Oi! i wanted that exclwsive! Awwwwwww
Lockheed Martin Lands JSF Prize -- $200 Billion-plus Deal
By Stephen Trimble/AviationNow.com
26-Oct-2001 4:30 PM U.S. EDT
The world's reigning attack fighter for the next four decades - the Joint Strike Fighter - will be developed and built by Lockheed Martin as the Pentagon on Friday chose the aerospace giant's more conventional concept in the roughly $200 billion competition with rival Boeing.
The winning team takes an initial $20 billion development contract to refine and field the first fighters in 2009. The contractor also wins follow-up production rights for 3,002 aircraft ordered by the U.S. and Britain worth roughly $200 billion. More foreign orders might add another $200 billion to the contract over its 40-year lifetime.
"All the airplanes on the planet are getting old,'' program director, Marine Maj. Gen. Michael Hough said at the Paris Air Show in June. "We're very optimistic we're going to sell roughly another 3,000 airplanes abroad.''
Boeing now faces the loss of the largest U.S. fighter program in history, but is unlikely to be completely excluded from the program. Most military analysts agree the Pentagon will offer some subcontracting work to the losing company.
The Pratt & Whitney-powered JSF is designed to assume the bulk of air-to-ground attack missions for the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, largely replacing the fleets of Lockheed Martin F-16s, Fairchild A-10s, Boeing F/A-18C/Ds and AV-8Bs, which are jointly produced by Boeing and BAE Systems.
The JSF's three variants are specifically tailored to the needs of its four customers, including Britain's Royal Navy, although the aircraft family shares about four-fifths of its components.
Most analysts think Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin's concept offered a less risky approach than Boeing's bid, while the Boeing team's approach was viewed as more radical.
Boeing's team essentially borrows the AV-8B Harrier's already proven vertical lift technology for the Marine Corps variant's key short-takeoff-vertical-landing (STOVL) requirement.
But Lockheed Martin's team developed an entirely new vertical-lift capability by engineering the JSF's Pratt & Whitney F119 engine to rotate downwards from the rear of the aircraft, plus drive a lift fan.
Both designs rely on crafty advances in stealth technology and avionics, but some concepts are still unproven.
The Pentagon allowed Boeing's X-32 and Lockheed Martin's X-35 demonstrators to employ a basic airframe and off-the-shelf avionics to prove merely the feasibility of each aircraft, especially the STOVL and carrier-landing capabilities of each design.
The untested manufacturing, stealth and cockpit advances central to the JSF program still worry the auditors of the General Accounting Office, who fear the program may run off schedule and drive up costs if major components don't function as planned.
Initial production was due to begin in about 2005, but could be accelerated as the Pentagon scrambles to meet perceived post-Sept. 11-attack firepower needs in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Even before the United States and Britain began retaliatory airstrikes against targets in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, a panel appointed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had urged that the Navy version of the JSF be rushed to put a radar-evading, "stealth'' warplane on carriers sooner than scheduled.
No orders to speed things up have been received, the Pentagon says.
Under current plans, the first operational aircraft is to be delivered in 2009 and enter service with the Marines in 2010, with the Air Force in 2011, and with the Navy and Britain in 2012.
AviationNow.com Space and Technology Editor Paul Hoversten contributed to this report.
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