“Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”
Satchel Paige, the famous pitcher and Baseball Hall of Fame member, said that. Funny statement from a ground pounder.
Not so humorous for a fighter pilot. What might be gaining on a fighter pilot is something that wants to kill him.
“Check six” means look behind you. Frequently. The pilot in the cockpit with the adversary in front of him will be the victor, the one with the adversary or the missile behind him will be the victim. Always.
The F-35 Lightning II has more problems, besides the MSRP. “Check six” is an issue.
Aside from the smile generated when reading that the Lightning has problems with lightning, the visibility thing is serious. Here’s a look at what the issue is:
F-16 Cockpit looking aft
F-18 Cockpit looking aft
Turn around and look behind you in either of these fighters and what do you see? Everything!
Now take a look at some other cockpits.
Here’s a couple of Aussie pilots in their F-111. The F-111 was at one time a candidate for the U.S. Navy as a fighter.
Note the rearward visibility in the F-111. Nil. Zilch. Bulkhead. Thank goodness the Navy had some sense and dumped the F-111 as a fighter and opted for the F-14.
Here’s a rearward looking photo in an F-14. Note that the carrier cannot sneak up on the Tomcat easily.
How does the F-35 stack up?
Hmmm. Another bulkhead behind the pilot, just like the F-111.
The Pentagon report included this sentence: “Unlike legacy aircraft such as the F-15, F-16, and F/A-18, enhanced cockpit visibility was not designed into the F-35.”