Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Tue Mar 19, 2019 2:44 am

General commentary on the procurement process and the issues the US Services have faced over the last 15 years. As part of the argument the author urges increased spending on the F-35 to recapitalise the fighter fleet.

US Air Power: The Imperative For Modernization (Buy The F-35)

In 2006, a relatively obscure book caused a major stir among the U.S. Air Force leadership. Why Air Forces Fail, edited by Robin Higham and Stephen J. Harris, lays out the determinants of failure: deficiencies in the industrial base, misguided technology and tactical picks, inattention to logistics and neglect of training. The case studies are broken into three categories: ”Dead Ducks,” those who never had a chance to win; “Hares,” who did well at the outset, but failed to exploit their success; and “Phoenixes”–who overcame early defeats to carry the day.

The book crystalized the Air Force’s battle with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who describes the service as “one of my biggest headaches” in his own book, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War. In Gates’ eyes, the Air Force suffered from “next-war-itis”—focus on future wars with peer adversaries, rather than combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I served as special assistant to Air Force Chief of Staff Michael “Buzz” Moseley, and witnessed the escalating discord first hand. I read Why Air Forces Fail and concluded the book was looking at failure through the wrong end of the telescope. I briefed my findings to the leadership, bolstering the need to modernize and recapitalize a force that was already the oldest and smallest in its 60-year history.

Then, in June 2008, Secretary Gates fired Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and Moseley — an unprecedented dual decapitation. Their sin? Strategic foresight, in the form of their unwavering advocacy for full procurement of the F-22 and F-35; development of the Next-Generation Bomber (now known as the B-21), new tankers, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAS), combat search and rescue helicopters; space systems’ upgrade; nuclear modernization; and operational cyber-warfare.

But the new leadership focused exclusively on Iraq and Afghanistan. As the National Defense Strategy makes clear, the inevitable return to great power competition make Wynne, Moseley’s and my analysis even more relevant today.

Air Forces — and militaries — do not fail by themselves. Failure occurs in a national context, wherein “ducks, hares, and phoenixes” don’t suffice as an explanation.

History is replete with examples of disasters born of lack of strategic foresight: The U.S. Army after the Civil War — arguably the most experienced on the planet — spent 30 years fighting the Indians, only to later struggle to deploy a brigade to Cuba. Likewise, Britain and France let their conventional power fade–while their hubris blossomed– after post-1815 resulting in a blood bath in the Crimean War and near-existential disasters in the two World Wars that followed. In the wake of a spectacular victory in June 1967, the Israeli Defense Forces rested on its laurels, secure in the soon-to-be-proven fallacy that past successes and strategic depth would deter any emerging threat. Six years later, in October 1973, Israel fought for its very survival, having fallen victim to a strategic surprise masterfully orchestrated by seemingly defeated foes.

The implications are clear. First, aggressors tend to assume risks that seem irrational — and, thus, improbable — to the intended victim. This leads to strategic dislocation, and, potentially, catastrophic failure. Second, credibility born of past successes rarely suffices as a deterrent. Third, hubris kills.

The U.S. must balance current exigencies with future requirements. Any single-focus approach bears a huge opportunity cost. The world has not taken a time-out to allow the U.S. to tend to Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead, competitors exploited the emphasis on the lower end of the conflict spectrum to leapfrog in areas where the U.S. took its dominance for granted. To paraphrase Secretary Jim Mattis: victory—or air superiority—aren’t birthrights. We take them for granted at our own peril.

Future conflicts will be more lethal and more difficult to control than ever. The potential for strategic surprise is high, and the military’s residual capacity is at a historic low. Concepts and structures, valid for a specific time and place, should not be allowed to become dogma. That too is a prescription for failure.

Debacles-in-the-making develop over time, usually offering plenty of opportunities to spot them and correct the downward spiral. What prevents that course correction are systemic deficiencies, wishful thinking, and the inherent human ability to adjust to a “new normal” –the fluctuating baseline of what is deemed acceptable.

Operating the smallest, oldest, and least ready force the USAF has ever fielded is a clear example. The decline has been long in the making. The baseline of “the new normal” has been shifting through three decades.

In 1990, the Air Force fielded 3,206 fighters and 737 bombers.
Today, it has 1,731 fighters and 157 bombers–with only 186 F-22s and 153 F-35s fifth generation, stealthy aircraft.
The F-22 production line has been dismantled. Only 48 F-35A —the Air Force variant– are being procured by the US each year, versus the more than 100 originally programmed.
Mobility aircraft–tankers and transports procurement was slashed by over 50 percent, resulting in the most geriatric and smallest fleet in history. It’s worth noting that all elements of the Joint Force—the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard—have been similarly underfunded and unprepared to deter and, if necessary, defeat, peer adversaries.
For a nation whose security is predicated on a strategy of dissuasion, the most fundamental risk is deterrence failure. Deterrence is the product of capability, will and credibility. It exists in the eye of the beholder. Its success is measured only in the breach. Thus, the question “how much is enough to deter” is purely theoretical—unless one is seeking to dissuade oneself.

The future security environment will be shaped by the interaction of globalization, economic disparities and competition for resources; diffusion of technology and information networks whose very nature allows unprecedented ability to harm and, potentially, paralyze advanced societies; and systemic upheavals impacting, international institutions and the world order. Ascendant powers are translating lessons from recent conflicts into new concepts and capabilities tailored to counter our strengths and exploit our vulnerabilities.

Specifically, anti-access/area-denial weapons, designed to blunt U.S. power projection capability have been widely deployed by Russia and China, as well as Iran and North Korea. Generation “4-plus” and true 5th-gen aircraft that challenge America’s aging fleet have been introduced into both Russia’s and China’s inventories. Increasingly lethal, integrated air defense systems (IADS) have proliferated world-wide, as have surface-to-surface missiles. Concurrently, the proliferation of robotics, resurgence of offensive space capabilities, as well as the ability to disrupt civilian and military activities through cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum, are transforming warfare.

So, the U.S. should expect to be challenged in all domains: on land, at sea, in the air, space, and cyberspace. Perhaps for the first time in history, the ability to inflict damage and cause strategic dislocation is no longer directly proportional to capital investment, superior motivation and training, or technological prowess.

The U.S. must remain vigilant to breakthroughs in quantum computing, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, electromagnetic spectrum physics, advanced propulsion, photonics, biotechnology — and more — anywhere in the world. The U.S. must prepare for innovative combinations of new and legacy concepts, weapons and disruptive technologies.

The U.S. must enhance its own asymmetric advantage by delivering global surveillance, global command and control, and the requisite speed, range, precision, persistence and payload to strike any target, anywhere, anytime, in and through any domain. For a great power like the U.S., there is no such thing as a minor setback. Once the U.S. commits its prestige, victory is the only acceptable outcome. The alternative diminishes America’s stature, credibility and influence, as well as alliance cohesion.

In the age of knowledge, decision superiority, resiliency, agility, mutually supporting governance structures and reliable allies and partners are indispensable to victory. America will succeed in the 21st century only by resourcing a strategy that closes the gap between ends and means. Time is not on our side.

No modern war has been won without air superiority. No future war will be won without air, space and cyberspace superiority. To promote and defend America’s interests, the Joint Force must attain cross-domain dominance: the freedom to attack and the freedom from attack in and through: the oceans, the atmosphere, space, and the electromagnetic spectrum—as well as on the ground. Cross-domain dominance integrates systems, capabilities, and operations to gain competitive advantage across the board. It maximizes synergies among the Services, generating an array of simultaneous, synchronized effects, which allow Joint Force Commanders to achieve desired outcomes across the full range of military operations.

This is the strategic context within which all acquisitions must be viewed. Take the F-35 as an example: It is the most lethal, survivable and connected aircraft in the world, giving warfighters a priceless asymmetric advantage. Its advanced capabilities transform the way operations are conducted—today and tomorrow. It is also produced jointly with and sold to a range of allies, thus strengthening national security and forging global partnerships.

More than a strike fighter jet, the F-35 is a force multiplier with an advanced sensor and communications suite that enhances the capabilities of networked airborne, sea and ground-based platforms–thus granting the entire Joint Force a much-needed edge. As technology and threats continue to evolve, industry must ensure that the F-35 remains ahead of the pack. Follow-on modernization — a part of DOD’s Continued Capability, Development and Delivery (C2D2) framework — offers an agile approach to deliver timely, affordable, spiral capability improvements.

The simple truth is that the F-35 is America’s only 5th generation aircraft in production. Over the past two decades, the number of aircraft designed for high-end warfare has declined precipitously. The U.S. acquired only 21 B-2 Spirit stealth bombers, a small fraction of the original order of 132. The F-22 Raptor — the most capable combat aircraft in history — fell victim to similar strategic myopia, with fewer than half of the required 381 jets procured. Their production line doesn’t exist anymore. In other words, the U.S. failed to anticipate and learn.

That failure is a prescription for disaster—not just for Air Force but for the Joint Force and our allies. We must counter the proliferation of advanced technology — which is allowing more actors to contest U.S. power in more threatening ways — by buying all the 2,456 F-35s planned for the Air Force, Navy and Marines. Its unrivaled stealth technology will guard against catastrophic attrition, allowing pilots to maneuver undetected in lethal, denied environments.

The U.S. will have neither the buffer of time nor the barrier of oceans in future conflicts. The character, tempo and velocity of modern warfare already severely test America’s ability to adapt. Rising to this challenge is not a choice; it is a shared responsibility and a national imperative.

https://breakingdefense.com/2019/03/us- ... -the-f-35/
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Tue Mar 19, 2019 2:57 am

In contrast to the article above the below is a more pessimistic look at the US Services and their desire and overall likely order quantity for the F-35.

Troubling Signs Ahead for the F-35

The market for the F-35 is still strong… but maybe not in its home country.
In its budget request submitted to Congress, the Pentagon plans to request 78 new aircraft. That’s six less than the Defense Department forecasted it would need for fiscal 2020. And as each fighter jet has a price tag of $406.5 billion, that means over $24 billion in lost sales for Lockheed Martin—principal planemaker and the Pentagon’s top weapons supplier—and partner Northrop Grumman which supplies parts for the F-35.

This is a significant change in direction for the military, which has been saying for years that it needs the state-of-the-art fighter jet—and is suddenly balking at the size of next year’s order.

For the current year, Congress approved $9.34 billion for 93 F-35s, 16 more than requested. And for fiscal 2018, Congress boosted the 70 jets requested up to 90. Senator James Inhofe, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has said he wants to triple F-35s purchased by 2024, making it the most ambitious procurement request on his agenda for next year.

If history really does repeat itself, then lawmakers will likely put those six jets back on the final bill for 2020—and could even add more.

Though the Pentagon itself may have doubts, the jet has earned praise from the military forces that actually use the F-35—the Air Force, Marines and the Navy have all declared the aircraft combat-ready. But the warfighter has a checkered history of performance problems, including faulty ejection seats, software delays, and helmet display issues.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan is concerned about the long-term costs of maintaining and operating the F-35 fleet—which will eventually grow to 2,456 aircraft, surpassing $1 trillion over several decades. “The cost of sustainment is about the same cost as nuclear modernization,” he said.

But Shanahan has no doubt about the plane itself. “What’s really important for people to always take away is I’ve found the aircraft—the F-35 as a product, its capability and performance—to be eye-watering,” said Shanahan. “It is high, high-performing—no ambiguity—no ifs, ands or buts.”

The warfighter is only beginning its service life. Shanahan believes that driving down those costs as the plane starts its career is ideal over the span of the plane’s lifetime. “If you were ever going to realize high performance, you would do it on the front end. We have a small window.” Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, said he has “decades of experience” in managing the costs of operating and maintaining aircraft. His concerns about the costs of sustaining multibillion-dollar weapons systems apply to all the companies involved in making the F-35: Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, BAE, and other suppliers.

But while the U.S. is cooling on the F-35, the country’s allies are eager to buy the warfighter.

Poland has recently committed to buying 32 fifth-generation jets as part of a $49-billion initiative to modernize its military. It’s believed that Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak is eyeing the F-35, the only fifth-generation fighter currently in production. The F-35s would replace Poland's Su-22 and MiG-29 aircraft—relics of the Cold War era.

Andrew Hunter, director of the Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group at CSIS, said “if the Poles are interested and willing to buy the F-35, the U.S. would very likely say ‘yes.’”

Several other U.S. NATO allies—Britain, the Netherlands, Norway and Italy—are also putting in orders for the F-35. But Germany recently declined to buy the warfighter, looking to replace its aging Tornado fleet with older but cheaper fourth-generation jets. And Japan is the largest international buyer of the F-35, a demand spurred by growing concerns over China.

The American military is keen to put the fighter into active duty. The Navy recently declared its fleet of F-35C fighter jets ready for war—joining the Marines and Air Force as the third and final service branch to declare their fighter jets ready for war.

“We are adding an incredible weapon system into the arsenal of our Carrier Strike Groups that significantly enhances the capability of the joint force,” said Vice Admiral DeWolfe Miller in a statement.

Lockheed Martin designed three variants of the fighter to suit the needs of each branch of the military: the F-35A for the Air Force, F-35B for the Marine Corps, and F-35C for the Navy.

The new reluctance from Washington over projected orders for the plane should be concerning to Lockheed Martin. The fighter jet already accounts for more than 25 percent of the company’s annual revenue, and by the time the F-35 is in full production, it should surpass 50 percent of total revenue.

But Lockheed has a 400 plane backlog so orders are steady for the moment. And if the planemaker achieves cost savings and efficiencies it anticipates when it scales up production, the plane will become that much more appealing to buyers abroad—perhaps enough to compensate for the Pentagon’s order reduction.

https://www.engineering.com/AdvancedMan ... -F-35.aspx
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Tue Mar 19, 2019 3:00 am

Some good integration work being conducted by Pacific nations who operate the F-35. I expect these to continue to develop as more operators come on board and the size of the respective fleets increase.

F-35 multilateral conference sets stage for operational integration in Indo-Pacific

F-35 Lightning II subject matter experts from the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea met to improve 4th and 5th generation aircraft theater interoperability during the second Pacific F-35 User Group Conference at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, March 12 -14.

More than 80 personnel from the four nations discussed bed down and strategic concepts, operations, logistics and sustainment topics, all building on the success of the March 2017 F-35 Symposium.

“This conference provides a great opportunity to work with our allies to strengthen our interoperability with 5th and 4th generation aircraft as these airframes start to become more prominent in the region,” said Gen. CQ Brown Jr., Pacific Air Forces commander. “Improving interoperability between our forces and helping allies increase their capabilities works to deter aggression, maintain stability and ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

This year’s theme “operational integration in the Indo-Pacific” focused on security, interoperability, training, simulators and logistics information systems.

As the presence of the F-35 increases in the Indo-Pacific, future multilateral exercises will enhance 5th generation aircraft interoperability and integration, as well as agile command and control across the full spectrum of combined warfighter operations.

“It’s how we take advantage of all the capabilities we have in the region,” Brown said. “The F-35 will bring a full spectrum of capabilities to us and will be a critical part of joint and coalition efforts.”

The Marine Corps currently has F-35Bs based at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, and Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, is projected to house future F-35A squadrons starting in 2020. The Air Force last deployed F-35As to the region in 2017, with the 34th Fighter Squadron from Hill AFB, Utah, going to Kadena Air Base, Japan, for a six-month deployment.

The F-35’s advanced technologies and sensors, in conjunction with other multi-domain systems to collect, fuse and distribute information will lead to unprecedented battlespace awareness, survivability, and lethality in future highly contested environments.

“Right now we have all the right people in the right place at the right time,” Brown said. “With that we can address change, identify areas that require additional work, and initiate measurable progress to close gaps. As we posture for the future, remember that we’re stronger and more effective when we work together.”

https://www.af.mil/News/Article-Display ... -indo-pac/
 
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KPDX
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Re: F-35 news thread

Tue Mar 19, 2019 7:05 pm

Thought this might be of interest to you guys as I live near Fort Worth. I got the third F-35 for TuAF days ago on a test flight.



I do question how likely it is they will actually end up being delivered to Turkey, and if they don't, will they just be retrofitted back to USAF standard and delivered? I wonder.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Tue Mar 19, 2019 8:00 pm

KPDX wrote:
Thought this might be of interest to you guys as I live near Fort Worth. I got the third F-35 for TuAF days ago on a test flight.

A great shot! That is a good aspect for the F-35 as it hides some of the body girth.

KPDX wrote:
I do question how likely it is they will actually end up being delivered to Turkey, and if they don't, will they just be retrofitted back to USAF standard and delivered? I wonder.

Agree 100%, the longer Turkey plays the S400 card the more likely it will be that Turkish F-35s never leave the US. The only retrofit required to bring it to USAF standard is a paint job so would be very easy to accomplish and I expect the USAF would snap up any Turkish F-35s that became available.
 
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Re: F-35 news thread

Tue Mar 19, 2019 8:07 pm

Thank you, Ozair!

So the TuAF F-35 has all systems and capabilities of a USAF one?
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Tue Mar 19, 2019 10:26 pm

KPDX wrote:
Thank you, Ozair!

So the TuAF F-35 has all systems and capabilities of a USAF one?

Every aircraft coming off the production line is exactly the same.

The difference will be in the software Mission Data Loads (MDL) that the jet flies with. The US has their own specific MDLs generated in a US only lab, AUS/CAN/UK have their MDLs being developed in their own lab (ACURL), the Norwegians and Italians have their own lab (NIRL) while FMS partners have a dedicated lab (FRL). I expect other operators of the aircraft will have agreements with either the FRL or NIRL to receive specific MDLs for their fleets.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Thu Mar 21, 2019 1:57 am

A lot of news articles coming out now based on a POGO report which is littered with poor interpretation of basic facts available to them.

Navy's F-35 is Nowhere Near Combat-Ready, Watchdog Group Says

A government watchdog organization says that the Navy's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter isn't ready for combat, even though the service signed off on the aircraft’s initial operating capability status last month.

The non-profit Project on Government Oversight said the F-35C variant "continues to dramatically underperform in crucial areas including availability and reliability, cyber-vulnerability testing, and life-expectancy testing," according to a recent analysis conducted by the organization.

The group obtained two charts, dated Dec. 31, 2018, showing the readiness trajectory of the Navy and Marine Corps F-35 variants.

"The fact that the Navy is pushing ahead with the aircraft in spite of evidence that it is not ready for combat and could therefore put at risk missions, as well as the troops who depend on it to get to the fight, comes at the same time as the Pentagon's annual operational testing report for fiscal year 2018 shows that the entire F-35 program, the most expensive weapon system in history, is not ready to face current or future threats," POGO analysts wrote.

The Navy referred all questions about the new report to the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program Office, which did not immediately provide responses to questions.

The Navy previously said its F-35 "met all requirements" to achieve initial operational capability, or IOC, announcing the status Feb. 28, the last of the three U.S. services that fly the aircraft to declare the plane as combat-ready.

In a statement, Lockheed Martin said the the F-35C and F-35B fleet were both delivering strong performances.

"As more aircraft enter service, we are optimizing resources across the fleet and leveraging data across hundreds of thousands of flight hours to identify and invest in the biggest drivers to improve readiness and reduce costs," Lockheed said in the statement. "For example, we are improving supply availability and turnaround time; further enhancing system reliability and maintainability; implementing advanced analytics tools; enhancing [the Autonomic Logistics Information System]; conducting supply chain competitions; buying parts in bulk up front; accelerating modifications of earlier aircraft; and supporting the stand-up of regional warehouses and customer repair depots."

The statement added that mission capable rates were increasing as F-35 sustainment processes mature and personnel become more familiar with the aircraft.

"We are confident in meeting the DoD’s readiness and cost goals," Lockheed said.

POGO heavily cited a report by the Defense Department Director of Operational, Test and Evaluation, assembled by December 2018 and released publicly on Jan. 31.

POGO's analysis of the charts noted DOT&E's findings that the Marine Corps' early-production short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing jets "[are] well under the expected service life of 8,000 flight hours, and may be as low as 2,100 flight hours," which could result in the fifth-generation jet hitting its flight hour maximum by 2026.

Like the Air Force, the Navy is working to reach former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' established goal of reaching an aircraft mission-capable rate of 80 percent by the end of this fiscal year.

"The Navy document POGO obtained shows that the problem persists: the Marines' F-35B and the Navy's F-35C variants posted even worse figures in 2018 than in the previous year," the report said.

"The F-35B's fully mission capable rate fell from 23 percent in October 2017 to 12.9 percent in June 2018, while the F-35C plummeted from 12 percent in October 2016 to 0 percent in December 2017, then remained in the single digits through 2018," the group added.

Lockheed said the F-35C fleet was hitting 60 percent mission capable rates, a different measure than the fully mission capable rates assessed by the POGO report. Some squadrons have reached an even higher MC rate, the company said in its statement.

The Navy already has just 27 jets received of a total requirement for 273 carrier-capable aircraft. The mission-capable rates do not apply to its jets that are also in test, training or in depot.

https://www.military.com/dodbuzz/2019/0 ... -says.html
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Thu Mar 21, 2019 2:28 am

I haven’t read the Norwegian source article but this is a problem for a lot of Air Forces and has nothing to do with the F-35. Most are struggling to find enough qualified staff to fly and maintain their aircraft.

Interesting to note the article indicates Norwegian F-35s have a per hour operating cost of $13,000… Obviously very hard to compare one Air Force’s operating cost to another but it goes with the general trend we saw with the F-16 whereby numerous European operators have a much lower per hour cost than the US.

Lack of Pilots, Operating Costs May Keep Norway's F-35 Fleet Grounded

Despite Norway's massive investment and ambitions of building up a formidable air force, it may end up largely grounded due to lack of experienced pilots and ballooning associated costs, the daily newspaper Aftenposten reported.

According to Skinnarland, there is a large gap between the recommended number of pilots and the actual number of trainees schooled annually. In addition to the lack of pilots, Skinnarland also highlighted the lack of aviation technicians. This is exacerbated by the fact that very many of today's pilots and technicians are approaching retirement age.

Brigadier Øyvind Strandman, who was previously responsible for education programmes in the Norwegian Air Force, shared Skinnarland's concern.

"The situation is that we acquire an expensive weapon system, but do not have the economy to be able to operate it fully due to lack of expertise", Strandman said.

Additionally, sky-high flight prices and costly education were also named as risk factors possibly resulting in the expensive aircraft being grounded indefinitely.

The operating costs for the F-35 is about NOK 110,000 ($13,000) per hour. Complete education for a pilot costs about NOK 60 million ($7 million). Combined, these factors may result in a serious financial burden even for Norway's oil-rich economy.

Norway's air defence has recently reduced the number of bases, but made huge investments in new aircraft. So far, Norway has received nine F-35 fighter aircraft with an average price tag of NOK 1.375 billion apiece (roughly $160 million), with another seven still in US for tests. With 52 such aircraft in total, Norway will become one of Europe's foremost users of F-35, a long-running fighter jet project marred by well-documented flaws and skyrocketing costs.

https://sputniknews.com/military/201903 ... -problems/
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Fri Mar 22, 2019 1:01 am

Italian F-35s continue to work up to full operating capability through deployments away from their home airfield.

Italian Air Force F-35 Jets Take Part In “Lightning Thunder Over Europe” Exercise

From Mar. 11 to 15, six F-35A stealth aircraft of the 13° Gruppo (Squadron) belonging to the 32° Stormo (Wing) based at Amendola Air Base, in southeastern Italy, have deployed to Istrana Air Base, in the northeastern part of the country, home to the 51° Stormo.

From there, the Italian stealth jets, have conducted sorties over the “Polygone”, located in Germany, near the border with France, to undertake specific training against threats simulated inside the Electronic Warfare range.

Dubbed “Lightning Over Europe”, the deployment (the second of this kind after the one carried out last year at Rivolto) is a further step in the path to the FOC (Final Operational Capability) as it validated the ability to deploy the 5th generation aircraft in a so-called “Out and Back” mode, with the jets launching a high rate of sorties far from their homebase. In particular, the activity over the EW range had the purpose to test the F-35’s ability to face real and simulated anti-aircraft systems.

The deployment was also a testbed to the technical and logistical support that the 51° Stormo was able to provide to the “advance team” of the 32° Stormo: indeed, during the week of “Lightning Thunder Over Europe”, Istrana Air Base has continued to carry out its daily activity with the AMX jets of the 132° Gruppo and also supported the Typhoon QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) cell deployed there as part of the Servizio Sorveglianza Spazio Aereo (Air Space Surveillance Service).

The one in Istrana is just the last in a series of short deployments conducted by the Italian Lightnings since the aircraft were taken on charge in December 2016: during little more than 2 years the reliability of the fleet has been surprising. Just think that, both in February 2019, when the 13° Gruppo conducted its third firing campaign in Decimomannu, and March 2019, during “Lightning Thunder Over Europe”, the squadron was able to deploy 6 out of 10/11 aircraft in service with the 32° Stormo. Not bad, especially if compared to what other armed forces are experiencing in terms of mission capable F-35s reliability.

https://theaviationist.com/2019/03/20/i ... -exercise/

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steman
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Re: F-35 news thread

Fri Mar 22, 2019 8:50 am

Ozair wrote:
Italian F-35s continue to work up to full operating capability through deployments away from their home airfield.



Once again the men and women of the Italian Armed Forces show a much higher level of professionalism and dedication than the politicians who govern them.
More often than not the AMI had to make do with very limited resources and very short sighted politics, always achieving great performance and earning the respect of their NATO colleagues.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Sun Mar 24, 2019 10:13 pm

A very long article but some really interesting comments from some prominent aircrew who have flown the F-35. The comments come from aircrew with very diverse backgrounds and experience levels with the common themes of ease to fly, exceptional performance and amazing situational awareness.

F-35: What The Pilots Say

Firsthand accounts of flying the world’s most advanced fighter.

In my interviews with F-35 pilots, one word repeatedly came up: “survivability.” Surviving the Lockheed Martin F-35’s primary mission—to penetrate sophisticated enemy air defenses and find and disable threats—requires what the fifth-generation jet offers: stealth and a stunning array of passive and active sensors bringing information to the pilot. The F-35 can see trouble coming—ahead, behind, or below the aircraft—far enough in advance to avoid a threat or kill it. Faced with multiple threats, the sensor suite recommends the order in which they should be dispatched.

U.S. forces first took these capabilities into combat last September, when Marine F-35Bs struck the Taliban in Afghanistan (five months after its combat debut with the Israeli air force). More than 360 of the multi-service aircraft—Air Force F-35As, Marine short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing Bs, and carrier-capable Cs—have been delivered to 16 U.S. airbases and to seven other countries. Reaching these milestones has not been easy. The program’s difficulties and its cost—$406 billion for development and acquisition—have been widely reported. But now the F-35 is in the hands of the best judges of its performance, its pilots. I asked eight of them—test pilots who contributed to the jet’s development as well as active-duty pilots—about their experiences. Here, in their own words, are their answers.

Billie Flynn | Experimental test pilot, Lockheed Martin

For four years, all people could talk about was how we’d lost a dogfight against a 40-year-old F-16. Paris was the first time we showed what the airplane could do. The F-35 engine is the most powerful fighter engine in the world, so on takeoff, I pulled straight up. The F-22 Raptor is an airshow favorite because it is super maneuverable. It has thrust vectoring; it controls the engine exhaust with paddles that move. The F-22 can do a downward spiral, and I did the same thing in the F-35—without thrust vectoring. I pull up to vertical, skid the airplane over the top, and spiral down like a helicopter hovers. That pedal turn [executed with rudder inputs] ended the discussion of how an F-35 would perform in a dogfight.

Lieutenant Colonel David “Chip” Berke | USMC (ret.)

Fighter aircraft all have to have a level of performance and maneuverability: speed, Gs, turn rate, turn radius, acceleration, climb—all of those things. In the F-35, there’s not a massive change in those performance metrics. The F-35 is better [than legacy aircraft], but not a lot better. But those ways to measure an airplane are not nearly as relevant now as they used to be. They’re not irrelevant, but they are not as important as all the other qualities that you should be measuring an airplane by.

If you were to write down all the ways in which you could measure an airplane—payload, fuel, ordnance, handling—and ask 100 pilots to rank which is the most important, I guarantee you that 100 out of 100 pilots would say “situational awareness.” By far. Not a single pilot in the world would say “turn radius.” Not one. Because the more you know, the more accurately you know it, the better able you are to make a decision.

In situational awareness, the F-35 is superior to all platforms, including the Raptor. I’d never been in an airplane that so effectively and seamlessly integrates information to tell me what’s going on around me—and not just from the radio frequency spectrum, but laser, infrared, electro-optical. That’s usually the first thing people notice when they get in the airplane. They know so much more than they ever knew before.

After situational awareness, you want to be able to dictate access regardless of the capability of the threat. A highly robust air-defense network can deny access. The biggest problem that legacy aircraft have right now is that the threat gets to dictate when and where we fly.

Air-defense networks can also be limiting for stealth aircraft. The first thing you have to think about in the F-35 is managing your signature. In an F-18, you don’t even think about it because everybody sees you the minute you take off, so you don’t spend a lot of time trying to hide. Managing all the components of low observability is very challenging, and pilots have to think about it all the time. And they don’t do it well the first time. We all struggle with that initially. But you de-brief and analyze and start to build a database of the methods being used to detect you. You start to build a strategy that will keep others from finding you. Where do you want to put other people in the formation so you can maximize information sharing and sensor coverage and sensor footprints? It’s really no different, from a philosophical viewpoint, from what we’ve always done. We spend a lot of time trying to figure out what our weaknesses are: What do I need to fix as a pilot?

In an F-22 and F-35, one of the most enjoyable things is being virtually undetectable until it’s way, way, way too late for the threat. If you manage the signature really well, and you do it in a way that is integrated with the other platforms, most of the time the threat doesn’t know you’re there. And that’s why I have extreme faith that the machine is going to be the most dominant aircraft ever built.

Lieutenant JG Thorys Stensrud | U.S. Navy Strike Fighter Squadron 125

My first flight was July 2018. It was surreal. I don’t think it really hit me until after we landed—just how impressive the jet is and how big a step it is from a T-45 to the first gray, Navy jet.

It definitely was a challenge to learn, and I don’t think anyone’s going to be crushing it right off the bat. The basic skills come pretty quickly, in two or three flights. The most challenging part is how much information the jet presents to you and focusing on the right things at the right time. Over time, you kind of find the best way to process the information. I can’t think of another experience I’ve had that’s quite like that.

I’m sure some people brought some skills from video games that might have helped them out, but probably not too much. I played some video games growing up, and I don’t find comparability between playing video games and flying the F-35.

My training class was the first to have the opportunity to go straight to the F-35. I hope that we can live up to the expectation and add to the corporate knowledge around the jet.

Colonel Arthur “Turbo” Tomassetti | USMC (ret.)

All three variants have the same specified top speed—Mach 1.6. Because they’re slightly different airplanes, some may get to it a little faster than others. Obviously, with the big wing on the F-35C, you’ve got to drive that a little bit harder to get to 1.6.

[When you cross the Mach threshold], you can notice it only if you’re paying attention to it. There is a little bit of a shudder, or vibration. If you were distracted or busy with something else, you might miss it. [On the mission that first combined short takeoff, supersonic dash, and vertical landing in a single flight], I think I noticed the transition just because of the magnitude of the event. You know, “Here’s young Major Tomassetti, first job out of test pilot school, flying over the dry lakebed in Edwards getting ready to take this X-airplane supersonic” and you start to think, “Hey, Chuck Yeager did this. What did I do right in my life to deserve being in this particular position?”

One of the marvels of this airplane is the digital flight control technology. You are telling the airplane to go up or down, speed up or slow down, go left or right. And the computers figure out what’s the best way to do that, and they’re going to move the flight controls to do it. And the interesting thing is, they may not do it the same way twice. So let’s say the airplane gets damaged, and one of the flight controls is no longer available. A legacy airplane would still try to use that surface because it doesn’t know any better. The F-35 digital flight control systems will say, “That surface isn’t doing much for me anymore, so I’m going to have to compensate by using some other things. Maybe I’ll have to move them a little bit more to get the same effect because the pilot still wants to turn left.”

And every time I took somebody out for a first flight, when we came back—I was usually at plane side when they were coming down the ladder—I was waiting for the minute when they lifted their visor to see the expression on their face. And in every case, that expression was a smile. And when you ask people, “Do you feel like you need to practice landings?” they say, “No, not really.” And that’s something that you did in all of your legacy airplanes. It’s not great empirical data, but it was enough to convince me that we had gotten to where I had hoped we would get to.

In the Harrier, I needed to practice hover because hovering was hard, especially if it was windy out. In this airplane, hovering is so easy that there have been pictures of pilots with their hands above the canopy rails showing, “Look, no hands” because once you put it where you want, it’s going to stay there until you tell it to move or it runs out of gas.

Major Valerie “Twitch” Wetzbarger | F-35 instructor pilot, USAF 56th Fighter Wing, Luke Air Force Base

The transition from a 4th-gen fighter to a 5th-gen fighter was like learning how to drive an automatic car from a manual. My dad was an F-4 pilot, and he always told me, “A jet’s a jet’s a jet, so don’t be intimidated by switching from one jet to another.” The F-35 actually handles a lot like the F-15E, with the difference being, the F-35 is a high angle-of-attack fighter with advanced control logic. [Angle of attack is the angle between the wing and the oncoming air.] Those of us not used to low speed, high-AOA performance from our previous aircraft must practice and adapt to those flight regimes.

The primary mission of the F-35 is suppression of enemy air defenses. The training missions that maximize our learning are when we can locate surface-to-air missiles, protect the other strikers in the formation, bomb or suppress the targets we’ve been assigned, and then fight our way out. That mission is very similar to the F-15E, but the information fusion, pilot interface, and physical capabilities in the F-35 take our efficiency across the formation and among partner nations to a whole new level.

I’m constantly learning as new capabilities present themselves and the tactics are upgraded, adapted, and changed every six months or so. Every time I teach a new mission set, I have to refresh my knowledge with the latest tactics and guidance. Keeping current and absorbing each other’s lessons is what it takes to be proficient as a fighter pilot in any community.

At Luke Air Force Base, we fly fairly complex missions while developing the mindset, “every wingman is a flight lead.” To execute effectively, we break down those missions into phases. Some of my favorite advice is, “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.” This means slow down, do your part right the first time, and that will be quicker in the end. In the cockpit, it’s important to prioritize, execute efficiently, and move on to the next priority. That is your contribution to the overall team effort.

My husband and I both learned the F-35 at the same time, and with great experiences behind us we were ready to learn a new jet and discover how we could contribute to this new melting-pot community of fighter experience. I appreciate the Air Force leaders supporting us living together as a family and the squadron treating us as individual pilots. I have also enjoyed seeing more females in fighter cockpits as they realize that the fighter community supports them and their families.

The F-35 enables the U.S. Air Force to be a more integrated force. For example, in my squadron, Americans, Italians, and Norwegians work together and teach each other. Flying the same jet builds a stronger joint and coalition team and makes us more capable as a NATO unit.

Jon Beesley | Lockheed F-35 Chief Test Pilot, 2002–2011

For four years leading up to first flight, I spent a lot of time working on the STOVL Weight Attack Team, or SWAT. [Formed in April 2004, SWAT cut 2,700 pounds from the F-35B in six months.] That effort let us go in and fix quite a few things. There was at first a zealousness about commonality [among variants], and that’s very important to the airplane, but you don’t have to make bulkheads common to all variants. Nobody’s gonna pull into an Air Force or Marine Corps base and say, “I need a new bulkhead.” They’re gonna come in and say, “I got this bad mission system box.”

Ordinarily, if you’re getting a bunch of weight out, you’d really cripple the airplane, but in fact, all the variants became better. It was really kind of a magical moment.

But AA-1, the very first airplane, was built prior to SWAT to the original specifications. To decide how the airplane ought to fly, we did hundreds of simulations before the first flight. When we flew the first flight, we were flying an engine that had never flown before, and we were doing it in a single-engine airplane. We were also flying electrohydrostatic actuators. Lightning is a beautiful name for the airplane, because everything is electric, including the actuators. The fact that all of that stuff worked so well on the first flight was just thrilling to me because we didn’t anticipate it.

Long ago Jack Krings [test pilot and First Undersecretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan], made a statement that always stuck with me. He said, “Air combat has always been about stealth.” If you look back even into World War I, pilots attacked out of the sun. Why? Well, they didn’t want to be seen.

Why does the F-117 look the way it does? Flat plates and simple shapes. Why do the F-22 and the F-35 look the way they do? You can almost see the evolution of computers. With the computers available in the late 1970s, the prediction of radar cross-section—how an airplane would reflect radar—was obviously a challenge. With 1970s computers, you design very simple surfaces, which tend to be flat. Just think how your personal computer improved between the 1970s and the 1990s and 2000s. By that time, we were able to predict the radar effects from curved surfaces and much more complex shapes. When you can allow the airplanes to look more like airplanes, you gain performance.

On the F-35, they used the Navy approach [to test maneuvers at high angle of attack]. That was to go up, disable all the limitations in the flight control system for an instant, get the airplane wrapped up, and then re-engage the whole flight control system to show that it would recover itself.

It’s the part of the airplane that people don’t understand. The F-35 is as maneuverable as any other airplane, except perhaps the F-22. Russian airplanes are also very maneuverable, but if you dig into [the Russian demonstrations of maneuverability], what you’re seeing is the capabilities of airplanes flown by exceptional pilots. What we were building with the F-35 is an airplane that everybody can fly. That’s the critical part of it.

Squadron Leader Andy Edgell | Royal Air Force, F-35 Patuxent River Integrated Test Force

Lots of people want me to make the comparison between the Harrier and the F-35, but it is chalk and cheese. Whereas I don’t want fleet pilots to be thinking about how the F-35 is flying or responding, I’ll tell you that was pretty much all I was doing in the Harrier. I equate it to a unicycle. You have to continuously pedal; keep moving something, whether it’s your left hand, your right hand, your feet. F-35, you just sit there and go hands free and it will stay exactly where you’ve put it. Flying an F-35 to an aircraft carrier is an absolute pleasure, as opposed to a Harrier, which frankly can be borderline terrifying.

For tests in departure resistance, we truly had to trick the system. We would disengage all the self-protect mechanisms to put it into an out-of-control regime. And then we would allow the controller to wake up. It would recognize the situation it was in, and then it would get itself out of the situation. Absolutely fascinating. It will null all of the pitch rates, yaw rates, and roll rates to the extent that you can get it out the attitude that you’ve got it into.

When it comes to true departure resistance, we allowed the system to be 100 percent engaged, and we would [fly like] a very badly trained pilot. So everything that I have been taught not to do as a pilot since the age of—crikey, when did I first start flying? Maybe 13—I was being asked to do.

At Mach 1.2, I was asked to put in full left rudder, yank the stick into the back left corner, a couple of seconds later, reverse it over to the right-hand side, switch rudder pedals, and then push the stick all the way forward into the front left. No pilot in his right mind should ever be doing this. But it is the way we needed to get the data to ensure that this is a 100 percent robust aircraft. I distinctly remember one occurrence. I was full backstick [very nose high], and probably with a full left rudder-pedal input. And I was at about 5 1/2 or 6 G, at which point I needed to switch rudder pedals, but due to the G, I couldn’t lift my right leg up to reverse the rudder pedal! So I aborted the maneuver. The control room said, “Yeah, Test, you didn’t put the right rudder in.” I said, “Yeah, I know. I couldn’t lift my leg up.”

I can understand why people think that because it is so heavily computerized, flying the F-35 can’t be fun. The F-35 absolutely is fun to fly! It’s exhilarating because there is so much power. I vividly remember a pull-out of a dive. It was about a 70-degree dive to get to the actual test point, at 5,000 feet. I recovered full backstick, a pull-out to 50-degree angle of attack, and I could not believe how quickly the aircraft turned the corner. I had probably been flying the aircraft for about three years at that point, but at that moment, it absolutely took my breath away. Legalized hooliganism! All in the pursuit of data and good test points, of course.

An aft-facing landing on an aircraft carrier is an example [of a situation] where things are not going to plan. The ship may be dead in the water and the wind down the deck exceeds the limits for a tailwind landing, and you need to reverse the direction of your approach. It seems like a stunt—some might say a little unnecessary. But if that is what you need to do to recover your multi-million-dollar aircraft, then that is what you need to do. So we were really evaluating the handling of the aircraft—the propulsion, performance—when the wind is coming off the stern of the aircraft carrier. And it is disappointingly very, very benign. You just modify your pattern. There is nothing cosmic about it. The aircraft doesn’t really care what direction the ship is pointing in. It just seems a little bit bizarre. I did, for a moment, stare through the windows of the bridge. And you think to yourself, “This is a view that no one really gets.” You are flying nearly 200 miles an hour at about 105 feet, just pointing directly at the bridge. It certainly got some attention.

Lieutenant Colonel Yosef Morris | USAF 4th Squadron Commander, 388th Fighter Wing, Hill Air Force Base

In the two years since [the 388th’s] last Red Flag exercise, the airplane itself has had some pretty significant advancements. A couple of months before the 2017 Red Flag, the Air Force declared that the squadron was what we call “initial operational capable.” So the jet still had some operating limitations—altitude, airspeed, Gs, things like that. The software on the aircraft, though very capable, still had some limitations in terms of some of the systems and some of the weapons it could control. Fast forward two years, and we’re operating with what’s referred to as full warfighting capability software. It’s a more advanced F-35 than it was two years ago.

[In the mission to suppress enemy air defenses,] we’re trying to prevent surface-to-air missiles from targeting other aircraft that are trying to get to different objectives. The F-35 has some really good sensors that can help us locate those threats. That’s a very satisfying mission to be able to target something that’s trying to shoot at you, especially when [you’re] helping out some other assets to get to a target and keeping them safe.

The jet is sort of like a big antenna. It is receiving emissions from things that are radiating. And sometimes the [F-35’s] radar is actively trying to get information on, for example, an adversary aircraft. We can mission-plan the sensors, depending on the type of mission.

And in a large-force environment like Red Flag, where there might be as many as 60 or 70 aircraft on the Blue side and 10 or 20 adversary aircraft, lots of things on the ground—that’s a lot of information to interpret. Reading the first sortie on the first day, I certainly felt overwhelmed with the amount of information. And the next sortie I flew, I could manage some of my sensors differently to give me just the information I needed for that particular mission. Figuring out how to declutter your display to match the scenario is one of the main skills we learn here that we can’t simulate in day-to-day training, because you don’t get to train with the rest of the Department of Defense on a daily basis.

https://www.airspacemag.com/military-av ... 180971734/
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Sun Mar 24, 2019 10:28 pm

steman wrote:
Once again the men and women of the Italian Armed Forces show a much higher level of professionalism and dedication than the politicians who govern them.
More often than not the AMI had to make do with very limited resources and very short sighted politics, always achieving great performance and earning the respect of their NATO colleagues.

Unfortunately it is an all too common issue across the globe… You could point to the German Air Force and the Canadian Air Force and probably a half dozen others going through similar situations.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Mon Mar 25, 2019 3:42 am

I’ve read reports that the USN have funded via NAVAIR the integration of the JASSM, LRASM, AARGM-ER and the JAGM for integration onto the F-35. Looks like LM has been awarded a US$90 million contract for the work.

This is pretty significant if true as it improves the export options for the aircraft with several potential customers, including Finland who is a current operator of JASSM, as well as Poland who are expressing a desire for a 5th gen aircraft. JAGM as well is a significant order and will replace the Hellfire and Maverick missiles in US service. I would have liked to see the Brimstone II missile integrated instead but either provides an excellent light attack capability. Will be interested to see how many the rack arrangement for internal carriage will allow.

Will post a source doc when I have it.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Mon Mar 25, 2019 9:16 am

Ozair wrote:
I’ve read reports that the USN have funded via NAVAIR the integration of the JASSM, LRASM, AARGM-ER and the JAGM for integration onto the F-35. Looks like LM has been awarded a US$90 million contract for the work.

This is pretty significant if true as it improves the export options for the aircraft with several potential customers, including Finland who is a current operator of JASSM, as well as Poland who are expressing a desire for a 5th gen aircraft. JAGM as well is a significant order and will replace the Hellfire and Maverick missiles in US service. I would have liked to see the Brimstone II missile integrated instead but either provides an excellent light attack capability. Will be interested to see how many the rack arrangement for internal carriage will allow.

Will post a source doc when I have it.

Found a image of the contract award and covers Hellfire not AARGM-ER (which is covered by a different contract).

Image
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Tue Mar 26, 2019 3:11 am

As expected the USAF and USN have requested additional F-35 aircraft within their unfunded priorities list for FY20 and well as funding long lead items for more in FY2021. Given the top up of aircraft in previous years by Congress it is likely these numbers, or at least a decent portion of, will be funded going forward.

Air Force's unfunded priorities list sees need for more tankers, F-35s

The Air Force has sent Congress a $2.7 billion unfunded priorities list for fiscal year 2020, the bulk of which would be used to procure additional KC-46 tankers and F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, according to a document obtained by Inside Defense . The Air Force would use an additional $1.9 billion to buy three Boeing-made KC-46A tankers and 12 Lockheed Martin-made F-35As, along with enough advanced procurement items to support procurement of an additional 12 F-35As in FY-21, the document...

https://insidedefense.com/daily-news/ai ... kers-f-35s

Also the USN included two additional F-35Cs in their unfunded priorities list,

Navy’s $3.2B Unfunded List Includes Asks for Attack Boat Repair Money, ‘Ambulance’ Vessel

Following the unfunded priorities, the Navy’s lethality checklist includes $393 million for two P-8A Poseidon anti-submarine warfare aircraft, $240 million for two F-35C Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters, and $346 million for E-2D Advanced Hawkeye maritime surveillance aircraft.

https://news.usni.org/2019/03/25/navys- ... nce-vessel
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:36 pm

Some commentary on the Italian participation in Red Flag 19-2. Some very impressive stats as well as claims about how much of an advantage the F-35 provides.

Google translated text

Aeronautica Militare, exercise "Red Flag 19-2": Italian F-35 pilots fly for the first time with the Americans and the Norwegians. Comments excited about the performance of the aircraft

The “Red Flag 19-2” exercise was concluded in the Nellis Air Force Base (AFB) in Nevada, which for the first time saw the participation of a multinational group, the 62nd Fighter Squadron (FS) of the Luke Air Base which has among its ranks F-35 pilots not only from the US, but also from Italy and Norway. Three instructors from the Italian Air Force participated in the two weeks of advanced training.

In addition to the F-35As, the United States redeployed F-15C, F-15E, E-3 AWACS, an E-8 Joint Star and a USF MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft, in addition to the EF-18G Growler of the US Navy.

Saudi Arabia fielded the brand new F-15SE fighters, Singapore the F-15SA, Belgium and the Netherlands the F-16A MLU, the United Arab Emirates a Squadron of F-16E Block 60.

The in-flight refueling function was performed by a Dutch KDC-10 and a Colombian KC-767, while the CSAR (Combat Search And Rescue) cell was guaranteed by two HH-60s, two A-10s and a USAF HC-130J. The number of aircraft in flight at the same time (in the so-called "packages") has exceeded 60 units.

The integration between very different platforms was the main theme of the exercise. In fact "only by integrating the capabilities of the fourth and fifth generation aircraft can the results obtainable by both be maximized", declared one of the Italian instructors, Major Emanuele A ..

Multiple roles covered by the F-35 aircraft during the exercise, the formations of the 62nd FS carried out, for example, many Air Superiority missions in the role SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) with the task of escorting the coalition aircraft, protecting them from ground-to-air SAM (Surface to Air Missile) threats.

At the same time, together with dedicated "friendly" planes, such as the F-15Cs (called the air-to-air "escort" in jargon), they defended the coalition from "enemy" aircraft, reducing the risk of losses and creating superior conditions. necessary to allow the others to complete their respective operational missions.

Furthermore, some DCA (Defensive Counter Air) missions were successfully carried out, during which our pilots, in addition to the tasks of this specific type, operated as Battle Manager, transmitting tactical information to the other aircraft assets.

The F-35s, in formation from four aircraft, acted as force enabler, achieving significant results in neutralizing the threats, with an average of around seven SAM systems and five "suppressed" Red Air assets for each mission, managing to be the the only asset to fly 100% of the planned missions: the five deployed assets allowed two missions to be carried out each day by four aircraft.

At the end of the Red Flag the enthusiasm among the pilots and the specialists of the 62nd FS was very intense.

“Being at the controls of an F-35, a fifth-generation aircraft, has always been a dream of mine. I imagined that the machine had unique capabilities in combat and I had the confirmation from the first flight [...] but participating in Red Flag, one of the best exercises in the world, confirmed it to me beyond all expectations ", he declared immediately after the landing from the last mission Major Alessandro P.

For the pilots the results obtained, in these two weeks, are almost unbelievable: the statistics do not need comments.

The weapon system was the most effective in neutralizing SAMs and absolutely essential in the immediate transmission of all the specific information for the success of the mission.

"We knew we had an operating advantage, due to the 5th generation technology, but we didn't expect such a high rate of success - highlights the Major Emanuele A - in the 16 OCA missions (Offensive Counter Air) flown, against zero losses among the F-35s, we have neutralized more than 100 SAM systems ".

"I was impressed by the skills demonstrated by the F-35 in a complex and realistic environment such as the Red Flag where there are real professionals who simulate the Red Air, or the enemy air forces," added Major Giuseppe A. at the end of the exercise -. During our missions we were among the first to enter the area of operations, far beyond the enemy lines, and the last to leave it, thanks both to the great persistence and to the peculiar Low-Observability characteristics of our 5th generation aircraft. We were able to identify, transmit and neutralize terrestrial and air threats very quickly, protecting the coalition's assets in highly risky circumstances: the superior capabilities of the F-35 were often decisive ”.

"In the beginning - he added or - not everyone had understood how to integrate because we had never seen each other operate. During the exercise, however, we reached a high level of interoperability that allowed us, as a coalition, to tackle missions with a very high level of threat and complexity where the F-35 was certainly indispensable to achieve its objectives ”.

To confirm the mature cooperation between the partners, the Major General, Peter Gersten of the USAF, commander of the Air Warfare Center (the Command that deals with developing the doctrine of future use of the weapon systems of the USAF and on which it also depends the Weapon School, or rather the Top Gun of the USAF), flew a Red Flag mission, with a F-35 of the 62nd FS, in a formation composed of two Italian pilots and a Norwegian pilot.

"It was an honor to fly with the Italian F-35 team of instructors during the Red Flag - he declared at the end -. Our network of alliances and partnerships is the backbone of global security, and exercises like the Red Flag help strengthen these relationships. Likewise, the F-35 program was designed to integrate strategic and allied partners so that we can better train ourselves to be ready to operate in real-world scenarios. It is essential that the technological tools we have available can be integrated to complete the mission we are called upon to perform in the best way, in the end it is the aviators of our nations that work together and make a real difference. I am proud to have taken part in the mission and to personally observe the professionalism of this extraordinary team ".

It was "a further note of pride for the Air Force and for Italy - underlined Colonel Igor Bruni, commander of the Military Representation - that, regardless of the undeniable leading role played by the F-35 in the Red FLag 19-2, our instructors have distinguished themselves during these two weeks, receiving personally, or as a member of the F-35 training, the recognition of Top Performer of the Mission , yet another demonstration of quality and competence " .

The Italian pilots of the 62nd FS are assigned to the branch of the Italian Military Representation of Eglin (Florida), an inter-force reality, reporting directly to the JSF Program Directorate of the General Secretariat of Defense, which is in charge of managing the training of all Italian military personnel (sailors, technicians and maintenance personnel), both of the Air Force and of the Navy, designated to operate on the national F-35 aircraft, in the "A" versions with conventional take-off and "B" with short take-off and vertical landing.

http://www.reportdifesa.it/aeronautica- ... -velivolo/
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:37 pm

Turkey F-35/S400 saga continues...

Turkey not necessary for F-35 production – U.S. sources

Excluding NATO-member Turkey from the United States’ trillion-dollar F-35 fighter jet programme would be challenging but not impossible, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing U.S. sources.

Last week, U.S. officials said Washington could soon freeze preparations for delivering F-35 fighter jets to Turkey, a move that would widen the rift between Ankara and Washington, the latest disagreement in a series of disputes.

At the heart of the matter lies Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan’s commitment to buy the Russian-made S-400 air defence system that the United States says would compromise the security of F-35 aircraft.

The United States and other NATO allies who own F-35 fighter jets fear the radar on the Russian S-400 missile system could learn how to spot and track the F-35, making it less able to evade Russian weapons in the future.

The United States has offered Turkey its more expensive Patriot anti-missile system at a discount that expires at the end of March, but on the condition that Ankara drop its plans to buy the S-400, said Reuters.

So far Ankara has not shown any willingness to reverse the S-400 purchase, forcing the United States to explore a future for the F-35 programme without Turkey, which makes parts of the fuselage, landing gear and cockpit displays.

Two U.S. sources familiar with the F-35’s worldwide production process and U.S. thinking on the issue said Ankara did play an integral role in the jet’s production, but could be replaced.

“There are about 800 parts that Turkey makes for the F-35, and of them, very few are sole source,” said a person with direct knowledge of the U.S. position, explaining that single-source parts from Turkey could be replaced by contractors who had previously bid to make them. “Turkey is not too big to fail,” the person told Reuters.

Several components of the F-35 made in Turkey, can be easily replaced. For example, the centre fuselage produced in Ankara, could be made by Northrop Grumman, which already makes them in California, according to Reuters.

https://ahvalnews.com/turkey-usa/turkey ... us-sources
 
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Re: F-35 news thread

Fri Mar 29, 2019 12:30 am

Very interesting to read the history of the GEXA100 and how both GE and P&W requested and deliberately sized the engine to fit into the F-35. The performance benefits are clear but the big improver appears to be on the thermal management side.

These baseline engines have a 10% thrust increase and I expect that will improve as we have seen previous generations improve over their lifetimes. No indication of the cost delta between the F135 and the XA100/101 but with F-35 production volumes to rely on whichever is selected should see an large run. Perhaps we will also see both engines move forward similar to the F100/F110 scenario.

GE Aviation’s future fighter engine TECHNOLOGY XA100

"Completion by GE Aviation of the detailed design process for its adaptive-cycle fan engine signals a switch from technology development to ensuring manufacturing readiness, reports Chris Kjelgaard...

...In completing the detailed design of the XA100, according to Tweedie, the company has moved on to a new phase of development from the primary technology-development effort in which it has been involved for the past 12 years to design and mature a variable-cycle fighter engine based on an adaptive-cycle fan design. Its XA100 design having been approved by the US Air Force, GE has now embarked on the final push to complete Phase 1 of the two-phase AETP programme. This push represents the final maturation of adaptive-cycle fan engine development to the point where an XA100-sized engine can be placed quickly—and with very little technological and design risk—into volume production if required, said Tweedie....

...Along with Pratt & Whitney’s XA101 variable-cycle engine, GE Aviation’s XA100 is one of two adaptive-cycle fan engine designs competing for what may eventually be a decision by the US Air Force to order just one variable-cycle fighter-engine design into production based on the service’s findings from AETP Phase 1. In 2016, the AFLCMC awarded each of the two companies a $1 billion, five-year R&D contract under AETP Phase 1 so the US Air Force could choose a potential winner from the XA100 and XA101 and order it into production during the first half of the 2020s.

As finally became clear publicly in mid-2018, the US Air Force specifically had in mind a potential decision to re-engine the Lockheed F-35 from about 2025 onwards, partly as a result of the known thermal-management challenges the F-35 has today in combination with its existing F135 engine. To that end, the AFLCMC specified that not only must the XA100 and XA101 fit the space within the F-35 that the F135 occupies today, but it also required the competitors’ variable-cycle engines to demonstrate a 10% maximum thrust increase over the F135, along with a 25% fuel-efficiency improvement and the capability to give the F-35 a 20% range increase.

Also specified, but not in a manner relayed publicly, is that the AETP Phase 1 competitors must provide the F-35 with substantially, perhaps very dramatically, improved thermal management capabilities. Of necessity, those thermal-management capability improvements require that both AETP Phase 1 competitors work very closely with F-35 airframe manufacturer Lockheed Martin to integrate the airframe and its systems with the engine and its systems to an extremely high degree....

...Air Force thinking
Although the AETP R&D programme began in 2016 and specified an adaptive-cycle fan engine which was of the same dimensions as the F135 powering the F-35, the US Air Force and its two AETP contractors said at that time the specification merely served as a convenient reference point for GE Aviation and P&W to assist them in developing their respective AETP Phase 1 engines.

Indeed, each of the two contractors was allowed to inform the AFLCMC of its preference regarding the AETP engine’s physical size and reportedly each asked to be able to develop an F-35-compatible engine. Not until two years later did GE Aviation, in the person of then-GM advanced combat engines Dan McCormick, first confirm publicly—with the US Air Force’s permission—that the AFLCMC had deliberately specified the AETP Phase 1 engine so that it could potentially serve as an F135 replacement.

Asked by AIR International why the US Air Force took this course, Tweedie said it had not wanted at the time to focus public attention specifically on a potential re-engining of the F-35 because the service had believed strongly for years—and had said publicly—that it believed variable-cycle engines would be fundamentally important for all of its future fighter aircraft. When the AETD programme began in 2012, the US Congress had asked about the purpose of the programme and even then the US Air Force indicated it thought adaptive-cycle engines represented the future for all of its fighter types, according to Tweedie.

Before the AETP programme began in 2016, the service had indicated the 10% thrust-increase requirement and the 25% fuel-efficiency improvement “would be foundational for the Air Force to have superiority against adversaries,” Tweedie said. “Neither in words nor actions has the Air Force done or shown anything other than what it said then — this is the future for all our products.”...

...variable-cycle engine technology, which employs at least three airstreams to enhance performance and efficiency throughout the flight envelope, represents the future for military high performance engines, the US Air Force believes. “This is the foundation of a whole new family [of engines] that will mature over the coming decades,” until eventually it too matures to the point where further rapid performance improvement becomes extremely difficult, said Tweedie. “That thinking is what has driven a lot of this [variable-cycle engine R&D] and a lot of the [US] Air Force’s investment in this technology.”"

AIR International APRIL 2019 Vol.96 No.4
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:47 am

Japan has stood up its first operational squadron equipped with the F-35. Given the first aircraft arrived in Japan in Jan 2018 they have done quite well progressing to this point.
Japan Air Self Defense Force Stands Up First F-35A Lightning II Fighter Squadron

The Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) has stoop up its first operational fifth-generation Lockheed Martin Lightning II F-35A fighter squadron on March 29.

The new F-35A fighter squadron, the 302nd Squadron, is part of the JASDF’s 3rd Air Wing and is stationed at Misawa Air Base in the northern part of Honshu island. The squadron swapped its McDonnell Douglas-Mitsubishi F-4EJ-Kai Phantom IIs for the F-35A, the aircraft’s conventional takeoff and landing variant. The unit reportedly consists of 12 F-35As. In January 2018, the JSDF deployed its first F-35A at Misawa Air Base and periodically took delivery of additional F-35A for the past 15 months.

“This is a major milestone for the F-35 enterprise, as it marks the first F-35 IOC for an Indo-Pacific region customer,” Vice Admiral Mat Winter, F-35 program executive officer, said in a statement. “This significant achievement is a testament to the global nature of this program, and the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) values the long-established bond with our Japan allies. This could not have happened without the hard work and collaboration between the F-35 JPO, the Japan F-35 program, our industry partners and the Japanese Air Self Defense Force.”

The first four F-35As were all built in the United States, while the remaining F-35As of the squadron were assembled at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) F-35 Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility in Nagoya. Local production is expected to continue at least until the end of fiscal year 2022. The JASDF is slated to take delivery of six F-35As in the upcoming Japanese fiscal year that runs from April 1, 2019, to March 31, 2020.

The Japanese government selected the F-35A as Japan’s next-generation fighter aircraft in December 2011 and initially placed an order for 42 fifth-generation fighter jets. In December 2018, the cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved an increase of Japan’s existing order of 42 to 147 F-35 aircraft including an additional 63 F-35As and 42 F-35Bs, the U.S. Marine Corps’ short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the aircraft.

“The current NDPG and the fiscal 2019-2023 midterm defense buildup program outline an initial procurement of 27 F-35As and 18 F-35Bs over the next five years,” I wrote in December 2018. “Total acquisition costs for the additional 63 F-35As and 42 F-35Bs will likely exceed $10 billion.” Notably, the JS Izumo, the lead ship of the Izumo-class, is expected to be converted into an aircraft carrier capable of launching the F-35B.

Both JASDF F-35 variants will be armed with long-range standoff missiles. Norwegian defense contractor Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace concluded an agreement this month with the Japanese government to provide “the initial deliveries” of next-generation, long-range, precision-guided Joint Strike Missiles (JSMs) for the JASDF’s burgeoning F-35A fleet.The JSM can be carried inside the F-35’s internal weapons bay.

https://thediplomat.com/2019/04/japan-a ... -squadron/

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Re: F-35 news thread

Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:57 am

First exercise between US forces and the Armed Forces of the Philippines that involves the F-35. I don’t expect any sales to come from this but the USMC continues to train the aircraft in as realistic a scenario and conditions as they can find.

FA-50S, American F-35 seeing action In 2019 Balikatan exercises

THE biggest war games involving Filipino and American troops will begin today (April 1) following an opening ceremony and will see the involvement for the first time of an American F-35B Lighting II aircraft in the original bilateral military exercise.

The Balikatan 2019 will commence with 4,000 Filipino and 3,500 American soldiers and their land, sea and air assets taking part in the amphibious operations, live-fire training, urban operations, air operations and counterterrorism training.

At least 50 Australian soldiers will also join the war games, particularly in the special operations training of the Balikatan, which has already turned into a multilateral exercise as Japan also participated last year, with a host of other countries joining as observers.

“It will strengthen the operability of both forces, and it will further improve their interoperability,” said Lt. Commander Liezel Vidallon, Balikatan public affairs officer for the Philippine side.

The exercise will last up to April 12 and will be held in Luzon, particularly Palawan, Batangas, Cavite, Bataan, Laguna, Mindoro, Tarlac and Pampanga.

Vidallon said this year’s exercise is bigger, especially since state-of-the-art assets like the Air Force FA-50s and the American F-35 will take part in the training, the first in the Balikatan’s 35­-year history.

On Saturday, the American amphibious assault ship USS Wasp docked at Subic Bay for the exercise, bearing members of the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force led by the 4th Marine Regiment who will also take part in the training.

The assault ship brought with it the United States Marines Corps’s F-35B Lightning II aircraft.

“We are excited to visit the Philippines for the first time since Wasp was forward-deployed to 7th Fleet,” said Capt. Colby Howard, Wasp’s commanding officer, in a statement.

“Balikatan is a great opportunity for the Navy, Marine Corps team and our allies from the Republic of the Philippines to learn from one another, and further improve our ability to operate together,” he added.

Aside from the military training, Vidallon said US and Filipino forces have already been doing civil-military operations works in areas across the country, part of the 30 community engagement activities and development projects mapped out under this year’s Balikatan.

https://businessmirror.com.ph/2019/03/3 ... exercises/
 
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Re: F-35 news thread

Mon Apr 01, 2019 8:29 pm

A number of news reports are now indicating that the US has stopped delivering F-35 parts to Turkey. Probably long overdue given the continued issues surrounding the F-35 and the S-400 acquisition.

US stops F-35 fighter jet parts delivery to Turkey

U.S. officials say Washington has stopped delivery of F-35 fighter jet parts to Turkey in response to Ankara's decision to move ahead with the purchase of a Russian surface-to-air missile system.

The U.S. has been warning Turkey for months that buying the Russian S-400 system would jeopardize its planned purchase of the advanced fighter aircraft. The halt in the delivery of parts and manuals is the first step toward ending the actual aircraft sale.

The officials spoke anonymously to discuss the decision before it was announced.

The U.S. move comes just days after Turkey's foreign minister said his country was committed to a deal to buy the Russian system and was discussing delivery dates.

U.S. officials have said the Russian system would pose a threat to the F-35.

https://www.sfchronicle.com/news/articl ... 732846.php
 
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Re: F-35 news thread

Mon Apr 01, 2019 8:52 pm

Looks like this was an issue when the KC-135s use the boom drogue adapter units commonly called Iron Maiden... The initial light was too bright so the testing was conducted to find a light source that was sufficient for both the boom operator and the F-35B/C aviator.

Aerial refueling probe light evaluations flown with KC-135: Effort to clear Navy, USMC F-35 night refueling envelope

The F-35 Lightning II program recently completed testing on an improved lighting assembly with the KC-135 Stratotanker that will enable the Navy and Marine Corps F-35 variants to refuel behind the tanker at night. Flight testing of the redesigned light, which attaches to a refueling probe, was led by Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Maryland, and supported by Edwards Air Force Base, California.

The test demonstrated teamwork across three services and between test units located on opposite coasts, all focused on quickly evaluating this lighting fix under specific nighttime conditions to ensure that F-35 operators can expand their night refueling operations to include all configurations of the KC-135.

The purpose of the probe light on Navy and Marine aircraft is to illuminate the refueling receptacle, or “basket,” to ensure that the F-35 pilot can see adequately and make contact to begin refueling. However, the existing lighting design made it difficult for the KC-135 boom operator to see the silhouette of the F-35, which is an Air Force requirement in order for the boom operator to monitor refueling operations and help the F-35 pilot maintain safe separation from the refueling boom. One main objective of this redesign is to ensure better visibility for the KC-135 boom operator.

“An issue with the current probe light was that it was too bright, blinding the KC-135 aerial refueling boom operators,” said Michael McGee, 418th Flight Test Squadron aerial refueling project manager at Edwards AFB. “The new light was designed to be less bright, but still bright enough for the F-35 pilot to see clearly.”

For this test, an F-35B deployed to Edwards AFB from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23, or VX-23, Naval Air Station Patuxent River, and was paired up with a KC-135 and test aircrew from the 418th FLTS. Both ground and flight tests posed interesting challenges for the team consisting of 418th FLTS and 461st Flight Test Squadron personnel.

“For the ground test we used a hangar,” McGee said. “The environment needed to be completely dark. We had to remove emergency lighting from the facility and place mats on the floor to reduce light glare. The boom operators were raised on a scissor lift to simulate the KC-135 tanker. The team had to simulate the drogue basket approaching the F-35B so the 461st FLTS maintainers mounted the basket onto a B-4 aircraft maintenance stand. Since the stand is on wheels, we could simulate the basket approaching the probe while the F-35 pilot assessed the brightness of the light.”

The ground test evaluated two types of lights with different color tones - a warm white light and an amber light - across various brightness levels. The warm white light was assessed as the best choice for both of the boom operators and pilots, McGee said.

The first flight test lasted four hours and accomplished all of the required test points.

“Our biggest concern was completing the test during the lowest moon illumination; worst case lighting scenario timeframe, which was March 1-11,” McGee said. “For the flight test, we planned a minimum of two flights, but captured all test points on our first flight.”

The evaluation had favorable results and the design will now be considered by the Air Refueling Certification Agency to be incorporated into a revised flight clearance for the Navy and Marine Corps, anticipated by early this summer.

The F-35A — the U.S. Air Force variant — does not have a probe so no light change is required for that model.

https://www.af.mil/News/Article-Display ... lear-navy/
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Tue Apr 02, 2019 12:09 am

South Korea now has F-35A permanently based in country and joins Japan and Australia in the region to have in country aircraft.

First 2 Republic of Korea Air Force F-35A Stealth Fighters Arrive in South Korea

The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) received its first two F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation stealth fighters at a military air base in Cheong Ju, North Chungcheong province, on March 29, the service announced over the weekend.

The two F-35As departed Luke Air Force Base in Arizona on March 22, where the ROKAF has officially taken delivery of six F-35As to date. From 2017 onwards, ROKAF fighter pilots have been sent to the base to receive flight training on the F-35A. A South Korean F-35A pilot conducted his first F-35A solo mission there in July 2018.

“We expect the deployment of the stealth fighters [to] enhance the Air Force’s operational capabilities by strengthening military readiness posture against possible threats from all fronts,” Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) chief Wang Jung-hong was quoted as saying by The Korean Times.

Eight more F-35As are expected to be delivered to the ROKAF by the end of 2019. The entire order of 40 F-35As — the aircraft’s conventional takeoff and landing variant — is slated to be completed by 2022. As I reported elsewhere:

The Republic of Korea and U.S. government officially signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance for the purchase of 40 F-35A fighter jets in September 2014 under the Pentagon’s FMS program. Total acquisition costs are estimated at around $7 billion. (…)

The F-35A’s manufacturer, U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin, won the $7 billion contract by offering 25 technologies used on the F-35A to support South Korea’s indigenous $15 billion KF-X fighter program. However, the U.S. government did not share four key F-35A technologies including active electronically scanned radar, the infrared search-and-rescue systems, the electro-optical targeting pod and the radio frequency jammer, which detrimentally affected bilateral defense relations for a while.

All 40 F-35As will be assembled at a Lockheed Martin production facility in Fort Worth, Texas, where the first ROKAF F-35A was rolled out in March 2018. South Korea is also in talks for an additional order of 20 F-35As with DAPA reportedly already having initiated their procurement.

Another U.S. regional ally, Japan, officially stood up its first F-35A squadron on March 29. The new squadron, consisting of 12 aircraft, swapped its McDonnell Douglas-Mitsubishi F-4EJ-Kai Phantom II aircraft for the F-35A last month. The unit is based at Misawa Air Base in the northern part of Honshu island.

Japan selected the F-35A as the Japan Air Self Defense Force’s next-generation fighter aircraft in December 2011 and placed an order with Lockheed Martin for 42 fifth-generation fighter jets. In December 2018, the cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided to increase Japan’s existing order of 42 to 147 F-35 aircraft including an additional 63 F-35As and 42 F-35Bs, the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the aircraft.

https://thediplomat.com/2019/04/first-2 ... uth-korea/

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Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Tue Apr 02, 2019 1:06 am

Ozair wrote:
South Korea now has F-35A permanently based in country and joins Japan and Australia in the region to have in country aircraft.

First 2 Republic of Korea Air Force F-35A Stealth Fighters Arrive in South Korea


Found another image of the South Korean F-35 now in country.

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Re: F-35 news thread

Tue Apr 02, 2019 3:53 am

A bipartisan group of US Congressional Representatives have called for increased F-35 production, including funding the additional aircraft requested by the respective services as well as an additional twelve F-35B for the USMC.

99 House lawmakers push for more F-35s

With Lockheed’s fifth-generation F-35 and Boeing’s fourth-generation F-15X in a dogfight for budget dollars, a bipartisan group of 99 House lawmakers has called on colleagues to add 24 F-35s over President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget request, for a total of 102.

The Joint Strike Fighter Caucus, on Monday, sent a letter to lead House authorizers and defense appropriators, following an Air Force budget request that proposed buying F-15s after a 20-year hiatus while holding the F-35A buy-rate flat.

Caucus leaders sent the letter arguing their proposed production hike would reduce overall F-35 costs and ensure air dominance as, “adversaries continue to advance surface-to-air missile systems and develop their own stealth fighters.”

“In fact, as global threats continue to rise, the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Fiscal Year 2020 budget request, which includes funding for 78 F-35s (48 F-35As, 10 F-35Bs and 20 F-35Cs) – 15 less than Congress appropriated in Fiscal Year 2019 – leaves the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps with a capability gap that 4th Generation, or legacy, aircraft cannot fulfill,” the letter argues.

“To reach the minimum 50% ratio of 5th Generation and 4th Generation fighters in the timeframe required to meet the threat, the U.S. must acquire F-35s in much larger quantities,” they wrote, adding later: “F-35 modernization is crucial for 4th generation aircraft systems, which are increasingly vulnerable and reliant on 5th generation production.”

The leaders of the caucus and the letter are Rep. John Larson, D-Conn.; Martha Roby, R-Ala.; Marc A. Veasey, D-Texas, and Mike Turner, R-Ohio.

They propose adding 12 F-35As for 60 total — which mirrors the Air Force’s annual unfunded priorities list — but also, 12 F-35Bs for 22 total. It does not add to the request for 20 F-35Cs.

The effort comes as both chambers of Congress prepare the annual process of drafting their authorization and appropriations bills, which typically extends beyond the summer. Such internal lobbying efforts are not unusual, and last year, congressional appropriators added 16 F-35s to the Pentagon’s request.

The recent letter emphasized the F-35’s lethality, its overseas deployments, its growing ubiquity among allies, its falling per-aircraft price tag and its impact on the American economy — “by supporting more than 1,500 suppliers and more than 194,000 direct and indirect jobs across the country.”

The lawmakers said that an unspecified increase in funding would help the F-35 get in line with a Pentagon mandate that 80 percent of key tactical aircraft be mission capable. It would pay for, “spare parts and depot level repair capability to meet the required availability rates and accelerate the stand-up repair process of mandated organic government repair capabilities.”

While the lawmakers argue for a production ramp up, the government’s F-35 Joint Program Office and Lockheed have said in recent weeks that as production rates have risen, so have manufacturing defects connected to the jet’s unique stealth features. In September, the Pentagon temporarily halted F-35 deliveries to correct production errors.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, has also pressed Lockheed to lower costs more rapidly.

Lockheed Martin chief executive Marillyn Hewson, earlier this year, defended her company’s progress toward getting the unit cost down to $80 million. Its price dropped below $90 million for the first time last year as the company has been producing the planes at a faster rate.

The decision to include eight F-15Xs in the Pentagon’s 2020 request is expected to feature prominently as Air Force officials appear for Capitol Hill budget hearings this week. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson has said the service did not initially seek the F-15Xs.

Pentagon officials have said the decision, driven by the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office, was in part meant to maintain a robust defense-industrial base, and they have discounted reports that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, influenced the process.

https://www.defensenews.com/congress/20 ... ore-f-35s/
 
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alberchico
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Re: F-35 news thread

Thu Apr 04, 2019 2:44 am

https://www.npr.org/2019/04/03/70922296 ... er-to-blin

So for the Turkish F-35's that were delivered and are currently based in the US, will Turkey be allowed to fly them home ?

Turkey is so well integrated into the F-35 program I don't know how the U.S. could kick them out .
short summary of every jewish holiday: they tried to kill us ,we won , lets eat !
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Thu Apr 04, 2019 9:20 am

alberchico wrote:
https://www.npr.org/2019/04/03/709222963/u-s-turkey-standoff-over-f-35-escalates-as-each-side-waits-for-the-other-to-blin

So for the Turkish F-35's that were delivered and are currently based in the US, will Turkey be allowed to fly them home ?

No, the Turkish F-35s sitting at Luke AFB would never leave the US for Turkey. If Turkey was removed from the program these aircraft, and the 28 others hey have ordered, would almost certainly be absorbed by the USAF.

alberchico wrote:
Turkey is so well integrated into the F-35 program I don't know how the U.S. could kick them out .

Turkey does produce a wide set of components but only one or two are sole sourced from Turkey. Reuters had the following to say,

Two U.S. sources familiar with the F-35’s intricate worldwide production process and U.S. thinking on the issue say Turkey can be replaced. Officials with the Pentagon and the Turkish embassy declined to comment.

“There are about 800 parts that Turkey makes for the F-35, and of them, very few are sole source,” said a person with direct knowledge of the U.S. position, explaining that single source parts from Turkey can be replaced by contractors who had previously bid to make them.

“Turkey is not too big to fail,” the person said.

But several U.S. sources said the impact would not be drastic. Replacing or finding substitutes for the Turkish components would slow production for a three-month period at the Lockheed Martin facility that builds the jets, one of the sources said.

Several components of the F-35 made in Turkey can be easily replaced. For example, the center fuselage produced in Ankara could be made by Northrop Grumman Corp , which already makes them in California.
FILE PHOTO: U.S. soldiers stand guard as a Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II aircraft is moved on the eve of the 52nd Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France June 18, 2017. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo

Lockheed declined to comment.

Arda Mevlutoglu, a Turkey-based defense industry consultant, said removal of Turkey from the program would not cause major issues for F-35 production process. “Removal of Turkey from the supply chain will definitely create some delays in the production and delivery process ... I personally believe that it will not create drastic delays and cost overruns,” he said.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKCN1R90CY

Certainly there would be a dip in production for a period of time, likely three to six months as the article suggests, but there are plenty of other partners who would be more than willing to take over the industrial work!
 
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Re: F-35 news thread

Thu Apr 04, 2019 6:41 pm

Ozair wrote:
Two U.S. sources familiar with the F-35’s intricate worldwide production process and U.S. thinking on the issue say Turkey can be replaced. Officials with the Pentagon and the Turkish embassy declined to comment.

“There are about 800 parts that Turkey makes for the F-35, and of them, very few are sole source,” said a person with direct knowledge of the U.S. position, explaining that single source parts from Turkey can be replaced by contractors who had previously bid to make them.

Certainly there would be a dip in production for a period of time, likely three to six months as the article suggests, but there are plenty of other partners who would be more than willing to take over the industrial work!


I would guess that those 800 parts are already getting dual sourced with the production ramp up as Turkey is still producing. Far better to have several dozen extra shipsets of parts in inventory rather than a shortage.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Thu Apr 04, 2019 9:02 pm

For those who are interested in air show demos the latest Aviation Week Check 6 Podcast is an interview with the F-35 demo team at the Melbourne Florida air show.

https://aviationweek.com/check-6-podcast

You can see the practise here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cb_ShgX-w2g and some info on the actual air show appearance here, http://theavion.com/lightning-over-melb ... -air-show/
 
SRQLOT
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Re: F-35 news thread

Sat Apr 06, 2019 2:24 pm

After a series of MiG-29 accidents Polish government is finally serious about a replacement. I just wonder if 32 of the F35 fighters will be enough against a formidable force like Russia. Would Poland be better at buying cheaper fighters? Or is the F35 now at $80million apiece a decent deal?

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... on-457275/
 
JayinKitsap
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Re: F-35 news thread

Sat Apr 06, 2019 5:02 pm

$ 80M each is not a crazy fighter price, the F-15x is probably higher, and most 4th gen fighters are over $60M each. Right now because the F-35 fleet will be large the cost to do upgrades over its life will be low compared to a small fleet plane. The reason why so many are now signing on.
 
itchief
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Re: F-35 news thread

Sat Apr 06, 2019 6:25 pm

SRQLOT wrote:
After a series of MiG-29 accidents Polish government is finally serious about a replacement. I just wonder if 32 of the F35 fighters will be enough against a formidable force like Russia. Would Poland be better at buying cheaper fighters? Or is the F35 now at $80million apiece a decent deal?

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... on-457275/


You do understand that Poland will never take on Russia alone, that is why they are part of NATO.
 
SRQLOT
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Re: F-35 news thread

Sat Apr 06, 2019 7:11 pm

itchief wrote:
SRQLOT wrote:
After a series of MiG-29 accidents Polish government is finally serious about a replacement. I just wonder if 32 of the F35 fighters will be enough against a formidable force like Russia. Would Poland be better at buying cheaper fighters? Or is the F35 now at $80million apiece a decent deal?

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... on-457275/


You do understand that Poland will never take on Russia alone, that is why they are part of NATO.



Yes of course. But Russia can do a lot of damage in 2 weeks or less before NATO forces even mobilize, and that is if.
 
SRQLOT
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Re: F-35 news thread

Sat Apr 06, 2019 7:24 pm

JayinKitsap wrote:
$ 80M each is not a crazy fighter price, the F-15x is probably higher, and most 4th gen fighters are over $60M each. Right now because the F-35 fleet will be large the cost to do upgrades over its life will be low compared to a small fleet plane. The reason why so many are now signing on.



Ok, that’s sounds about right, thanks. Now if the production costs drop even more when the 2024 start of delivery supposed to happen will it be reflected in a contract? Or will it be set let’s say in 2019-2020 prices?
 
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Re: F-35 news thread

Sat Apr 06, 2019 10:03 pm

SRQLOT wrote:
JayinKitsap wrote:
$ 80M each is not a crazy fighter price, the F-15x is probably higher, and most 4th gen fighters are over $60M each. Right now because the F-35 fleet will be large the cost to do upgrades over its life will be low compared to a small fleet plane. The reason why so many are now signing on.



Ok, that’s sounds about right, thanks. Now if the production costs drop even more when the 2024 start of delivery supposed to happen will it be reflected in a contract? Or will it be set let’s say in 2019-2020 prices?

That depends on the contract and method of acquisition. An FMS acquisition has room to see lower prices based on the price the US acquires the aircraft for, that is the point of using that method. A DCS purchase is a different arrangement and likely has a price averaged across the respective build years. Both have pros and cons to how a platform is acquired.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Sun Apr 07, 2019 10:35 pm

The increase in Blk 3F jets is probably a significant reason for this improvement as they contain all the updates and changes already in the system. As more aircraft deliver and the older Blk jets are upgraded to the 3F standard the mission capability rate should increase across the whole fleet including combat and training.

F-35 on track to hit 80% mission capability rate by September 2019

Combat units of the Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter fleet within the three US military services and eight international programme partners are on track to reach an 80% mission capability rate by September 2019.

And, the entire F-35 Lightning II fleet should reach an 80% mission capability rate by September 2020, says Vice Admiral Mathias Winter, executive officer of the Joint Programme Office (JPO) in prepared testimony before the US House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee on 4 April. Early models of the F-35 and training aircraft have posted lower availability rates, but after enough combat-unit aircraft are repaired the JPO believes those aircraft too will be capable of greater reliability.

...

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... by-457284/

More at the link.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Sun Apr 07, 2019 10:54 pm

This would certainly make Turkey unhappy if they ended up being denied the F-35 while Greece acquires it. Not sure though that Greece is a good option given their financial situation even if they are provided with a very low interest loan. There are probably better things they could be spending their money on.

Greece to consider F-35 purchase

The acquisition by Greece of US-made F-35 fighter jets will hinge on the country’s fiscal plans and Washington’s ability to offer a long-term payment framework, reliable sources said Friday.

The possibility of Greece acquiring the Lockheed Martin jets as part of its efforts to upgrade the Hellenic Air Force fleet, was raised Friday by Defense Minister Evangelos Apostolakis, following remarks on Thursday by a US official about the possibility of selling the aircraft to more countries.

More specifically, Vice Admiral Mathias Winter, head of the Pentagon’s F-35 office, told Congress on Thursday that sales of the jets could be expanded to include five new countries – Singapore, Spain, Romania, Greece and Poland.

...

http://www.ekathimerini.com/239304/arti ... 5-purchase

More at the link.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Sun Apr 07, 2019 11:53 pm

Both Poland and Greece have been mentioned above and quite afew articles on Singapore, Spain has always been a prospective user given a potential requirement to replace the Harrier and Hornet fleets at some point.

Romania is new, I haven’t seen them mentioned previously, and they have a need to replace the MiG-21 fleet but I think perhaps used F-16s may be a better option going forward than new build of anything including the F-35. The Romanian Defence Budget had a big increase in the last couple of years but to bring in a whole new fighter jet capability would appear to be more costly than the funding available to support.

US official: Pentagon eyes F-35 sales to Greece, Romania and Poland

The United States is considering expanding sales of Lockheed Martin Corp-made F-35 fighter jets to five new nations including Romania, Greece and Poland as European allies bulk up their defenses in the face of a strengthening Russia, a Pentagon official told Congress on Thursday.

In written testimony submitted to the US House of Representatives and seen by Reuters, Vice Admiral Mathias Winter - the head of the Pentagon’s F-35 office - said that “future potential Foreign Military Sales customers include Singapore, Greece, Romania, Spain and Poland.”

...

http://www.ekathimerini.com/239265/arti ... and-poland
More at the link.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Tue Apr 09, 2019 5:41 am

The RAAF buying additional weapons and decoys for the F-35 and SH while two more aircraft have arrived in Australia, with now four aircraft in country based at Williamtown.

Australia to buy weapons and decoys for F-35As and Super Hornets for use in ‘densely contested’ environments

Australia will acquire a range of weapons and countermeasures costing AUD110 million (USD78 million) for use in “densely contested” environments by its Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters and Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet multirole fighters, Defence Minister Christopher Pyne disclosed on 6 April.

...

“I’m pleased to welcome our newest F-35As, A35-011, and A35-012, bringing the total number of aircraft in Australia to four,” said the minister, adding that the fighters are at RAAF Base Williamtown and will be assigned to Number 3 Squadron.

https://www.janes.com/article/87734/aus ... vironments

More at the link.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:09 pm

The USN/USMC are taking lessons learned from the USN submarine community as they look to increase the frequency of software upgrades on the F-35.

F-35 Software Upgrade Program Will Field Capabilities Sooner, But Delay Purchase of New Fighters

A move to a continuous upgrade system for the Joint Strike Fighter software will help pilots deploy with the latest and greatest warfighting capabilities, but the move is costing the Navy the ability to procure more new planes in the near-term, officials told the Senate this week.

According to written testimony to the Senate Armed Services seapower subcommittee, Navy and Marine Corps aviation leadership wrote that, as the JSF program nears the end of development and demonstration of the 3F software version – the final one planned – the services are searching for ways to keep the planes’ software equipped with “advanced capabilities to maintain the advantage over advancing adversary fighters and ground-based radar threats.”

“Towards that end, the Department restructured the original Block 4 Follow-on Modernization acquisition strategy into a more agile Continuous Capabilities Development and Delivery (C2D2) model. The C2D2 approach leverages commercial practices, develops capability in smaller, more easily managed increments, and accelerates delivery of warfighting capability. The approach also advances departmental goals of reducing C2D2 risk and lowering cost.”

...

https://news.usni.org/2019/04/11/f-35-s ... w-fighters

More at the link.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:15 pm

Op Ed with little factual substance on the F-35 primarily concerned with the program cost.

The F-35 Fighter Jet Will Cost $1.5 Trillion. It’s Time for New Priorities.

U.S. taxpayers are no strangers to getting saddled with monstrously expensive weapons programs at the expense of basic needs like food, shelter and education. The Pentagon paid $44 billion for 21 very fragile B-2 stealth bombers, only one of which is still flying. The F-22 fighter, coming in at more than $350 million per plane, was built to combat Cold War adversaries who ceased to exist six years before the first jet rolled off the production line. The sticker price for Ronald Reagan’s harebrained “Star Wars” missile defense program stands at around $60 billion.

Alas, there always seems to be more room at the Pentagon trough. Enter the F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft.

“Japan Air Self Defense Force Stands Up First F-35A Lightning II Fighter Squadron,” announced the April 1 headline in The Diplomat, a publication focusing on Asia-Pacific news. “Stands up” is military speak for weapons or personnel that are ready to fight. “This is a major milestone for the F-35 enterprise, as it marks the first F-35 IOC for an Indo-Pacific region customer,” said F-35 program executive director Vice Admiral Matt Winter, who went on to praise the “global nature of this program.”

And then this happened, as explained by NPR 10 days after Japan’s first squadron of F-35A fighters was approved for active service: “Japan’s military has confirmed that one of its F-35A jet fighters has crashed in the Pacific Ocean during a training exercise.” As of this printing, the pilot remains missing

So it continues to go for the preposterously expensive F-35 fighter program. It began with such promise, too, as far as airborne weapons of mass destruction go. First conceived by Lockheed Martin in 1997 and built in collaboration with Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems, the F-35 first took wing in 2006. The all-purpose fighter was intended to stand as the replacement for the A-10 Warthog, F-15E Eagle, the F-16 Falcon, the AV-8B Harrier and the F/A-18 Hornet.

“The F-35 wouldn’t just be shared across the branches of the U.S. military,” wrote Popular Mechanics in July. “It was to be shared around the world. A coalition of ‘partner nations’ would not only fly and produce the aircraft but support it worldwide.” Allied nations – excuse me, customers – lined up to be a part of the bold new future represented by Lockheed Martin’s newest and stealthiest brainchild.

...

https://truthout.org/articles/the-f-35- ... riorities/

More at the link.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:39 pm

A new director for the F-35, part of the standard rotation for the position. Given he is the deputy executive officer the transition is going to be pretty seamless.

Lockheed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme to get new director

President Donald Trump nominated US Air Force Major General Eric Fick for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general and assignment as director of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme.

Fick currently serves as deputy executive officer for the programme, which is based in Arlington, Virginia. He will replace US Navy Vice Admiral Mathias Winter, who has served as the programme’s director since May 2017. The Department of Defense (DoD) did not say when Fick would take over.

...

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... et-457380/

More at the link.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:59 pm

Shanahan had another go at the F-35 program, this time via Fox News. I’m not sure he is doing himself any favours given the probe that is ongoing into the conduct and possible bias.

Trump’s Pentagon chief just criticized Lockheed’s F-35 on Fox News. He worked for Boeing.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan denied boosting his former employer while at the Pentagon — and then proceeded to throw shade at that company’s major competitor.

Shanahan, who’s been in his role since January, is the subject of an ethics investigation by the Pentagon’s internal watchdog for allegedly favoring Boeing’s warplane — a top defense contractor he worked at for 30 years — over Lockheed Martin’s while serving as the deputy secretary of defense.

It’s a big deal, and it threatens to put the permanent role of Pentagon chief out of his reach, despite his long audition for the job.

It’s not that surprising, then, that during a one-on-one interview with Fox News’s Bret Baier on Tuesday night, Shanahan strongly and repeatedly denied he had done anything wrong.

“I am not biased towards Boeing. I’m biased towards performance,” he said during his first-ever televised interview, noting that he criticizes any “underperformance” he sees. “I have never favored Boeing in my current job and I never will,” he continued.

But when Baier followed up with a question about his potential political bias in Congress, Shanahan chose to sideswipe a Lockheed’s flagship product: “The work I’ve done is to drive waste out of the F-35 [fighter jet] program so we can deliver the capability our men and women deserve, and at a savings the taxpayers expect,” he said.

...

https://www.vox.com/world/2019/4/10/183 ... 5-shanahan

More at the link.
 
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Re: F-35 news thread

Sat Apr 13, 2019 9:01 am

Ozair wrote:
Shanahan had another go at the F-35 program, this time via Fox News. I’m not sure he is doing himself any favours given the probe that is ongoing into the conduct and possible bias.

Trump’s Pentagon chief just criticized Lockheed’s F-35 on Fox News. He worked for Boeing.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan denied boosting his former employer while at the Pentagon — and then proceeded to throw shade at that company’s major competitor.

Shanahan, who’s been in his role since January, is the subject of an ethics investigation by the Pentagon’s internal watchdog for allegedly favoring Boeing’s warplane — a top defense contractor he worked at for 30 years — over Lockheed Martin’s while serving as the deputy secretary of defense.

It’s a big deal, and it threatens to put the permanent role of Pentagon chief out of his reach, despite his long audition for the job.

It’s not that surprising, then, that during a one-on-one interview with Fox News’s Bret Baier on Tuesday night, Shanahan strongly and repeatedly denied he had done anything wrong.

“I am not biased towards Boeing. I’m biased towards performance,” he said during his first-ever televised interview, noting that he criticizes any “underperformance” he sees. “I have never favored Boeing in my current job and I never will,” he continued.

But when Baier followed up with a question about his potential political bias in Congress, Shanahan chose to sideswipe a Lockheed’s flagship product: “The work I’ve done is to drive waste out of the F-35 [fighter jet] program so we can deliver the capability our men and women deserve, and at a savings the taxpayers expect,” he said.

...

https://www.vox.com/world/2019/4/10/183 ... 5-shanahan

More at the link.

Does he write for truthout.org?
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Sun Apr 14, 2019 10:07 pm

A roadmap of what will occur as Eielson and the local community as they prepare for the F-35’s arrival in one year.

History in the making: One year until the F-35

When Carl Ben Eielson decided he wanted to fly, the Daily News-Miner editor rallied the Fairbanks community to help raise the funds to buy a plane. When the community presented him a Jenny airship with an OX-5 engine on July 1, 1923, Ben Eielson was empowered to make his first steps toward becoming the father of Alaska aviation.

As the 354th Fighter Wing commander at Eielson Air Force Base, I’m incredibly humbled by this Fairbanks story. My airmen and I don’t take for granted that we represent the legacy of one of Fairbanks most-famed pioneers. Ben Eielson was a daring aviator and pioneering Alaskan. This great American achieved incredible feats with a “little help” from his community.

History certainly has a way of repeating itself. When the U.S. Air Force was looking for a home for its most advanced fighter jet, the Fairbanks North Star Borough rallied to support Eielson, again. The choice was clear: This new jet was made to fly in the skies of Alaska.

Our community is now one year out from receiving the first F-35A Lightning II aircraft at Eielson Air Force Base. There is a long road ahead as we prepare for the first jets to touch down in April of 2020. I want to share what our roadmap looks like and where our checkpoints lie as we progress toward aircraft arrival.

First, before the jets arrive, our people arrive. Before the landing of the first aircraft, 350 additional airmen and their families will call the Fairbanks North Star Borough home. Just this month, our first maintenance airmen arrived and our first F-35A pilots are inbound this summer.

Next up, we’re building infrastructure. This coming summer, our construction season will be operating at max capacity. In terms of the amount of projects and the amount of workers specifically supporting F-35 infrastructure projects, this is the largest construction undertaking at one time by our base. The job will get done thanks to our dedicated community partners executing these construction contracts, valued at nearly $580 million.

Finally, we’ll be working hard in the next year to jumpstart this new combat mission at Eielson. This fall, our first F-35 squadron commander will arrive and reactivate the 356th Fighter Squadron shortly thereafter. This unit will be the first of two combat squadrons contributing to our national defense. The standup of these squadrons represents a significant milestone as Alaska becomes America’s center of excellence for fifth-generation aircraft.

On top of all this excitement, the 354th Fighter Wing will host the F-35 Demo Team during our Arctic Lightning Airshow on July 13. This event is open to the public, and I invite everyone to come out and see the F-35 in person.

Ultimately, the arrival of this premier weapon system in Alaska will assist our nation in building a more lethal force. The F-35 will also strengthen alliances as we train with our joint and international partners. These integration opportunities will continue here with our Red Flag-Alaska exercises and in operations across the globe.

I have nothing but gratitude for the incredible support the Fairbanks North Star Borough has provided our U.S. Air Force. I look forward to this journey as Eielson and our community make history together, again.

Col. Benjamin Bishop has been commander of the 354th Fighter Wing at Eielson Air Force Base since July 2018. He has more than 2,500 flight hours in the F-35A, F-15E, F-16C/D, T-38, and T-37.

http://www.newsminer.com/opinion/commun ... 24173.html
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Sun Apr 14, 2019 10:14 pm

The Italians getting into it with their F-35s. I expect they will be regular participants now at European and international exercises.

The F-35 Plays Starring Role In Exercise “INIOCHOS 2019” in Greece

Exercise “INIOCHOS” is a yearly medium-scale exercise hosted by the Hellenic Air Force at the facilities of the ATC (Air Tactics Center) at Andravida Air Base, located in the Northwest Peloponnese, Greece.

As happened last year, the 2019 edition saw the participation of several nations (Greece, Italy, UAE, Israel and the U.S.) with 3rd, 4th and, for the first time, ever 5th Generation combat aircraft. Among the attendees, 6x Mirage 2000-9EAD/DAD belonging to the 86 Sqn of the UAE AF from Al Safran AB; 13x F-16C/D “Barak” with 109 and 117 Sqn Israeli AF from Ramat David; 6x Tornado (3x IDS and 3x ECR variants) from the 6th Stormo, Italian Air Force, based in Ghedi; 6x F-35A with the 13° Gruppo (Squadron) of the Italian Air Force from Amendola; 12x F-16C from 52nd FW from Spangdahlem; as well as some +30x F-16, 6x F-4E, 6x Mirage 2000 and 1x EMB-145H AEW&C belonging to various squadrons of the HAF.

...

However, as mentioned above, the main difference from last year was the presence of a 5th generation aircraft: the Italian F-35, at their first participation in a multinational exercise abroad.

“The experience has been amazing, because we had the opportunity to exploit all capabilities of the weapon system, performing both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions, SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) and DEAD (Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses) missions,” “Driver”, the commander of the 13° Gruppo, commented after “INIOCHOS”.

...

https://theaviationist.com/2019/04/12/t ... in-greece/

More at the link above.

Some images

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Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:37 pm

The USAF has officially deployed the F-35A into the Middle East with the aircraft coming from Hill AFB. Looks like the aircraft will have both an A2A and A2G role similar to what the F-22 has been doing in theatre.

Air Force's F-35A Deploys to Middle East for First Time

The U.S. Air Force's F-35A variant has officially deployed to the Middle East.

Air Forces Central Command announced Monday that F-35 fifth-generation fighters from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, have deployed to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates to keep watch in the region.

It's the first time Air Force F-35s have deployed to the Middle East.

...

https://www.military.com/daily-news/201 ... -time.html
More at the link.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:26 am

The expected cost to move to Blk 4 has reduced as the US services have determined they won’t be upgrading as many aircraft as previously thought. Makes sense and looks like the most of the aircraft will be upgraded except for the jets held at training squadrons, which are all already being upgraded to Blk 3F standard and will likely stay at that Blk standard.

Also good to see that Auto-GCAS will be out so soon.

F-35 PEO: FY-20 budget informed by $10.5B C2D2 cost estimate

The F-35 joint program office estimates its Block 4 plan will cost $10.5 billion over eight years, plus an additional $2.8 billion to modify 441 jets to the new configuration.

The estimate includes money for 66 F-35 capability enhancements -- a slate that was refined last year from 53 capabilities. The plan, according to Winter, is to release new capabilities every six months, the first of which is an automatic ground collision avoidance upgrade that is expected to be delivered this month. The second release, a radar combat identification system, is slated for delivery in October.

The budget is also informed by new estimates of the cost to upgrade 441 U.S. jets in the current fleet to the Block 4 configuration, which requires a key technology refresh upgrade known as TR-3. Winter said the program office's initial estimate to upgrade the entire fielded fleet for all three services was $6.2 billion. The services have since prioritized which jets will receive the mods, which lowered the estimate to $2.8 billion. According to Winter, the Air Force will upgrade 302 jets, which includes low-rate initial production lots 8-14. The Navy and Marine Corps will upgrade jets in lots 11-14, which includes 80 F-35B and 59 F-35C aircraft.

https://insidedefense.com/daily-news/f- ... t-estimate
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 news thread

Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:30 am

The USMC are certainly extracting all the capability out of the F-35B they can. Using the LHA/Ds in this role should provide significant power projection capabilities while still allowing the vessel to conduct other roles.

The Marine Corps is experimenting with ‘mini’ carrier strike groups laden with F-35 fighters

Not only are U.S. Marines experimenting with a new aircraft carrier concept, but they are also taking a fresh look at forming "mini" carrier strike groups to fill in when the carriers are called away.

The capable fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighters are changing the way the service's big amphibious assault ships — the centerpieces of the so-called "gator navy" — go to war.

The Marine Corps is aggressively pushing ahead with the experimental "Lightning Carrier" concept, which involves arming the large flattops with a literal boatload of F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters to turn the traditional troop transport ships into light carriers capable of boosting the overall firepower of the U.S. carrier force.

...

https://taskandpurpose.com/marine-corps-f-35-carriers

More at the link.

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