Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Tue Jan 29, 2019 10:06 pm

I’m not sure we can read anything into Shanahan’s comments on the F-35 other than what we already knew, that being
- He worked for Boeing
- Acknowledged issues with the F-35 development that has taken too long and cost too much to overcome

Given how supportive the USAF and USMC are of the aircraft, as well as Allies and continued sales wins, I think there is not too much to worry about on whether “the F-35 has left a lot to be desired”.

Pentagon chief appears to throw shade at the F-35 in thinly-veiled jab

Acting Secretary of Defence Pat Shanahan took a swipe at the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter in a off-camera briefing at the Pentagon Tuesday.

Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, has been accused of bias toward his former company, which lost the bid for the development of a fifth-generation stealth fighter jet to competitor Lockheed Martin.

“Am I still wearing a Boeing hat? I think that’s just noise,” the acting secretary said Tuesday, responding to the allegations. But, then he took a thinly-veiled jab at the F-35.

“I’m biased towards performance. I am biased toward giving taxpayers their money’s worth. The F-35 unequivocally, I can say, has a lot of opportunity for more performance,” he explained, possibly suggesting that the aircraft is not quite where it needs to be.

Shanahan has signed an ethics agreement recusing himself from participating in matters pertaining to Boeing, a major US defence contractor.

His latest comments on the fighter, which were relatively diplomatic, are nothing compared to what he reportedly said in private meetings while serving as the deputy secretary of defence.

A former senior Defence Department official recently told Politico that Shanahan has described the F-35 as “f—ed up” and said its maker, Lockheed Martin, “doesn’t know how to run a program.”

“If it had gone to Boeing, it would be done much better,” that same former official recalled Shanahan saying, according to Politico.

Lockheed beat out Boeing in the Joint Strike Fighter competition around the turn of the century, with the Department of Defence ultimately picking Lockheed’s X-35 – which later became the F-35 – over Boeing’s X-32 in 2001.

During its development, the F-35, a costly project which could cost more than $US1 trillion over the course of its lifetime, has faced constant criticism for a variety of problems. The F-35 is generally considered the most expensive weapons program in US history.

“The F-35 is our future,” he said in September at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference.

“I think we can all agree that it is a remarkable aircraft, with eye-watering capabilities critical to the high-end fight,” he added. “I tip my hat to its broad team of government, industry, and international partners. Having worked on programs of similar size and complexity, I have enormous respect for your talent and commitment.”

Despite these decidedly kind words, his comments Tuesday seem to suggest that the F-35 has left a lot to be desired.

https://www.businessinsider.com.au/acti ... -35-2019-1
 
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Re: F-35 news thread

Tue Jan 29, 2019 10:38 pm

You have to wonder about that $500 million to make one LHD F-35 capable. Have they looked into that further than one "estimate" from someone who seems to arguing against the idea?
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Tue Jan 29, 2019 11:31 pm

Nomadd wrote:
You have to wonder about that $500 million to make one LHD F-35 capable. Have they looked into that further than one "estimate" from someone who seems to arguing against the idea?


I have seen even bigger figures than that postulated but I doubt any of them have been more than back of the hand calculations. While it is true that modifying either vessel is going to cost significantly more than had it been done during design I doubt it needs to happen to the extent envisioned as the Juan Carlos LHD was designed with the F-35 in mind.

The question is what would Australia want from an LHD capability with F-35? I don’t think anyone is envisioning a pocket carrier with 20-25 F-35Bs sitting off the coast of a South East Asian nation generating strikes. More likely is enough capability to provide limited air defence to a deployed flotilla, in concept with the AWD, or the ability to use Australian aircraft to directly support Australian troops ashore somewhere regional.

In either of the above cases, if this idea is being taken seriously, then the solution is probably a third LHD. ADF amphibious doctrine already considers that two of the three RAN large amphibious vessels must be available, either the two LHDs or one LHD and HMAS Choules, to provide enough sealift to transport and land the desired force (with the third in maintenance). Taking hanger space, munitions space, fuel etc for an airwing is going to take away from that deployed land force, hence why I think a dedicated third ship would be needed.

Problem being a third LHD is another billion to acquire, a whole bunch more people to crew and sustain long term and then you have to buy and operate the most expensive variant of the F-35 for the next 30 years. All three of those lead me to believe it isn’t going to happen, especially if the Australian economy continues to move downward away from its previous stellar run.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Wed Jan 30, 2019 5:08 am

Highly recommend reading the full article if you can get access, very interesting and informative on how successful the trials were. Additionally it details what specific aspects and lessons to be learned came out, including things like deck lighting, SVRL lighting and improvements required for the F-35B helmet.

AFM February: F-35B trials on board HMS Queen Elizabeth

The embarkation of a pair of F-35B Lightnings on board HMS Queen Elizabeth off the east coast of the US marked a major step forward in the regeneration of the UK Carrier Strike capability. For the latest issue of AFM, Richard Scott joined the carrier at the end of the First Of Class Flight Trials to find out how aircraft and ship performed together.

While the initial embarkation of the two fully instrumented ‘orange wired’ F-35Bs was cause for much fanfare on board Queen Elizabeth, it was only the first act in an intensive eight-week programme of fixed-wing First Of Class Flight Trials – or FOCFT (FW) – which ran through to mid-November in two main phases that were the primary focus for the navy’s four-month WESTLANT 18 deployment.

Four test pilots – Sqn Ldr Edgell, Cdr Gray, US Marine Corps test pilot Maj Michael ‘Latch’ Lippert and BAE Systems F-35 STOVL lead test pilot Pete ‘Wizzer’ Wilson – collectively flew 85 sorties (amounting to 75 flight hours) in the two aircraft during back-to-back periods of Developmental Testing (DT): DT-1 nominally ran from September 25 to October 17, with DT-2 following from October 28 until November 19; punctuated by Queen Elizabeth’s visit to New York between October 19 and 26.

“This is what First Of Class Flight Trials is all about,” said Cdr Gray. “It’s bringing the two systems together – the aircraft and the ship – to ensure they are interoperable, and to define the operating limits. This provides the basis for the whole ‘fighting system’.

“Queen Elizabeth has been designed, keel up, as a strike carrier based around an F-35B fixed-wing air group. We call it a fifth-generation carrier for a fifth-generation aircraft. It’s got all the systems and engineering for the F-35 built into the ship. No other carrier in the world has been built just for this air vehicle.”

https://airforcesmonthly.keypublishing. ... elizabeth/

Image
 
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Re: F-35 news thread

Thu Jan 31, 2019 11:54 pm

As per the Germany Tornado replacement thread here is an english article from DefenseNews about the exclusion of the F-35 from the contest. Germany was never seen as a likely sale so little to no impact on the program going forward.

Germany officially knocks F-35 out of competition to replace Tornado

Germany’s Ministry of Defence has officially ruled out the F-35 joint strike fighter as a choice to replace its aging Tornado fleet, Defense News has learned.

An official from the ministry confirmed that the F-35 is not a finalist in the competition, which seeks a replacement for the 90-jet fleet. The news was first reported by German site AugenGeradeaus.

The move is not altogether surprising. Berlin for some time has officially favored an upgraded version of the fourth-generation Eurofighter Typhoon, built by a consortium of Airbus, Leonardo and BAE Systems, as the Tornado replacement. The main argument is to keep European companies involved in building combat aircraft and, perhaps even more importantly, staying clear of disturbing Franco-German momentum in armaments cooperation.

However, the decision leaves open the question of certification for nuclear weapons. The Typhoon is not certified to carry the American-made nuclear bombs that Germany, as part of its strategic posture, is supposed to be able to carry on its jets.

Competing against the Typhoon is Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

Before the German MoD confirmed that the F-35 was officially out of the running, Reuters on Thursday reported that the ministry was considering splitting the buy between the Typhoon and either the F-35 or Super Hornet.

Ordering both the Typhoon and an American aircraft would make it easier to continue carrying out the NATO nuclear mission, while also lending support to the European industrial base. However, it could complicate logistics, adding more expense and forcing the German air force to maintain two supply chains.

It is worth noting that despite complaints about the cost of keeping the ageing Tornados flying, keeping around a certain number of them always has been considered a painful, but not impossible, proposition among some defense experts. That is especially the case for the nuclear mission.

“There does not have to be a nuclear Tornado replacement,” Karl-Heinz Kamp, president of the Federal Academy for Security Policy, a government think tank, told Defense News last August. He noted that any German government is acutely averse to the publicity surrounding Berlin’s would-be atomic bombers.

“That’s why they will keep flying the Tornados, despite the price tag and despite having asked about a Eurofighter nuclear certification in Washington,” Kamp predicted at the time.

German defense officials on Thursday evening stressed that no decisions had been made besides reducing the playing field to the FA-18 and the Eurofighter Typhoon. The Defense Ministry will request additional information from the respective manufacturers, Boeing and Airbus, on the issues of operations, economic viability and timing, these officials said.

Germany’s decision appears to have come at the surprise of F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin, which was not told by the ministry of the imminent announcement.

“We have not been officially notified of a decision on Germany’s future fighter,” Lockheed spokesman Mike Friedman said in an emailed response to a query. “The F-35 delivers unmatched value as the most capable and lowest life-cycle cost aircraft, while delivering the strongest long-term industrial and economic opportunities compared to any fighter on the market. As the foundation of NATO’s next generation of air power, the F-35 is the most advanced aircraft in the world today, and includes Electronic Attack capabilities well beyond any specialized fourth generation aircraft.”

https://www.defensenews.com/global/euro ... e-tornado/

I wonder if the down selection of the F/A-18 is also about Germany acquiring the Growler, thereby replacing the Tornado ECR variant.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Fri Feb 01, 2019 12:29 am

Not great signs for the early F-35Bs that the USMC bought although also not a great surprise given we knew there were going to be service life issues with one of the bulkheads. Hopefully this can be remediated or alternatively the USMC gets some more capable Blk4/5 jets later in the production run.

Stagnant F-35 Reliability Means Fewer Available Jets: Pentagon

Durability testing data indicates service-life of initial F-35B short-takeoff-vertical landing jets bought by Marine Corps “is well under” expected service life of 8,000 fleet hours; “may be as low as 2,100″ hours, the Pentagon test office says in 2018 annual report obtained by Bloomberg that’s scheduled for release this week.

That means some jets are expected to start hitting service life limit in 2026.

Furthermore, there’s no “improving trend in” aircraft availability to fly training or combat missions as it’s remained “flat” over the past 3 years. Details come a day after Defense Sec. Pat Shanahan told reporters the F-35 “has a lot of opportunity for more performance.”

“Interim reliability and field maintenance metrics to meeting planned 80% goal not being met, test office director Robert Behler says in new assessment, as improvements “are still not translating into improved availability,” [with] Current fleet performance “well below” that benchmark.

http://www.defense-aerospace.com/articl ... t%26e.html
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Fri Feb 01, 2019 12:46 am

The F-35 DOT&E report for 2019 has been released.

http://www.dote.osd.mil/pub/reports/FY2 ... f35jsf.pdf

Lots of info in there and as, the article above indicates, still plenty of issues to work though although less than is typical at this stage of such a major program. I expect a plethora of articles from the usual suspects in the next few days as they try to cash in on F-35 click bait.

Edit: Recommendations were the following,

Recommendations:
• The program should:
1. Continue to work with the Services to prioritize and correct
the remaining Category 1 and 2 defi ciencies discovered
during SDD.
2. Apply lessons learned from SDD and other programs for
scoping the amount of C2D2 testing that can be done in
laboratories and simulations, compared with the need for
fl ight testing.
3. Reassess the C2D2 plan to ensure adequate test
infrastructure (labs, aircraft, and time) is provided and
modifi cations are aligned with other fi elding requirements.
4. Assess the annual cost of software sustainment.
5. Determine the cause of the accuracy problems with the
F-35A gun fi ring and implement a solution for increasing
gun accuracy for the fi elded aircraft.
6. Develop a consolidated and adequate ALIS test venue to
ensure ALIS capabilities are fully tested prior to fi elding to
operational units
7. Conduct a study to determine the optimum balance of
additional spare parts procurement versus adding depot
capacity to repair spare parts, in order to decrease the
percentage of NMC aircraft waiting for spare parts.
8. Continue implementing measures to improve fl eet
availability.
9. Make actual aircraft or appropriate hardware- and
software-in-the-loop facilities available to enable
operationally representative air vehicle cyber testing.
10. Continue conducting periodic rounds of cybersecurity
testing and correcting open cyber defi ciencies.
11. Continue testing the integrity and security of the JSF supply
chain, expanding on initial testing conducted in 2018.
• The JPO should:
1. Complete contracting actions to procure a second F-35B
ground test article in order to complete at least two lifetimes
of structural durability testing to validate the wing-carrythrough
structure.
2. Fund and contract for the 16-20 recommended signal
generators called for in the JPO’s own 2014 gap analysis
study.
3. Fund and contract for the necessary hardware upgrades to
the USRL to support Block 4 development and testing.
 
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Re: F-35 news thread

Sun Feb 03, 2019 8:53 am

No surprise that the UK has an impending budget crunch, lots of equipment to replace and not enough budget to do it with.

UK may not be able to buy new fleet of F-35 fighter jets unless black hole in Defence budget is plugged, MPs warn

Britain may not be be able to expand its F-35 fighter jet fleet unless a black hole in the Ministry of Defence budget is plugged, MPs have warned.

A scathing report by the Public Accounts Committee has exposed how the MoD is staring at a £7 billion funding gap, which could double over the next 10 years.

Under scrutiny is the F-35 fighter jet program, which is supposed to deliver some 138 F-35 Lightning aircraft over the coming decades.

Britain has already signed a contract for the first batch of 48, which are estimated to cost £9.1bn by 2025, including support such as training and maintenance.

But the committee say that there remains uncertainty on the plans for F-35 beyond the procurement of the first 48 jets, with clarity on future support and maintenance costs dependent on the results of current trials.



The report says that without a fundamentally different financial settlement, the MoD would have to ‘de-scope, defer or delete’ projects. Its preference would be to do the latter, given that delaying programmes often increased costs and complexity.

Although the Department confirmed it would have to stop some projects it was unwilling to give specific examples.

Currently, the MoD forecasts £193.3 billion of equipment and support costs between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2028. This exceeds its £186.4 billion budget, which includes a £6.2 billion contingency, by £7 billion.

The Department estimates that, should all identified risks materialise, the budget and cost difference for the Plan would widen to £14.8 billion, although this could still be optimistic.

Meg Hillier, chair of the Public Accounts Committee said: “In terms of poor financial planning, the Ministry of Defence is a repeat offender. The Department’s progress with addressing the concerns set out in our last report on the Defence Equipment Plan has been woeful.

“The MoD simply cannot afford everything it says it needs and it is not acceptable for officials to continue deferring decisions that have a bearing on its current affordability gap and longer-term risks.

“A department that is unwilling or unable to take the action required to help it live within its means is failing taxpayers, who rightly expect Government to deliver the best possible value for their money.

“We urge the MoD to act on our recommendations now, work with the Treasury to ensure its funding and planning models are fit for purpose, and bring some much-needed clarity to its priorities and costs.”



A spokesperson for the MoD said: “We are confident that we will deliver the equipment plan within budget this year, as we did last year, as we strive to ensure our military have the very best ships, aircraft and vehicles.

“At the same time, we are addressing the financial challenges posed by ambitious, complex programmes, after securing a £1.8bn financial boost for defence and reducing forecast costs by £9.5bn through efficiency savings.

“We are grateful for the PAC’s report on the Equipment Plan, and we will carefully review all of its recommendations."

“The F-35 programme remains on track and within budget, providing a game-changing capability for our Armed Forces. We continue to drive down costs with every purchase and remain committed to purchasing 138 F-35 Lightning aircraft.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/0 ... ess-black/
Last edited by Ozair on Sun Feb 03, 2019 9:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Sun Feb 03, 2019 9:01 am

USMC's Older F-35Bs May Only Be Able To Fly Around A Quarter Of Their Expected Service Life (Updated)

A new Pentagon report is warning that the U.S. Marine Corps' oldest F-35B Joint Strike Fighters may remain airworthy for just over a quarter of the aircraft's expected lifespan due to serious structural problems. This could force the service to begin grounding jets, or retiring them permanently, as early as 2026. It also remains unclear whether subsequent improvements to the aircraft's design on later models have significantly increased the durability of later production aircraft.

Bloomberg first reported the new details about the life expectancy of early block F-35Bs, which may be as low as 2,100 flight hours, after acquiring the most recent annual review of the program from the Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, more commonly known as DOT&E. This office publicly releases reports every year on how various significant military programs are proceeding in testing, often compiling data together with information from previous years.

The yearly reports on the F-35 also cover the entire Joint Strike Fighter program, including developments with the U.S. Air Force's F-35A and the U.S. Navy's F-35C, as well as components common to all three variants. Beyond the F-35B lifespan problems, the review also said concerns about cybersecurity vulnerabilities, as well as issues with the overall performance of the cloud-based Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) computer network that supports all the F-35s, remained unresolved, according to Bloomberg.

We have yet to see the full report for ourselves and get more details about these particular problems, and any others it might highlight. But these particular points are hurdles that the Joint Strike Fighter program has been struggling to overcome for years and you can read about more about them in depth here and here. The latest DOT&E review also raised questions about the accuracy of the internal GAU-22/A 25mm gun in the Air Force's A model against ground targets, another well-established issue that the Air Force has, at least implicitly, appeared to ignore over the years.

The appalling low durability of early F-35Bs is also something that DOT&E reports have highlighted in the past, but this is the first time there has been any concrete information on how bad the problem actually is. All three F-35 models are supposed to have a life expectancy of 8,000 flight hours.

The Joint Strike Fighter program office had demanded that a non-flyable airframe representative of each one of the three F-35 models go through the equivalent of three full life cycles, or 24,000 flight hours, of simulated routine wear and tear. Contractors hired to do the fatigue testing could make general repairs and conduct normal preventive maintenance at appropriate points in the experiments.

So far, only the F-35A test article has completed all of these tests. In 2017, the Joint Strike Fighter program suspended plans for the third round of testing on F-35B test article, also known as BH-1, because it was "no longer representative" of any actual production aircraft, according to DOT&E's reports.

BH-1 had received significant structural redesigns over the course of testing, including a new carry-through-structure joining the wings to the fuselage, the latest DOT&E review explained, according to a separate report from Aviation Week. Testing had also exposed that certain components proved to be more prone to cracking than expected.

This can only reignite concerns about the F-35B's basic design going back more than a decade now. In 2004, Lockheed Martin tasked a group of engineers, known as STOVL (Short Take Off/Vertical Landing) Weight Attack Team, or SWAT, with shaving pounds off the B model. This variant is still heavier than the F-35A due to the added weight of the lift fan, articulating exhaust, and other features necessary for its short- and vertical takeoff and landing capabilities. Those same features also reduce the size of its internal weapons bays compared to its cousins and give it a lower G rating compared to the A model.

Lockheed Martin's SWAT cut 2,700 pounds off the F-35B. The changes they made also resulted in 1,300 pounds of weight savings on both the F-35A and C models as part of the herculean effort that effectively saved the Joint Strike Fighter program. Since then, critics had questioned exactly what had to get sacrificed to meet those goals as reports of cracking and other component failures have emerged with the B variant in particular.

The Marine Corps' oldest F-35Bs are underperforming, in general, due in large part to their now thoroughly obsolete Block 2B software package and shortages of spare parts. In March 2018, U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant General Steven Rudder, the service's Deputy Commandant for Aviation, informed Congress that these aircraft were mission capable, on average, less than 40 percent of the time.

The limited capabilities of the Block 2B software already means that the Marines have relegated these aircraft to training roles and other non-combat roles, an arrangement that poses potential risks for the service's ability to meet the demand for generating more F-35 pilots. The Corps has regularly downplayed these issues with its Joint Strike Fighter fleet. The service declared initial operational capability with the type in 2015 and used the aircraft in actual combat for the first time over Afghanistan in September 2018.

The Marines also suffered the first crash of an F-35 of any kind in 2018. This was one of the F-35Bs assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron Five Zero One (VMFAT-501), the service's premier Joint Strike Fighter training unit, but there is no evidence as yet that structural problems played a role in that accident.

The reason that there are so many different sub-configurations of the three main F-35 variants spread across the U.S. military at all is the result of a concept known as "concurrency." The Pentagon had billed this idea, which involved stepping up production of the jets and buying dozens of low-rate production examples while simultaneously planning to implement any necessary upgrades across the fleet as time went on, as a cost-saving measure.

This has not turned out to be the case and there are now questions about whether it will ultimately turn out to be practical to upgrade any F-35s still running the older software, regardless of specific variant. If this comes to pass, the U.S. military will have sunk billions into jets that will never be combat capable and may be increasingly irrelevant even for training purposes as newer Joint Strike Fighters become increasingly distinct from the earlier examples.

The problems look set to become increasingly pronounced for the F-35B fleet if early models won't be airworthy without significant structural upgrades by the end the next decade. Beyond that, there's no guarantee that later model Bs will meet the 8,000 flight hour life expectancy goal, “even with extensive modifications to strengthen the aircraft,” either, according to previous DOT&E reports on the F-35 program. In the end, concurrency may leave the Marines with a fleet of aircraft that will only ever fly for a fraction of their expected service life before needing replacing entirely.

The Joint Strike Fighter program office has received funds for a new test article that is representative of the current B model configuration that it could use to gather more realistic data from the third round of fatigue testing, but it has yet to actually acquire that airframe, according to the latest review. The F-35C still need to complete its third cycle of testing, as well, though previous DOT&E reports have not highlighted severe structural issues with that model. The F-35A has completed its full battery of tests without any apparent major issues.

The new and worrisome details about the F-35B's life span also come amid growing concerns about the readiness of the U.S. military's F-35 fleets overall. In 2018, former Secretary of Defense James Mattis ordered the Air force, Navy, and Marine Corps to take the steps necessary to boost the availability of the Joint Strike Fighter fleet across the services, as well as that of F-16, F/A-18, and F-22 fighter jets, to an average of 80 percent by the end of the 2019 Fiscal Year.

“I am biased towards giving the taxpayer their money’s worth," Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan more recently told reporters on Jan. 29, 2019, in response to questions about whether the former Boeing executive had pushed the Air Force to purchase new F-15s from his former employer over F-35s. "And the F-35, unequivocally, I can say has a lot of opportunity for more performance."

It is worth noting that the Air Force and Lockheed Martin have said that the Air Force's plans to acquire F-15Xs will have no impact on the F-35 program, something that we at The War Zone underscored when we broke the story initially. Shanahan's statements do seem to highlight growing frustration within the Pentagon over persistent issues with the Joint Strike Fighter program, even as the jets continue to hit certain milestones and drop in price.

"If they choose to have an order of the F-15, it won’t be at the expense of F-35 quantities," Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin's CEO, said during a routine earnings call on Jan. 30, 2019. “I'm hearing that directly from leadership in the Pentagon, and I think that's an important point for me to make. It's not just our suspicion, but I've been told that directly."

We're eager to get our hands on DOT&E's latest review to see if there is any more specific information about the F-35B's life expectancy or other issues still plaguing all three Joint Strike Fighter variants. From what we know now, though, there are already serious questions about the future of the Marine Corps fleet in the near term and about whether the U.S. military's F-35 fleet as a whole can come anywhere close to meeting the performance targets the Pentagon has laid out for this year.

http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/26 ... rvice-life

The most interesting, and factually reported, part of the article is the following,

After we published this story, Lockheed Martin, who manufactures the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, sent us with the following statement regarding the F-35B's life expectancy:

The F-35s operating today are delivering exceptional capability, lethality and connectivity around the globe. While we await the full details of the ongoing Operational Test phase, we are actively enhancing all aspects of the F-35 to ensure it exceeds warfighter demands and outpaces evolving threats. Items identified in the Annual DOT&E report are well understood and have been resolved in partnership with the F-35 Joint Program Office or have an agreed path forward to resolution.

F-35B Service Life: The F-35B has completed full scale durability testing to 16,000 hours. Planned modifications and fleet management of the early contract F-35B aircraft will ensure that they meet the 8,000 hour service life requirement, and aircraft delivering today incorporate these design changes in the build process to ensure they’ll meet 8,000 hours or more.

However, as DOT&E's report noted, the F-35B still needs at least another round of durability testing to meet the U.S. military's requirements and confirm that the existing structural improvements will allow the aircraft to meet the 8,000 flight hour requirement. It also remains unclear how realistic the data from the second round of tests actually is, given that the BH-1 airframe had changed so significantly throughout the course of that testing that it was no longer representative of any production configuration in the end. The U.S. military's F-35 program office did accept the results of that second round of testing.
 
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Re: F-35 news thread

Sun Feb 03, 2019 10:52 am

Some strong price movements expected from LM. While I understand the issues it is a shame the US cannot participate in a multi-year buy until the aircraft passes IOT&E. There would be some significant savings available. Also note the statements from Hewson that production could go beyond the current expected rate.

Lockheed: F-35A Cost To Drop Below $80 Million Per Fighter In 2023

Lockheed Martin is committed to producing the F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter for $80 million each by next year and further reducing the overall program costs as part of the next production contract negotiations with the Department of Defense, the company said on Tuesday

In 2022, Lockheed Martin officials expect to negotiate the next multiyear F-35 contract with the Joint Program Office. The goal is to use the steady cash flow from a multiyear contract to drive down further the production costs once the contract kicks in.

As part of a pitch for multiyear contract, Lockheed Martin officials say such a deal will lower the F-35A price to less than $80 million per fighter, Marillyn Hewson, chief executive of Lockheed Martin, told analysts during a conference call today discussing the company’s 2018 year-end results and expectations for 2019.

“That’s our target, to continue to drive the unit cost down,” Hewson said. “And we won’t stop there, we will always be looking at ways that we can take the cost down in the program as it continues to mature and grows.”

Currently, the F-35A, the standard take-off and landing variant primarily used by the U.S. Air Force and foreign partners, has a price tag of $89.2 million. The F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing variant used by the Marine Corps and some foreign partners currently cost $115.5 million each, and the F-35C carrier variant used by the Navy cost $107.7 million per fighter, according to Lockheed Martin.

As production increases, the price per F-35 is expected to decrease due to efficiencies in the production process and the ability to lock in lower prices for large quantities of raw materials and components. Lockheed Martin plans to deliver 131 fighters this year, compared to the 91 F-35 fighters delivered in 2018. Within two years, company officials expect to deliver more than 161 fighters per year.

However, with F-35 production is closing in on what’s considered the full capacity for the program of record, Hewson said the company could build more.

Increasing the production rate would require coordination with the JPO, the supply chain and international customers, but Hewson said the company could handle increased demand. Germany, Switzerland and Finland are currently considering buying the F-35, Hewson said.


Already the U.S. and 12 other countries are either part of the program of record or committed to purchasing F-35 fighters, according to Lockheed Martin.

“We could certainly go to a higher rate if the demand were such that we needed to do that,” Hewson said.

https://news.usni.org/2019/01/29/40708? ... DYY648GWFk
 
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Re: F-35 news thread

Tue Feb 05, 2019 8:57 pm

Another primarily DOT&E news article. Fleet wide availability will likely remain an issue for a couple more years and the production ramp up continues although production is now relatively stable in delivering Blk 3F jets with all the identified hardware and software fixes.

Air Force Presses Lockheed On F-35 Readiness: Lt. Gen. Bunch

In what was clearly a long and somewhat tense meeting last week, Lockheed Martin got an earful from the Office of Secretary of Defense and the Air Force about its inability to improve the performance and reliability of the F-35.

I asked Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, the top uniformed official for Air Force acquisition, how concerned the Air Force is that Lockheed Martin has not been able to improve fleet availability above 60 percent for three years. The Director of Operational Test and evaluation issued his annual report yesterday and that fact was the grimmest in the review of the F-35.

“There was no improving trend in fleet aircraft availability….Fleet-wide average availability is below program target value of 60 percent and well below planned 80 percent needed for efficient conduct of IOT&E,” the report says. “The trend in fleet availability has been flat over the past 3 years; the program’s reliability improvement initiatives are still not translating into improved availability.”

More broadly, Robert Behler’s report says that the “reliability and maintainability metrics defined in the JSF Operational Requirements Document are not meeting interim goals needed to reach requirements at maturity.”

To his credit, Bunch addressed the question, although he had not been briefed on the DOTE final report.

“I’m not going to duck this one,” he said, clearly indicating he had considered just that.

“We are trying to get to that 80 percent number readiness rate for our combat coded aircraft,’ Bunch said. “We have a list of systems that are not performing as well as we want — the big drivers — and we are going to measure to see if we get the performance that we expect.”

Lockheed Martin, unsurprisingly, defended the program, saying, that “system reliability continues to improve and all variants of the F-35 are currently exceeding nearly all reliability specifications at this point on the maturity growth curve. With enhanced reliability, newer aircraft are now averaging greater than 60 percent mission capable rates with some operational squadrons near 70 percent.” Of course, it doesn’t rake a rocket scientist to note that 70 percent is not 80 percent.

The company expects readiness rates “to significantly increase and operating costs to decline” as it delivers newer planes, it said in a statement.

We’re also investing in ALIS and our IT infrastructure to enhance data integrity, improve user experience and interface, integrate robotic process automation, lower maintenance labor and dramatically improve speed.

The Air Force, Joint Strike Fighter program office, and Lockheed Martin are developing a new plan for life cycle support, Bunch said. He personally attended a meeting a week ago with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Lockheed. He wouldn’t say how long it was, which suggests it was painfully long, and his tone made clear it wasn’t a particularly happy discussion.

F-35 Gun Misses Mark

The other notable fact in the DOTE report, beyond continuing problems with ALIS, the logistics and mission planning system for the F-35, is that the F-35A 25mm gun, needed for its Close Air Support role, is not very accurate.

Here’s the damning language in the report:

“Based on F-35A gun testing through September 2018, DOT&E currently considers the accuracy of the gun, as installed in the F-35A, to be unacceptable.

“F-35A gun accuracy during SDD failed to meet the contract specification. Although software corrections were made to the F-35 mission systems software to improve the stability of gun aiming cues, no software or hardware corrections have yet been implemented to correct the gun accuracy errors.

“Investigations into the gun mounts of the F-35A revealed misalignments that result in muzzle alignment errors. As a result, the true alignment of each F-35A gun is not known, so the program is considering options for re-boresighting and correcting gun alignments.

“During air-to-air gun testing, F-35A operational test pilots received intermittent ‘unsafe gun’ cockpit alerts while attempting gun attacks. These alerts occurred with two different aircraft; the root cause is under investigation.”

But there is good news! The F-35B and F-35C guns are accurate and “meet the contract specifications.” While the F-35A carries a permanently installed internal gun, firing through a shutter in the side of the fuselage (as you can see in the video above), the B and C variants carry their gun in an optional external pod (see video below), which means it makes them less stealthy when installed, but apparently it shoots straighter.

https://breakingdefense.com/2019/02/air ... gen-bunch/
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:23 pm

Increased noise complaints in the area around Luke AFB but probably expected. The noise probably has peak days and nights based on progression through the respective training syllabus.

Here's why the skies around Luke Air Force Base are getting noisier

As skies around Luke Air Force Base get busier and noisier, the base wants West Valley residents who live nearby to know that this is the new norm.

The base's F-35 program is growing, as planned. With more planes and more pilots to train, there's more training flights each day, and the time between flights — and noise from an overhead plane — is shrinking.

The base hit a milestone in January. For the first time, there were more than 1,000 F-35 flights from the base in one month, said Becky Heyse, a base spokeswoman.

Also last month, the base saw a dramatic increase in noise complaints from those living around the base, Heyse said. She declined to provide the number of complaints in January. In all of 2018, there were about 80, according to numbers provided by Luke near the end of the year.

The number of complaints coming in so far this month seem more normal, Heyse said.

But the number of flights, and the noise, will continue to grow as the program grows. Luke officials are asking residents for their continued support, Heyse said.

"The program has been as successful as it has been because we have this community support," she said.

Luke is located north of Camelback Road and west of Litchfield Road in west Glendale. It was a mainstay for F-16s during that jet's heyday.

The base is now phasing out its F-16 program as its F-35 program grows. In the last few months, it reached another milestone: The number of F-35s surpassed the number of F-16s on base.

After receiving its first F-35 in 2014, the base is now up to 85 F-35s. The plan is to build out the inventory to a total of 144 F-35s.

The base has 77 F-16s after dropping from a peak of more than 200.

Luke trains pilots from around the world, and, in total, trains 70 percent of the world's F-35 pilots.

The pilots are trained on planes from all of the F-35 partner countries, which are the U.S., Australia, Norway, Italy, Turkey and the Netherlands. The base is also training pilots from the Republic of Korea. On Friday, it received its first Dutch F-35, Heyse said.

The base graduates about 105 F-35 pilots per year, and about 98 F-35 maintainers per year, according to November data provided by Luke. Luke, along with the rest of the U.S. Air Force, faces a shortage in pilots and pilot instructors.

https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/lo ... 778033002/


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Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:30 pm

More suggestions on increasing F-35 production. The original plan was for 80 per year for the USAF, before it was reduced to the current 60, but the USAF had also previously suggested a 100 was certainly viable. As with previous programs of this nature a higher rate obviously promises increased savings and would also meet the USAF intent of reducing the overall fleet age.

Air Force May Expand, Speed Up Buy of F-35 Fighter

While senior Air Force leaders are calling for a “fast” pursuit toward production and delivery of its stated F-35 objectives, there are some voices now raising the question as to whether the rates should be sped up even more -- potentially even increasing the overall numbers for the program.

The discussion is centered around several questions currently under consideration. Can the current pace of construction and delivery be accelerated? Can larger numbers of F-35As be moved forward to address nearer term demand? What kind of industrial capacity might there be if the Air Force, perhaps with Army input, seeks to increase the overall production numbers of the aircraft above and beyond its stated objective of 1,763?

In 2018, Lockheed Martin delivered 45 Air Force F-35As, a 70-percent increase from 2017. This year, however, the plan is to only go up to 48 - en route to 60 per year in the mid 2020s - some say this is simply not enough.

At issue is a key and concerning question raised by expert F-35 observers -- namely that if the US should find itself in a high-end war against a major adversary such as Russia on the European continent, will it simply not have enough 5th-gen aircraft to meet the threat? The Air Force’s stated budget-related decision not to re-start F-22 production seems to only compound this problem.

“If the Air Force does not accelerate its buy of F-35s, in the year 2030 half of its fighter fleet will still be non-stealthy planes. That could make victory over a China or Russia hard to achieve,” said Loren Thompson, Chief Operating Officer of the Lexington Institute.

Retired weapons developer Lt. Gen. David Deptula, now serving as the Dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace studies, is among a handful of voices saying “no,” the US would not be prepared should it stay at its current rate of F-35 production.

Deptula is specifically calling for faster production to get to the desired inventory more rapidly.

“Unfortunately, the Air Force has been consistently under-resourced for over 20 years. As a result the US Air Force is the oldest, smallest, and least ready in the entire history of its existence,” Deptula said. “We are no longer facing near-peers, but peers given the advancements in the Chinese and Russian military.”

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson’s plan to expand the force to 386 squadrons does call for the addition of 7 fighter squadrons but stops short of specifying which aircraft these should be.

What about the Army?

“When you are in a firefight, the first thing infantry wants to do is get on that radio to adjust fire for mortars and locate targets with close air support with planes or helicopters. You want fires. The F-35 has increased survivability, and it will play a decisive role in the support of ground combat,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told reporters last Fall at the Association of the United States Army Symposium.

It is, of course, assumed that, when it comes to a Combatant Commander’s execution of a “Joint” war plan, F-35s would, of course, be deployed in support of ground forces. This has already happened in Afghanistan, as close air support has been, by design, an intended element of the F-35 engineering plan.

“We fight with the Navy, Marines and Air Force. Our soldiers have never heard an Air Force pilot say ‘I can’t fly into that low-altitude area,’ These guys take incredible risk. If there are troops on the ground, they are rolling in hot,” Milley said.

Upon initial examination, some might regard a stealthy, 5th-gen F-35 as not ideally suited for close air support or certain kinds of high-intensity air-ground missions. However, long-range, computer-enabled F-35 sensors might allow the aircraft to see and destroy enemy ground targets with precision from much higher altitudes and much farther ranges than existing aircraft can; the speed of an F-35 could potentially make it better able to maneuver, elude enemy fire and get into position for attack.

Like the A-10s 30mm gun, the F-35A has its own 25mm cannon mounted on its left wing which could attack ground forces. Given its sensor configuration, with things like a 360-degree Distributed Aperture System with cameras, the F-35 brings a drone-like ISR component to air-ground war. This could help targeting, terrain analysis and much-needed precision attacks as US soldiers fight up-close with maneuvering enemy ground forces.

An F-35 might also be positioned to respond quickly to enemy force movement; in the event that enemy air threats emerge in a firefight, an F-35 could potentially address them in a way an A-10 could not; an F-35 would be much better positioned to locate enemy long-range-fires points of combat significance and destroy hostile artillery, mortar or long-range-fires launching points.

Edward Stevie Smith, F-35 Domestic Development Director, Lockheed - put it this way: “We are still learning new ways to deploy this airplane.”

There are, however, some unknowns likely to be informing various elements of the F-35’s continued combat performance. How much small arms fire could an F-35 withstand? How low to the ground could it successfully operate? Could an F-35B draw upon its “hovering” technology to loiter near high-value target areas? To what extent could it keep flying in the event that major components, such as engines or fuselage components, were destroyed in war?

Interestingly, some developers, who may not want to specifically address the ability of an F-35 to survive small arms fire for security reasons, do point out that the aircraft “may not ever have to” be in a position to withstand those kinds of attacks. The aircraft is intended to offer precise, maneuverable close air support from much greater stand-off ranges than current air platforms, given its sensor suite. However, the F-35 is not yet combat-tested in this arena, so verification may be forthcoming should it be called upon for future attacks.

While Lockheed makes a point to not speak about Air Force objectives or intentions when it comes to F-35 production, they do say that -- if called upon -- they do have the industrial bandwidth to make a substantial increase in pace and numbers.

https://defensemaven.io/warriormaven/ai ... WMFQqXjTg/
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:33 pm

Continued work on cost reduction measures.

Lockheed Receives $90M Navy Contract Modification to Explore F-35 Cost Reduction Measures

Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has received a three-year, $90.3M contract modification from the U.S. Navy to identify and implement measures to reduce the cost of the F-35 air system.

The company will aim to complete the cost reduction efforts by June 2022, the Department of Defense said Tuesday.

The Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps will use fiscal 2017 aircraft procurement funds on this modification.

The company secured a $1.38B advance acquisition contract in 2017 to obtain long lead materials, components and parts for the F-35 program’s lots 12 to 14.

https://www.govconwire.com/2019/02/lock ... -measures/
 
ZaphodHarkonnen
Posts: 831
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Re: F-35 news thread

Wed Feb 06, 2019 11:30 pm

Ozair wrote:
Increased noise complaints in the area around Luke AFB but probably expected. The noise probably has peak days and nights based on progression through the respective training syllabus.

Here's why the skies around Luke Air Force Base are getting noisier

As skies around Luke Air Force Base get busier and noisier, the base wants West Valley residents who live nearby to know that this is the new norm.

The base's F-35 program is growing, as planned. With more planes and more pilots to train, there's more training flights each day, and the time between flights — and noise from an overhead plane — is shrinking.

The base hit a milestone in January. For the first time, there were more than 1,000 F-35 flights from the base in one month, said Becky Heyse, a base spokeswoman.

Also last month, the base saw a dramatic increase in noise complaints from those living around the base, Heyse said. She declined to provide the number of complaints in January. In all of 2018, there were about 80, according to numbers provided by Luke near the end of the year.

The number of complaints coming in so far this month seem more normal, Heyse said.

But the number of flights, and the noise, will continue to grow as the program grows. Luke officials are asking residents for their continued support, Heyse said.

"The program has been as successful as it has been because we have this community support," she said.

Luke is located north of Camelback Road and west of Litchfield Road in west Glendale. It was a mainstay for F-16s during that jet's heyday.

The base is now phasing out its F-16 program as its F-35 program grows. In the last few months, it reached another milestone: The number of F-35s surpassed the number of F-16s on base.

After receiving its first F-35 in 2014, the base is now up to 85 F-35s. The plan is to build out the inventory to a total of 144 F-35s.

The base has 77 F-16s after dropping from a peak of more than 200.

Luke trains pilots from around the world, and, in total, trains 70 percent of the world's F-35 pilots.

The pilots are trained on planes from all of the F-35 partner countries, which are the U.S., Australia, Norway, Italy, Turkey and the Netherlands. The base is also training pilots from the Republic of Korea. On Friday, it received its first Dutch F-35, Heyse said.

The base graduates about 105 F-35 pilots per year, and about 98 F-35 maintainers per year, according to November data provided by Luke. Luke, along with the rest of the U.S. Air Force, faces a shortage in pilots and pilot instructors.

https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/lo ... 778033002/


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I wonder if the USAF has a program similar to many airports where they'll subsidise or totally pay for houses to have improved insulation to cut down on interior noise.

It won't fix outdoor noise of course. But I imagine for many reducing indoor noise is enough to placate their annoyance.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Thu Feb 07, 2019 1:08 am

ZaphodHarkonnen wrote:
I wonder if the USAF has a program similar to many airports where they'll subsidise or totally pay for houses to have improved insulation to cut down on interior noise.

It won't fix outdoor noise of course. But I imagine for many reducing indoor noise is enough to placate their annoyance.

I’m not aware of specific funding available to noise abate, I believe the position is the base is here (and has been for a long time) so live with it and ensure you don’t expect to have building permission in specific areas. There is plenty of community engagement as well as noise contour maps available. A quick google search found the following,
https://www.surpriseaz.gov/DocumentCent ... -Map-Large

https://armls.com/airport-noise-disclos ... force-base

https://www.luke.af.mil/Portals/58/Docu ... 112729-090

https://www.surpriseaz.gov/DocumentCent ... -Map-Large

Image
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Thu Feb 07, 2019 1:46 am

The USMC continue to work and train the F-35B in austere operations.

CH-53E Refuels and Resupplies an F-35B Lightning II

Marines with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, refuel and resupply an F-35B Lightning II jet with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, 1st MAW, during Distributed STOVL Operations (DSO) on Ie Shima island, Japan, Jan. 23, 2019. The rehearsal enabled CH-53E helicopters to re-fuel and re-arm F-35B Lightning II jets from a Forward Arming and Refueling Point (FARP), significantly improving the operational flexibility, survivability, and lethality of the F-35B. The FARP provided a hot refuel and hot reload for multiple aircraft with All Up Rounds (AUR), also known as a completely assembled weapon, giving pilots the ability to stay in the fight longer, and accomplish more missions in a shorter period of time from austere locations.

https://www.dvidshub.net/video/658039/c ... ghtning-ii

A video of the exercise is available at the link above.
 
Planeflyer
Posts: 1313
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Re: F-35 news thread

Sat Feb 09, 2019 5:29 am

I am surprised more af have not opted for the B.it seems to me Airbases in many places will be more easily targeted by cruise and ballistic missiles.
 
bigjku
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Re: F-35 news thread

Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:10 am

Planeflyer wrote:
I am surprised more af have not opted for the B.it seems to me Airbases in many places will be more easily targeted by cruise and ballistic missiles.


I think that threat is overrated outside the Pacific theater. I am not sure even Russia has enough cruise missiles and conventional to do the job in a continual manner. Airbases are very hard things to smash for an extended period with weapons like that.

China has the benefit of a limited target set if and only if Japan wasn’t involved. If they were I am not sure they have sufficient munitions to et the job done that way.
 
texl1649
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Re: F-35 news thread

Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:30 pm

Interesting request for a different naval variant from Lockheed, dedicated to A2A.

http://aviationweek.com/defense/csba-an ... 0a18d80535
 
Planeflyer
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Re: F-35 news thread

Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:27 pm

bigjku wrote:
Planeflyer wrote:
I am surprised more af have not opted for the B.it seems to me Airbases in many places will be more easily targeted by cruise and ballistic missiles.


I think that threat is overrated outside the Pacific theater. I am not sure even Russia has enough cruise missiles and conventional to do the job in a continual manner. Airbases are very hard things to smash for an extended period with weapons like that.

China has the benefit of a limited target set if and only if Japan wasn’t involved. If they were I am not sure they have sufficient munitions to et the job done that way.


Drones will be ubiquitous
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:08 pm

texl1649 wrote:
Interesting request for a different naval variant from Lockheed, dedicated to A2A.

http://aviationweek.com/defense/csba-an ... 0a18d80535

Not a great surprise this is being asked for. A modified F-35 remains one of the options for the F/A-XX program, which I assume (not having access to the full article) is explained.

Planeflyer wrote:
I am surprised more af have not opted for the B.it seems to me Airbases in many places will be more easily targeted by cruise and ballistic missiles.

I'd suggest the issue is two fold, first the cost of the B over the A both in acquisition and in operating cost. Second operating the B in a dispersed mode is a significant change of doctrine for most Air Forces. Not saying they shouldn't consider it but that changes significantly future operating concepts as well as the budget that they expect to operate with.

Planeflyer wrote:
bigjku wrote:
Planeflyer wrote:
I am surprised more af have not opted for the B.it seems to me Airbases in many places will be more easily targeted by cruise and ballistic missiles.


I think that threat is overrated outside the Pacific theater. I am not sure even Russia has enough cruise missiles and conventional to do the job in a continual manner. Airbases are very hard things to smash for an extended period with weapons like that.

China has the benefit of a limited target set if and only if Japan wasn’t involved. If they were I am not sure they have sufficient munitions to et the job done that way.


Drones will be ubiquitous

In that context though it works both ways. Drones to protect an airfield as well as those adversarial tasked to interdict it. I expect airbases will move into a more secure state as DEW becomes more common but I also agree with bigjku that rendering an airfield inoperative is not as easy as it appears. A better option might be to hit the POL, weapons storage or aircrew quarters than keep targeting for example runways that can be repaired quickly.
 
Planeflyer
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Re: F-35 news thread

Sun Feb 10, 2019 2:01 am

Ozair, good points but doesn’t it make sense that it is far easier for a drone to target an airfield than a drone to target an attack drone. But who knows, it’s a fast moving game.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:57 am

Planeflyer wrote:
Ozair, good points but doesn’t it make sense that it is far easier for a drone to target an airfield than a drone to target an attack drone. But who knows, it’s a fast moving game.

I would say that typically defence is easier than offense. With your own airfield you have the ability to place defence in depth, you could layer the sensors and systems to provide warning and protection. The attacking force may not be aware of all those measures and be detected or engaged at an earlier time.

The above doesn't mean that attacking an airfield is not an option but it should be a difficult target to attack without a great chance of success.
 
itchief
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Re: F-35 news thread

Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:36 am

Ozair wrote:
Planeflyer wrote:
Ozair, good points but doesn’t it make sense that it is far easier for a drone to target an airfield than a drone to target an attack drone. But who knows, it’s a fast moving game.

I would say that typically defence is easier than offense. With your own airfield you have the ability to place defence in depth, you could layer the sensors and systems to provide warning and protection. The attacking force may not be aware of all those measures and be detected or engaged at an earlier time.

The above doesn't mean that attacking an airfield is not an option but it should be a difficult target to attack without a great chance of success.


It is a game that has had an answer for 30+ years. I know it is not called a "drone" but the following is a drone with another name.

BGM-109A Tomahawk Land Attack Missile – Nuclear (TLAM-N)
RGM/UGM-109B Tomahawk Anti Ship Missile (TAS-M) – active radar homing anti-ship missile variant; withdrawn from service in the 1990s.
BGM-109C Tomahawk Land Attack Missile – Conventional (TLAM-C) with a unitary warhead. This was initially a modified Bullpup warhead.
BGM-109D Tomahawk Land Attack Missile – Dispenser (TLAM-D) with cluster munitions.
RGM/UGM-109E Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM Block IV) – improved version of the TLAM-C.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Mon Feb 11, 2019 2:03 am

itchief wrote:
It is a game that has had an answer for 30+ years. I know it is not called a "drone" but the following is a drone with another name.

BGM-109A Tomahawk Land Attack Missile – Nuclear (TLAM-N)
RGM/UGM-109B Tomahawk Anti Ship Missile (TAS-M) – active radar homing anti-ship missile variant; withdrawn from service in the 1990s.
BGM-109C Tomahawk Land Attack Missile – Conventional (TLAM-C) with a unitary warhead. This was initially a modified Bullpup warhead.
BGM-109D Tomahawk Land Attack Missile – Dispenser (TLAM-D) with cluster munitions.
RGM/UGM-109E Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM Block IV) – improved version of the TLAM-C.

Agree to a certain extent although I don’t think TLAMs provide a decent enough airfield denial weapon for an extended duration, especially as discussed when we look forward 5-10 years to DEW being a significant airfield defence mechanism. It will do a good job of destroying the surrounding infrastructure, if it isn’t intercepted, but for example when used against Shayrat Airbase in 2017 the airfield was functioning within 6-8 hours after.

Pretty sure the TLAM-D has also been retired but would need to confirm that, I thought the US now only had TLAM Blk IV left in service.
 
SuperiorPilotMe
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Re: F-35 news thread

Mon Feb 11, 2019 4:11 pm

itchief wrote:
Ozair wrote:

It is a game that has had an answer for 30+ years. I know it is not called a "drone" but the following is a drone with another name.

BGM-109A Tomahawk Land Attack Missile – Nuclear (TLAM-N)


You’re right, it is a smart and viable option to attack an airfield with a weapons system that has been out of service for almost half s century and in which doing so would set off WWIII and possibly the end of the human race.

Maybe next time you’ll think and see what you’re highlighting before wholesale copy-pasting from Wikipedia.
 
itchief
Posts: 231
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Re: F-35 news thread

Mon Feb 11, 2019 4:19 pm

SuperiorPilotMe wrote:
itchief wrote:
Ozair wrote:

It is a game that has had an answer for 30+ years. I know it is not called a "drone" but the following is a drone with another name.

BGM-109A Tomahawk Land Attack Missile – Nuclear (TLAM-N)


You’re right, it is a smart and viable option to attack an airfield with a weapons system that has been out of service for almost half s century and in which doing so would set off WWIII and possibly the end of the human race.

Maybe next time you’ll think and see what you’re highlighting before wholesale copy-pasting from Wikipedia.


I am sure most on this board understand the point I was making.

I guess in your mind all the years I spent serving on US Navy SSBN's was a waste of time because we could end the human race.
 
SuperiorPilotMe
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Re: F-35 news thread

Mon Feb 11, 2019 4:47 pm

itchief wrote:
SuperiorPilotMe wrote:
itchief wrote:


You’re right, it is a smart and viable option to attack an airfield with a weapons system that has been out of service for almost half s century and in which doing so would set off WWIII and possibly the end of the human race.

Maybe next time you’ll think and see what you’re highlighting before wholesale copy-pasting from Wikipedia.


I am sure most on this board understand the point I was making.

I guess in your mind all the years I spent serving on US Navy SSBN's was a waste of time because we could end the human race.


Seems accurate to me yeah. Wonder how many school districts lost out on funding for the sake of your post?

(Hint: it’s a lot)
 
estorilm
Posts: 528
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Re: F-35 news thread

Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:23 pm

Ozair wrote:
More suggestions on increasing F-35 production. The original plan was for 80 per year for the USAF, before it was reduced to the current 60, but the USAF had also previously suggested a 100 was certainly viable. As with previous programs of this nature a higher rate obviously promises increased savings and would also meet the USAF intent of reducing the overall fleet age.

Air Force May Expand, Speed Up Buy of F-35 Fighter

While senior Air Force leaders are calling for a “fast” pursuit toward production and delivery of its stated F-35 objectives, there are some voices now raising the question as to whether the rates should be sped up even more -- potentially even increasing the overall numbers for the program.

The discussion is centered around several questions currently under consideration. Can the current pace of construction and delivery be accelerated? Can larger numbers of F-35As be moved forward to address nearer term demand? What kind of industrial capacity might there be if the Air Force, perhaps with Army input, seeks to increase the overall production numbers of the aircraft above and beyond its stated objective of 1,763?

In 2018, Lockheed Martin delivered 45 Air Force F-35As, a 70-percent increase from 2017. This year, however, the plan is to only go up to 48 - en route to 60 per year in the mid 2020s - some say this is simply not enough.

At issue is a key and concerning question raised by expert F-35 observers -- namely that if the US should find itself in a high-end war against a major adversary such as Russia on the European continent, will it simply not have enough 5th-gen aircraft to meet the threat? The Air Force’s stated budget-related decision not to re-start F-22 production seems to only compound this problem.

“If the Air Force does not accelerate its buy of F-35s, in the year 2030 half of its fighter fleet will still be non-stealthy planes. That could make victory over a China or Russia hard to achieve,” said Loren Thompson, Chief Operating Officer of the Lexington Institute.

Retired weapons developer Lt. Gen. David Deptula, now serving as the Dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace studies, is among a handful of voices saying “no,” the US would not be prepared should it stay at its current rate of F-35 production.

Deptula is specifically calling for faster production to get to the desired inventory more rapidly.

“Unfortunately, the Air Force has been consistently under-resourced for over 20 years. As a result the US Air Force is the oldest, smallest, and least ready in the entire history of its existence,” Deptula said. “We are no longer facing near-peers, but peers given the advancements in the Chinese and Russian military.”

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson’s plan to expand the force to 386 squadrons does call for the addition of 7 fighter squadrons but stops short of specifying which aircraft these should be.

What about the Army?

“When you are in a firefight, the first thing infantry wants to do is get on that radio to adjust fire for mortars and locate targets with close air support with planes or helicopters. You want fires. The F-35 has increased survivability, and it will play a decisive role in the support of ground combat,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told reporters last Fall at the Association of the United States Army Symposium.

It is, of course, assumed that, when it comes to a Combatant Commander’s execution of a “Joint” war plan, F-35s would, of course, be deployed in support of ground forces. This has already happened in Afghanistan, as close air support has been, by design, an intended element of the F-35 engineering plan.

“We fight with the Navy, Marines and Air Force. Our soldiers have never heard an Air Force pilot say ‘I can’t fly into that low-altitude area,’ These guys take incredible risk. If there are troops on the ground, they are rolling in hot,” Milley said.

Upon initial examination, some might regard a stealthy, 5th-gen F-35 as not ideally suited for close air support or certain kinds of high-intensity air-ground missions. However, long-range, computer-enabled F-35 sensors might allow the aircraft to see and destroy enemy ground targets with precision from much higher altitudes and much farther ranges than existing aircraft can; the speed of an F-35 could potentially make it better able to maneuver, elude enemy fire and get into position for attack.

Like the A-10s 30mm gun, the F-35A has its own 25mm cannon mounted on its left wing which could attack ground forces. Given its sensor configuration, with things like a 360-degree Distributed Aperture System with cameras, the F-35 brings a drone-like ISR component to air-ground war. This could help targeting, terrain analysis and much-needed precision attacks as US soldiers fight up-close with maneuvering enemy ground forces.

An F-35 might also be positioned to respond quickly to enemy force movement; in the event that enemy air threats emerge in a firefight, an F-35 could potentially address them in a way an A-10 could not; an F-35 would be much better positioned to locate enemy long-range-fires points of combat significance and destroy hostile artillery, mortar or long-range-fires launching points.

Edward Stevie Smith, F-35 Domestic Development Director, Lockheed - put it this way: “We are still learning new ways to deploy this airplane.”

There are, however, some unknowns likely to be informing various elements of the F-35’s continued combat performance. How much small arms fire could an F-35 withstand? How low to the ground could it successfully operate? Could an F-35B draw upon its “hovering” technology to loiter near high-value target areas? To what extent could it keep flying in the event that major components, such as engines or fuselage components, were destroyed in war?

Interestingly, some developers, who may not want to specifically address the ability of an F-35 to survive small arms fire for security reasons, do point out that the aircraft “may not ever have to” be in a position to withstand those kinds of attacks. The aircraft is intended to offer precise, maneuverable close air support from much greater stand-off ranges than current air platforms, given its sensor suite. However, the F-35 is not yet combat-tested in this arena, so verification may be forthcoming should it be called upon for future attacks.

While Lockheed makes a point to not speak about Air Force objectives or intentions when it comes to F-35 production, they do say that -- if called upon -- they do have the industrial bandwidth to make a substantial increase in pace and numbers.

https://defensemaven.io/warriormaven/ai ... WMFQqXjTg/

There's more to this than meets the eye - this is a critical and pivotal concept that has repercussions throughout the USAF and defense contractor industries.

After all the debate in the F-15X thread, the logical solution I keep coming back to is simply.. MORE F-35s, FASTER! Bringing a new (even modified) aircraft on-line, trained, supported, and combat-ready, is going to take a long time and be costly. At this point in F-35 production, I'd argue it's logical to simply try to streamline and bump up the production rate.

It does seem like the F-15X will indeed happen, but Lockheed might be wise to JUMP on this opportunity. The more 35's they can build (and the faster they can do it) they more money they (and partners) will make, the more money we'll save, and the more capability we will have - PLUS they take a chunk out of a key competitor in the defense contractor market. As I said in the other thread, I think the 15X will work for a few years - but as 35 production ramps up, and we are still waiting around for 15X's to show up, I think the entire thing might just get cancelled after very few aircraft.

I don't know how much extra capacity if available (we all know LM is squeezing every second out of the line possible) but I think they can figure something out. It obviously wouldn't just be them, it would be program-wide and supplier-wide, across the globe. In a few years I think they can look back and say "that was a GOOD call!" Besides, they might even get some more sales - with Japan's new order, and a long waiting list, acquisition time has got to be a turn-off for anyone who wasn't a part of the initial F-35 party. :)
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:18 pm

Not sure I agree with some of his points although the general statements are correct, operating the F-35 is going to be cheaper overall than operating a set of different aircraft and the economies of scale of having an air force dominated by one airframe, which was designed to be upgraded and re-configured during its lifetime, will only enhance that.

F-35 Will Cost Less To Operate Than Older Fighters. Here's Why Some Policymakers Don't Get That.

By the end of this year, nearly 500 F-35 fighters will have been delivered to three U.S. military services and various allies. The plane is meeting all of its performance requirements, and the cost of each fighter is steadily declining. In fact, the most common variant of the fighter now costs no more to build than the latest version of the Cold War fighters it is replacing.

This is what success looks like in the aerospace business. And yet somehow, policymakers in the Pentagon manage to find new facets of the program to criticize. The latest issue is that the F-35 supposedly costs too much to operate and support once it is in service. In fact, some people are claiming the Air Force needs to keep operating Cold War planes in its fighter fleet, because it is too expensive to sustain a fleet consisting solely of “fifth-generation” fighters like F-35.

That argument is wildly inaccurate. It can be easily demolished by citing a few key facts and then applying elementary logic to the challenge of maintaining U.S. air dominance through mid-century. What follows are the five most important factors explaining why some policymakers can’t grasp the fact that F-35 is a far more cost-effective solution to the nation’s tactical air power needs than continuing to operate planes developed many decades ago.

I should mention that I have business ties of one sort or another to several companies engaged in building the F-35, most notably airframe prime contractor Lockheed Martin and engine prime contractor Pratt & Whitney.

Pentagon estimates ignore wartime effectiveness. Policymakers rely on the Pentagon’s Cost Assessment & Program Evaluation (CAPE) office to estimate the expense of sustaining planes. However, CAPE measures sustainment costs without making any effort to correct for differences in capabilities. So, the fact that F-35 is eight times better than legacy fighters at surveillance, six times better at air-to-air combat, and five times better at striking ground targets is missing from the calculations, distorting comparisons. If a last-generation fighter needs to be supported by jamming planes to reach targets, support F-35 doesn’t need, the cost of the jammers is left out of the comparisons.

Pentagon estimates ignore wartime attrition. Combat losses are also left out of the calculations. Fighters lacking the F-35’s stealth, electronic defenses and situational awareness would likely suffer horrendous losses in combat with a near-peer adversary. F-35 would fare much better because enemies can’t track or target fighters with integrated stealth designs. But because replacing combat losses isn’t part of the sustainment methodology, the fact that a third or more of legacy planes might be shot down in combat is completely missing from comparisons. Obviously, the need to replace lost fighters and train new pilots would be a significant expense.

Pentagon estimates fail to account for aircraft age. Aircraft have a life-cycle, just like people do. When they are young, they need a lot of support. As they mature, they become more efficient. But when they grow old, the planes once again become expensive to sustain. CAPE ignores all this in calculating sustainment costs, comparing F-35s that have been operational for only two or three years with Cold War fighters that have been flying for decades. By failing to correct for the very different maturities of new and legacy fighters, it provides a misleading picture of what planes will actually cost to operate in the future. F-35 will cost less to operate as it matures—a fact already apparent in the most recent production lots—while legacy planes will become more expensive as they age out.

Pentagon estimates fail to capture hidden costs of older planes. F-35 was designed as a highly integrated system with on-board information systems that could track and predict sustainment needs. Older fighters are too primitive to provide such data. So, whereas the F-35’s sustainment system captures all the costs of keeping the plane airworthy and ready, there is no easy way of capturing all the support costs for older fighters. Items like targeting pods and defensive sensors that have sizable logistical “tails” over the lifetime of a fighter are included in the estimate of F-35 sustainment costs, but largely excluded from estimates for legacy planes. The Air Force tried a while back to consolidate all the systems needed to track sustainment costs on legacy fighters but eventually gave up—it was too complicated.

Pentagon estimates fail to capture savings from new technology. One of the drawbacks of relying heavily on past experience to project future support costs is that it minimizes the savings afforded by new technology. The information system that tracks logistical needs on the F-35 is far superior to anything on legacy fighters, and Lockheed Martin is rearchitecting the system to incorporate further advances since the program began. As new technology is leveraged to enhance F-35 readiness and aircraft operating concepts are refined, there will be huge gains in efficiency. That’s what always happens as new aircraft move down the learning curve, but F-35 will see more marked improvement than past fighters because digital technologies will be applied to every facet of the sustainment challenge.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement on F-35. Spare parts need to be stocked better, maintenance skills need to be honed, and subcontractors need to be incentivized to perform at the top of their game. Both Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney have launched initiatives to greatly reduce sustainment costs as the F-35 matures. Older fighters, though, are what they are; the opportunities for savings on labor, material and overhead are limited. It’s a complicated business, so we shouldn’t be surprised that some policymakers don’t understand the intrinsic cost-effectiveness of the F-35 fighter.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lorenthomp ... 8271a2c735
 
JayinKitsap
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Re: F-35 news thread

Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:28 pm

I read that LM is not adverse to the F-15X as the near term need is high for fighters, something like 500 less F-35 deliveries by today than expected a decade ago. It allows some units to stay capable as other change over to the F-35. By being in the USAF inventory it makes export sales easier as it is government to government sales.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:49 pm

UK signalling its strong intent to deploy the QE class and its F-35s into the far east. The RN just last year sent the HMS Albion near the Paracels but obvious there is a significant difference in capability between the Albion and a QE.

UK to send new aircraft carrier loaded with F35 jets into South China Sea

The United Kingdom will deploy its new aircraft carrier, loaded with two squadrons of F-35 aircraft into the politically-fraught South China Sea.

British Defense Minister Gavin Williamson confirmed in a speech Monday morning that the Royal Navy's HMS Queen Elizabeth will sail into waters that are the subject of dispute between China and other nations.

At an address given to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London, Williamson said Britain was the second largest investor in the region and it must display "hard power" and "lethality" to help protect interests.

The £3 billion ($3.9 billion) carrier's outing will also sail into the Middle East and Mediterranean and will be officially a mixed U.K./U.S. deployment.

"Significantly British and American F-35s will be embedded in the carrier's air wing. Enhancing the reach and lethality of our forces (and) reinforcing the fact that United States remains the very closest of partners," Williamson said.

The U.K. defense minister did not confirm exact dates for the mission.

China has laid claim to almost all of the strategic South China Sea which is viewed as important for shipping lanes and potential resources.

On Sunday, United States destroyers USS Spruance and USS Preble sailed close to the Spratly Islands, territory disputed by China and the Philippines.

China claimed Monday that the ships entered without official permission but a spokesman for the US Navy's 7th Fleet told CNN that the operation was to "challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law."

China is in the process of developing its own aircraft carrier capability, with currently only one considered combat-ready.

According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) the country could have as many as 6 carriers by the 2030s.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/11/uk-to-s ... a-sea.html
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:09 pm

Continued support and enhancement of the ACURL which support the creation and maintenance of mission data files for Australia, Canada and the UK. An underappreciated important capability of the system.

Lockheed receives $18m modification contract for F-35 reprogramming lab

Lockheed Martin has been awarded an $18m modification contract from the US Department of Defense (DoD) for the maintenance and operation of the F-35 aircraft Australia, Canada, United Kingdom Reprogramming Laboratory (ACURL) located in Florida.

Under the contract, Lockheed will support all ACURL systems, including consumables for the F-35 aircraft. The contract is expected to be completed by February 2020.

Last month, Lockheed was awarded an additional contract to move the ACURL from Lockheed Martin Aeronautics base in Fort Worth, Texas to the Elgin Air Force Base in Florida.

The contract, worth $7.5m, was awarded to Lockheed to support activities for the F-35 ACURL system, such as packing, shipping, installation, integration, and testing of equipment.

The contracting activity for both modification contracts is the Naval Air Systems Command in Maryland.

Existing issues with F-35 aircraft
The modification contract comes just weeks after the US DoD criticised the F-35 aircraft, suggesting in a report obtained by Bloomberg that the flight service life of older F-35s could be “as low as 2,100” hours, almost four times shorter than the expected service life of 8,000 hours. This means that some F-35 aircraft could be out of service by as soon as 2026.

In response, a Lockheed Martin spokesperson told Air Force Technology: “The F-35B has completed full-scale durability testing to 16,000 hours.

“Planned modifications and fleet management of the early contract F-35B aircraft will ensure that they meet the 8,000-hour service life requirement, and aircraft delivering today incorporate these design changes in the build process to ensure they’ll meet 8,000 hours or more.”

“The F-35B has completed full-scale durability testing to 16,000 hours.”
According to Business Insider, acting Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan criticised the F-35 programme in an off-camera Pentagon briefing last Tuesday.

Responding to claims of possible bias against Lockheed, former Boeing executive Shanahan said: “Am I still wearing a Boeing hat? I think that’s just noise. I’m biased towards performance. I am biased toward giving taxpayers their money’s worth. The F-35 unequivocally, I can say, has a lot of opportunity for more performance.”

https://www.airforce-technology.com/new ... mming-lab/
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:59 pm

A significant contract award for the UK for future F-35 sustainment activities.

MoD Sealand F-35 fighter jet hub wins £500m US contract

A £500m contract has been awarded to an aircraft repair hub in Flintshire by the US Department of Defense.

MoD Sealand will maintain, repair, overhaul and upgrade hundreds of F-35 fighter jet systems.

In 2016, the UK was chosen by the F-35 Program Office to be a global repair hub to maintain the aircraft.

The assignment is expected to begin in 2020 and support hundreds of high-tech jobs.

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: "It is a vote of confidence in our highly-skilled workforce and high-tech industry that provides us and our allies with the very best of what British engineering has to offer."

Wales Secretary Alun Cairns said: "I'm delighted that the skills of our labour force have been recognised with this reinforced investment in the north east Wales economy, which will continue to provide a prosperous source of employment and growth to this region through the wider supply chain over the coming years."

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-47212553
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:13 pm

Another former A-10 pilot who can see the value of both platforms and understands the influence and impact an F-35 can have again a near peer adversary.

US Air Force F-35 pilot says the legendary A-10 is like 'Chewbacca with chainsaw arms'

The A-10 is a flying death machine, a plane built around a cannon capable of firing 4,200 rounds per minute and eliminating anything in its path. But this fearsome gunship’s days are numbered.

Some US Air Force pilots are transitioning to flying other aircraft, like the new F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters that are supposed to replace many of the A-10s for ground-attack missions.

Here’s what one pilot at the Air Force’s Red Flag air-combat exercise at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada had to say about the shift.

Capt. James Rosenau, a former A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot, described the transition from the Warthog to the stealth fighters in an interview with the Air Force.

“I loved the A-10 and its mission,” he told the Air Force. “It’s like a flying tank. Like Chewbacca with chainsaw arms. A very raw flying experience.”

He added: “Obviously, the F-35 is completely different. It’s more like a precision tool.”

Chewbacca, Han Solo’s beloved copilot from the “Star Wars” movies, is a creature known as a Wookiee who’s a physical beast. Nobody wants to mess with Chewie.

The A-10, a gunship famous for the “BRRRT” of its 30 mm GAU-8/A seven-barrel Gatling gun, was the first Air Force aircraft built specifically to provide close air support to ground forces.

The F-35As are expected to eventually replace the older F-16 Fighting Falcons and A-10s.

“In the A-10, I liked being the guy who was called upon to directly support troops on the ground. To bring that fight to the enemy,” Rosenau said. “Now I like being the guy who can support legacy fighters when they may be struggling to get into a target area because of the threat level.”

The F-35 is designed to provide advanced capabilities to defeat emerging threats from near-peer competitors like China and Russia, but some observers and lawmakers have said they’re sceptical that the F-35A is a suitable replacement for the A-10’s formidable ground-attack capabilities.

Rosenau spoke highly of the embattled fifth-generation fighters, saying, “After seeing the F-35 go up against the near-peer threats replicated here at Nellis, I’m a big believer.”

Red Flag is the Air Force’s top air-combat exercise. Over three weeks, pilots from the US and allied nations square off to strengthen interoperability and improve combat readiness.

https://www.businessinsider.com.au/f-35 ... ?r=US&IR=T
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:14 pm

Multiple news articles coming out now about comments made by Senator Inhofe who is head of the Senate Arms Committee. I’m expecting a push from the Senate to increase F-35 production as the price drops below US$80 million. I also see this as potentially impacting plans for other airframes such as the F-15X given the wide support the F-35 has from the Services and Congress.


Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., has been vocal about boosting production of the stealth jet to triple the fleet by 2024.
He wants more F-35s made sooner to fill the gap in fifth-generation fighters that was created when the F-22, another stealth jet, had its production run cut short in 2009 due to spiraling costs.
But initial operational test and evaluation, a key milestone before the F-35 can start full-rate production, began in December and isn't expected to wrap up until this summer.
Inhofe told reporters at the Defense Writers' Group breakfast Tuesday that he doesn't expect major problems to be found during the current round of tests.
"I believe there are going to be the normal type of deficiencies as it's being developed," he said. "We don't have the luxury of time to wait, in my opinion."
Meanwhile, the F-35 is still struggling to overcome technical hurdles. A report from the Pentagon's chief weapons tester noted problems with the F-35's reliability and readiness due to flaws in its logistics software.
But Inhofe brushed away concerns about lingering problems with the jet saying it was needed and production should be increased.
"We might not be quite through the perfection stage to do that," he said. "But I don't know of anything else that is going to take the place of the F-35 that's in our inventory."

https://www.investors.com/news/lockheed ... es-inhofe/

Inhofe also supported a rapid increase in F-35 production, even those the Lockheed Martin fighter is not expected to complete the comprehensive operational testing to prove it is fully combat ready until next year.
Noting the number of allied nations that are buying F-35s, in addition to the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force, he said, “what we really need now, what our allies need, is the F-35.”

http://seapowermagazine.org/stories/201 ... nhofe.html
 
Planeflyer
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Re: F-35 news thread

Wed Feb 13, 2019 5:45 am

Buying 1970’s technology and hoping to operate it in 2045 is a complete non stater.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Thu Feb 14, 2019 8:48 pm

A blend of info, some production line stuff and some general aircraft specific information.

Special Report: Inside Building the F-35 - Where Stealth Begins

Filled with stacks of fuselage panels, engine components and a wide assortment of pipes, electronics and avionics, the spralling F-35 construction facility in Ft. Worth, Texas, resembles a small city filled with engineers, mechanics, electricians and airplanes at various stages of construction.

While some stations include vertically-hanging airplane wings, rudders, pipes and intricate collections of wires running through the fuselage, others contain little more than an assortment of seemingly disconnected small parts. Farther along the mile-long construction strip, heavily trafficked by workers, builders and engineers, there are bays with nearly completed F-35 with a light-green exterior. These “about to be finished” F-35s, roll into a separate environmentally-controlled hanger where they await a final coat of blended gray paint - giving the aircraft its color.

After watching a certain amount of varying airplane structures and configurations, to include pipes, computer parts and larger components such as wings, tails, rudders, engines or a mounted 25mm cannon - an observer can begin to discern the differences between the variants. The F-35C is the largest, built with a larger wingspan and tail for carrier landings; the F-35A includes a visible fuselage/wing-mounted 25mm cannon buried beneath a stealthy, rounded exterior blending the weapon into the body of the plane; the F-35B is, developers say, the most expensive and technically complicated of the group.

During construction of an F-35B, a visible “LiftFan” is engineered into a forward part of the center fuselage just behind the pilot to enable massive downward vertical thrust. Horsepower is sent to the LiftFan from the main engine through a “spiral belevel gear system,” Rollys Royce information states.

This horsepower, when combined with the LiftFan, generates the downward thrust necessary to enable the “hover” ability and vertical landing. An F-35B has what looks like an square door or opening on top of the fuselage behind the pilot and above the lift fan to maximize downward air flow. Engineers explain that the massive thrust, sufficient to propel the aircraft up to speeds beyond the sound barrier, results from a four fold process. Air ducts on either side of the nose “suck” in air to the engine, the air is then compressed before being ignited with gas -- generating what looks like a controlled explosion of fire coming out of the back. The force generated through this process, enables the speed, maneuverability and acceleration of the aircraft.

Mechanical information provided by F-35B engine maker Rolls Royce states “To achieve STOVL, the lift fan component of the LiftSystem operates perpendicular to the flow of air over the aircraft." The LiftFan can operate in crosswinds up to 288mph, Rolls Royce data explains.

F-35 Stealth Engineering

Stealth, or Low-Observability operations hinge entirely upon a specific set of specialized construction techniques, according to engineers familiar with the process. While many if not most of these techniques are, understandably, not available for public reports for security reasons, there are many public elements of the technology written about for public consumption by engineers and many of the industry developers involved in F-35 construction offer detailed profiles of their contributions to the airplane.

A seamless-looking exterior -- devoid or sharp contours, external structures and protruding “edges” more recognizable to enemy radar -- contains a secret blend of composite materials designed to engineer a radar-absorbent airplane. Weapons can be carried internally so as not to expose shapes vulnerable to enemy radar. One commonly discussed element of stealth coating includes the use of “carbon fibers” to - among other things - reflect electromagnetic energy from the surface of the material.

Carbon materials are long-known to have contributed to stealth configurations. Interestingly, a 2016 essay from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum cites a 2008 expert assessment in which Northrop Grumman engineers sought to determine if a 1943-built German Horten 229 prototype aircraft contained elements of stealth technology - decades ahead of its time. The Nazi aircraft was beset with technical problems and failed a few test flights. It never saw combat, but some of the adhesives, wood and other materials - coupled with its horizontal “all-wing” like configuration, have inspired many to view the aircraft as an early iteration of what became stealth technology. Carbon-like materials were found in the investigation; the engineers Dobrenz and Spadoni write "during our inspection of the Horten 229 at the Smithsonian museum, it appeared that a material similar to carbon black or charcoal was mixed in with the glue between the thin layers of the leading edge shape.”

Whatever the particular composition of material, the stealthy exterior of the F-35 represents an effort to achieve low-observability, survivabilty and lighter weight to enable speed and maneuverability. The seamless F-35 structure is, by design, a result of a particular engineering technique.

“Every hinge, every bolt, every fastener and every panel is closed back up when we are done with work on the airplane, so every time we take off we are in that stealth, non-detectable configuration,” Billie Flynn, F-35 Pilot, Lockheed Martin, told Warrior Maven in an interview.

Electronic pings generated by enemy radar, need specific structures against which to bounce off - sending a return signal. If a fuselage is configured such that it does not offer those structures and edges against which an electromagnetic ping can collide, shapes and contours defining an aircraft are more difficult to detect. In essence, it blinds or removes the return signal, and radar is unable to produce a “rendering” of the fighter jet. As an electronic signal, radar emissions travel at the speed of light - a known entity. If the speed of light, which is fixed, is known and the amount of travel time is also able to be determined, then algorithms can calculate the exact distance, shape and even speed of an object.

“We hide the radar, antenna and fuel -- they are all protrusions which reduce hope that you would ever reduce vulnerability,” Flynn said.

Flynn explained that the stealth engineering contributing to the F-35 has some origins as far back as the Gulf War-era F-117 NightHawk. “With the F-117, we learned how to embed antennas in the leading edge of the airplane. This concept went right into the F-22,” Flynn added.

Flynn also explained that every F-35 sensor was “flush-mounted,” or built into the skin of the aircraft, making the plane less detectable to enemy radar.

Reducing the heat emissions, or thermal signature, is also known to be of vital importance to preserving stealth. There are a variety of ways this can be accomplished, such as burying engines inside an airplane to lessen the release of heat. The F-35 is built with small coolant tubes running under the wings into the body of the aircraft, designed to dissipate the heat generated by the airplane’s avionics and electrical systems. This avoids overheating and controls overall airplane temperatures. Controlling temperature also enhances the stealth properties of the aircraft. Fuel traveling through pipes underneath the airplane also brings a cooling effect, engineers say.

“We can take full advantage of our stealth signature to penetrate enemy defenses, whereas a 4th Gen fighter will have to operate outside of those areas. We can go inside there and fill that close-in air support role,” Flynn said. “We can stay outside of small arms fire because of the sensor suite.”

Overall, Lockheed has delivered more than 360 airframes to 16 bases worldwide and plans a production rev up to meet growing international and US military demand, Edward “Stevie” Smith, Lockheed’s Domestic Director of Development for the F-35, told Warrior Maven in an interview.

Smith explained that all eight original partners, and new ones such a Japan, South Korea, Belgium and Israel, are advancing plans to produce and develop the aircraft.

“We are on target now for the A-models to be at or less than 80-million per copy,” Smith said.

https://defensemaven.io/warriormaven/ai ... FJwlJVABw/

Image
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Thu Feb 14, 2019 8:53 pm

F-35 fighter jet declares emergency over Norfolk

An F-35 fighter jet declared an emergency while flying over Norfolk skies this evening.

The jet was circling overhead the Dereham and Wymondham areas at around 6.30pm while ‘squawking 7700’ - the emergency signal.

It is understood the aircraft has now landed safely after the pilot reported a minor issue.

RAF Marham is the base of the latest model of fighter jet, the £98m F-35 Lightning, which were unveiled last month at the base.

The first nine of an eventual force of 138 arrived last year and have since been carrying out training sorties.

Some £500m has been invested in Marham, where new hangars, runways and a new command centre have been built for the F-35.

An RAF spokesperson said: “We are aware of an aircraft experiencing a minor problem during a routine flight.“Both the aircraft and pilot landed safely.”

https://www.northnorfolknews.co.uk/news ... -1-5893189
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Thu Feb 14, 2019 8:54 pm

More work for Australia on the program.

Australia secures additional F-35 support work

Australia has been selected to provide additional support for Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, Defence Minister Christopher Pyne announced on 14 February.

The additional work features the provision of maintenance, repair, overhaul, and upgrade (MRO&U) services for avionics, composites, electric components, hydraulics, and other systems on board the F-35.

In a statement, Pyne said, “Australian companies have been awarded 343 out of a possible 388 components in the latest tranche of assignments – a significant achievement and a major boost for our economy.”

The additional work was assigned by the United States’ F-35 Joint Program Office and follows its announcement in 2014 to assign Australia as provider of support services for F-35s operating in the South Pacific region.

https://www.janes.com/article/86377/aus ... pport-work
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Thu Feb 14, 2019 10:08 pm

Serious production numbers are now being looked at for Lots 15, 16 and 17. With the price for the F-35A expected to be below US$80 million per jet by then it will become very hard to compete with on the export market.

DoD to begin negotiations to buy 485 Lockheed Martin F-35s

The F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office intends to solicit and negotiate multiple contracts to buy 485 stealth fighters from Lockheed Martin.

The negotiations are for aircraft to be built as part of production Lots 15, 16 and 17, the Department of Defense office said in a notice posted online 13 February announcing its intent to begin bargaining. The contracts would provide for long lead time materials, parts, components, initial spares, and labour, as well as production and testing equipment.

The anticipated award date is in the third quarter of calendar year 2021, the Pentagon says. The notice did not disclose costs and the Joint Programme Office said it wouldn’t speculate about prices during negotiations, though it expects the price of the F-35A to fall.

“We are committed to having a less than $80 million F-35A by 2020,” says the office.

Lot 15 would include 116 F-35As, 29 F-35Bs, and 24 F-35Cs; a total of 169 aircraft.

Lot 16 would include 101 F-35As, 32 F-35Bs, 24 F-35Cs; a total of 157 aircraft.

Lot 17 would include 98 F-35As, 37 F-35Bs, and 24 F-35Cs; a total of 159 aircraft.

The notice did not break down individual customers. However, the Joint Program Office gave a broad summary of the possible order. The US Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps would together acquire 295 aircraft; development partners would acquire 143 aircraft; and foreign military sales would account for the remaining 47 aircraft. No new F-35 customers are included in the potential order.

Development partners and foreign military sales would be a mix of F-35A and F-35B variants, though the Joint Program Office declines to elaborate further on the US services' order.

The Joint Program Office says its intent is to make Lots 15, 16 and 17 part of a multiyear contract, pending Congressional approval. A multiyear contract is a special agreement with the permission of the US Congress that would provide for a cancellation payment to be made to Lockheed Martin if appropriations are not made as promised. In return for a stronger guarantee of business, Lockheed Martin can then go forward to negotiate bulk discounts for materials and parts, passing back some savings to the Defense Department.

Lockheed Martin said it has delivered more than 360 aircraft as of 1 February. Most recently, on 30 January, the company celebrated the rollout of the first operational F-35A for the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

As production ramps and additional improvements are implemented, Lockheed Martin says its goal is to reduce the cost of an F-35A to $80 million by 2020. Deliveries for Lot 11 began in 2019, with the cost of the F-35A set at $89.2 million per example.

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... in-455793/
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Sun Feb 17, 2019 9:39 am

Some very intense training at Red Flag 19-1 with the F-35A. It really shows how important Red Flag is when the aircrew can fly against 60 adversary aircraft in a single mission. The exercise also included RAF and RAAF units, Typhoons/E-3Ds/RC-135s/Sentinels/KC3 and Classic Hornets/E-7s/C-17s respectively

Hill Airmen, F-35 a lethal combo at Red Flag

Today, Airmen from the 388th Fighter Wing’s 4th Fighter Squadron wrapped up flying operations with the F-35A Lightning II in an “exponentially more challenging” Red Flag.

The 4th FS integrated the F-35A into a large, capable “Blue Force” in diverse missions against an equally capable “Red Force.” Nearly 3,000 personnel from 39 separate units participated in the exercise, including the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, Royal Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force.

The Red Force was made up of hybrid threats, combinations of the “most advanced weapons systems out there,” meant to replicate “near-peer” enemies in a large scale conflict. The shift closely aligns with the National Defense Strategy.

“The first time I came to Red Flag in 2004, our tactics were the same as they had been since the early 1980s. Now, the threat and complexity are at a whole different level,” said Col. Joshua Wood, 388th Operations Group commander. “It’s no longer assumed that we will gain and maintain air superiority. That’s a big shift.”

Red Flag aggressors encompass the whole spectrum of an adversary force – advanced integrated air-defense systems, an adversary air force, cyber-warfare and information operations. Because of these diverse capabilities, many Red Flag missions are flown in “contested or denied” environments with active electronic attack, communications jamming, and GPS denial.

“Those situations highlight the fifth-generation capabilities of the F-35. We’re still able to operate and be successful. In a lot of cases we have a large role as an integrated quarterback,” said Lt. Col. Yosef Morris, 4th Fighter Squadron commander. “Our ability to continue to fuse and pass information to the entire package makes every aircraft more survivable.”

During the first week of Red Flag, the F-35 pilots flew in a larger force of Blue Air in a counter-air mission. More than 60 aggressor aircraft were flying against them, blinding many of the fourth-generation aircraft with “robust” electronic attack capabilities.

“I’ve never seen anything like it before.” Wood said. “This is not a mission you want a young pilot flying in. My wingman was a brand new F-35A pilot, seven or eight flights out of training. He gets on the radio and tells an experienced, 3,000-hour pilot in a very capable fourth-generation aircraft. ‘Hey bud, you need to turn around. You’re about to die. There’s a threat off your nose.’”

The young pilot then “killed” the enemy aircraft and had three more kills in the hour-long mission.

“Even in this extremely challenging environment, the F-35 didn’t have many difficulties doing its job,” Wood said. ‘That’s a testament to the pilot’s training and the capabilities of the jet.”

One of the most valuable things about this exercise for the 4th Fighter Squadron is the experience it provided younger pilots flying combat missions as part of an integrated force. Thirteen pilots in the squadron have never flown the F-35 in Red Flag, and four of them just graduated pilot training.

“They say it’s the most realistic thing to combat,” said 1st Lt. Landon Moores, a new F-35A pilot. “It’s been pretty intense.”

Red Flag is not a “rolling campaign.” It is made up of different scenarios that increase in difficulty as the weeks go on. This allows the integrated force to learn how best to capitalize on the strengths and protect the weaknesses of each platform in very specific mission sets.

“With stealth, the F-35 can get closer to threats than many other aircraft can. Combined with the performance of the fused sensors on the F-35, we can significantly contribute to the majority of the missions,” Morris said.

The missions aren’t just 90-minute flights. They require 12-hours of intense planning the day prior, a two hour pre-brief, and then several hours of debriefing after the mission – dissecting the outcome and looking for ways to improve.

“It’s not like we just come back and high-five if we’re successful,” Morris said. “Could we have done better? Did we have all the resources we needed? Often the brief and debrief is the most valuable part of Red Flag, especially for younger pilots.”

The squadron brought 12 aircraft and more than 200 Airmen to the three-week exercise – pilots, maintainers, intelligence officers, weapons crews, and support personnel, including reservists from the 419th Fighter Wing. Maintainers didn’t lose a single sortie to a maintenance ground-abort and had spare aircraft available for every mission.
“As this aircraft matures, we continue to see it be a significant force-multiplier in a threat-dense environment,” Morris said. “Red Flag was a success for us and has made our younger pilots more lethal and more confident.”

https://www.388fw.acc.af.mil/News/Artic ... upS45Js9g/

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Mortyman
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Re: F-35 news thread

Sun Feb 17, 2019 9:51 am

Norwegian Defense Industry awarded assignment for F-35 component maintenance

Today, US authorities announced that Norwegian industry, like other European countries, including Denmark and the Netherlands, has passed the eye of the needle and been awarded the European responsibility for component maintenance for several technology groups for the F-35 partnership.

It is Kongsberg Defense and Aerospace and AIM Norway that have been given the main responsibility for building up a capacity within the assigned component groups. The Norwegian Defense Industry chose early on a cooperation model in which the companies Berget AS, Kitron AS, Techni AS, Vinghøg AS and Widerøe Technical Services AS also contributed their expertise to the overall Norwegian offering. This collaboration model has been appreciated by the international program.

Altogether, there are almost 400 repairable parts on the fighter plane, divided into groups that have mutual synergies. Norway has been awarded two such groups: one that contains hydromechanical components such as pumps, actuators and filters, and one containing weapon release systems including so-called pylons.



Excerpts translated from Norwegian to English:

https://www.regjeringen.no/no/aktuelt/n ... id2629033/
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Mon Feb 18, 2019 1:13 am

Video is available at the link. As with most new concepts transitioning new aircrew onto the platform often brings out the tricks and techniques that older hands either hadn't thought of or wouldn't try.

This Video Shows What It Takes to Pilot An F-35 Stealth Fighter

merica’s fifth-generation F-35 fighter has occupied the headlines largely for its technical progress, and rightly so; from weapons systems to radar technology , there’s a lot to write about. Particularly popular-- and not always positive-- are cost analyses, but these often gloss over a different kind of human cost: the grueling years of study and training required to pilot an advanced modern fighter like the F-35.

Putting a human face on the F-35 program is precisely the purpose of a recent string of small promotional videos, released by the 56th Fighter Wing garrisoned in Luke Air Force Base.

Their initial qualification video wastes no time in setting the tone for the level of commitment expected from prospective pilots: “only the best of the best get into the F-35 initial qualification course (IQC) at Luke Air Force Base, where aviators come to be a part of an elite group of fighter pilots.” Nor is this an empty boast: The F-35 Initial Qualification Training (IQT) requires the completion of 156 events, totaling 306 hours over the span of eight months.

Interestingly, F-35 instructors don’t see prior piloting experience as an advantage. Quite the contrary, explains 56th Training Squadron commander Matthew Hayden : “Pilots that are fresh out of pilot training have an advantage because since they have no fighter jet experience, they are able to better absorb what we teach them and don’t come with habits that more experienced fighter pilots may bring when learning a new platform.”

F-35 IQT begins with a heavy focus on coursework, consisting of academics and simulators. As students make their way through the training, they get more and more hands-on experience in piloting the F-35 through an increasingly difficult series of tasks.

“Each student flew at least 48 sorties totaling 77 hours,” said Lt. Col. Rhett Hierlmeier, the 61st FS commander, in a 2017 Air Force press release. “Starting with the basics of taking off and landing, continuing across the full spectrum mission sets, and culminating in our Capstone phase of high-end employment. Along the way, our students dropped inert and live laser-guided GBU-12s, refueled from a KC-135 day and night and flew low-altitude step-down training.”

The 61st Fighter Squadron made history when six of its pilots graduated the first F-35A Lightning II initial qualification course in 2017. As the US Air Force explores prospective updates and modifications the F-35 IQT curriculum over the coming years, this first batch of graduates is sure to be used a performance bellwether.

Notwithstanding recent, often quite salient criticisms from analysts and pundits, the graduates gave gleaming endorsements of the F-35. “It’s an absolute blast. I love flying the F-35-- it’s super fast, super powerful, just an absolutely incredible experience.” This is consistent with the prevailing sentiment of past trainees, 31 of whom were interviewed in a recent Heritage Foundation report.

Lockheed Martin and the US Air Force have been hard at work over the past few years to present a positive PR image for the F-35. The new F-35 Flight Demonstration team is spearheading these efforts, with Capt. Andrew Olson recently offering a small preview of what to expect from the F-35’s redesigned performance routine in 2019.

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/ ... hter-44142
 
texl1649
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Re: F-35 news thread

Mon Feb 18, 2019 2:36 pm

F-35’s in the upper 70 mill/copy range is going to be basically impossible to compete with, absent a political gripe. I really doubted that would ever happen. Interesting news. A 4th longer range family member as discussed many times (for longer range strikes) would really provide an unbeatable combination of abilities.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Mon Feb 18, 2019 10:49 pm

texl1649 wrote:
F-35’s in the upper 70 mill/copy range is going to be basically impossible to compete with, absent a political gripe. I really doubted that would ever happen. Interesting news.

From comments in other threads there still appears to be some fat in the build time of the aircraft so that flyaway acquisition cost, which includes the engine, seems doable.

I agree the export case becomes very compelling for countries like Finland and Canada, who will likely be able to acquire F-35 for cheaper than a much less capable aircraft like Gripen. The only sales advantage is where the respective acquirer doesn't want to align with US equipment.

texl1649 wrote:
A 4th longer range family member as discussed many times (for longer range strikes) would really provide an unbeatable combination of abilities.

I’m not yet convinced we will see a specific long range variant developed. The more likely path to me seems enough modifications to the current design to allow the AETP engine to be incorporated into the jet in perhaps Blk 5. That provides a 30% increase in range as well as higher thrust. If we said those could start arriving by 2025-27 it would be about right for a decent production line upgrade anyway. I’d expect that variant will appeal to the RAAF who will look to replace the Super Hornet between 2025-30, a longer ranged variant but with general commonality to the existing fleet will have big appeal

In line with that early aircraft can use the P&W proposed F135 enhancements to increase thrust and reduce fuel burn but these are less certain. If we look at the F-15/16 and 18 fleets almost no operators have later retrofitted increased thrust engines into their jets despite the advantages these offered in performance. Australia, Canada, most of the European operators etc all kept the same thrust engines, even though higher ones were available (and aircrew wanted them).
 
estorilm
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Re: F-35 news thread

Tue Feb 19, 2019 2:58 pm

Ozair wrote:
I’m not yet convinced we will see a specific long range variant developed. The more likely path to me seems enough modifications to the current design to allow the AETP engine to be incorporated into the jet in perhaps Blk 5. That provides a 30% increase in range as well as higher thrust. If we said those could start arriving by 2025-27 it would be about right for a decent production line upgrade anyway. I’d expect that variant will appeal to the RAAF who will look to replace the Super Hornet between 2025-30, a longer ranged variant but with general commonality to the existing fleet will have big appeal

In line with that early aircraft can use the P&W proposed F135 enhancements to increase thrust and reduce fuel burn but these are less certain. If we look at the F-15/16 and 18 fleets almost no operators have later retrofitted increased thrust engines into their jets despite the advantages these offered in performance. Australia, Canada, most of the European operators etc all kept the same thrust engines, even though higher ones were available (and aircrew wanted them).

Yeah it would be interesting, and I'm sure the design could achieved (maybe a large clipped-diamond wing with no elevators) - just focus on speed/range/payload.

But as you said, this is unlikely with a large performance bump on the horizon for the existing F-35 family anyways, and the fact that the production line is absolutely swamped for the foreseeable future. There's just no reason for them to spend a penny on design changes. Nice problem for LM to be dealing with, though. :)

Wish there was some better information out there about Red Flag - I had heard there would be a substantial F-35 presence and sortie rate over there a few weeks ago, but was trying not to get too excited till things wrapped up and news came out.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Tue Feb 19, 2019 10:20 pm

Turkey is hotting up again. There is certainly potential that Turkey will base an F-35 squadron in the US until a clear path forward has been identified.

Trump signs bill blocking transfer of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday signed a spending bill that blocks the transfer of the country's F-35 new generation fighter jets to Turkey.

According to spending bill signed by Trump on Friday, delivery of the jets to Turkey will be blocked until the U.S. Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense submit an update to the report regarding the purchase of Turkey of the S–400 missile defense system from the Russian Federation.

In earlier report to the Congress, Pentagon said Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile systems could result in Ankara’s potential expulsion from the F-35 program, as well as affecting its acquisition of other weapons including Boeing Co. ’s CH-47F Chinook helicopter and Lockheed’s F-16 fighter and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.

On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed the purchase and stated that there was no turning back from receiving the S-400 air defense systems from Russia in 2019.

Turkey expects the delivery of the defence missiles to start this year with Russian officials promising the delivery within this year.

The Congressional bill requires the U.S. departments to include a detailed description of plans for the imposition of sanctions, if Turkey goes ahead with the S-400 systems pursuant to section 231 of the Countering Russian Influence in Europe and Eurasia Act of 2017 (Public Law 115–44).

The Congress asks U.S. secretaries to deliver the report by November 1, 2019.

The same spending bill also blocks the sale of weapons to Erdoğan's security guards unless Secretary of State Mike Pompeo informs Congress that the guards charged with the assault on protestors in Washington, DC in May of 2017 have been brought to the justice.

A U.S. delegation visited Ankara in December, after the U.S. State Department informed the U.S. Congress that it had approved a $3.5-billion sale of Patriot air defence batteries to Turkey. The delegation reportedly set the cancellation of the S-400 deal as a prerequisite for the purchase of U.S.-made system.

The informal deadline for Patriot offer was on February 15th and the official deadline in March.

“The Russians said they would to deliver the S-400s in a short time both for a very good price and promising technology transfer,” the chairman of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Volkan Bozkır told reporters in Ankara last week, following a visit to Washington. “Therefore we signed the deal for the purchase of S-400 systems as it addressed our needs and the main part of the payments have been made, while the efforts is going ahead for delivery to Turkey in November.”

According to the latest Congressional bill signed by Trump, the U.S. will wait until November to make its decision. Meanwhile, the Russian S-400s are expected to be delivered to Turkey by July 2019.

Erdogan, on Monday, repeated his conditions for the agreement to purchase Patriot missile defense systems from the U.S.

Turkey's strongman said technology transfer, co-production and financial support have not been offered by Washington to convince Ankara to purchase the Patriots.

https://ahvalnews.com/turkey-usa/trump- ... ets-turkey

The images of the actual bill,

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Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Tue Feb 19, 2019 10:36 pm

Some F-15X stuff but the most interesting part of this story is how the funding request for the border wall may impact future construction at Eielson AFB. I have also seen reports that Luke AFB will be delayed getting the infrastructure they require to expand the F-35 presence there if funding is taken from the defence budget for expanding the wall.

F-35 turbulence: Sen. Murkowski, colleagues rightly nudge the president forward

The prospect of two squadrons of F-35 fighter aircraft, the nation’s fifth-generation fighter, coming to Eielson Air Force Base is widely viewed as an enormous positive development for our region. The basing of the aircraft — 54 of them — will bring several thousand people to the area. And hundreds of millions of dollars in construction at the base is underway to prepare for the arrival of the first of the aircraft next year.

But as with many large-scale efforts, hiccups and uncertainties can occur. And when the White House and Congress are involved, politics can lead to abrupt changes.

And there now seems to be some fresh uncertainty about the Defense Department’s commitment to the F-35 program.

Whether Eielson would be affected wasn’t immediately known publicly, but it is telling that Sen. Lisa Murkowski was one of five senators to sign a letter sent Thursday to President Donald Trump urging him to not stray from the F-35 program and instead revert to purchasing updated fourth-generation F-15 fighters.

The letter originated with Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and was co-signed by Sen. Murkowski and GOP Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Susan Collins of Maine and Marco Rubio of Florida.

“(I)t is my understanding that the DoD may propose buying outdated fourth-generation F-15 fighters, like the F-15X, for $100 million per jet in the FY20 budget request,” the letter states. “At a cost 20 percent higher than the advanced F-35A, this is far from a good deal. Choosing to invest in these fighters, which we know are neither lethal nor survivable against today’s advanced threats, would be a disservice to service members and taxpayers.”

The Air Force’s leading acquisitions officer recently stated that the Air Force only wants to replace its aging F-15s with newer models and that it still supports the F-35. The senators, however, expressed in their letter that the Defense Department has been consistently underfunding the F-35 program, causing Congress to provide the funding to meet goals of the National Security Strategy.

The senators’ letter is forceful.

“At this point, additional investment in less capable or older fourth-generation legacy fighters will simply not meet the requirements of current or future threats,” their letter reads.

That’s just one of the latest uncertainties, however.

A second uncertainty, revealed in recent days, is that military construction funds will be diverted from Eielson — along with funds from other military projects around the nation — to help pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Much of the construction underway is to prepare for the arrival of the F-35s, the first of which are expected to arrive next year. The basing of the aircraft is currently scheduled to be completed in 2022.

Fairbanks and North Pole seem to be prepared for the arrival of the aircraft and the thousands of new residents that will come with them. Extensive planning has been underway since the decision to bring the F-35s here was made. We’ll be ready when they come; that’s the certainty amid the periodic uncertainty.

http://www.newsminer.com/opinion/editor ... 3cf78.html

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