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Italy Approves F-35 Purchase  
User currently onlineThePointblank From Canada, joined Jan 2009, 1698 posts, RR: 0
Posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 5728 times:

90 F-35's, split between the A and B model on order. This order is now FINAL with the Italian Senate approving the purchase, with a near 75% yes vote:

http://www.gazzettadelsud.it/news/en...g-controversial-F-35-fighters.html

Quote:
Rome, July 16 – A majority of Italy's Senate approved the plans to buy F-35 jet fighters in a vote Tuesday but said future purchases should be approved by parliament. The controversial purchase passed by a vote of 202 in favour, 55 opposed and 15 abstentions. Having already passed the same vote in the Lower House, the purchase plans are now final.

Senators rejected a call to cancel the purchase of 90 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets which, at an estimated $200 million per unit, are among the costliest fighter jets in the world. Italy has a duty to its allies and its citizens to invest in the best defence systems possible, said Defence Minister Mario Mauro, whose government will spend approximately 11.8 billion euros on the program over 45 years starting in 2015. He told the Senate that weapons were not good or evil by themselves. "There are, however, adequate or inadequate military instruments," he said. "It is quite evident that if Italy is to be able to play an important role in the new geo-strategic world...by honoring its international commitments, it must be the will of parliament to respond to the needs of modernizing our regular armed forces".

The purchase has been controversial and at times risked splitting the left-right coalition government. According to the defence ministry, the 90 aircraft will replace 256 obsolete fighters in the Italian air force. With radar-evading technology, it has been championed for its advanced design but also heavily criticized for allegedly not meeting the criteria of modern warfare, marked more by guerrilla insurgencies than airborne dogfights. Nine countries are involved in developing the F-35: Italy, Canada, the United States, Britain, Netherlands, Australia, Norway, Denmark and Turkey. Had Italy reduced its investment in the program it would have caused a ripple affect for each of its partner countries that develop different components of the fighter jet.


31 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineSAS A340 From Sweden, joined Jul 2000, 780 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 3 days ago) and read 5714 times:

Quoting ThePointblank (Thread starter):
Senators rejected a call to cancel the purchase of 90 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets which, at an estimated $200 million per unit, are among the costliest fighter jets in the world.

Probably a wise thing to do since Italy has a dept of 130% of GDP and are the second worst country in the EU after Greece finansially....at least they redused it from origin 135 to 90 units  



It's not what u do,it's how u do it!
User currently offlinecurlyheadboy From Italy, joined Feb 2005, 940 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 5597 times:

This is far from being a final deal, all it takes is a different government and they'll be back canceling the purchase.
Left-wing side of the government are already calling this a scandal and opposition is currently gathering popular consent by calling the project an immoral, unnecessary spending, backed by pacifist organizations, environmentalists and the rest of the nutjobs we have free to speak here.
Add to this that people have never been explained the reason why we ventured in this project and they are fed the "you could build a hospital with the money one of these innocent-civilian-killing-machines costs" argument on a daily basis.
I will believe we have the F-35 the day I'll see a squadron flying out of one of our airbases for a training mission.
Cheers!



If God had wanted men to fly he would have given them more money...
User currently offlineconnies4ever From Canada, joined Feb 2006, 4066 posts, RR: 13
Reply 3, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 5542 times:

Quoting ThePointblank (Thread starter):
90 F-35's, split between the A and B model on order. This order is now FINAL with the Italian Senate approving the purchase, with a near 75% yes vote:

This presupposes that the Italians actually HAVE the money to fund this -- not a given.

Quoting curlyheadboy (Reply 2):
This is far from being a final deal, all it takes is a different government and they'll be back canceling the purchase.

Since Italy seems to have elections every 2 or 3 years, and always winds up in a coalition, I tend to agree.



Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
User currently onlineThePointblank From Canada, joined Jan 2009, 1698 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 5342 times:

Quoting curlyheadboy (Reply 2):
This is far from being a final deal, all it takes is a different government and they'll be back canceling the purchase.

Well, the Italian Senate voted with a 74% margin, so the purchase has political approval.

Quoting curlyheadboy (Reply 2):
I will believe we have the F-35 the day I'll see a squadron flying out of one of our airbases for a training mission.

Well, the FACO facility in Italy to assemble the Italian and Dutch F-35's is almost ready to open. That's progress.


User currently offlinetommytoyz From Tonga, joined Jan 2007, 1353 posts, RR: 5
Reply 5, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 5279 times:

Quoting curlyheadboy (Reply 2):
This is far from being a final deal, all it takes is a different government and they'll be back canceling the purchase.

90 have not been ordered yet, it's only a political vote so nothing has been purchased. There is nothing to cancel yet. In Italy, nothing is ever final anyway. I bet that in the end they'll only wind up with about 50 or so. Once the real costs become apparent and the money gets tighter.....

[Edited 2013-07-18 18:37:33]

User currently offlinetommytoyz From Tonga, joined Jan 2007, 1353 posts, RR: 5
Reply 6, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 5260 times:

The Vote decided that:

1. Future purchases should be approved by parliament
2. Plans for 90 should not be blocked

This was not an affirmative decision to order anything. Here is Reuters:


(Reuters) - The Italian senate agreed that any further purchases of Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets must be approved by parliament on Tuesday, but rejected a motion to cancel an existing deal with the U.S. defense contractor.

Misrepresenting does nobody any good and does not change reality. Italy has ordered 3 F-35s so far.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/...y-politics-f-idUSL6N0FM1FS20130716

[Edited 2013-07-18 19:17:55]

User currently offlinesteman From Germany, joined Aug 2000, 1382 posts, RR: 7
Reply 7, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 5151 times:

What many opposers of the project don´t say or don´t know is that Italy has already invested so much into the JSF that backing out now would mean losing at least 2 billion dollars which have already been spent.
Italy is a tier 2 partner, second only to the UK in terms of involvement in the project.
Of course, back in the late 90s, early 2000s, nobody expected this "affordable light weight multi role" to become the huge mess it is today: ultra expensive and technically immature and still incapable of showing to be able to perform as expected.
It´s been bad luck for Italy and the other Countries who have invested so much into the F-35.

It would have been better to invest more into the Typhoon.
The Italian Air Force uses its F-2000A (this is the official italian designation) only in the air defense role, while the RAF and Luftwaffe are turning it into a true multi role platform, capable of replacing the Tornado in the tactical role.

A higher number of Typhoon, updated to the latest release, split between air defense and attack squadron, together with few upgraded Tornados, would have allowed the Italian Air Force to deploy a credible arsenal for many years still, saving lots of money.

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if the Pentagon would cancel the F-35.
Italy and UK would be in big trouble!
But then again, who would have thought that the mighty American Aerospace Industry would mess up at such a scale?


User currently onlineThePointblank From Canada, joined Jan 2009, 1698 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 5150 times:

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 6):
Misrepresenting does nobody any good and does not change reality. Italy has ordered 3 F-35s so far.

They are doing a multi-year buy, so no, you will never see a contract for 90 F-35's, but instead a couple every year.

However, the biggest sign: The Italian FACO facility for F-35 assembly and overhauls is now open AND running:

http://www.flightglobal.com/news/art...political-opposition-grows-388441/

Quote:
Italy opens F-35 assembly line, as political opposition grows

On 18 July, without a formal ceremony and in a state of political turmoil, Italy launched assembly activities on its first Lockheed Martin F-35A combat aircraft.

The new, €800 million ($1 billion) final assembly and check-out (FACO) facility inside Cameri air base, near Milan "was established in a compressed period and is running on schedule and budget," General Chief Inspector Domenico Esposito, head of Aeronautics Armament Procurement, said in a recent interview released by the Italian defence ministry.

Despite the value of Italy's industrial commitment to the F-35, government and political representatives did not attend the opening event. This situation was prompted by two recent parliamentary votes against the programme, which saw the split ruling majority approve a motion which will require parliament to vote for any further purchases of the aircraft.

Italy currently plans to acquire 60 conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) F-35As and 15 short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35Bs for its air force, plus 15 more of the latter for the navy to employ from its Cavour aircraft carrier.

The combined total represents a challenge for the Italian government and an industrial team that includes Alenia Aermacchi and Lockheed, as the FACO has been established assuming national investments to assemble at least 131 F-35A/Bs for Italy and 85 A-model examples for the Netherlands, which could now potentially buy as few as 55. Nonetheless, Esposito says: "We hope to reach 200 units, with other potential sales in the European-Mediterranean region."

However, the main investment return is expected to come from future F-35 support activities for regional operators, also including the US military, with Lockheed indicating the Italian FACO as being the logical maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade (MRO&U) centre of excellence for the European and Mediterranean region.

"With the aircraft assembly reaching its regime, the FACO will gradually evolve into a MRO&U facility for the estimated potential 600 F-35s operating in the same region and other customers," Esposito says. "We already signed an agreement with the Netherlands for assembling their F-35s, while they will support our aircraft's [Pratt & Whitney F135] engines. A similar agreement in the aircraft logistic support area has been signed with Norwegian authorities for their planned F-35 acquisition."

According to Esposito, the work performed at the FACO and elsewhere in Italy should sustain at least 6,000 jobs, while "allowing in parallel the relinquishing of F-35 technology to national industry". Rome had previously cited a figure of 10,000 linked to a 131-aircraft buy.

Cameri air base already accommodates Italy's repair and overhaul hub for the Eurofighter and Panavia Tornado. The secure FACO compound hosts the assembly and check-out line for both CTOL and STOVL variant aircraft, as well as Alenia Aermacchi-managed assembly facilities for F-35 full-wing sets.

With FACO delivery capability of two aircraft per month, the wing component production, lasting from 2011 in initially temporary facilities for early Lot 5 and 6 to speed the learning curve, can reach up to six full sets per month. The full-wing set components arrive in Cameri from other Alenia Aermacchi facilities and national small-to-medium enterprises.

"The 131 aircraft reduction to 90 lowered the overall programme costs to €14.3 billion, of which €2.1 billion is already spent," Esposito says. While the defence ministry has not provided a split for the total cost, it is believed to include €800 million for development, about €7.5 billion for aircraft acquisition, €3.3 billion for support, logistical equipment, infrastructure and base upgrades, and modifications required for the Cavour, plus around €1.7 billion for initial logistics support services until 2027.

Italy has so far seen a return on its investment worth €800 million, and Esposito says its overall benefit is estimated as eventually totalling $14.7 billion, or roughly 76% of its development and production phase costs, before considering MRO&U activities.

The majority of the return will come through Alenia Aermacchi, which has already received contracts worth a combined $141 million linked to the F-35's sixth and seventh low-rate initial production (LRIP) orders. In all, the Finmeccanica company's stake through LRIP 11 production is estimated at $1.2 billion, largely related to non-Italian aircraft.

"Around 30 small-to-medium enterprises are also involved in the programme, while others are expected to join, increasing the overall technology level for Italian industries fabric," Esposito says. However, he notes that the national reduction from 131 to 90 aircraft has seen Alenia Aermacchi's overall production plan reduced from about 1,200 to 800 wing-sets for the F-35.

Italy has so far confirmed orders for three F-35As each in LRIP 6 and 7, and provided initial funding for four more in Lot 8. The defence ministry is also believed to have advanced funds for three F-35As and a first F-35B for the navy as part of LRIP 9.

However, analysis is continuing to evaluate the possible impact of postponing acquisitions toward full-rate production lots, and even further cuts, versus the nation's agreed investment returns.


User currently offlineseahawk From Germany, joined May 2005, 1028 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 5136 times:

It is easy to say "we should buy XYZ" if you know you do not have the money anyway.

User currently offlinecurlyheadboy From Italy, joined Feb 2005, 940 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 5118 times:

Quoting steman (Reply 7):

What many opposers of the project don´t say or don´t know is that Italy has already invested so much into the JSF that backing out now would mean losing at least 2 billion dollars which have already been spent.

The opposers know and they started criticizing the project since the very beginning. Left-wingers and pacifists have historically a grudge against the USA and they will say no to whatever project comes from the US, even an art exhibit, let alone a military project.
However, the average citizen did not pay much attention to the F-35 until very recently, when budget constraints have led governments to implement austerity measures which affected them directly, so now they get angry discovering they're committing on a multi-billion expense for something they don't understand the purpose and which is depicted as "evil" by those who are trying to gather votes promising to cancel it in favor of welfare.

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 8):
nobody expected this "affordable light weight multi role" to become the huge mess it is today: ultra expensive and technically immature and still incapable of showing to be able to perform as expected.
It´s been bad luck for Italy and the other Countries who have invested so much into the F-35.

Well, shit happens. Apparently no government involved has complained strong enough when things began to overshoot budget, they seem to have been caught completely off-guard. Maybe the economy was not as bad as now yet but still, you can't call yourself a partner while you do nothing and then blame it on the US when it's too late.

Quoting steman (Reply 7):
Sometimes I wonder what would happen if the Pentagon would cancel the F-35.
Italy and UK would be in big trouble!

Buy a different, cheaper airplane, F-18 maybe but still the money gone down the drain would be a massive screw-up, and the STOVL replacement for the Harriers would be gone.

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 8):
But then again, who would have thought that the mighty American Aerospace Industry would mess up at such a scale?

They had big trouble with the F-22, a watchful eye would have been appropriate without being disrespectful, they are good but it doesn't mean they never can fail.



If God had wanted men to fly he would have given them more money...
User currently offlinesteman From Germany, joined Aug 2000, 1382 posts, RR: 7
Reply 11, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 5049 times:

In the case of Italy, the AMI (Italian Air Force) should have been already wary of how American Companies lead complex projects lately.
The apparently simple and easy 767TT has been delivered with over 4 years of delay and lots of extra costs.
You are right when you say that someone should have paid more attention and said something before.
Bailing out of the F35 would have been a wise choice already years ago, citing the 767 screw up for example and maybe even extorting some compensation from the US Govt (a discount on some C-17s maybe?).
Italian Governments are always too busy trying to stay in power for more than 18 months to take care of the real issues of the Country, let alone something so weird as a military project.
And when Govt do stay in power for the whole 5 year mandate (happened only once in over 60 years of Republican history), they are too busy covering for the Premier and his parties with under age girls.

The hope now is that the F-35 will mature into a fully capable machine, although many years behing schedule and with an incredibly higher price tag.

Lesson learned? I doubt it.


User currently offlineBigJKU From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 880 posts, RR: 12
Reply 12, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 4997 times:

Can you really say this...

Quoting steman (Reply 11):
The hope now is that the F-35 will mature into a fully capable machine, although many years behing schedule and with an incredibly higher price tag.

When you cite as an example of a better option the Eurofighter....

Quoting steman (Reply 7):
It would have been better to invest more into the Typhoon.
The Italian Air Force uses its F-2000A (this is the official italian designation) only in the air defense role, while the RAF and Luftwaffe are turning it into a true multi role platform, capable of replacing the Tornado in the tactical role.

A higher number of Typhoon, updated to the latest release, split between air defense and attack squadron, together with few upgraded Tornados, would have allowed the Italian Air Force to deploy a credible arsenal for many years still, saving lots of money.

For which the German government looks to be paying $150 million a pop for all told?

http://www.itbusinessnet.com/article...fighters-escalates:-report-2692817

From a cost perspective for most buyers and F-35 and Eurofighter are going to be a near wash pretty much anyway you want to calculate the numbers. Never mind that not buying F-35's would mean no naval aircraft for Italy and a less capable air force overall.


User currently offlinetommytoyz From Tonga, joined Jan 2007, 1353 posts, RR: 5
Reply 13, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 4947 times:

Italy will not lose the FACO or any other F-35 work if they don't order any F-35s. It's too late to suddenly move production elsewhere and out of Italy. Production has already started.

Nor will any other country, such as Britain, Australia, etc...it's too late to move production around now.



Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 8):
They are doing a multi-year buy, so no, you will never see a contract for 90 F-35's, but instead a couple every year.

So only 3 are FINAL. Nothing more. I would caution against counting chickens before they hatch. The same was done with the Singapore "order". Never happened. These planes will not be built unless there is a firm order and paid - not for anything else.

Italy is suffering economic issues, as are many European countries at a time when you have to ask yourself, what are these planes needed for and are they effective post 2020, given that new jammers can make their LPI radars and certainly their radar guided missiles ineffective?

SAM batteries will likewise have their radar guided missiles be made ineffective by these jammers, thus allowing non stealthy planes to penetrate, IMHO.


User currently onlineThePointblank From Canada, joined Jan 2009, 1698 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 4895 times:

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 13):
So only 3 are FINAL. Nothing more. I would caution against counting chickens before they hatch. The same was done with the Singapore "order". Never happened. These planes will not be built unless there is a firm order and paid - not for anything else

Actually 11, as long term lead parts have just been ordered for 8 more:
http://www.defense.gov/contracts/contract.aspx?contractid=5088

Quote:
Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $70,358,000 modification to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract (N00019-13-C-0008) to provide long lead-time parts, material and components required for the delivery of seven Conventional Take Off and Landing F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft and one Short Take-Off Vertical Landing F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft for the government of Italy. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed in February 2014. International Partner contract funds in the amount of $70,358,000 are being obligated on this award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting authority.

The Pentagon made a point of clarifying that "International Partner contract funds" will be paying for these planes; for example, Italy is picking up the tab for this contract, and not U.S. taxpayers.

Aircraft are coming out of LRIP 8 and 9 judging from the current schedule and dates for this recent order. This would be in addition to the 3 they have on order from LRIP 6 and 7.


User currently onlinekanban From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 3526 posts, RR: 27
Reply 15, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 4834 times:
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Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 14):
Actually 11, as long term lead parts have just been ordered for 8 more:
http://www.defense.gov/contracts/contract.aspx?contractid=5088

I recognize that you know combat systems, however the US government releasing procurement funds, even though they are identified as related to a foreign customer, is not a contract from that customer/country to purchase the end product. It's merely a step taken to ensure manufacture should the contract be signed.. note that if Italy does not sign, the long lead hardware will still be built and used in the next US procurement round. to repeat, The authorization for long lead materials is a standard process and does not obligate any customer to complete the transaction.. It's strictly a US government risk, albeit a low risk considering the potential US contracts..

The opposite side is why isn't LM buying the long lead items if they're so confident of the pending sales?

If I recall, we've had this discussion once before.


User currently onlineThePointblank From Canada, joined Jan 2009, 1698 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 4822 times:

Quoting kanban (Reply 15):

I recognize that you know combat systems, however the US government releasing procurement funds, even though they are identified as related to a foreign customer, is not a contract from that customer/country to purchase the end product. It's merely a step taken to ensure manufacture should the contract be signed.. note that if Italy does not sign, the long lead hardware will still be built and used in the next US procurement round. to repeat, The authorization for long lead materials is a standard process and does not obligate any customer to complete the transaction.. It's strictly a US government risk, albeit a low risk considering the potential US contracts..

The US government is designated as party that is primarily responsible for contracting for F-35, per page 41 of the F-35 MOU:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/37886818/Jsf-Psfd-Mou-07-Feb-07

Purchases by partner nations fall under the F-35 MOU, so you will never see a contract written between the Italian government and the US government for F-35's, as the purchase will fall under the MOU.

Quoting kanban (Reply 15):
The opposite side is why isn't LM buying the long lead items if they're so confident of the pending sales?

LM is not the lead contracting authority for F-35; the US DoD is.


User currently offlineseahawk From Germany, joined May 2005, 1028 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 4785 times:

Quoting BigJKU (Reply 12):
For which the German government looks to be paying $150 million a pop for all told?

http://www.itbusinessnet.com/article...fighters-escalates:-report-2692817

From a cost perspective for most buyers and F-35 and Eurofighter are going to be a near wash pretty much anyway you want to calculate the numbers. Never mind that not buying F-35's would mean no naval aircraft for Italy and a less capable air force overall.

German numbers include up-grading the infrastructure, training, setting-up maintenance centres etc. The overall costs ion this setting is to a large effect not influenced by the number of airframes bought. Just to make it clear. With less EFs bought, there was no need to up-grade Wittmund airbase for the Eurofighter to base a mere 20 aircraft there. Yet this is done (for various reasons) and counts towards the program costs.


User currently onlinekanban From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 3526 posts, RR: 27
Reply 18, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 4697 times:
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Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 16):
Purchases by partner nations fall under the F-35 MOU, so you will never see a contract written between the Italian government and the US government for F-35's, as the purchase will fall under the MOU.

an MOU is only a guideline.. without a contract with the customer, they can back out at any time.. legally I believe one can enforce an MOU only to the actual expenditures.. and have to prove those expenditures can not be absorbed by future production/customers.. The Italian legislature has only given the government authority to proceed, it will do that with a formal agreement.. not with a handshake. The agreement will transfer many of the MOU provisions to a binding document.. that's the way it works.

please stick to your equipment analysis and ease off trying to be the only expert on everything.

On the other side the post about the F-35 facility opening was informative.. let's hope they actually make planes there not Fiats.


User currently offlineBigJKU From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 880 posts, RR: 12
Reply 19, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 4605 times:

Quoting seahawk (Reply 17):
German numbers include up-grading the infrastructure, training, setting-up maintenance centres etc. The overall costs ion this setting is to a large effect not influenced by the number of airframes bought. Just to make it clear. With less EFs bought, there was no need to up-grade Wittmund airbase for the Eurofighter to base a mere 20 aircraft there. Yet this is done (for various reasons) and counts towards the program costs.

Yes, and last I checked the same cost basis, program unit cost, for the F-35 (ie the cost to do R&D, build it, build the bases to support it and the things that you need to operate it) was $150-155 million a pop. Regardless of how you count up the cost there is not really much savings on one plane or the other.


User currently onlineThePointblank From Canada, joined Jan 2009, 1698 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks ago) and read 4570 times:

More on the Italian FACO line: assembly of first F-35 airframe is in progress:

http://www.defensenews.com/article/2...osition-Italy-Begins-F-35-Assembly

Quote:
Amid Local Opposition, Italy Begins F-35 Assembly

ROME — As spending on the F-35 Joint Striker Fighter program continues to arouse strong opposition in Italy, Alenia Aermacchi has started final assembly work of the country’s first JSFs at a custom built facility near Milan.

The work marks the first time that final assembly of an F-35 has taken place outside the US. Last week, fuselage components were loaded into an electronic mate and alignment system, one of four 50-foot-by-80-foot systems at the JSF Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) line at Cameri Air Base, which is run jointly by Alenia and Lockheed Martin.

The components included a forward fuselage and wing from Lockheed Martin, an aft fuselage from BAE Systems in the UK, a center fuselage from Northrop Grumman. The center fuselage and wing were flown in on July 12 to Milan’s Malpensa from the US on a C-5 airlifter chartered for the occasion.

In addition to running the FACO, which Italy hopes will later attract JSF maintenance work to Cameri, Alenia is also a co-producer of wings, and will supply wings for partner countries’ JSFs in addition to all Italian jets.

The exception will be the first six Italian jets, which will have wings provided by Lockheed Martin. Alenia’s first full wing will be ready for low-rate initial production-7 (LRIP) and is designated for installation on US Air Force conventional takeoff F-35As, Lockheed Martin said, while Italy has ordered its first three jets from LRIP 6.

Three jets from LRIP-7 have also been funded by Italy, while advanced funding has been issued for long lead items for four LRIP-8 jets then due to be ordered, as well as limited funding for four jets from LRIP-9.

The program has been in the political firing line this year over the cost of the aircraft, as Italy makes deep austerity cuts to bring down its debt. Last week, the Italian Senate backed a lower house motion calling for a parliamentary vote before future JSF orders are approved.

The motion has created confusion over whether it means a vote is needed to buy more than the 90 Italian aircraft already approved by Parliament, or more than the six jets funded in LRIP 6 and 7, or more than the 10 jets fully and partly funded in LRIPs 6, 7 and 8. “This motion was a mess,” one Italian analyst said privately.

With the political spotlight on the program, the Italian Air Force called off a planned ceremony to be held at Cameri on July 18 to mark the start of work.

Deliveries of components meanwhile continue. In November, a subsequent set of components will be loaded for the assembly of the second JSF, followed by the start of the assembly of subsequent aircraft in March, July and October 2014 and January 2015, said Debra Palmer, Lockheed Martin’s vice president and general manager for the FACO.

The plane now being assembled will be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2015 after software and flight testing begins in the summer of 2014, while the second aircraft will be delivered in the first quarter of 2016. The first short-takeoff, vertical-landing F-35B jet is the 14th aircraft due to be delivered — the last jet in LRIP-9, with a delivery date in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Palmer said the facility is designed to have a full rate of production of two aircraft a month, or 24 a year. Dutch jets due to be assembled at Cameri have slipped from the original planned LRIP-6 to a forecasted order in LRIP 10 or 11, Palmer said, meaning a slower ramp up of production.

“There will be spare capacity,” she said. With the Dutch planes being assembled alongside the Italian planes, the FACO would reach a rate of 18 to 19 jets a year, while the Italian jets alone would reach a rate of eight to nine jets a year depending on when orders are placed, she said.

Low-observable coatings will be applied by Alenia, although the make up of the coatings is proprietary to the US, Palmer said.

Palmer said Alenia had been scheduled to produce 1,215 wings, but is now committed to a minimum of 835 after the reduction of Italy’s order of JSFs from 131 to 90. Alenia’s full rate of production will be 66 a year and expandable to 72.

Alenia has to come in at the same price as Lockheed Martin on wing production. “This is a challenge for Alenia Aermacchi since they are just beginning the wing production but they are investing in the big picture,” she said.

Assembly work on the FACO for Italian jets has not been pegged to Lockheed Martin assembly rates but any non-Italian jets assembled there will be completed at exactly the same price as if done in Fort Worth, Texas, Palmer said.

“Cameri is all about the future and it was built with the idea it will be the logical choice for maintenance for other fleets, and Lockheed Martin has indicated that will be the case,” she said.

“The Italians are also prepared to have buildings to be dedicated to other countries which they will not enter, just as they built the signature building which will be used by US citizens. It is bold, broad thinking which will be pay dividends.”


User currently offlineseahawk From Germany, joined May 2005, 1028 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 4414 times:

Quoting BigJKU (Reply 19):
Yes, and last I checked the same cost basis, program unit cost, for the F-35 (ie the cost to do R&D, build it, build the bases to support it and the things that you need to operate it) was $150-155 million a pop. Regardless of how you count up the cost there is not really much savings on one plane or the other.

The F-35 price surely does not include the costs of up-dating Italian aribases.


User currently offlineBigJKU From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 880 posts, RR: 12
Reply 22, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 4394 times:

Quoting seahawk (Reply 21):

The F-35 price surely does not include the costs of up-dating Italian aribases.

Of course not and I never suggested it did. That is the unit cost for the USAF for the whole program. Italy is on its own to decide to what kind of infrastructure it wants to put behind the program.

The larger point is really that there are no demonstrable figures out there that show the Eurofighter is any cheaper than the F-35. Italy will of course spend more overall in absolute terms by supporting two fighters rather than a one type force. That is just common sense because each program has its own fixed cost associated with it.

But if you compare like cost metric to like cost metric (and getting those cost for the EF are not really easy because as far as I know there is no GAO/SAR accounting style report put out on the system that goes into great detail) you won't find a huge difference in price.

Italy's cost here is the cost of participating in the R&D for the aircraft and building the unique fixed assets to support it. From an airframe cost basis it does not appear that buying EF or F-35 would make much difference.


User currently offlinesteman From Germany, joined Aug 2000, 1382 posts, RR: 7
Reply 23, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 4279 times:

The Eurofighter is certainly an expensive piece of technology and probably not cheaper than the F-35.
But it is/was meant to be in the same league as the F-22/Su-35, whereas the F-35 was supposed to be "affordable".
One of the acronyms for the program was CALF: Common Affordable Light weight Fighter, before it became the JSF.
They may have dropped the Affordable moniker but the JSF was always meant to be a relatively cheap option to replace a pletora of older types.
It clearly hasn´t gone as expected.
This, together with the technical problems and the protracted development, makes the F-35 a very controversial machine.
Unfortunately for Italy, the only alternative they have is scrap naval aviation altogether and turn the Air Force into a single type but with with little numbers of planes available.


User currently offlineseahawk From Germany, joined May 2005, 1028 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 4231 times:

Quoting BigJKU (Reply 22):
Of course not and I never suggested it did. That is the unit cost for the USAF for the whole program. Italy is on its own to decide to what kind of infrastructure it wants to put behind the program.

The larger point is really that there are no demonstrable figures out there that show the Eurofighter is any cheaper than the F-35. Italy will of course spend more overall in absolute terms by supporting two fighters rather than a one type force. That is just common sense because each program has its own fixed cost associated with it.

But if you compare like cost metric to like cost metric (and getting those cost for the EF are not really easy because as far as I know there is no GAO/SAR accounting style report put out on the system that goes into great detail) you won't find a huge difference in price.

Italy's cost here is the cost of participating in the R&D for the aircraft and building the unique fixed assets to support it. From an airframe cost basis it does not appear that buying EF or F-35 would make much difference.

And the Gemran program costs contains R&D, purchase of the aircraft, training of personal and all infrastrucutre up-grades on the airbases.


User currently offlineBigJKU From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 880 posts, RR: 12
Reply 25, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 4184 times:

Quoting seahawk (Reply 24):
And the Gemran program costs contains R&D, purchase of the aircraft, training of personal and all infrastrucutre up-grades on the airbases.

Yes, which is exactly what comprises the US cost that are around $155 million per.

Again, the point here is that you can change the cost metrics and an F-35 looks now like it will cost about as much as a Eurofighter. So it really comes down to picking which platform is better for your needs. One is not going to save you substantial money over the other. If you want to go with the flyaway cost rather than program cost you are going to end up pretty much in the same ballpark again.

Where Italy pays more is their decision to operate two fast jets vs operating one type. But that would be the case if they operated Eurofighters and F-18's too.


User currently offlinetommytoyz From Tonga, joined Jan 2007, 1353 posts, RR: 5
Reply 26, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 4179 times:

Quoting steman (Reply 23):
One of the acronyms for the program was CALF: Common Affordable Light weight Fighter, before it became the JSF.
They may have dropped the Affordable moniker but the JSF was always meant to be a relatively cheap option to replace a pletora of older types.

I think you hit it on the head. It's not that the F-35 is useless or incapable. The problem is that it's too expensive for what it can do. And it seems it can do less and less as time goes on, which compounds the problem. Another problem is the length of time it is delayed, as it gives everybody the time to develop countermeasures against it's main tactic - radar LO.


User currently offlineseahawk From Germany, joined May 2005, 1028 posts, RR: 0
Reply 27, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 4114 times:

Quoting BigJKU (Reply 25):
Yes, which is exactly what comprises the US cost that are around $155 million per.

Again, the point here is that you can change the cost metrics and an F-35 looks now like it will cost about as much as a Eurofighter. So it really comes down to picking which platform is better for your needs. One is not going to save you substantial money over the other. If you want to go with the flyaway cost rather than program cost you are going to end up pretty much in the same ballpark again.

Yes, but the EF is at the end of the death spiral that comes with customers slashing their orders and so increasing the unit price. F-35 is at the beginning of it. Remember that Turkey postponing 2 airframes to 2017 increased the price of the other airframes of the batch by around 2 mill.


User currently offlinejollo From Italy, joined Aug 2011, 222 posts, RR: 0
Reply 28, posted (1 year 1 month 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 3664 times:

Quoting steman (Reply 23):
Unfortunately for Italy, the only alternative they have is scrap naval aviation altogether and turn the Air Force into a single type but with with little numbers of planes available.

With all due respect to Italian naval aviators, I still think Italy needs fast jets on baby-carriers as a snake needs shoes:
1) Italy cannot afford to project power through naval aviation; naval aviation without power-projection is only an admiral's wet dream / ego trip
2) Italy is a natural "aircraft carrier" projecting right into the middle of the Med area; there are no realistic (as in economically sustainable) missions for the Italian Air Force outside the range of our land bases (more so with tanker support)

So my opinion remains that all *at least* the B orders should be cancelled and Italian naval fast jet aviation scrapped. The two baby carriers can be cheaply and quickly converted into helo platforms: the switch is already built into the design and they would make a more realistic support platform for overseas deployments. Sorry for our naval aviators, great professionals, but that's life.

Typhoon isn't cheaper than F35 and, more importantly, isn't 5th gen, but it's more than enough for Italy to effectively fullfill treaty obligations. Moreover, Italy has a strong industrial stake in it and already has the infrastructure in place to operate it in significant numbers. So, converting also the remaining F35-A orders one-for-one to multi-role Eurofighters wouldn't save us any money in acquisition costs (not counting the 2 billion EUR sunk into F35 R&D), but would benefit us greatly in operating costs and in *strategic defence independence* (not to mention achieving a tighter EU defense industry integration).

The Alenia FAL can assemble dutch F35s.


User currently offlineSAS A340 From Sweden, joined Jul 2000, 780 posts, RR: 0
Reply 29, posted (1 year 1 month 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 3588 times:

Quoting jollo (Reply 28):
Typhoon isn't cheaper than F35 and, more importantly, isn't 5th gen

I have read that the export versions of F-35 has a stealth of "level 3" wich put it at the same cat. as a 4.5 gen fighter.... true or false anyone?
Anf if true,what makes it a 5,generation fighter? hidden armament?

[Edited 2013-08-01 08:04:48]


It's not what u do,it's how u do it!
User currently offlinejollo From Italy, joined Aug 2011, 222 posts, RR: 0
Reply 30, posted (1 year 1 month 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 3578 times:

Quoting SAS A340 (Reply 29):
what makes it a 5,generation fighter? hidden armament?

I would say it's a combination of inter-related things: stealth, internal weapons bays, longer range without external tanks... all features the Eurofighter lacks (or has to a lesser degree).

In my opinion the most important factors would be sensor fusion and enhanced situational awareness. Of course, in these areas the F35's advantages are mostly on paper: with the mission software so far away from any operational maturity and the helmet still in the woods, it'll be many, may years before any non-US partner nation will be able to deploy a true 5th gen fighter.

All in all, I still believe the Typhoon would be a much better choice for Italy (and a "domestic" product, too).


User currently offlineBigJKU From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 880 posts, RR: 12
Reply 31, posted (1 year 1 month 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 3550 times:

Quoting SAS A340 (Reply 29):

I have read that the export versions of F-35 has a stealth of "level 3" wich put it at the same cat. as a 4.5 gen fighter.... true or false anyone?
Anf if true,what makes it a 5,generation fighter? hidden armament?


Mostly garbage. The aircraft are built exactly the same shape wise so the major component of RCS will be similar. No one has ever given a definitive answer as to what is different but it is something partner nations would know going in, not something sprung on them. You sign a contract for a specific level of capability and any of them could have said we want the same RCS as the USAF. If there is in fact a difference in levels of stealth then the only people to blame would be those who agreed to buy the airplane on such terms.

And the only reason they would agree to do that is if said airplane was significantly better than their other options. Whatever the dual stealth levels really are it will be comfortably in front of a 4.5 gen fighter.

[Edited 2013-08-01 12:11:06]

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