Test Flying The F-35: Interview With Monessa ‘Siren’ Balzhiser

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Monessa “Siren” Balzhiser.( All images credit: Lockheed Martin, unless otherwise mentioned)

We spoke about the F-35’s existing and future abilities; distinctions with the F-16 in the SEAD and CAS objectives; and far more, with Lockheed Martin’s test pilot Monessa “Siren” Balzhiser.

Finished from the United States Air Force Academy in 2004, Monessa Balzhiser is the very first female production and training pilot for Lockheed Martin, flying both the F-35 and F-16 airplane. She signed up with Lockheed Martin in 2018, after 12 years as an officer and F-16 Instructor Pilot in the U.S. Air Force and 1,800 flight hours (consisting of 320 in battle) under her belt. In her present position, amongst lots of other things, she flies the F-35 for production assistance and approval flights and likewise offers programmatic and technical assistance for all F-16 and F-35 associated airworthiness and objective preparedness requirements.

We had the opportunity to fulfill and speak with “Siren” at Pratica di Mare Air Base, throughout the Italian Air Force’s 100th Anniversary airshow, to find out more about her task and the F-35.

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“Siren” prepares for a mission aboard an F-35.

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F-35A during the night( Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Photo by Angel DelCueto)

In your viewpoint, just how much of the F-35’s capacity are we seeing/using up until now? Are we still far from opening its complete capacity?

In my viewpoint, I do believe we are utilizing the F-35 to its extraordinary complete capacity, however that truly does depend upon how each nation is using the jet the method it requires to be for the security and deterrence of the dangers that our consumers are dealing with.

I no longer fly operationally, however I have actually talked with numerous F-35 pilots and clients. They are extremely surprised at what this jet can do currently. And now with TR3 showing up, for those clients that are getting that refresh, the F-35 capacity is simply going to continue to grow. Yes, we are continuing optimizing the abilities of the F-35 and I do not believe we’re a long method away from opening its complete capacity.

From a test pilot perspective, what are the primary distinctions in between the 3 F-35 versions? How visible are the distinctions in between the 3 versions in regards to handling, efficiency, and so on?

The primary distinctions in between the F-35 variations– the A, the B and the C– are primarily seen with the automobile systems of the jet. A great deal of the objective systems inside the jet, including what we see simply looking inside the cockpit, with the exception of really couple of switches, are rather the exact same from the pilot’s perspective.

A few of the car system distinctions consist of, for instance, that the A and C design do bring more fuel than the B design. They have a longer variety ability. The variety is higher than about 1200 nautical miles for the A and the C design with internal fuel, while the B design does higher than about 900 miles. The A design is the only variation with an internal weapon. We can utilize external weapons with the other versions. The and the C design do have a bigger weapons payload of 18,000 pounds, while the B design can just truly bring 15,000 pounds.

In regards to flying, I just fly the A design, so talking with the other pilots who are certified in all 3 variations, there are extremely small distinctions when it concerns managing, however performance-wise they all have the exact same abilities. Certainly the something that is obvious when handling the A, the B and the C variations is that while the A is our most widespread jet that’s utilized out there, the B design is the one that can hoover and the C design has 8 foot wingspan, bigger than the A and the B. So, from an efficiency viewpoint and a managing viewpoint, the C design typically does a bit much better from slide ratio even if it has longer, bigger wings.

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Monessa “Siren” Balzhiser.

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F-35A maneuvering throughout Arctic Lightning Air Show in 2021 (Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Corporation– Fort Worth– Mikaela Maschmeier)

In the end, the F-35 is actually there to optimize stealth, to optimize information link and sensing unit blend, and supplying that information out to the remainder of the battleground. It’s extremely maneuverable and can dogfight. It can fly truly far out beyond visual variety event information and placing itself into high hazard locations, where low observability is type in survivability, along with lethality, and has the ability to utilize weapons where required and where previous 4th generation fighters were unable to.

Thanks a lot for your time “Siren”!


David Cenciotti is a reporter based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, among the world’s most well-known and check out military air travel blog sites. Considering that 1996, he has actually composed for significant around the world publications, consisting of Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and numerous others, covering air travel, defense, war, market, intelligence, criminal offense and cyberwar. He has actually reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown a number of battle aircrafts with various flying force. He is a previous 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a personal pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has actually composed 5 books and added to a lot more ones.

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