Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter cockpit demonstrator hands-on@ 2012/07/12
The F-35 has already seen plenty of field time in the US, with more than 500 flights already in 2012, and it's set to make its way to the UK armed forces next week and the Netherlands later this year, but while the aircraft is quite familiar to the pilots tasked with flying it, the public hasn't had an opportunity to experience Lockheed's latest airborne warrior. We flew a simulated mission within a grounded duplicate of the flyable F-35 cockpit, and the capabilities and improvements are quite clear -- you definitely don't want to encounter an F-35 from a previous-generation aircraft. The dual 8 x 10-inch touch-enabled displays combine to give you 8 x 20 inches of real estate, with dedicated modules for the weapons systems, targeting, and navigation easily accessible -- you can also move them to different panels depending on your current objective. A pair of joysticks at the left and right side provide direct access, letting you move a cursor to track enemy crafts or ground-based targets as well, and a very slick heads-up-display mounted in the helmet provides infrared mapping and instrument readouts. Overall, it seems to be an incredibly powerful system. Unfortunately, the mock-up on display here isn't accessible to the public, but you can join us for a behind-the-scenes look just after the break.