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Author: Subject: F-35 FINAL Development and into Production
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[*] posted on 21-7-2018 at 01:10 PM


DOD opposes removing Turkey from F-35 programme, citing supply chain disruption

20 July, 2018 SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com BY: Garrett Reim Los Angeles

In a letter sent to US Representative Mac Thornberry, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis acknowledged concerns about the Turkish government, while opposing US lawmakers’ efforts to remove the country from the F-35 Lightning II programme, saying the loss of the nation from the supply chain would delay delivery of some aircraft for up to two years.

The top objection from lawmakers to Turkey receiving the Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter is the nation’s agreement with Russia to buy the Almaz-Antey S-400 Triumf system. That surface-to-air missile system is considered one of the most advanced on the export market and is advertised by Rosoboronexport as having an "anti-stealth range" of up to 81nm (150km).

Lawmakers also complain about what they say is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s decreasing respect for the rule of law, imprisonment of an American pastor, diminishment of individual freedoms, consolidation of power and strategic military decisions that are out of line with US interests.

In response, a bi-partisan group of US Representatives sent a letter to Mattis on 15 June, asking him to block the F-35 deliveries. The US Senate passed the 2019 National Defense Authorisation Act on 18 June with a clause that would also block the aircraft delivery.

Until now, the Defense Department has been silent on lawmaker opposition to Turkey’s involvement in the F-35 programme.

“Removing Turkey could trigger a supply chain disruption for the US military and our partners, as well as increase other program costs,” Mattis says in his letter to the House Armed Services Committee Chairman on 7 July. “If the Turkish supply chain was disrupted today, it would result in an aircraft production break delaying delivery of 50-75 F-35s, and would take approximately 18-24 months to re-source parts and recover.”

In co-ordination with Northrop Grumman, the main fuselage manufacturer for the F-35, Turkish Aerospace Industries manufactures and assembles centre fuselages, produces composite skins and weapon bay doors, and fibre placement composite air inlet ducts. In total, ten different Turkish firms make parts for every F-35 manufactured.

Turkey plans to purchase 100 F-35As, with its first batch of 14 already contracted. A total of 30 are scheduled for delivery by the end of 2022.

“I understand and agree with Congressional concerns about the authoritarian drift in Turkey and its impact on human rights and rule of law including the detainment of American citizens such as Pastor Brunson,” Mattis says in his letter. “The Administration is pressing Turkey on these issues as well as the potential acquisition of the S-400 air defense system.”

The US Department of State is in talks with Ankara to sell the nation the Raytheon MIM-104 Patriot, instead of the Russian S-400, it was revealed this week at the Farnborough air show by US acting assistant secretary for political-military affairs Tina Kaidanow.

The House Armed Services Committee decline to comment on the letter from Mattis.
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[*] posted on 24-7-2018 at 09:20 AM


Will The F-35 Program Meet Its Cost Target?

Jul 24, 2018

Lee Hudson | Aviation Week & Space Technology

The recent agreement between the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin for the latest lot of F-35s includes a 6% price reduction compared to the previous buy. And while the two parties contend that the agreement indicates the price of a single F-35A will drop to $80 million by 2020, past cost estimates by the aircraft’s manufacturer and program office have proved overly optimistic.

Following the announcement of the handshake agreement for the 11th lot of F-35s for 141 jets, Pentagon acquisition executive Ellen Lord told Aviation Week in a statement, “With each production lot, the F-35 Unit Recurring Flyaway costs continue to come down across the board.”

Congressional sources point out that the 6% cost reduction for Lot 11 is considered average, given the number of aircraft.

Lot 11 is the final production buy before the Joint Program Office (JPO) and Lockheed Martin enter a block-buy contract for F-35 international partners and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers for production Lots 12, 13 and 14. U.S. participation is constrained to economic order quantity (EOQ) procurement in fiscal 2019 for Lot 13 and fiscal 2020 for Lot 14 production contracts because Capitol Hill would not sign off. Congress is waiting for the aircraft to complete operational testing before authorizing the Pentagon to enter the block buy.

- Latest production buy drops price by 6%
- Countries threaten to reduce fighter purchases

The JPO estimates the total U.S. and international savings from the F-35 EOQ is $1.2 billion compared to a traditional contracting construct. However, the Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) office, in a report viewed by Aviation Week, notes the savings will be roughly $595 million, or about half of the figure projected by the JPO.

The disparity between the two Pentagon offices is sounding alarm bells in Congress. “While these savings are still significant, as certified by the Undersecretary of Defense (Acquisition and Sustainment), the Committee is dismayed by the inaccuracy of the initial JPO estimates,” reads the Senate Appropriations Committee’s mark up of the fiscal 2019 spending bill.

CAPE’s analysis is based on site visits and discussions with the prime contractor and key subvendors that occurred between December 2017 and February 2018.

“The CAPE forecast is equivalent to a $1.3 million reduction per aircraft (or 1.5%) over the planned procurement of 442 aircraft, with a total contract value of approximately $40 billion in fiscal 2018-20,” the report reads.


During the first phase of an affordability initiative, industry slashed $4 billion over the life of the F-35 program. Credit: Todd Cromar/U.S. Air Force

The assessment concludes that anticipated U.S. savings would be about $300 million compared to the JPO’s estimate of $638 million. Lockheed Martin aims to lower the F-35A price to $80 million per airframe by 2020, while CAPE’s analysis of the cost reduction is that the $80 million goal does not seem feasible within that time frame. The previous head of the F-35 program for the company, Jeff Babione, says either a block buy or multiyear contract is paramount to achieve the $80 million target.

During the Farnborough Airshow, the new head of the F-35 program for Lockheed Martin, Greg Ulmer, said the company is in discussions with the JPO about the necessity for a third phase of the affordability initiative focused on Joint Strike Fighter procurement and sustainment.

The effort, known as Blueprint for Affordability (BFA), debuted in 2014. Lockheed Martin and F-35 subcontractors BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman invested $164 million in internal funding for the first phase of the initiative to improve the fighter’s manufacturing process, tooling and assembly. The inaugural phase of the BFA is complete and yielded about $4 billion in cost-savings over the life of the program, Ulmer says.

“We have many hundreds of projects associated with [BFA 2 to date], and we’re already forecasting greater than $2 billion of additional savings for the program,” he says.

The company will continue to analyze potential cost-reduction initiatives but is uncertain if there will be a third phase of BFA.

“As we’ve been producing the airplanes from [low-rate initial-production] LRIP 1 to LRIP 10 today, it’s actually about a 60% reduction. You’re going to see this trend continue when you see the final numbers on the LRIP 11 final contract,” Ulmer says.

The program is in discussion with Belgium, Finland and Germany to purchase F-35s, and Lockheed Martin just received a request for proposals from Switzerland to participate in its fighter competition.

There is speculation that both the UK and Italy may reduce their F-35 purchases, and Congress may block Turkey from purchasing the fighters. Those moves would increase the per-unit price for the U.S., international partners and FMS customers.

Now that the UK’s F-35s are based in-country, though, Ulmer is hopeful there will be advocacy there for the aircraft going forward.
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[*] posted on 28-7-2018 at 10:01 AM


OPINION: Turkish F-35 deal stays in danger zone

27 July, 2018 SOURCE: Flight International BY: Flight International

After voicing previous disquiet over Turkey's acquisition of Lockheed Martin's latest stealth fighter, the US House and Senate armed services committees have made good on their threat of enacting legislation that could block future deliveries of the F-35 to Ankara.

While acknowledging concerns about Turkey's "authoritarian drift", US Secretary of Defense James Mattis backs its continued involvement in the F-35 programme, pointing to potential supply-chain disruption and increased costs should it be ejected from a planned 100-aircraft buy.


Lockheed Martin

Another factor in the dispute is Ankara's planned purchase of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia, with Washington uneasy about the performance of its claimed "anti-stealth" capability and the potential for sensitive data about the Lightning II to find its way to Moscow. The solution? It should put America first and buy Patriot air-defence equipment instead.

While very favourable terms are no doubt being offered, there is no simple fix should Ankara stick to its guns and complete an S-400 procurement. As a NATO nation – and one that currently operates more than 800 US-sourced military aircraft – forcibly removing Turkey from the F-35 programme would have significant knock-on effects not just for the programme, but its relationship with the Alliance as a whole.

President Donald Trump has threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey not because of the S-400 deal, but as a result of its ongoing imprisonment of a US pastor, but the F-35 issue is clearly of greater strategic importance.

With Ankara's first aircraft not due to touch down on domestic soil until 2020, there may well be enough time to resolve this crisis. But perhaps both sides should now be preparing a "Plan B", just in case?
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[*] posted on 1-8-2018 at 10:56 AM


Let’s Do More Shots


The F-35 program office is looking at adding capacity for another AIM-120 AMRAAM radar-guided air-to-air missile in each of the jet’s two weapons bays, increasing internal—and thus stealthy—missile loadout by 50 percent, program director Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said March 22. Speaking with reporters after his speech at a McAleese/Credit Suisse conference in Washington, D.C., Bogdan said, “There is potential … to add a third missile on each side.” The upgrade would likely be part of the Block IV program of F-35 enhancements, but “that’s something I know the services and all the partners” are interested in. Bogdan said this would not require some special version of AMRAAM, but “the same AMRAAM missiles that we carry today, just an extra one; probably on the weapons bay door.” The F-35 can carry two AMRAAMs in each bay now, or a mix of AMRAAMs and Joint Direct Attack Munitions internally. “There’s a lot of engineering work to go with that,” Bogdan cautioned, and he did not speculate on when such a change could be made.

https://youtu.be/z2M1YMqXYTI




In a low speed post-merge manoeuvring fight, with a high off-boresight 4th generation missile and Helmet Mounted Display, the Super Hornet will be a very difficult opponent for any current Russian fighter, even the Su-27/30
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[*] posted on 21-8-2018 at 09:25 AM


Lockheed to build ALIS data transfer controls for F-35’s foreign customers

20 August, 2018 SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com BY: Garrett Reim Los Angeles

Lockheed Martin received a $26.1 million contract to develop data transmission controls for foreign customers of the F-35 and its autonomic logistics information system (ALIS).

International development partners and foreign customers of the F-35 have expressed concern that ALIS, which manages and analyses the fighter’s systems, training and flight logs, would automatically transmit information back to Lockheed’s hub in Fort Worth, Texas, possibly giving the company and the USA insight into their military operations.

“This effort provides F-35 international partners the capability to review and block messages to prevent sovereign data loss,” says the contract notice online. “Additionally, the effort includes studies and recommendations to improve the security architecture of ALIS.”

Previously, international development partners and foreign customers of the F-35 had programmed short-term software patches for ALIS that allowed them to control what data was sent back to the USA.

Data that F-35 foreign operators could block include the names of pilots, aircraft location and aircraft availability, according the F-35 Joint Program Office.

"All data designed to come back to Lockheed Martin to improve sustainment for the fleet will continue to flow through ALIS except for items each sovereign partner decides not to share," added Lockheed Martin. "The data we receive via ALIS allows Lockheed Martin to make air system and sustainment improvements for the enterprise."

The development work for this final fix is funded by the US Air Force, which contributed $10.9 million, the Marine Corps, which contributed $7.9 million, the Navy, which contributed $2 million, and international partners, which contributed $5.5 million.

Some 53% of work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas and 47% of work will be performed in Orlando, Florida, according to the notice. The feature is expected to be fielded in the first quarter of 2019, and will improve system speed and performance as well, according to Lockheed Martin.
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[*] posted on 21-8-2018 at 11:09 AM


It’s called a VPN and you run Wireshark on the VPN box positioned between your ALIS servers and Lockheed Martin and have an IT security team dedicated to inspecting all the packets heading each way...



In a low speed post-merge manoeuvring fight, with a high off-boresight 4th generation missile and Helmet Mounted Display, the Super Hornet will be a very difficult opponent for any current Russian fighter, even the Su-27/30
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[*] posted on 21-8-2018 at 11:40 PM


U.S. Marines 3D Print F-35 Part to Save $70,000 (excerpt)

(Source: 3D Printing Industry; posted August 20, 2018)

By Umair Iftikhar


To get around Lockheed Martin’s predatory charges, US Marines printed a landing gear component at a cost of about 9 cents to fix a problem, instead of ordering an entire landing gear door which Lockheed bills for $70,000. (USAF photo)

A team of U.S. Marines 3D printed a part for the F-35 stealth fighter saving $70,000 in costs for a whole new landing gear door.

The component is a small part mounted on the door pressing it into the latch. It was designed and 3D printed by Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion 31 (CLB-31) in Carderock, Maryland.

Sam Pratt, a mechanical engineer at the Carderock’s Additive Manufacturing Project Office, provided further technical assistance to the team.

“You can’t buy the piece separate from the landing gear door which is a cost of $70,000. By having the capabilities to print in the field, we were able to replicate the part for a cost of roughly 9 cents.”

3D printed F-35 landing gear

Tasked to train CLB-31 Marines in design and application of 3D printed parts, Pratt was asked by the officers of CLB-31 to help the Marines make a grounded F-35 functional again.

By the time Pratt got to the lab, the Marines had already 3D printed the part, but were having sizing issues. The Marines had designed the part in Blender, a design software mostly used for game and movie special effects. According to Pratt, Blender is not ideal for accurate measurements or engineering work, so further modifications were needed before installation.

The replacement part was made with a hobbyist-oriented 3D printer and PETG filament for high strength and durability. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the 3D Printing Industry website.

https://3dprintingindustry.com/news/u-s-marines-3d-print-f-3...

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[*] posted on 22-8-2018 at 10:12 PM


Foreign F-35 Users Spend Millions to Stop Jet’s Computer from Sharing Their Secrets (excerpt)

(Source: The Drive; posted August 21, 2018)

By Joseph Trevithick

Lockheed Martin has received a multi-million dollar contract for work on a firewall that will allow F-35 Joint Strike Fighter operators to prevent the transfer of potentially sensitive information that the jet’s sensors and computer brain scoop up and send back to the United States via a cloud-based network.

The development comes as foreign partners in the project become increasingly worried about the data that the aircraft is collecting and storing, but concerns could remain about security breaches or if the links to the system gets cut altogether, especially in the middle of a crisis.

The Pentagon announced the deal, which came through the U.S. Navy, the service that is presently in charge of the main F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO), on Aug. 17, 2018. The Maryland-headquartered defense contractor is set to receive more than $26 million – all of which is funding from the program’s international partners – to craft what the U.S. military is calling the Sovereign Data Management (SDM) system for the Joint Strike Fighter’s Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS).

The contract covers work through June 2020, but it’s not clear if a final version of the new data transfer setup will be ready for operational use by then.

“This effort provides F-35 international partners the capability to review and block messages to prevent sovereign data loss,” the Pentagon’s daily contracting announcement explained. “Additionally, the effort includes studies and recommendations to improve the security architecture of ALIS.”

As it exists now, ALIS harvests an immense amount of data on the aircraft’s systems, which is supposed to help ground crews identify and fix problems. It also sends that information back to the F-35 JPO and Lockheed Martin’s offices so that specialists can see if parts are wearing out as expected or if there are previously unknown, but common points of failure that might need some sort of modification or upgrade down the line. Lockheed Martin sends out critical software patches via ALIS, as well.

But it also handles mission data packages. When the jets return to base, personnel on the ground extract that and other additional information that the aircraft’s sensors may have recorded. during the sortie for debriefing and other analysis. This could include a host of national security secrets, including records of the plane's flight path and mission profile, communications data, video imagery, electronic signatures and locations of friendly and opposing radars and other emitters, and potential details about a country's tactics, techniques, and procedures.

There has been a separate concern that once any information ended up on Lockheed Martin’s servers, that it could be vulnerable to a cyber attack, either directly against the company or against one of many subcontractors scattered across 45 states and Puerto Rico. Testing in 2017 revealed that known vulnerabilities in F-35 related networks had gone unaddressed, according to the most recent routine review of the program from the Pentagon’s Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on The Drive website.

http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/23052/foreign-f-35-user...

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[*] posted on 23-8-2018 at 09:45 AM


Lockheed appoints Michele Evans as new aeronautics head

By: Aaron Mehta   5 hours ago


An F-35 Lightning II flies alongside an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, in 2015. Both planes are run through Lockheed Martin's aeronautics office, which has a new head. (Air Force)

WASHINGTON – Lockheed Martin today announced the appointment of Michele Evans as executive vice president for aeronautics, with oversight over the world’s largest defense company’s aviation portfolio.

Evans, currently the deputy in the aeronautics unit, will take over Oct. 1 following the retirement of Orlando Carvalho, who has held that job since 2013.

Evans has served in a number of roles for in her 31 years at Lockheed Martin. In the last eight years, she has served as VP for Business Development and Strategy Mission Systems and Training, VP/general manager of the company’s C4ISR/Undersea Systems business line, and VP/general manager for Integrated Warfare and Sensor Systems.

In those roles she had a direct hand in several major programs for the company, including the Littoral Combat Ship.

"Michele has led critical elements of our business, building an impressive record of leadership and strong customer relationships around the globe," Lockheed Martin CEO Maillyn Hewson said in a statement. "Her appointment demonstrates the importance of our talent development and succession planning."

Lockheed remains the world’s premiere defense contractor, thanks in part to its dominance in military aviation programs.
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[*] posted on 24-8-2018 at 06:54 PM


Lockheed Poised to Get $11 Billion F-35 Contract Despite Delays (excerpt)

(Source: Bloomberg News; published Aug 22, 2018)

By Anthony Capaccio

Lockheed Martin Corp. continues to deliver its next-generation F-35 aircraft late because of production flaws, even as the Pentagon is poised to award the company a potential $11 billion contract that’s the biggest yet.

The contractor for the costliest U.S. weapons system has been “late to contract requirements” in providing 209 of 308 of the planes to U.S. and international customers through June 30, the Defense Contract Management Agency said in a statement to Bloomberg News. While Lockheed and the Pentagon’s F-35 program office said they expect on-time delivery of all 91 F-35s due this year, the contract agency predicted seven won’t make that deadline.

“The government expects and needs better performance by Lockheed Martin and its suppliers,” Mark Woodbury, a spokesman for the Defense Contract Management Agency, said in the statement. Major improvements on the assembly floor will be “more difficult to achieve since many of the easy corrections have already been made,” he added.

While the Pentagon’s F-35 office concurs with most of the contract agency’s concerns, according to Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman, he said Lockheed “remains on track” to deliver all 91 jets this year. Carolyn Nelson, a Lockheed spokeswoman, said the company is making steady progress in eliminating production-line failings.
September Award

By early September, the Defense Department is expected to complete the award of a potential $11 billion contract for 141 F-35s for the U.S. and allies, the 11th production batch. A $5.6 billion down payment was awarded in July 2017. The Pentagon and Lockheed have also been negotiating a larger “block buy” of 440 aircraft for international partners.

Click here for the full story, on the Bloomberg News website.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-22/lockheed-...

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[*] posted on 24-8-2018 at 06:58 PM


Marines Need Special Lightning Rods to Shield Their F-35s In Japan from Storms (excerpt)

(Source: The Drive; posted August 22, 2018)

By Joseph Trevithick

Among a number of residual issues that remain with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the matter of the jet’s defenses against lightning strikes, or lack thereof, continues to be a particularly vexing issue. For the U.S. Marine Corps and its F-35B variant, thunderstorms are still such a problem that the service is buying special portable lightning rods to help shield the jets when they’re parked outside at bases that otherwise don’t have the necessary infrastructure, which includes Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan.

On Aug. 8, 2018, the Marines announced plans to purchase 14 lightning rods through a sole-source contract to LBA Technology, Inc. of Greenville, North Carolina. According to the contracting notice, which the service posted on FedBizOpps, this is the only company that makes systems that the U.S. Military’s main F-35 Joint Program Office has approved for use with the aircraft.

“Since the F-35 as a composite type aircraft does not provide inherent passive lightning protection, the lightning rods being requested are needed for deploying aircraft to any expeditionary airfield in support of combat operations or training exercises that do not support all lightning protection requirements for the F-35B,” the Marine Corps said in its justification for giving the deal straight to LBA. “Based upon extensive research from the F-35 Joint Program Office, this is the only lightning rod that meets the established program requirements.”

…/…

However, there is a far more serious issue linked to the Joint Strike Fighter’s main fuel tank. Combined with the aircraft’s lack of inherent lightning strike protection, it is difficult and complicated to make the fuel system “inert” once the plane is on the ground.

What this means is that there is a distinct potential for a build-up of both oxygen and fuel vapors inside fuel tank that could be dangerous by itself. If a bolt of lightning were to hit a non-inert plane on the ground, there could be an increased risk that it would set off an explosion or cause a fire. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on The Drive website.

http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/23086/marines-need-spec...

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[*] posted on 24-8-2018 at 07:00 PM


Two Years on, Goldfein Says Operations Show F-35 a Game-Changer

(Source: F-35.com; issued Aug 21, 2018)

As the Air Force wraps up its second year of operational service with the F-35, Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein says he “could not be happier” with the aircraft, and that it is living up to its billing as a “game-changer.”

Speaking with Air Force Magazine in his Pentagon office, Goldfein said the F-35 provides its pilot with all the information about the battlespace—even before take-off—that an F-16 pilot like himself would only have seen after a mission, debriefed with data provided by range instrumentation and command and control aircraft.

“We almost mislabeled the F-35,” he said, “because it does far more” than simply “deliver ordnance” in the attack and fighter mission. “It’s a fusion machine,” he said, gathering intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance information, and performing command and control functions. “It does it all. It really operates across the spectrum,” Goldfein asserted.

He noted that in debriefing after an F-16 mission, Goldfein saw threats he’d missed, aircraft his sensors didn’t detect, and other gaps in the situational picture.

Now, with the F-35, “the young lieutenant that jumps in the F-35, he’s seeing that picture, not during the debrief, but during the flight. And actually, he’s seeing it while he’s taxiing out. That’s a fundamental game-changer,” said Goldfein. The pilot can manage the battle in an “optimal” way without missing opportunities or unseen perils, he said.

Among the newest Block 3F F-35s, Goldfein said squadrons are turning in mission capable rates of 80 percent, which is higher than USAF standards and far better than aircraft at this level of maturity.

Comparing notes with his counterpart, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller, Goldfein said both are seeing the same readiness levels “at home and deployed.”

The F-35 has deployed from its Hill AFB, Utah, home base to Alaska, Japan, and Europe, so far. Preparations are being made to base the F-35 at RAF Lakenheath, in the U.K.

Goldfein said he’s spoken with F-35 pilots in Italy and Israel—Israel has already used the F-35 in combat—and “what they’re telling me is, operationally, the airplane is absolutely magnificent.”

As the head of the service buying the greatest number of F-35s, Goldfein said, he believes it’s part of his job to help the program partners “to continue to work and drive down the flying costs [and] sustainment costs, ... and we have a full court press on that.”

Goldfein observed that the F-35 has been like two programs: the problem-plagued project of before 2012, and the one since, which has performed consistently well, both in terms of what the aircraft provides operationally and in declining acquisition costs.

He said it’s his preference that the early-model aircraft in USAF service—which have not fared as well in maintainability and sustainability—be upgraded to the 3F or better configuration. However, “the question is, whether it’s affordable.” If so, “that would be where I place precious dollars.”

Right now, he said, “We’re focused on getting as much combat capability as we can as quickly as we can in the operational force,” and the early model aircraft areprimarily used in pilot training. “Whether we go back and retrofit [those jets] is something we’ll continue to look at, but it’s going to be fundamentally a resource discussion,” he said.

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[*] posted on 24-8-2018 at 07:15 PM


Lightning Pilots Ramp Up Training for HMS Queen Elizabeth Debut

(Source: Royal Navy; issued Aug 23, 2018)


Four test pilots are getting in last-minute training at Pax River, in Virginia, to prepare to operate their F-35B Lightning fighters from the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth next month, when she begins aircraft trials. (RN photo)

Ramping up training ahead of debuting on Britain’s new carrier, ex-Fleet Air Arm pilot Peter ‘Wizzer’ Wilson takes off from a replica ski jump in an F-35B.

Four test pilots are getting in last-minute training ready to take their specially-modified stealth fighters aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth next month.

They’ll conduct around 500 landings and take-offs on the 900ft deck of the future flagship – the first time the Portsmouth-based warship has hosted fast jets.

She’s about to strike out across the Atlantic – another first – after final preparations in the South Coast exercise areas.

Once in the US, 200 engineers and experts from the F-35 Integrated Test Force – based at Pax River air station 50 miles outside Washington DC – will embark with a myriad of sensors and data recorders to see how the state-of-the-art aircraft perform in various weather conditions/sea states and carrying various payloads.

The ski ramp was introduced on the previous generation of carriers to give Harriers extra lift, allowing them to take off at a slower speed/heavier weight than normal – and has been retained on the new flagships for the same reason.

Two specially-modified F-35Bs and four pilots – Mr Wilson from BAE, the RN’s Cdr Nathan Gray, Sqn Ldr Andy Edgell and a US Marine Corps aviator – will conduct the trials aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth in two phases of trials this autumn, trials broken up by a high-profile visit to New York.

Weather and serviceability permitting, the first deck landing on the RN's 65,000-tonne future flagship is earmarked for the last week in September.

The F-35B is now operational with the US Marine Corps, but US ships do not feature the ski jump, which rises about 20ft above the regular deck.

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[*] posted on 24-8-2018 at 10:32 PM


Pentagon Estimates F-35 Concurrency Costs Total $1.41B

Aug 23, 2018

Lee Hudson | Aerospace Daily & Defense Report

The Pentagon has notified Capitol Hill of an updated “concurrency” cost estimate for F-35 low rate initial production (LRIP) lots 1-12 that has declined by 2% compared with the previous year’s evaluation, to $1.41 billion, because of fewer “forecasted issues.”

With the completion of development testing, issues forecast to emerge from flight testing declined from $150 million in the 2017 cost estimate to $30 million in the 2018 prediction, Pentagon acquisition executive Ellen Lord writes in a July 5 Joint Strike Fighter concurrency cost report. The report complies with the 2012 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. Aerospace DAILY viewed a copy of the report.

The Defense Department defines concurrency as an overlap in the development and production phases of an acquisition program. This requires modifications to early production lots because of deficiencies discovered during qualification, ground and flight tests, or because of new engineering analysis.

“Incorporation of concurrency design changes adds cost because of recurring engineering activities, production cut-in, and retrofit of existing aircraft,” the report says. “These costs do not include the nonrecurring engineering costs incurred to develop engineering solutions associated with these changes.”

Planned and scheduled block upgrades to each aircraft are handled separately and are not considered concurrency costs by the Pentagon. For any LRIP lot there are potentially three types of concurrency changes: items discovered before beginning production of the lot; changes during the period of performance of any given lot; and things discovered following delivery of the last aircraft in a given lot.

“Retrofit activities to incorporate changes into operational aircraft compose the major portion of concurrency costs,” the report reads. “Examples of retrofits that have been performed include the F-35B Auxiliary Air Inlet Door Assembly, the F-35B Fuselage Station 496 Bulkhead modification, and Forward Root Rib modification for the F-35A and F-35B.”

Meanwhile, so-called known concurrency issues, which make up the bulk of the total $1.41 billion concurrency estimate, increased by 7%, or $90 million, compared with last year’s estimate, for a total of $1.38 billion. A reason for the uptick in the estimate is because final cost estimates realized for known issues are higher than the initial estimates due to the engineering change proposal definitization process.

Another explanation the report provides is “new known issues” that were identified—these are technical issues declared deficient from December 2016 through January 2018.

For instance, a power and thermal management system turbomachine aft frame oil leak will cost roughly $56 million, and the teardown of the F-35B after its second-life testing is about $40 million.

“With a third life test planned, teardown of the F-35B was originally outside the scope of [System Development and Demonstration] and was removed from the Concurrency Report,” the report reads. “Due to structural damages from second life testing, the third life testing was canceled, so the F-35B tear down was added back into the list of new known issues.”
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[*] posted on 30-8-2018 at 11:03 PM


British-Armed F-35B Lightning Jet Takes to the Skies

(Source: UK Ministry of Defence; issued Aug. 30, 2018)


The first flight of a Royal Air Force F-35 carrying ASRAAM missiles took place in the United States earlier this month. The F-35s based in Britain did not fly at all between July 26 and August 29 for reasons that have not been clearly explained. (LM photo)

Britain’s new stealth fighter jet, the F-35B Lightning, has carried out its first trials armed with UK-built weapons, showcasing the major role that the UK plays in the supersonic aircraft and bringing it a step closer to operations on the frontline.

Defence Minister Stuart Andrew revealed that a British F-35 Lightning jet reached the landmark milestone whilst he was on a visit to the Defence Electronics and Components Agency (DECA) in Wales.

The Welsh site is set to become a global repair hub for the cutting-edge aircraft, providing crucial maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade services for F-35 avionics, electronic and electrical components, fuel, mechanical and hydraulic systems.

The jet, which was flown by a British pilot from RAF 17 Squadron, took to the skies from Edwards Air Force base in southern California for the momentous flight carrying ASRAAM air-to-air missiles.

Defence Minister Stuart Andrew said: “The F-35 Lightning fleet has moved another step closer to defending the skies and supporting our illustrious aircraft carriers with this landmark flight. Exceptional engineering from the UK is not only helping to build what is the world’s most advanced fighter jet, but is also ensuring that it is equipped with the very best firepower.

“This flight by a British pilot, in a British F-35 jet with British-built weapons is a symbol of the major part we are playing in what is the world’s biggest ever defence programme, delivering billions for our economy and a game-changing capability for our Armed Forces.

The trials were the first-time UK weapons have flown on a British F-35, and represent a key part of the work-up towards Initial Operating Capability in December.

The ASRAAM missiles, built by MBDA in Bolton, are just some of the essential parts the UK is supplying the F-35 programme. ASRAAM stands for ‘Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile’. The missiles will enable pilots to engage and defend themselves against other aircraft ranging in size from large multi-engine aircraft to small drones.

British companies are building 15% by value of all 3,000 F-35s planned for production. It is projected that around £35 billion will be contributed to the UK economy through the programme, with around 25,000 British jobs also being supported.

The F-35B Lightning multi-role fighter jet is the first to combine radar evading stealth technology with supersonic speeds and short take-off and vertical landing capability.

The fighter jets will be jointly manned by the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy and can operate from land and sea, forming a vital part of Carrier Strike when operating from the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.

617 Squadron, based at RAF Marham, will carry out their own weaponry flights in the next few months.

-ends-
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[*] posted on 7-9-2018 at 06:06 PM


Anatomy Of F-35 Development Challenges And Solutions

Sep 7, 2018

Graham Warwick | Aviation Week & Space Technology

For the industry team led by Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems, developing a single three-variant fighter design to meet the differing requirements of multiple customers was a Herculean effort. Throughout the program, one variant—the short-takeoff-and-landing (STOVL) F-35B with its unique shaft-driven lift fan—drove the defining challenges. The F-35B exists today because of its commonality with the conventional (CTOL) F-35A and carrier-based (CV) F-35C, but all three variants are better aircraft because of the challenges that had to be overcome for it to survive.

STOVL F-35B


Credit: Crown Copyright

B1 | Upper lift-fan door Actuator redesigns to improve reliability
B2 | Auxiliary inlet doors Stiffened to eliminate vibration caused by vortices shed by upper lift-fan door
B3 | Lift-fan clutch overheating Redesigned with thinner plates to reduce friction in non-STOVL mode and new material to restore life
B4 | Lift-fan driveshaft expansion Redesigned axial flex coupling
B5 | Roll-post overheating Actuator redesigned for higher temperatures
B6 | Carry-through bulkhead cracking Laser shot peening to extend life
B7 | Fuel dump Vent redesigned to prevent fuel reentering the airframe structure and causing a fire hazard (B/C)
B8 | F135 engine Third-stage low-pressure turbine redesigned after blade failures in ground test

CTOL F-35A/All Variants


Credit: Lockheed Martin

A1 | Helmet-mounted display Gen III Lite helmet addresses display performance issues and reduces weight to neck-injury risk on ejection
A2 | Ejection seat Added head support panel between parachute risers and lightweight-pilot switch to delay parachute extraction to reduce neck injury on ejection
A3 | Weapons integration Issues with gun-aiming accuracy and high weapons-bay temperatures remain to be resolved
A4 | Fuel-tank inerting Redesigned onboard inert-gas generation system to improve fuel-tank ullage inerting for lightning protection
A5 | Thermal management Cooler fuel pump designed to address high fuel temperatures (fuel is used as a heat sink)
A6 | F135 engine Redesign of the seal between the fan third-stage integrally bladed rotor and stator to eliminate rubbing that led to catastrophic failure on takeoff

CV F-35C


Credit: Lockheed Martin

C1 | Tailhook Redesigned with reshaped hook point and strengthened hold-down damper to catch the wire
C2 | Outer wing Strengthened to withstand higher loads from carrying AIM-9X missiles on outboard pylons
C3 | Nosegear Reduced strut compression and tighter pilot lap belt to prevent vertical oscillation during catapult launch
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[*] posted on 7-9-2018 at 06:25 PM


How F-35 Experience Could Reduce Hurdles To Developing Fighters

Sep 7, 2018

Graham Warwick | Aviation Week & Space Technology

Lessons Learned?

For designers of the next wave of combat aircraft, experience developing fifth-generation fighters looms large. And as the Lockheed Martin F-35 moves from prolonged development into operational testing and follow-on modernization, debate centers on how to avoid repeating the program’s many challenging issues.

When Lockheed Martin won the $19 billion contract in 2001, the F-35 system development and demonstration (SDD) time line was pegged at an aggressive 126 months. After three program replans, it now totals 213 months and $34 billion. And while development flight-testing was completed in April, follow-on work first must address deficiencies carried over from SDD.

- Fundamental F-35 program assumptions drove the challenges faced in development
- Testing required almost twice the planned flight volume
- Regression testing of software fixes became the major driver

Seeds of the F-35’s challenges were sown early. Combining differing service requirements into a single three-variant fighter, to be developed concurrently with rapidly accelerating production, was the Pentagon’s response to deep post-Cold War budget cuts. Demands for design commonality, capability blocks and rapid assembly were among the challenges baked in from the outset.


F-35B weapon bays are unique, but munitions carriage systems are common across all variants. Credit: Lockheed Martin

With the conventional-takeoff-and-landing F-35A and short-takeoff-and-landing (STOVL) F-35B already operational and F-35C carrier variant expected to follow by February 2019, program officials provided a “deep dive” into the engineering effort behind SDD at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Aviation 2018 conference in Atlanta in June.

The F-35 is a small aircraft, and densely packed. The A is only 2 ft. longer than an F-16C, but at 29,300 lb. its empty weight is almost 45% greater—and that is before all 18,250 lb. of its mission fuel is stored internally. The B and C are heavier. At 70,000 lb., the F-35’s maximum takeoff weight is almost 50% heavier than the latest F-16’s.

After award of the SDD contract, plans quickly unraveled, and the culprit was weight. Initial weight estimates used parametric tools developed by Lockheed based on past designs, adjusted to account for the F-35’s unique features. As detail design progressed, bottom-up weights based on build-to packages became available. They were heavier than projected.

It was evident that design optimization was not going to close the roughly 4,800-lb. gap between over-optimistic estimates and actual weights. Most affected was the weight-critical F-35B. “By the end of 2003, it was clear the B would fail to have any real STOVL capability,” says Arthur Sheridan, then-Lockheed’s STOVL chief engineer, now program management principal for F-35 customer programs.

The reason was that past aircraft on which the parametric models were based were optimized designs. The F-35 could not reach that degree of optimization because of fundamental design features. Internal weapons bays and quick-mate assembly joints prevented optimum structural load paths. Limited space, particularly around the lift fan, bays and engine, prevented optimum routing of wires, pipes and ducts.


Dense internal packaging results in significant F-35 mold-line bumps. Credit: Lockheed Martin

The result was 2004’s seven-month STOVL Weight Attack Team (SWAT) effort by 550 engineers worldwide to fundamentally redesign the F-35. More than 600 changes were made to reduce weight by 2,600 lb. and improve thrust by 700 lb., while another 745 lb. was found by revising the requirements’ ground rules.

Changes affected all three variants. Cross-sectional area was increased to improve structural load paths and internal equipment volume, but at the expense of supersonic performance. Quick-mate joints were replaced with conventional integrated-mate joints, reducing weight but almost doubling the final-assembly timespan. The SWAT effort saved the STOVL F-35 and improved all three variants.

Removing weight was not enough; it had to stay off. After the SWAT, Lockheed adopted a 3% weight-growth curve, compared to an industry-standard 6-8%. Initially met with skepticism, the discipline paid off: When formally weighed for contract compliance, all three variants came in below their not-to-exceed targets. “Today, aircraft are routinely delivered below weight,” says Sheridan.


Catching the wire was an unexpected problem for the F-35C carrier variant. Credit: Lockheed Martin

Weight-shaving has consequences. The main wing carry-through bulkhead that failed early in F-35B durability testing was made of aluminum, to reduce weight. Titanium bulkheads in the A and C were unaffected. The bulkhead crack was one of several factors that sparked the F-35B’s next existential crisis, in 2011, when the Pentagon imposed a two-year probation and threat of cancellation on the STOVL variant.

The main reason was poor reliability of the STOVL propulsion system, notably vibration of the auxiliary air inlet doors, clutch overheating, driveshaft expansion and overheating of the roll-post actuators. Fixes were developed, probation was lifted after a year, and ultimately the doors, clutch plates, driveshaft axial flex couplings and actuators were redesigned.

Today, the B exceeds its two unique key performance parameters, says F-35 test pilot Dan Levin. The aircraft beats its short-takeoff performance target by 20% and vertical-landing bring-back by more than 7%, he says, although the Pentagon’s 2018 Selected Acquisition Report notes both requirements were reduced from original levels.

The SWAT reduced commonality between variants. One weight-saving change was to F-35B weapon bays that accommodate a 1,000-lb. munition, not the 2,000-lb. weapon in the A and C.

The bays are different, but the non-pyrotechnic suspension and release equipment, stores management system and external wing stations are essentially common.


Lift-system door issues affected early flight-testing of the STOVL F-35B. Credit: Crown Copyright

The bays posed a major design challenge because, to minimize cross-sectional area, they house not only weapons, but also aircraft systems. This required definition of—and strict adherence to—stay-out zones to prevent conflicts caused by weapon deflection and separation. The team even combined all of the weapon envelopes to create a “Blob of Bombs” fit-check tool to ensure the cluttered bay is conflict-free.

To save weight, the F-35 has relatively shallow bays with roof-mounted air-to-ground munitions and door-mounted air-to-air missiles. Angling the air-to-ground weapons nose-inboard helped the bays fit into the fuselage, says Doug Hayward, who led weapons integration and is now director of F-35 systems engineering.

Wind-tunnel tests showed shallow bays would avoid the weight of acoustic-suppression devices, but there are concerns about the life of some weapons in the bay environment. “In a couple of places we exceed specification limits, so we have to requalify [the weapons] to the F-35 bay,” he says. There are also concerns with high bay temperatures, operational testers report.

To save weight, the F-35B’s gun is in an underfuselage pod carried only if required for the mission. The F-35C uses a similar “missionized” gun, while the F-35A houses the four-barrel gun internally. The 25-mm GAU-22 is optimized for air-to-ground firing, and operational testers report accuracy issues with the internal gun. “Podded gun dispersion is better than internal,” says Hayward.

Weight can be blamed indirectly for other program challenges.

Eliminating the headup display (HUD) to save weight and make room for a touch-screen panoramic cockpit display model made the helmet-mounted display (HMD) the primary flight instrument. Fighters that have followed the F-35’s large-display lead have retained low-profile HUDs, to avoiding making the helmet flight-critical.


Far from a pristine box, the bay forces weapons and aircraft systems to share. Credit: Lockheed Martin

The HMD technology was immature. Performance issues included night-vision acuity, tracking alignment, imagery latency, symbology jitter and “green glow.” It took several redesigns to resolve the issues, and the result was a heavier helmet that created another problem: greater risk of neck injury on ejection for light pilots. This has led to development of the Gen III Lite helmet and addition of a head-support panel and lightweight-pilot switch for the Mk16E ejection seat.

The F-35 is the first production aircraft to use a flight-control law known as nonlinear dynamic inversion (NDI). Conventional control laws use a series of linear controllers, or gain schedules, that cover the flight envelope. But designers wanted a single control law for all three F-35 variants, extending from highly nonlinear high-angle-of-attack (AOA) flight down to the STOVL transition from aerodynamic to propulsive controls. Mapping gains through such a wide envelope would have been complex and labor-intensive.

“There are key aerodynamic differences between the variants, but we wanted to design a control law that would deliver Level 1 flying qualities throughout the flight envelope for all three aircraft,” says Jeff Harris, senior manager for F-35 control-law design. “There is one OFP [operational flight program] on all the aircraft, so everything needs to fit into that.”

Instead of gain-tuning, NDI uses an onboard aerodynamic model of the aircraft. In response to pilot inputs, the model produces desired accelerations that are translated into surface commands. “The model is doing two things: looking at control effector position and predicting pitch, roll and yaw acceleration in the next 1/80th-sec. OFP cycle; and computing effector control power around the current position,” says F-35 test pilot Dan Canin.

NDI provides the flexibility to redistribute control power to other effectors when a surface hits a rate or position limit, fails or is damaged. A conventional control mixer that blends the surfaces based on computed gains has limited ability to handle failures, says Harris. But NDI control allocation requires accurate aerodynamic models of the different variants. Early F-35 flight-testing identified some modeling errors, including the impact on directional stability of opening all the STOVL doors.

All three variants had issues with abrupt wing stall and roll-off in transonic maneuvers—a problem that affects other fighter designs. The rapidly changing aerodynamics as shocks migrate across the aircraft are difficult to model, so the control laws were augmented outside the basic NDI to achieve adequate handling qualities. The same technique was used at high AOA.

Requirements call for maneuverability “on par with any fourth-generation fighter,” says Canin, “which is an achievement for an aircraft with an outer mold line driven by other requirements.” The F-35 has to be able to use all the maneuverability it has.

The program office called for air-to-air tracking up to stall AOA, or alpha, followed by predictable and controllable post-stall handling. “The aircraft has to be departure-resistant in any normal tactical maneuver and recover with minimal pilot input,” he says.


The helmet-mounted display and ejection-seat safety proved interlinked challenges for the F-35. Credit: Lockheed Martin

“At high AOA, the [aerodynamic] model is very challenging to build, so there is some augmentation outside the model to correct for errors,” says Canin, adding: “High-alpha control is all about allocation of horizontal tail power for yaw and pitch.”

Tests involved about 100 flights per variant, attacking the 50-deg. AOA limiter to force departure and demonstrate recovery. “It always did,” he says. “The aircraft is extremely departure resistant.”

The F-35 can enter deep stall, but recovery is automatic and not initiated manually as in the F-16, the control system sensing and pitch-rocking the aircraft out of the stall. “Unlike the F-16, the F-35 does not have an inverted deep stall,” says Canin.
The F-35 is the first fighter with power-by-wire flight controls.

Electro-hydrostatic actuators (EHAS) are key parts of an integrated, more electric systems architecture designed to save weight and space, but which led to development challenges. The EHAS, for example, were originally highly common, but became unique for each variant. Issues including thermal management and regenerative power from airloads pushing back on control surfaces were particularly severe in the carrier variant.

Carrier suitability drove several design differences in the F-35C, including bigger wing and tails for lower approach speed, the addition of ailerons for improved roll control, beefier landing gear and tailhook. It also created unique challenges. First was the tailhook, which missed the arrestor wire in initial testing.

When the wheels rolled over the wire, they created a transverse “kink” wave that pressed the wire against the deck as the hook arrived. The hook point was too blunt to scoop the wire, and the hold-down damper too weak to stop it from skipping.

Commonality, weight and stealth all played roles here. Fuselage length was minimized to save weight. “We wanted to keep it as short as possible, as aircraft weigh 600-700 lb./ft.,” says Mark Counts, who led configuration design and is now senior manager of Lockheed’s F-35 engineering project office. And while the F-35B’s shaft-driven lift fan allowed the engine to be mounted aft in all three variants, not centrally as in the Harrier, it is still farther forward than in the F-16.

Combined with the need for stealthy stowage, this placed the tailhook much closer to the main wheels than on other carrier aircraft—7.1 ft. versus 18.2 ft. on the F/A-18E/F. The wire did not have time to bounce back. An 18-month effort led by Northrop Grumman redesigned the tailhook with a sharper hook point, strengthened Y-frame and shank, and increased hold-down force. When tests resumed in December 2013, the F-35 could catch the wire.

Another issue was vertical oscillations during catapult launch, violently jarring the pilot. When hooked to the catapult shuttle, the nose-gear strut is compressed to store energy that is released on leaving the catapult to pitch the aircraft nose-up.

The fix is to reduce strut compression and for pilots to tighten their lap belts, says F-35 test pilot Tony Wilson.

A third issue affecting only the F-35C involved structural loads with AIM-9X missiles on stealthy external pylons outboard of the wing fold. These loads exceed design limits during high-AOA buffeting and landing, and more robust outer wing sections are being developed.

On approach to the carrier, the F-35C uses integrated direct lift control (IDLC). This rapidly deflects the wing trailing-edge flaps and ailerons to provide a “heave” response to pilot input that improves flight-path control, says Wilson. IDLC is also part of Delta Flight Path mode, in which the aircraft automatically captures and maintains the desired glideslope, reducing pilot workload. “Delta Flight Path is a game changer,” says Wilson, adding it also was instrumental in allowing the team to efficiently complete loads tests that made up most of carrier suitability evaluations.

Development of the F-35 required substantially more flight-testing than planned. The last SDD flight in April was the program’s 9,235th—almost twice the originally planned 5,000 flights, a number dictated to both competitors because of the government costs involved in testing. “The JPO did not want flight test to be a discriminator on cost,” says J.D. McFarlan, Lockheed’s vice president of F-35 test and verification.

The test program later was increased to 7,700 flights. “It turned out to be about 1,500 more,” McFarlan says. Flight-sciences testing only required “a couple of hundred” more: The F-35A came in at 1,700 flights as planned, while the B—at 2,500—“took a couple of hundred more flights because of challenges with all the doors. The C testing did not grow too much, but saw a significant pause with the tailhook redesign.”

But mission-systems testing “took about 1,200 more flights than planned,” says McFarlan. This was driven by regression testing. “Every time we changed the software to make a fix, we had to make sure we had not messed anything up.”

Software originally was planned to be released in blocks, but issues ranging from capability to stability led to the blocks overlapping.

Block 3i, the limited combat capability with which the U.S. Air Force declared the F-35A operational in August 2016, rehosted onto new hardware the Block 2B software with which the U.S. Marine Corps had declared the F-35B operational a year earlier. “The entire Block 3i program was all regression, no new capability, and took 500 flights. We had no idea it would take that much,” he says.

For Block 3F, the full SDD warfighting capability, the team switched tactics to rapidly fielding fixes for critical deficiencies, including to sensor fusion, releasing more than 30 versions of the software. “We had a lot more software drops than planned,” says McFarlan, adding: “Fusion is a challenge.”

At its core, the mission system fuses and shares data from onboard sensors and offboard sources—radar for multitarget tracking, electronic warfare for passive emitter geolocation, distributed aperture system for missile warning and infrared search-and-track, the electro-optical targeting system and data links.

Traditionally, fusion involves combining the data from multiple systems and building a blended track based on the best features of each sensor. The F-35 uses closed-loop sensor fusion. “The system decides what it needs to know and tasks the sensors to get what is missing,” says Thomas Frey, Lockheed’s F-35 information fusion chief scientist. And instead of sensor tracks, the fusion is based on sensor measurements.

Measurement-based fusion increases track accuracy and enables cooperative sensing across aircraft, says Frey.

Autonomous sensor management provides the information needed for each track based on priority. When targets cross boundaries around the aircraft, the system tries to bring each track to a set content—or quality—needed to enable the pilot to make decisions. Evidence-based combat identification displays an identity for each track plus a confidence level, allowing better decisions, he explains.

Pratt & Whitney’s F135 engine performed “quite well” during development, says McFarlan, although turbine-blade failures in ground test and the inflight uncontained failure of a fan integrally bladed rotor interrupted testing. Reliability of the Pratt engine became critical to flight-testing after development of the General Electric/Rolls-Royce F136 alternate powerplant was canceled in 2011 without more F135s being added to the program.

With completion of SDD, the program is moving into follow-on modernization. This is an almost $11 billion development effort, planned as a more agile, incremental process involving software updates and hardware upgrades at six-month intervals. “Over the next 10 years, we will introduce approximately 60 new capabilities,” says Jeff Babione, who became vice president and general manager of Lockheed’s Skunk Works in March after heading the F-35 program.

The F-35 is not clear of the undergrowth. Operational testers have yet to evaluate the aircraft but, based on criticism of its capability, reliability and supportability by the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation, they may find fault with the F-35’s operational suitability and effectiveness at this stage.

Key assumptions that shaped the F-35 program proved unrealistic, particularly the ability to streamline development. “We can’t stand to take 20 years again,” says Babione, looking ahead to sixth-generation aircraft. “We are just starting operational test and evaluation after 10 years of development testing. We have to expect to field with less actual tests.”
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[*] posted on 11-9-2018 at 06:46 PM


Lockheed Martin’s eCASS will support F-35C in 2020

Pat Host, Washington, DC - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

10 September 2018


Lockheed Martin's eCASS will support the F-35C in 2020 thanks to a recent USN contract. Source: Lockheed Martin

Key Points

- Lockheed Martin’s eCASS automated test equipment will support the F-35C in 2020
- eCASS is designed to enable aircraft to return to operational status quickly and efficiently

Lockheed Martin’s electronic Consolidated Automated Support System (eCASS) will support the F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft carrier variant in 2020 thanks to a recent US Navy (USN) contract.

The USN recently awarded Lockheed Martin a roughly USD58 million contract for full-rate production (FRP) of 26 eCASSs over the next two years. The deal is firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee, cost reimbursable, according to a Pentagon statement.

Laura Frank, Lockheed Martin vice-president of enterprise sustainment solutions, told Jane’s recently that eCASS is designed to be extended to new subsystems. In the case of F-35C, Frank said eCASS will be working on an avionics-focused subsystem in about 18 months.

eCASS maximises aircraft readiness by averting the repair of avionics at the next level of maintenance or sending the parts back to the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), according to a Lockheed Martin statement. Sailors use eCASS to troubleshoot and repair aircraft electronics ashore and at sea, enabling them to return aircraft such as the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet and the Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced HawkEye to operational status quickly and efficiently.

Frank said maintainers remove avionics from aircraft scheduled to receive maintenance and connects it to the eCASS station.

eCASS, she said, then automatically identifies corrective action necessary to fix the problematic subsystem. Frank said once the maintainer performs the required maintenance, he or she then reconnects the avionics to eCASS, which automatically certifies the avionics and declares that it is ready for use.

(292 of 382 words)
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[*] posted on 11-9-2018 at 11:47 PM


Notice the 2x AMRAAM’s in the weapons bay? That is the first shot of that configuration...

Some engineering work is being done inside the bay to clear the way to put a third AMRAAM on the outside door of each bay, to give that long desired 6x internal AMRAAM capability on the F-35A and -C at least...




In a low speed post-merge manoeuvring fight, with a high off-boresight 4th generation missile and Helmet Mounted Display, the Super Hornet will be a very difficult opponent for any current Russian fighter, even the Su-27/30
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[*] posted on 13-9-2018 at 09:49 AM


F-35 operational testing delayed until latest software delivers

By: Valerie Insinna   2 hours ago


An F-35A Lightning II pulls away from a KC-10 Extender after a refueling exercise above the Atlantic Ocean on July 12, 2018. (Airman 1st Class Alexander Cook/U.S. Air Force)

WASHINGTON — The F-35 fighter jet was slated to fly into operational testing this month, but that entry date will be pushed back a couple months as the Pentagon’s independent weapons tester waits for the latest software to be delivered.

Robert Behler, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation, has delayed the start of the F-35’s initial operational test and evaluation, or IOT&E, until his office gets the newest software release — a version of the jet’s 3F software known as 30R02 — according to an Aug. 24 memorandum obtained by the Project on Government Oversight.

Earlier this year, the DOT&E office began some testing of the F-35 prior to the official start of IOT&E using the stealth fighter’s 30R00 software, which is currently operational on the newest Joint Strike Fighters.

That version was sufficient for those initial tests, which involved two-ship missions taking on low-end threats, Behler stated.

“Software version 30R02, which is fielding in the next two months, provides the latest instantiation of operationally relevant and production representative aircraft software that will better support the required testing to adequately address the remaining mission areas,” including air interdiction, offensive counter air, suppression of enemy air defenses and electronic attack, according to Behler.

If the software is delivered by October, as Behler seems to predict in his memo, IOT&E could potentially start around the November time frame. The Pentagon is expected to make a decision on whether to move the F-35 into full-rate production by October 2019, the Government Accountability Office wrote in a June 2018 report.

Behler goes on to say that the 30R00 contains deficiencies with regard to the Air-to-Air Range Infrastructure system — which allows for range-based testing and training — that are fixed in 30R02.

“AARI must be functioning adequately to ensure test results are accurate, understandable and defensible. Changing AARI software versions in the midst of IOT&E could potentially result in inconsistencies in data collection and affect the validity and adequacy of the test and evaluation," Behler noted.
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[*] posted on 14-9-2018 at 03:38 PM


From today's Australian

F-35s have what it takes to hold their own

By BYRON BAILEY
6:44AM SEPTEMBER 14, 2018

The F-35 comes in for a lot of criticism from theorists who appear to have little actual hands-on experience of the application of air combat tactics.

Any fighter pilot can tell at a glance that the F-35 is not a dogfighter. The “dogfight” is so named because of the close-quarter violence that occurs when, after the high-speed “merge”, the slower-speed “furball” develops until the destruction of the inferior combatant, or the successful disengagement if he is able.

The F-35 wing is too small, and therefore the wing loading is too high for sustained high G-load manoeuvring. Sustained 7G though, even with the G suit and “G” training, is the pilot’s physical limit for combat because it is borderline on loss of vision (blackout) due to blood draining from the pilot’s head. Indeed, under 7G stress only the fingers of both hands are able to be used to perform functions such as switches on both “throttle and stick” (HOTAS).

The F-35 pilot will enjoy a much less violent and physically demanding cockpit situation because if he should end up in a “merge” his helmet look and shoot capability will reduce the need for hard manoeuvring.

In the Vietnam War the strike packages attacking Hanoi in North Vietnam, each consisting of about 100 F-105 Thunderchiefs and F-4 Phantoms, penetrated at about 15,000 feet. This was to give the heavily loaded fighter bombers the manoeuvre capability in the denser air to avoid surface-to-air missiles yet keep above the majority of ground anti-aircraft fire. The result was that about 100 missile launches were needed for one shoot down, which mostly was due to damage from a proximity warhead blast but with the pilot then ejecting.

Our F-35s stooging around 35,000 feet will have much more ability to avoid air-to-air missiles coming at them than the big Russian fighters up much higher. Also, the F-35-launched missiles will keep accelerating towards the target because the propellant burns off, which means less weight, and the drag decreases as air density decreases.

Modern fighter tactics emphasise the need to be undetected both visually and electronically. King Phillip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, defeated the other Greek states by employing superior technology. He trained his soldiers to use much longer lances, which during close quarter combat enabled his soldiers to kill the enemy while keeping out of reach. This is the F-35 style of combat.

Even in the RAAF Mirage days we carried (top secret back then) underwing jamming pods. These could detect lock on and missile launch, and jam the active homing of the missile. As well, it would automatically deploy chaff bundles that could decoy away a homing missile. Radio silence was the norm except when in tactical air combat to communicate within the formation. The F-35 has the luxury of data-linked information so the pilot is totally situational aware of all the friendlies and hostiles and hopefully is electronically invisible. The “fog of war” will not be a problem like in the past.

The ECM (electronic countermeasures) technology available to the F-35 pilot to thwart incoming missiles, assuming that he is even detected, would be star wars stuff.

RAAF fighter pilots have always been recognised as comparable with the best — even with the Israelis. Our fighter squadrons have always emphasised Top Gun-type training. With the superior passive technology of the F-35 and the quality of our pilots, Australia should be able to hold its own in any coming air battle.

Byron Bailey is a former RAAF fighter pilot and flew 777s as an airline captain.




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[*] posted on 14-9-2018 at 08:06 PM


No doubt some plonker in the newspaper will comment on this saying he's talking crap cos Australian Air Power said so..............!!! :no:
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[*] posted on 14-9-2018 at 11:42 PM


Quote: Originally posted by bug2  
No doubt some plonker in the newspaper will comment on this saying he's talking crap cos Australian Air Power said so..............!!! :no:


Well his stuff is crap, so rightly so... A small wing? Hi-wing loading? The F-35A with it’s ‘small wings’ has more wing area than his Mirage 3’s and almost double the wing area of an F-16, you know that fighter that was built initially as a PURE dog-fighter...

It is plain as day, neither of these claims are true...

7G? Only in the -B and -C models, not in the -A model we are buying which is 9G capable...

‘The F-35’s missiles will keep accelerating because the propellent burns off’ what the hell is this crap?

He is right in that the F-35 will dominate air to air engagements. He is also right that our air power “theorists” are full of crap.

But the reasons he is right methinks, he doesn’t understand or simply hasn’t done his research...





In a low speed post-merge manoeuvring fight, with a high off-boresight 4th generation missile and Helmet Mounted Display, the Super Hornet will be a very difficult opponent for any current Russian fighter, even the Su-27/30
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[*] posted on 18-9-2018 at 07:20 PM


F-35 stress tests raise possibility of longer service life

18 September, 2018 SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com BY: Garrett Reim Washington DC

After completing static, drop and durability testing on the F-35A, Lockheed Martin believes that early results indicate potential for an increased service life certification of the stealth fighter.

The F-35’s service lifetime is designed to be 8,000h, but each test airframe is required to successfully complete two lifetimes of testing, the equivalent of 16,000h. The F-35A exceeded the requirement by completing three full lifetimes of testing, 24,000h, prompting Lockheed to moot the potential service-life extension.

“We look forward to analyzing the results and bringing forward the data to potentially extend the aircraft’s lifetime certification even further,” said Greg Ulmer, Lockheed Martin’s vice president and general manager of the F-35 program. “Already certified for one of the longest lifetimes of any fighter, an increase would greatly reduce future costs for all F-35 customers over several decades to come.”


Lockheed Martin F-35 durability test Credit: Lockheed Martin

The USAF plans to fly the F-35A until at least 2070, so a longer lifespan per aircraft may allow the service to reach that goal without having to purchase new fighters. However, as aircraft age they become more expensive to maintain and operate, making it unclear if a service life extension of the F-35A would be economical.

The F-35A airframe completed its testing at BAE Systems in Brough, England. The F-35B and C variants were tested at Lockheed Martin’s facility in Fort Worth, Texas, though the company did not release the results for those variants. All variants will eventually undergo final teardown inspections at the National Institute for Aviation Research in Wichita, Kansas.
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[*] posted on 19-9-2018 at 11:20 AM


Modernization or death: Heed history’s lessons on the F-35

By: Pete Gavares   2 days ago


Capt. Andrew “Dojo” Olson, F-35 Heritage Flight Team commander and pilot, performs aerial maneuvers in an F-35A Lightning II during the Chicago Air and Water Show in Chicago, Ill., on Aug. 18, 2018. (Airman 1st Class Alexander Cook/U.S. Air Force)

If you go to war, you must be equipped to win. That was the message veteran pilots from the Vietnam War delivered to me when I entered the U.S. Air Force in 1974. The same holds true today. That is why I am concerned when doubts are raised about the future of the F-35 fighter program.

Modernizing America’s aerial arsenal with advanced capabilities is not an optional activity. Failing to do so will undermine the U.S. military’s effectiveness around the globe and put aircrews at undue risk.

Some historical context here is important: The air war over Vietnam was an incredibly formative experience for the Air Force. The jets airmen took into combat, like the F-4 Phantom and the F-105 Thunderchief, were designed in the 1950s to fight a nuclear conflict. This proved far different than what they encountered in Southeast Asia. Too many men were killed or captured trying to make due with equipment that was not up to the job. Airmen were determined to address these shortfalls in the post-war years by fielding a new “fourth generation” of fighter aircraft designed to incorporate the lessons from Vietnam.

In 1981, I was an Air Force captain stationed at Nellis Air Force Base — home to one of those fighters, the then-brand-new F-16 Fighting Falcon. It was an incredible aircraft, featuring leading-edge technologies such as fly-by-wire flight controls and redundant flight-control computers, unheard of maneuverability, along with unprecedented levels thrust and fuel efficiency.

However, there was one problem: Our early F-16s kept crashing. We lost four aircraft in my first 44 days at Nellis. Wing commanders were lucky to last a month. In fact, there was a macabre joke circulating that if you wanted one of the new jets, just buy an acre of land off the end of the runway and wait.

Similar teething problems afflicted other fourth-generation aircraft. Yet all these aircraft evolved into incredibly capable fighters and have stood as the backbone of U.S. combat aviation for the past 40 years.

All levels of the military and government committed to overcoming the technical obstacles and seeing these fighter programs through to completion. It was literally a choice of modernization or death. If Vietnam-era Air Force fighters could hardly hold their own in the 1960s, there was no way we could execute missions successfully against the Soviet Union’s latest aircraft and air defenses in the 1980s and beyond.

America finds itself at this same juncture today. Fourth-generation fighters like the F-15, F-16 and F/A-18 have served their country well, but they are no longer survivable against modern enemy defenses, and they lack many capabilities necessary for operations in the modern information age.

Successful air combat today and tomorrow demands a fifth-generation solution: the F-35, and lots of them. This new aircraft dominates in the areas that define modern air combat: stealth technology, advanced sensors, computing power and the ability to collaborate in real time with other combat assets.

While last-generation fighters have been modernized to field limited elements of these new capabilities, attributes like stealth cannot be bolted onto a legacy airplane. The idea that we should keep flying fourth-generation capabilities because they are “good enough” and less expensive — though not by much, or for much longer — simply does not reflect reality. Try to sell that to your son or daughter in the cockpit as they take off into airspace controlled by the latest Russian and Chinese weapons systems.

Concerns regarding the F-35’s budget and schedule growth based on early development challenges are valid to a certain extent. But every new military aircraft program — none as complex and ambitious as the F-35 — has hit some turbulence in the early phases. Furthermore, while developing cutting-edge military capabilities is not a risk-free proposition, failing to modernize will always yield a far greater expense — one measured in lives lost and strategic objectives surrendered.

Fighter pilots of my generation were able to execute our missions successfully and make it back to base throughout the Cold War, Desert Storm, Bosnia, Kosovo and beyond because airmen before us stood up and built the fighter inventory they knew reality demanded. The F-35 represents the next step in this journey for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and our allies.

Yesterday’s technology will not bring victory in potential conflicts against China, Russia and hostile nations (like Iran) that buy or host their equipment. This nation and our allies need the F-35 now, in quantities that allow our forces to prevail so we don’t have to say “never again” — again.

Pete Gavares served 28 years as a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force, retiring as a colonel in 2002. He flew combat missions in Operation Northern Watch.
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