Ozair
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Wed Jan 29, 2020 8:31 pm

Cheers Jay and Nomad.

Continuing on with the RAAF leaving Luke is info that all RAAF training infrastructure work required for training at Williamtown has been completed. That includes four simulators and provision for an additional two in the future. Given how much of the conversion syllabus is simulator based, as well as continuation and advanced training in high threat scenarios for squadron pilots, I expect the additional two may be acquired.

RAAF shifts F-35A training focus to Williamtown

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has shifted a substantial amount of training for the Lockheed Martin F-35A to Australia, while still retaining a training presence in the USA.

The focus of RAAF F-35 training has been moved to RAAF Williamtown, where work has been undertaken to develop a full training ecosystem under the country’s Air 6000 2A/B New Air Combat Capability Facilities Project.

“All facilities required to support training at RAAF Williamtown have been completed,” says Australia’s Department of Defence (DoD). ”This includes the installation of maintenance training devices, and the full suite of maintenance training is now undertaken in the new facilities.”

Four full mission simulators have been installed and commissioned. The base has provision for two additional simulators.

...

https://www.flightglobal.com/defence/ra ... 17.article
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Thu Jan 30, 2020 1:22 am

Pretty impressive to pass 1000 flight hours although if you’re assigned to deliver new aircraft from the factory to the respective units you probably clock up a lot of time, especially given 134 aircraft were built last year. Wonder if he just flies commercial back to Fort Worth or has to wait for a military transport given he would have his helmet and other flight equipment with him?

Marine Becomes First Military Pilot to Hit 1,000 Flight Hours in F-35 Fighter

A U.S. Marine Corps pilot just made history as the first to surpass 1,000 flight hours in the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter.

Lt. Col. Brian W. Bann became the first to accomplish the feat in the service's F-35 Lightning II model while delivering a new aircraft to Marine Aircraft Group 13 at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, last month, officials announced Wednesday.

...

Bann is an acceptance test pilot for all three fifth-generation fighter variants; he's currently assigned to the Defense Contract Management Agency at Lockheed Martin's F-35 production facility in Fort Worth, Texas, according to a news release.

...

https://www.military.com/daily-news/202 ... ghter.html
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Thu Jan 30, 2020 8:51 pm

The annual DOT&E report is expected shortly and the early leaks have occurred. Issues continue with the gun, I bet LM is wishing the A could be like the B/C and use an external pod instead, while software continues to be a drag.

I expect the full report to put it all in a bit more context, noting as well that it appears that no new issues have been identified, only issues that persist.

F-35’s Gun That Can’t Shoot Straight Adds to Its Roster of Flaws

Add a gun that can’t shoot straight to the problems that dog Lockheed Martin Corp.’s $428 billion F-35 program, including more than 800 software flaws.

The 25mm gun on Air Force models of the Joint Strike Fighter has “unacceptable” accuracy in hitting ground targets and is mounted in housing that’s cracking, the Pentagon’s test office said in its latest assessment of the costliest U.S. weapons system.

The annual assessment by Robert Behler, the Defense Department’s director of operational test and evaluation, doesn’t disclose any major new failings in the plane’s flying capabilities. But it flags a long list of issues that his office said should be resolved -- including 13 described as Category 1 “must-fix” items that affect safety or combat capability -- before the F-35’s upcoming $22 billion Block 4 phase.

The number of software deficiencies totaled 873 as of November, according to the report obtained by Bloomberg News in advance of its release as soon as Friday. That’s down from 917 in September 2018, when the jet entered the intense combat testing required before full production, including 15 Category 1 items. What was to be a year of testing has now been extended another year until at least October.

“Although the program office is working to fix deficiencies, new discoveries are still being made, resulting in only a minor decrease in the overall number” and leaving “many significant‘’ ones to address, the assessment said.

...

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... r-of-flaws
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Thu Jan 30, 2020 9:09 pm

LM are aiming for a production peak around 180 a year in 2024. That won’t hit the lofty heights of the F-16 in the early 80s but still a very impressive rate and the highest for a military aircraft in quite a while.

Lockheed Martin sees F-35 production rising to 180 units per year, despite high flying costs

Lockheed Martin is projecting annual production of the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter could rise to as high as 180 examples by 2024.

The company sees continued sales to US military services as well as potential wins in international fighter procurement competitions, such as in Finland, Switzerland and Canada, steadily boosting production of the combat aircraft.

In 2019, the airframe manufacturer delivered 134 examples of the F-35.

“We’re going to deliver 140 aircraft this year,” says Ken Possenriede, executive vice-president of Lockheed Martin on the company’s annual earnings call on 28 January. “Rough number’s 160 next year.”

In the years beyond, he sees 165 aircraft delivered in 2020; 170 aircraft delivered in 2023; and 175 to 180 delivered in 2024. The company believes its production will reach peak capacity in 2023 and 2024.

...

https://www.flightglobal.com/fixed-wing ... 55.article
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Thu Jan 30, 2020 9:21 pm

Norway will use its F-35s for their rotation of the Iceland Air policing mission in March.

Norway Will Solve Missions on Iceland with the Brand New F-25 Fighter Aircraft

Norway is now ready to solve missions both in Norway and abroad with the new fighter aircraft, the F-35, the Norwegian Armed Forces says in a press release.

In March, Norway will solve missions in the international operation Iceland Air Policing (IAP) with F-35. This is the first foreign mission to the 332 Squadron after the F-35 was declared initially operational in November.

NATO country Iceland does not have its own defense and thus no capacity to meet the country's need for sovereignty and airspace surveillance. NATO therefore rolls with periodic air defense presence in peacetime.

"The fact that the F-35 can show operational capability in such an operation is an important milestone towards full operational capability in 2025," says Chief of the Air Force, Major General Tonje Skinnarland.

The tasks are similar to those carried out by the Norwegian F-16 from Bodø (QRA), call-out to identify unknown aircraft. Norway, on behalf of NATO, will be responsible for this for a period of 3 weeks. The detachment consists of 130 soldiers, commanders, officers and civilians.

...

https://www.highnorthnews.com/en/norway ... r-aircraft

A great image also provided in the article from the Norwegian Armed Forces. Interesting to note that the wingtip vortices are only visible on the clean aircraft and not on those equipped with the AAM pylons. Perhaps as with the F-16 the wing is more stable with that outside weight or the AoA is changed enough to alter the interaction? I'm interested if anyone has thoughts/knowledge on the matter.

Image
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Thu Jan 30, 2020 10:24 pm

 
sovietjet
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Thu Jan 30, 2020 10:42 pm

Ozair wrote:
Pretty impressive to pass 1000 flight hours although if you’re assigned to deliver new aircraft from the factory to the respective units you probably clock up a lot of time, especially given 134 aircraft were built last year. Wonder if he just flies commercial back to Fort Worth or has to wait for a military transport given he would have his helmet and other flight equipment with him?



Could be that he just leaves the helmet with the squadron he delivered the jet to. After all, the jets need helmets to go along with them.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Thu Jan 30, 2020 11:11 pm

sovietjet wrote:
Ozair wrote:
Pretty impressive to pass 1000 flight hours although if you’re assigned to deliver new aircraft from the factory to the respective units you probably clock up a lot of time, especially given 134 aircraft were built last year. Wonder if he just flies commercial back to Fort Worth or has to wait for a military transport given he would have his helmet and other flight equipment with him?



Could be that he just leaves the helmet with the squadron he delivered the jet to. After all, the jets need helmets to go along with them.

Unfortunately that isn't an option as each helmet is custom fit to its owner.

On the other side of the house, Rockwell Collins is crafting F-35 Generation ll and lll helmet-mounted display systems.

This part of the process takes about four hours per helmet and involves spending two days with each pilot. On the first day, measurements are taken of the pilot’s head, including a 3-D head scan and the use of a pupilometer to measure the distance between the pupils.

Once the measurements are made they begin assembling the helmet. This process includes custom-milling each helmet liner so the helmet sits comfortably on the pilot’s head while maintaining stability under high-gravity maneuvers so the optics continue to match up to the individual’s field of view.

“They custom fit the pads in the helmet based on head size,” said Donald Guess, Rockwell Collins customer support specialist.

Once the helmet is assembled, the pilot comes in for a final fitting on the second day. During this time the optics are aligned to the pilot’s pupils and the display visor is custom contoured. This process must be done precisely so the pilot has a single focused image at infinity.

“We take the pilot outside and have him focus on a point in the distance,” Guess said. “This allows us to check everything and make sure the optics are aligned correctly.”
Once the pilot receives all his perfectly fitting gear from the PFF, it’s his forever regardless of service or nationality.

https://sldinfo.com/2019/07/f-35-pilot- ... -facility/
 
RetiredWeasel
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Fri Jan 31, 2020 1:28 am

Regarding custom helmets and commercial travel:

Custom fitted helmets were fabricated even back in the early 80's on. Pilot sat with a thin rubber hood over his head while the fitter shot foam into holes in the helmet to make a custom liner. These liners's were a permanent part of the helmet.

Again ancient info: But took commercial flights many time after delivering or ferrying F-4s somewhere. Just packed up the helmet bag, harness, g-suit, survival vest and pubs in a big B-4 bag and checked it. There were pen flares in the survival vest and CO2 cartridges in the water wings, but seems like the airline didn't care. Course after 911 things may have changed a bit.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Fri Jan 31, 2020 1:38 am

RetiredWeasel wrote:
Regarding custom helmets and commercial travel:

Custom fitted helmets were fabricated even back in the early 80's on. Pilot sat with a thin rubber hood over his head while the fitter shot foam into holes in the helmet to make a custom liner. These liners's were a permanent part of the helmet.

Again ancient info: But took commercial flights many time after delivering or ferrying F-4s somewhere. Just packed up the helmet bag, harness, g-suit, survival vest and pubs in a big B-4 bag and checked it. There were pen flares in the survival vest and CO2 cartridges in the water wings, but seems like the airline didn't care. Course after 911 things may have changed a bit.

Great info, thanks. I do cringe though at the thought of a 450k F-35 helmet going into checked baggage, would be cheaper to buy an extra seat for the helmet so it stays in sight than potentially lose or have one stolen. I'd certainly like an F-35 helmet as a souvenir...

Out of interest the article spoke about reaching 1000 hours and delivery flights, how many hours did you gain conducting delivery/ferry flights and was that typically more or less than being in a standard squadron posting?
 
RetiredWeasel
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Fri Jan 31, 2020 1:55 am

Ozair wrote:
RetiredWeasel wrote:
Regarding custom helmets and commercial travel:

Custom fitted helmets were fabricated even back in the early 80's on. Pilot sat with a thin rubber hood over his head while the fitter shot foam into holes in the helmet to make a custom liner. These liners's were a permanent part of the helmet.

Again ancient info: But took commercial flights many time after delivering or ferrying F-4s somewhere. Just packed up the helmet bag, harness, g-suit, survival vest and pubs in a big B-4 bag and checked it. There were pen flares in the survival vest and CO2 cartridges in the water wings, but seems like the airline didn't care. Course after 911 things may have changed a bit.

Great info, thanks. I do cringe though at the thought of a 450k F-35 helmet going into checked baggage, would be cheaper to buy an extra seat for the helmet so it stays in sight than potentially lose or have one stolen. I'd certainly like an F-35 helmet as a souvenir...

Out of interest the article spoke about reaching 1000 hours and delivery flights, how many hours did you gain conducting delivery/ferry flights and was that typically more or less than being in a standard squadron posting?


Delivering or ferrying jets really was an semi-infrequent occurrence. Usually scheduling from wing would pass the requirements down to an operational squadron and the squadron ops officer would ask for volunteers. Then he would assign the mission. Sounds like the F-35 1000 hr pilot's main job was delivering so he would accumulate hours pretty fast. A normal training combat sortie might only last 1:20 while ferry flights could last much longer. I was fortunate enough to ferry F-4s across the Pacific to/from Clark AB to Conus 5 times during my tenure at Clark. Always a favorite and of course always broke down at Hickam AFB. Ha!
 
DigitalSea
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Fri Jan 31, 2020 5:20 am

Lockheed Martin Potentially Mixed Up Structural Fasteners in Most F-35s
Hundreds of F-35s could have the wrong fasteners in “critical areas,” according to the Defense Contract Management Agency. But F-35 builder Lockheed Martin says the problem may not need to be fixed.

“All aircraft produced prior to discovery of this [problem] have titanium fasteners incorrectly installed in locations where the design calls for Inconel,” the F-35 Joint Program Office said in an email in response to a query from Air Force Magazine. “Because of this, the engineering safety analysis of the issue has assumed that each critical F-35 joint was assembled with the incorrect fasteners.”

Inconel is an alloy of nickel and chromium, and is supposed to be used in places where greater strength and corrosion resistance are required, while the titanium bolts are used in areas where its strength and lightness helps reduce weight. Titanium, however, has a lower shear strength than Inconel.

Both fasteners are called “eddie bolts” and are similar in appearance except for a number stamped on them. The titanium bolts cost about $5 apiece, while the Inconel parts cost about $20 each. A Lockheed spokeswoman said the two parts are “very difficult to distinguish, visually.”

The Lockheed spokesman said an initial analysis concluded that “titanium has sufficient strength in locations that called for Inconel eddie bolts.” Another Lockheed official said components are built with “twice the strength specified,” but he did not specify whether this was the case with the titanium eddie bolts.


https://www.airforcemag.com/lockheed-potentially-mixed-up-structural-fasteners-in-most-f-35s/
 
sovietjet
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Fri Jan 31, 2020 5:56 am

Seems like quite a waste of money to custom fit a helmet to the head of a pilot, and then if he chooses to switch squadrons, careers, or decides to retire that is half a million dollars down the drain. Unless there is a way to re-fit the helmet for the next pilot...
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Fri Jan 31, 2020 8:20 am

sovietjet wrote:
Seems like quite a waste of money to custom fit a helmet to the head of a pilot, and then if he chooses to switch squadrons, careers, or decides to retire that is half a million dollars down the drain. Unless there is a way to re-fit the helmet for the next pilot...

I'm not aware of a means to switch the helmet to another pilot. I don't think it a waste compared to general costs for the operating of fighter aircraft and other systems present on fighter aircraft in general. If they weren't using the F-35 Gen III helmet then each pilot would still have a HMD, likely a version of JHMCS or STRIKER II. STRIKER II is reportedly 200,000 pounds and is used by the RAF for their Eurofighter and is being offered to Finland and Switzerland as part of the Eurofighter package. Additionally, no F-35 has a HUD, it is all integrated into the helmet and so if you forego that HMD then you have to equip every single aircraft with a HUD, increasing cost to every airframe (noting than is probably a lot less than the total number of pilots that will fly the aircraft).

To put the cost in context, the planned per hour flight cost of the aircraft is US$25k. If a pilot gets his NATO 220 hours a year that is US$5.5 million per year for operating the aircraft. Over a typical three year posting he is spending US$16.5 million just to fly the aircraft. Then add in missiles, chaff, flares bombs, training bombs, etc that are all used as a part of training and the cost of a helmet that brings so many advantages to the pilot isn't a large expense. Then note that an Air Force spends millions training a pilot over 4+ years to fly and then fly fighters. Many drop out or are removed due to not meeting the the standard required, far more than the cost of an advanced helmet that is only provided when the pilot gets to the end of his training and converts onto the F-35.
 
angad84
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Fri Jan 31, 2020 10:19 am

Ozair wrote:
Interesting to note that the wingtip vortices are only visible on the clean aircraft and not on those equipped with the AAM pylons. Perhaps as with the F-16 the wing is more stable with that outside weight or the AoA is changed enough to alter the interaction? I'm interested if anyone has thoughts/knowledge on the matter.

Vortices require spanwise flow above and below the wing to interact at the wingtips. In the case of the AAM jets, the pylons act as wing fences and spanwise flow along the lower surface is obstructed. Hence, no vortices.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Fri Jan 31, 2020 12:18 pm

angad84 wrote:
Ozair wrote:
Interesting to note that the wingtip vortices are only visible on the clean aircraft and not on those equipped with the AAM pylons. Perhaps as with the F-16 the wing is more stable with that outside weight or the AoA is changed enough to alter the interaction? I'm interested if anyone has thoughts/knowledge on the matter.

Vortices require spanwise flow above and below the wing to interact at the wingtips. In the case of the AAM jets, the pylons act as wing fences and spanwise flow along the lower surface is obstructed. Hence, no vortices.

Interesting, thanks.
 
virage
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Fri Jan 31, 2020 11:07 pm

Poland officially signs a $4.6 billion contract to buy 32 F-35's:

https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2020/01/31/poland-inks-46-billion-contract-for-f-35-fighter-jets/

This is significantly less than the expected $6.5 billion.
 
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Tugger
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Fri Jan 31, 2020 11:25 pm

virage wrote:
Poland officially signs a $4.6 billion contract to buy 32 F-35's:

https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2020/01/31/poland-inks-46-billion-contract-for-f-35-fighter-jets/

This is significantly less than the expected $6.5 billion.

Well it's $143M/aircraft, feels about right when including the needed spares, training, etc. There may be a few things they will pay for "as per" like maintenance.

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BlueSky1976
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Sun Feb 02, 2020 12:29 pm

virage wrote:
Poland officially signs a $4.6 billion contract to buy 32 F-35's:

https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2020/01/31/poland-inks-46-billion-contract-for-f-35-fighter-jets/

This is significantly less than the expected $6.5 billion.


A waste of money on useless aircraft, given Polands geolocation.
The money would be much better spent on F-15Xs or more F-16s dedicated to air defence duty.
The queen of the skies is dead.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Sun Feb 02, 2020 9:05 pm

BlueSky1976 wrote:
virage wrote:
Poland officially signs a $4.6 billion contract to buy 32 F-35's:

https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2020/01/31/poland-inks-46-billion-contract-for-f-35-fighter-jets/

This is significantly less than the expected $6.5 billion.


A waste of money on useless aircraft, given Polands geolocation.
The money would be much better spent on F-15Xs or more F-16s dedicated to air defence duty.

That claim doesn't make a lot of sense. From an air defence perspective all three are tied to fixed bases. From a capability perspective the F-35 is a generation ahead of the other two conducting air defence missions. Finally from a cost perspective the F-35 is likely cheaper to acquire than either and will end up being comparative to operate against the F-16 and a lot cheaper than the F-15.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Mon Feb 03, 2020 11:32 pm

Most of the info flowing from the DOT&E report seems pretty standard. This one sticks out to me for the issues presented but also the solutions. The DOT&E report is sometimes 3 to 6 months out of date so often a fix has been identified or rolled out to the fleet in that period. In this case the F-35A gun accuracy may have been fixed although the cracking likely remains. I expect that should be fixed on jets going forward with some strengthening in specific places.

Something I wasn't aware of was that the gun pod for the F-35B is different to the F-35C. Makes sense given the slight changes in the mold lines of the respective aircraft and a very tight fit required to maintain the VLO characteristics of the jet but still frustrating from a logistical point of view. It would have been nice to have the pods interchangeable between the two aircraft to at least reduce the supply chain as well as improve operational flexibility. At least the gun and all internals are the same.

Newer F-35As cracking due to gun use

The Pentagon has restricted gun use on Lot 9 and newer Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) conventional variants to combat-only after discovering cracks in the aircraft after gun operation.

Robert Behler, director of operational test and evaluation (DOT&E), said in his fiscal year 2019 (FY 2019) report released on 30 January that units flying these newer F-35As discovered cracks in the outer mold-line coatings and the underlying chine longeron skin, near the gun muzzle, after the gun was used. F-35A Lot 9 aircraft were delivered in 2017.

All three variants have a 25 mm gun. The F-35A gun is internal while the F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) model and the F-35C aircraft carrier variant each use an external gun pod.

Differences in the outer mold-line fairing mounting make the gun pods unique to a specific variant. For example, a F-35B gun pod cannot be mounted on a F-35C aircraft. Lockheed Martin spokesperson Brett Ashworth said on 1 February that the B- and C-models carry a low observable belly gun pod mounted on the centreline.

Most of the FY 2019 report repeats the same concerns about the F-35A gun from the previous year's report - that the gun's accuracy is unacceptable. On the other hand, the F-35B and C-model air-to-ground accuracy results so far have been consistent and meet the contract specifications. DOT&E said the results do not show the accuracy errors of the internal F-35A gun.

Ashworth said that the F-35 programme has made significant progress on the F-35A gun since the data used for the DOT&E report. The programme has implemented software updates and installed a field gun alignment aid to ensure proper gun barrel position.

...

https://www.janes.com/article/94071/new ... to-gun-use
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Mon Feb 03, 2020 11:57 pm

The first USMC F-35C squadron is slowly taking shape as more aircraft are delivered and they anticipate being granted safety to fly around the end of March.

F-35Cs Arrive at Miramar as Marines Prepare First Carrier Squadron

The Marine Corps’ first squadron of F-35C Joint Strike Fighters will reach an initial operating capability next month ahead of future carrier deployments, officials said Friday.


The second F-35C Lightning II belonging to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 arrived Friday at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, Calif., ten days after the first jet arrived in San Diego.

“We will get our third airplane here shortly,” Maj. Gen. Kevin Iiams, the commander of the Miramar-based 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, told USNI News. “And we are on track to establish our safe-for-flight operations – i.e., our ability to conduct operations just with 314 and no external support – probably by the end of March.”

...

https://news.usni.org/2020/02/03/f-35cs ... r-squadron
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Wed Feb 05, 2020 3:57 am

Some analysis on what an F-35 acquisition would mean for Greece and by extension Turkey.

What a modernised Hellenic Air Force with F-35s could mean for Turkey

Greece has announced plans to upgrade its existing fleet of fighter jets as well as acquire new U.S.-built fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II aircraft in a move that might give its military a technological edge over neighbouring Turkey.

Greek Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said this month that Greece plans to buy a squadron of 24 F-35s.

Athens presently possesses approximately 150 fourth-generation F-16 Fighting Falcons.

In December, Panagiotopoulos announced that 84 of them would be upgraded to the advanced Viper class by Lockheed Martin by 2027, at a total cost of approximately $1.5 billion for Athens.

Additionally, Greece plans to upgrade its smaller fleet of French-made Mirage 2000 multirole fighters, also over the next seven years.

According to the 2019 Military Strength Ranking, which utilizes more than 55 individual factors to determine the strength of a nation, Greece has the 28th most powerful military in the world while Turkey has the ninth.

Analysts consulted by Ahval News outlined the likely significance of Greece fielding F-35s.

Levent Özgül, a Turkish defence analyst for Blue Melange Consultancy, said a purchase of F-35s “will be the most important milestone and capability jump for Greece and the Hellenic Air Force (HAF).”

This is because of the F-35’s advanced capabilities, such as its long-range, networking and stealth features.

...

https://ahvalnews.com/turkey-greece/wha ... ean-turkey
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Wed Feb 05, 2020 4:02 am

Buried within this article is the suggestion to retool an F-35 as the ideal platform to operate a collection of drones, within a comms denied environment, that are conducting CAS and interdiction.

US Navy and Boeing use manned jet to control drone Growlers

...

“There is still going to be a need for manned fighters to do close-air support, but mostly to do command and control of other platforms that are perhaps unmanned inside a comms-denied environment,” Clark said. “So if you send some loitering missiles or you send UCAVs up forward, you would expect them to be managed by someone who is able to maintain comms with them. That would be a human in a fighter that is able to remain close enough to them to stay in comms.”

For that, Clark points to a retooled F-35 fighter jet, one that switches out internal payload space for fuel.

“The F-35 folks, when you talk to them about what it would take to make it a longer-range command-and-control aircraft, they’re pretty optimistic because most of the challenge in doing these kinds of changes is in the software,” Clark said. “And the software isn’t dramatically different because it’s really just changing how it manages the fuel, not any of the other functions.”

The experiment seems to indicate that it isn’t just the F-35′s fancy communications suite that is up the task. The test demonstrates the ability to increase the pilot’s situational awareness with multiple aircraft, said Brandt.

...

https://www.c4isrnet.com/naval/2020/02/ ... anned-jet/
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Fri Feb 07, 2020 12:01 pm

Standard contractual arrangements to be discussed as the SDD phase draws to a close. Hopefully either the JPO get some money back or more likely a slew of additional capability development for free by LM. The additional development almost certainly improves the F-35s overall capability and therefore makes the aircraft more attractive domestically and on the export market so likely what LM will try and move to.

Lockheed Martin could be financially liable to DoD for unmet F-35 SDD requirements

Lockheed Martin, the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) prime contractor, could be required to financially compensate the Pentagon for unmet requirements in the programme’s system development and demonstration (SDD) phase, a former programme official tells Jane’s .

The F-35 programme had closed out 493 of the 536 SDD capability requirements as of 17 September, the Pentagon’s Department of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) said in its fiscal year 2019 (FY 2019) report released on 3 February. The 43 remaining represent either unmet requirements that will never be met, also known as written off, or those requiring additional development and testing to evaluate performance, also known as written down. An example of those requiring more development and testing would be third life durability testing or capabilities planned for the platform’s Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) 3.5.

The former programme official said on 4 February that when the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin negotiate these remaining 43 requirements, the Pentagon will either reduce the requirement or will take it off the books. In either case, the Pentagon has the right to go back to Lockheed Martin and receive some kind of consideration for not meeting the requirement.

This could be money or it could be additional services or capabilities that it did not ask for in the original contract. For example, Lockheed Martin could exceed a requirement that it met in exchange for writing off a requirement that it could not meet.

...

https://www.janes.com/article/94158/loc ... quirements
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Sun Feb 09, 2020 10:15 pm

Found this article interesting. This is a reasonable response from Industry but, although airliners doesn’t allow the creation of polls like some other website engines, I was curious as to whether the same approx. 2/3rd would be present here. My thought would be not but that is a general feel of the most prominent posters and perhaps not the wider number reading the threads.

F-35 still worth the investment, Air Force Technology survey finds

This month Air Force Technology polled our readership to see whether the industry still believes the fighter is a worthwhile investment for Air Forces to make. The majority of readers supported the aircraft, saying it was worth the cost, however, nearly 32% of readers said that it was not worth it.

The long-running programme has consistently attracted industry headlines for bad and good, with new countries signing up to the programme while others are kicked out, highlighting the fighter as not just a piece of defence equipment but a political tool.

Commenting on the programme, GlobalData Defence Analyst Anthony Endresen said: “Exports of major programmes like the F-35 are rarely, if ever, simply based on technical considerations. The political dimension looms large in the decision-making process for countries that are or would be F-35 market territory, as seen in the first foreign decision to acquire the F-35 (Norway).

“The decision there was largely based on the government to government relationship and converging policy. The financial aspect will thus affect platform numbers, in some instances, but is not the primary element in the platform selection process.”

...

https://www.airforce-technology.com/fea ... vey-finds/
 
Ozair
Posts: 4626
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2005 8:38 am

Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:11 pm

A really interesting article that includes suggestions the F-35B is similar in price to the F-15SG, that the Singaporean Air Force will likely conduct conversion training with the USMC including training with USMC vessels that operate near Singapore and that the new LPD design may be modified before construction starts to accommodate STOVL aircraft.

Singapore F-35 Buy Moves Closer

It is doubly unfortunate that Lockheed Martin has pulled out of the Singapore Airshow. There would undoubtedly have been some celebrations within its smart and prominent chalet, to mark the recent and significant milestone in Singapore’s quest to acquire F-35 stealth fighters. Instead, the chalet is locked, and the full-scale model that is usually on show outside lies unassembled nearby in four large shipping containers.

Singapore joined the F-35 program in 2003, paying to become a Security Cooperation Participant. This enabled it to receive detailed program status and classified performance information. But it was not until March last year that Defence Minister Dr. Ng Eng Hen announced that it would purchase four jets “for evaluation,” with an option for eight more. A letter of interest followed, and the purchase moved forward last month when the Pentagon sent the formal notification of the proposed sale to Congress.

The notification confirmed for the first time that the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) had requested the F-35B Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) version. The STOVL capability has a particular attraction for small Singapore, because its four airbases are vulnerable to attack if the neighbors should turn unfriendly. The RSAF regularly practices dispersed fighter operations from emergency runways; most showgoers will have traveled to here along one, on the East Coast Parkway.

...

https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news ... ves-closer
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Tue Feb 11, 2020 8:42 pm

The withdrawal of Turkey may impact the price of the F-35. There may be a slight reduction in the number of frames built, I think Turkey was expected 8 this year, and potentially higher prices for components that were meant to be manufactured by Turkish supplies but have now been transferred to others. I don't expect the cost increase to be very much though and the JPO already indicated it was taking responsibility for the costs to increase or transfer production to alternate suppliers.

The airframe numbers are likely compensated though by yearly increased US orders above the baseline, primarily through Congress funding more jets that the services request in their funded budget allocations.

US’ F-35 Fighter Jet Costs To Rise, Production To Fall Following Turkey’s Ouster

Cost of the US F-35 fighter jet will rise and production will fall in the Lot 15 series manufacture after the United States ousted Turkey from the F-35 programme citing its refusal to back down from purchasing the Russian S-400 air defence system.

According to FY2021 US government budget document’s page 64, “Lot 15 (of F-35) has lower production quantity compared to Lot 14 due to reduction in partner (read Turkey) and foreign military sales overall quantity. As a result of removal of partner (Turkey) from F-35 program, supply chain sources have been transitioned to alternate production sources which will have higher pricing for those particular components.”

“These combined factors may challenge the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program Office’s ability to achieve lot over lot savings that are comparable to prior years,” the document said. With every successive manufacturing lot, the price of the F-35 has fallen and current benchmark price is the lowest ever.

...

https://www.defenseworld.net/news/26320 ... __s_Ouster
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Tue Feb 11, 2020 11:13 pm

More F-35 experience gained from conducting the first red Flag exercise of 2020 with the exercise to conclude on the 15th of Feb.

Newest F-35A squadron brings fifth-generation capabilities to Red Flag

Pilots and maintainers with the 421st Fighter Squadron are launching and flying the F-35A Lightning II in their first Red Flag exercise together.

The exercise, which takes place from Jan. 27-Feb. 15, is meant to give at least 10 combat-representative sorties to younger pilots to better prepare them for real combat against very capable adversaries. The 421st Fighter Squadron is the most recent squadron to transition to the F-35A in the 388th Fighter Wing.

“We are the newest squadron, with the least amount of experience, who stood up the fastest,” said Lt. Col. Richard Orzechowski, commander, 421st FS. “We have a fairly high ratio of pilots with limited F-35 experience, including some who have never flown another platform. Flying in a large force exercise is a valuable learning experience for them.”

During Red Flag, a friendly “blue force” fights against an enemy “red force” in what is the Air Force premier large-force combat-training experience, including air, space, cyber and intelligence operations.

For the young pilots, their main challenge takes place in the mission-planning and briefing rooms. Then during the missions over the Nevada Test and Training Range, which is bristling with surface to air threats and covered by an integrated air defense system and aggressor aircraft flown by some of the best pilots in the world.

“They have about a 10-hour mission planning day. They sit down with all the other assets and figure out how to best tackle the mission scenario,” Orzechowski said. “The mission execution day is about 15 hours, with briefings and debriefings following the mission.”

A room full of pilots and operators dissecting the movements, actions and associated outcomes of each mission in “painful” detail is often the most valuable part of the exercise.

“The integration that they see here is critically important, and we can’t do our mission to the fullest without the support of every aircraft,” Orzechowski said. “Being here at Red Flag we get to do that face-to-face instead of simulating it in local training.”

Most often, the mission of the 421st is to take the F-35A into very dangerous, high-threat environments where older, less stealthy aircraft cannot survive, let alone win.

“Because of our low-observability and the high level of battlespace awareness that our pilots have in the F-35A, we are often asked to go in and take out complex surface threats or systems and protect other aircraft from high-end air-to-air fighters,” Orzechowski said. “The F-35 also has an extremely high level of battlefield awareness and can pass that information to other F-35s anywhere in the fight without any pilot interaction. In terms of the amount of information, think fiber-optic versus dial-up internet. That’s a huge advantage”

For Capt. Chris Shannon, his first time flying the F-35A at Red Flag has been both an education and a confidence boost in the lethality of his jet and his fellow Airmen.

“My confidence in our tactics, our aircraft’s capabilities, and our level of preparation have grown with each mission,” Shannon said. “In the F-35 community, we take tremendous pride in our ability to make other platforms more survivable and more lethal. It’s a great feeling to escort other aircraft and suffer zero losses from counter-air. Allowing them to focus on their primary mission, knowing we have their back – That’s a great feeling.”

The active-duty 388th FW and Air Force Reserve 419th FW are the Air Force's first combat-capable F-35A units. They fly and maintain the jet in a Total Force partnership, which capitalizes on the strength of both components.

https://www.af.mil/News/Article-Display ... -red-flag/

Image

A second article on the same subject that also notes that UK F-35Bs were also present at this Red Flag.

Hill fighter pilots, maintainers sharpen combat skills during large Nevada training exercise

The Hill group is also performing the “core wing” function at the exercise, which means they serve as the hub for integration, support and resources for the entire deployed force. Groups participating in the exercise include air and ground units from across the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, Royal Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force, Garbarino said.



The 388th Fighter Wing isn’t the only unit at the exercise with F-35s. The British Royal Air Force 617 Squadron brought F-35Bs to Red Flag, Garbarino said.



https://www.standard.net/news/military/ ... be16f.html

Image
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Wed Feb 12, 2020 1:50 am

Found something in the budget docs I haven't seen posted on any news sites yet, the USAF is requesting 48 F-35s each year until 2026. The FY2025 projection was meant to be 60 aircraft instead of 48 as per the 2019 SAR.

An interesting decision if so as it continues to reduce the total deliveries below their stated requirements. Against this Congress continues to fund additional aircraft every year for all three services so perhaps the USAF is hoping Congress continues to bump up the yearly numbers without the USAF having to budget for it. It could also be a reflection of the USAF not wanting to invest more until the sustainment cost comes down.

The price is certainly attractive. The weapon system cost of the aircraft is broken down in the following way,

Flyaway - Flyaway End Item Cost Recurring Cost
FY2019
Airframe/CFE US$52.537
CFE Electronics US$12.964
Engines/Eng ACC US$12.371
ECO US$1.762
Total – US$79.634 million

https://www.saffm.hq.af.mil/Portals/84/ ... 145310-973

Based on that you can see why the JPO is keen for the engine cost to come down, the USAF is paying more for one F135 than it does for two F110s on the F-15EX.
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Thu Feb 13, 2020 11:17 pm

The Pentagon is suggesting cutting some funding from F-35 acquisitions to fund the border wall. The funding comes primarily below from cutting two of the additional six F-35Bs added for the USMC by Congress and cutting funding from some of the long lead items for the F-35A. I doubt this will have any impact on the F-35 program.

Pentagon seeks to cut F-35s, other equipment to pay for Trump’s border wall

...

For the Navy, the Pentagon would cut two of the six F-35B short takeoff and landing aircraft added to the FY20 budget by Congress

...

It also strips $156 million for advanced procurement for the F-35A

...

https://www.defensenews.com/breaking-ne ... rder-wall/
 
744SPX
Posts: 44
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Tue Feb 18, 2020 6:06 pm

Anyone know what the status is of the Growth Option 2.0 engine upgrade for the F135?
 
Ozair
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Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Tue Feb 18, 2020 9:53 pm

744SPX wrote:
Anyone know what the status is of the Growth Option 2.0 engine upgrade for the F135?

I don’t believe either Growth Option One or Two have been funded other than by P&W. Some of that effort has been to mitigate the potential of the AETP engines migrating to the F-35 by improving the F135 by enough to make it not worth the cost. GW1 work is completed though and any of the user nations could take the option up and I believe it is an easy transition.

An F135 assessment by Loren Thompson. Not sure I agree with some of his points and I have only grabbed the headings from his article so you will have to go to Forbes to read his assertions. Looking at his article though I feel like it, as per the comments above, is in part related to the looming presence of AETP. It has to scare P&W that GE may come in and swoop future F-35 engine orders from approx. 2025 is the AETP engine is placed onto the aircraft. P&W does have an AETP option as well but from my reading the GE seems the better and further developed option.

Why Pratt & Whitney’s F135 Fighter Engine Will Be The Most Important Military Franchise Raytheon Technologies Owns

F135 enables the dominant tactical aircraft of the 21st century.

F135 is more powerful and reliable than any previous fighter engine.

F135 will generate aftermarket revenues for half a century.

F135 has room to grow, and no real competitor.

F135 upgrades are a better budget fit than new engines.

...

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lorenthomp ... 4d5feb3e91
 
744SPX
Posts: 44
Joined: Mon Jan 27, 2020 6:20 pm

Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Tue Feb 18, 2020 10:15 pm

Yeah, that seems to make sense. GE has had time after losing with the F-136 to focus more on AETP while Pratt has been busy with the F-135. Doubtful that an upgraded F-135 will be able to compete with AETD except for its cost and low-risk attributes, but that may be enough if the KC-46 engine choice is anything to go by (using a nearly 40-year old engine in the PW4000)
 
Ozair
Posts: 4626
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2005 8:38 am

Re: F-35 News Thread - 2020

Tue Feb 18, 2020 10:26 pm

Looks like Tyndall will get the F-35 with the infrastructure improvements as part of post Hurricane work has been approved (with the most important additional of a bowling alley!!!!). A significant increase in staffing numbers at the base as well.

USAF Fully Funded for Tyndall, Offutt Rebuilds

...

Tyndall, previously home to F-22s, wants to host 72 F-35s starting in September 2023. It could also house MQ-9s as it evolves into a reorganized, smart “base of the future.” Col. Brian Laidlaw, 325th Fighter Wing commander at Tyndall, projects the installation could grow from its current size of about 4,000 people to 8,000 for full operations.

“Some of the major changes Airmen can expect to see … include an overhaul of the Flightline District to make room for 72 new F-35 fighter jets and other potential new weapons systems (such as the MQ-9 Reaper), and improved facilities on a walkable campus, including a Community Commons equipped with a new chapel, Child Development Center, and bowling alley, among others,” the service said in a recent release.

...

https://www.airforcemag.com/usaf-fully- ... -rebuilds/

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