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kitplane01
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Cost of adding new weapons to the F-35

Wed Jul 21, 2021 7:54 am

The British MOD says "The estimated costs of integrating ASRAAM, Paveway IV and SPEAR Cap 3 weapons onto the F-35 Lightning are as follows: ASRAAM: £47 million, Paveway IV: £103 million, SPEAR Cap 3: £170 million.” https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/how-muc ... -the-f-35/

Can someone help me understand how it can cost $150M to fit a bomb to the F-35. I imagine it's mostly software ... but $150M buys a lot of well tested software.

Is there a standard software interface between most airplanes and most weapons, or is it custom for each particular combination?
 
ThePointblank
Posts: 3857
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Re: Cost of adding new weapons to the F-35

Wed Jul 21, 2021 9:08 am

Integration between a weapon and an aircraft often requires custom software interfaces to be developed, which then needs lengthy validation and certification work to ensure the software modifications done to the aircraft won't affect other systems.

The F-35 is expected to come out with the Universal Armaments Interface, which means for the first time, weapons will be plug and play, like a USB device, as long as the weapon's own software interface is compatible.

Furthermore, all weapons and external stores need flight testing validation to ensure proper weapons separation... not cheap. You are conducting computer simulations, wind tunnel tests and flying a bunch of test airplanes with chase aircraft around, carrying the weapon you intend to integrate on as many different stores configuration as possible. Then you are drop testing the weapon across as many different configurations to make sure the weapon leaves the aircraft smoothly and doesn't do anything odd, such as coming back and striking the aircraft, or bouncing around and smacking other nearby stores.

Get it wrong, and you get this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPTnmZ_HPAs
 
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SeamanBeaumont
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Re: Cost of adding new weapons to the F-35

Wed Jul 21, 2021 10:17 am

Kit the first, it is a common sum for this type of work.

Look here for a similar cost for weapons on the UK's helicopter fleet and a cost for plugging storm shadow onto Typhoon.
https://thinkdefence.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/much/
 
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Mortyman
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Re: Cost of adding new weapons to the F-35

Wed Jul 21, 2021 7:33 pm

Wonder how much it costs for Norway to get the JSF Joint Strike Missile integrated with the F-35. The F-35 will be able to take two of those internally
 
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kitplane01
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Posts: 2094
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Re: Cost of adding new weapons to the F-35

Wed Jul 21, 2021 10:39 pm

ThePointblank wrote:
Integration between a weapon and an aircraft often requires custom software interfaces to be developed, which then needs lengthy validation and certification work to ensure the software modifications done to the aircraft won't affect other systems.

The F-35 is expected to come out with the Universal Armaments Interface, which means for the first time, weapons will be plug and play, like a USB device, as long as the weapon's own software interface is compatible.

Furthermore, all weapons and external stores need flight testing validation to ensure proper weapons separation... not cheap. You are conducting computer simulations, wind tunnel tests and flying a bunch of test airplanes with chase aircraft around, carrying the weapon you intend to integrate on as many different stores configuration as possible. Then you are drop testing the weapon across as many different configurations to make sure the weapon leaves the aircraft smoothly and doesn't do anything odd, such as coming back and striking the aircraft, or bouncing around and smacking other nearby stores.

Get it wrong, and you get this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPTnmZ_HPAs


Does this mean that
1) No one has made a universal interface before
2) The F-35 does not have one yet

As to (1) ... why not. It seems a very obvious idea.
As to (2), OMG the F-35 software development is painful!
 
ThePointblank
Posts: 3857
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:39 pm

Re: Cost of adding new weapons to the F-35

Thu Jul 22, 2021 10:18 am

kitplane01 wrote:
ThePointblank wrote:
Integration between a weapon and an aircraft often requires custom software interfaces to be developed, which then needs lengthy validation and certification work to ensure the software modifications done to the aircraft won't affect other systems.

The F-35 is expected to come out with the Universal Armaments Interface, which means for the first time, weapons will be plug and play, like a USB device, as long as the weapon's own software interface is compatible.

Furthermore, all weapons and external stores need flight testing validation to ensure proper weapons separation... not cheap. You are conducting computer simulations, wind tunnel tests and flying a bunch of test airplanes with chase aircraft around, carrying the weapon you intend to integrate on as many different stores configuration as possible. Then you are drop testing the weapon across as many different configurations to make sure the weapon leaves the aircraft smoothly and doesn't do anything odd, such as coming back and striking the aircraft, or bouncing around and smacking other nearby stores.

Get it wrong, and you get this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPTnmZ_HPAs


Does this mean that
1) No one has made a universal interface before
2) The F-35 does not have one yet

As to (1) ... why not. It seems a very obvious idea.
As to (2), OMG the F-35 software development is painful!

1. No one has before. However, Lockheed Martin demonstrated a very early proof of concept of an universal interface when they modified their JASSM missile to use the interface for the JSOW glide bomb. While this was never put into production, the concept interested the DoD enough that they moved towards further development of the idea of a common weapons interface.
2. The F-35 is slated to get UAI in the Block 4 upgrade. The program office that ran the UAI project used the F-15E as the lead development platform for UAI, and they have since rolled it out to the F-16 Block 40/42 and 50/52 fleets, and will also roll it out onto other combat aircraft as well.
 
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kitplane01
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Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2016 5:58 am

Re: Cost of adding new weapons to the F-35

Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:13 pm

ThePointblank wrote:
kitplane01 wrote:
ThePointblank wrote:
Integration between a weapon and an aircraft often requires custom software interfaces to be developed, which then needs lengthy validation and certification work to ensure the software modifications done to the aircraft won't affect other systems.

The F-35 is expected to come out with the Universal Armaments Interface, which means for the first time, weapons will be plug and play, like a USB device, as long as the weapon's own software interface is compatible.

Furthermore, all weapons and external stores need flight testing validation to ensure proper weapons separation... not cheap. You are conducting computer simulations, wind tunnel tests and flying a bunch of test airplanes with chase aircraft around, carrying the weapon you intend to integrate on as many different stores configuration as possible. Then you are drop testing the weapon across as many different configurations to make sure the weapon leaves the aircraft smoothly and doesn't do anything odd, such as coming back and striking the aircraft, or bouncing around and smacking other nearby stores.

Get it wrong, and you get this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPTnmZ_HPAs


Does this mean that
1) No one has made a universal interface before
2) The F-35 does not have one yet

As to (1) ... why not. It seems a very obvious idea.
As to (2), OMG the F-35 software development is painful!

1. No one has before. However, Lockheed Martin demonstrated a very early proof of concept of an universal interface when they modified their JASSM missile to use the interface for the JSOW glide bomb. While this was never put into production, the concept interested the DoD enough that they moved towards further development of the idea of a common weapons interface.
2. The F-35 is slated to get UAI in the Block 4 upgrade. The program office that ran the UAI project used the F-15E as the lead development platform for UAI, and they have since rolled it out to the F-16 Block 40/42 and 50/52 fleets, and will also roll it out onto other combat aircraft as well.


Love the info. Any guess why this wasn't done in the 1970s. The near contemporaneous introduction of the F-15 and F-16 would have seemed a great time to have a common weapon interface.
 
ThePointblank
Posts: 3857
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:39 pm

Re: Cost of adding new weapons to the F-35

Fri Jul 23, 2021 12:21 am

kitplane01 wrote:
ThePointblank wrote:
kitplane01 wrote:

Does this mean that
1) No one has made a universal interface before
2) The F-35 does not have one yet

As to (1) ... why not. It seems a very obvious idea.
As to (2), OMG the F-35 software development is painful!

1. No one has before. However, Lockheed Martin demonstrated a very early proof of concept of an universal interface when they modified their JASSM missile to use the interface for the JSOW glide bomb. While this was never put into production, the concept interested the DoD enough that they moved towards further development of the idea of a common weapons interface.
2. The F-35 is slated to get UAI in the Block 4 upgrade. The program office that ran the UAI project used the F-15E as the lead development platform for UAI, and they have since rolled it out to the F-16 Block 40/42 and 50/52 fleets, and will also roll it out onto other combat aircraft as well.


Love the info. Any guess why this wasn't done in the 1970s. The near contemporaneous introduction of the F-15 and F-16 would have seemed a great time to have a common weapon interface.

The weapons and aircraft at the time were far less complicated, and the concept of 'plug and play' wasn't a thing in computer technology at the time. Also, the F-15 and the F-16 were both built and designed by different companies, and to totally different philosophies (the F-15 was a fairly traditional design, while the F-16 is a fly-by-wire relaxed stability design).

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