the fifth-generation stealth fighter, kind of at the tip of the spear. It's a heavily weighted aircraft in terms of the combat power that the Marine Corps brings to the fight, and I'm honored to be a part of that. It's definitely pretty cool to carry on that tradition, talk to my dad about everything that I'm doing now and how it relates to what he did.