Archief van de maart, 2011

Mrt 15 2011

“Misinformation on F136 alternate engine from US Government”

Gepubliceerd door onder Ontwikkeling JSF

In a document, prepared by Staffers of the members of the Subcommittee of the Armed Forces of the U.S. House of Representatives one may find some interesting arguments in the debate about a second F-35 engine.

Was the F136 competitive engine part of F-35 aircraft acquisition plan?

[FALSE] Gordon England, former Deputy Secretary of Defense (2006-2009), principal advisor to Secretary Gates when he became Defense Secretary.
“The F-35 second engine was not included in the Defense Department plan during or before my tenure as deputy secretary.”

[FACT: The F-35 development program began in 2001] “The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program propulsion system acquisition strategy includes the design, development, and qualification and production of a primary and an alternate propulsion system to support the JSF air system.” [JSF Propulsion System Acquisition Strategy, July 19, 2000]

[FACT:] “The production work will include, but will not be limited to, the following: Production of the JSF air vehicle, including propulsion systems, both F135 and F136.” [Nine nation Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for F-35, November 2006] signed by Gordon England, former Deputy Secretary of Defense.

Does Dual source acquisition benefit DOD?

[CONTRARY TO PRACTICE and EXPERT, OBJECTVE ANALYSIS] Gordon England, former Deputy Secretary of Defense (2006-2009), principal advisor to Secretary Gates when he became Defense Secretary.] “The Defense Department has learned that keeping two manufacturers in business usually results in a costly split buy, not competition.”

[FACT:] “History has shown that the only reliable source of price reduction through the life of a program is competition between dual sources.” The Final Report of the Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel (Stephen Hadley & William Perry, co-chairs, July 29, 2010)

[FACT:] After having declared in September 2010 that procuring the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) from both competing contractors would not be “real competition,” the resulting LCS competition yielded such unexpectedly appealing bids, that by December 2010, the DOD Acquisition Executive reversed his position that such an award would NOT be “real competition” and awarded contracts to both LCS contractors for 10 ships each. Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon’s press secretary, in attempting to explain the Pentagon’s reversal said “the Pentagon could build two versions of the ship because it had already financed the development of both.”

[FALSE] The fiscal year 2012 budget request includes $1.9 billion through fiscal year 2016 for LCS “development,” an increase of $784 million over the fiscal year 2011 request.

Can Operations and Support program be competed?

[CONTRARY TO PRACTICE] Gordon England, former Deputy Secretary of Defense (2006-2009), principal advisor to Secretary Gates when he became Defense Secretary.“Most of the cost in a split buy cannot be competed at all. Sustainment will be largely provided by the military.”

FACT: Institute for Defense Analyses 2007 “JSF Engine Cost Analysis” report, “there is a range of ways in which competition might affect prices for Operations and Sustainment (O&S) services…competition for sustainment is a “model widely used by the commercial airline industry, which routinely bundles support contracts with the initial engine purchases, bringing support services directly into the purchase competition. We understand that the JSF program intends to use an acquisition strategy that ties some elements of O&S costs to the procurement competition.” F-16 alternate engine program: “Competition is the only sure way to get the best effort…competition did yield from Pratt & Whitney some substantial initial benefits to the Air Force. For instance, Pratt offered engine improvements to the Air Force earlier than the Air Force had been led to expect without the competition. Furthermore, unit prices were lower than Pratt had previously been offering. Since the initial split in February 1984, competition has further induced Pratt to grant even more concessions to the Air Force. Warranty prices have been reduced significantly and arrangements with the European Participating Governments have improved.” (The Air Force and The Great Engine War, 1987)

Is F136 development behind schedule?

[FALSE] Gordon England, former Deputy Secretary of Defense (2006-2009), principal advisor to Secretary Gates when he became Defense Secretary.“The F136 is …4-5 years late.”

[FACT:] The acquisition strategy for the engine for the F-35 resulted in the F136 development being initiated in fiscal year 2005, four years after the primary engine. As of April 2010, a DOD response to a question for the record indicated the F136 engine was 2-3 months behind its original schedule, while the F135 primary engine was 24 months behind its original schedule.

Are there non-financial benefits to an F-35 competitive engine strategy?

“Defense Department studies have concluded that funding an extra engine will not actually save money, improve reliability or increase safety.” Gordon England, former Deputy Secretary of Defense (2006-2009), principal advisor to Secretary Gates when he became Defense Secretary.

[FACT:] “Other Benefits of Competition: Competition may provide insurance against (1) aircraft weight growth/reduced performance and (2) F135 problems causing fleet grounding;
1) Provides growth paths for propulsion systems;
2) Enhanced contractor responsiveness;
3) Technological innovation;
4) Improved operational readiness; and a
5) More robust industrial base”
6) Defense Department Study on F-35/JSF Alternate Engine Acquisition and
7) Independent Cost Analyses Report.

Was there an engine competition for the F-35 engine?

“…competition has taken place and the engine that won is performing well.” Gordon England, former Deputy Secretary of Defense (2006-2009), principal advisor to Secretary Gates when he became Defense Secretary.

[FACT:] “Let me set the record straight…There was no JSF engine competition as part of the overall air frame competition…I have watched with disappointment over the last few months as those advocates of sole-sourcing the F-35 with only the Pratt & Whitney engine have attempted to spin a tale of myth and innuendo to deliberately muddy the waters around the issue of the competition of the engine for the F-35.” Former Director/ Deputy Director of the Joint Strike Fighter Program (1997-2001)

The F-35 primary engine

“The Defense Department is already pleased with the engine it has…The Pentagon does not want and does not plan to use the alternative version.” President Obama, May 7, 2009 (first budget rollout)

[FACT:] One month prior to the President’s statement the most senior Air Force acquisition official wrote: “Pratt & Whitney’s F135 engine cost growth is an ongoing concern. From fiscal year 2007 to 2008, the Joint Strike Fighter engine costs have grown, causing a $3 million increase to the short takeoff vertical landing aircraft’s unit fly away costs.”

[FACT:] Three months after the President’s statement, the senior Pentagon acquisition official was so “pleased with the engine” the Pentagon had for the F-35 that he formed a 40 person Joint Assessment Team to address F135 engine cost and affordability” concerns.
The Pentagon team determined that:
“Pratt & Whitney now understands the government is seriously concerned with the F135 cost growth.”
“The current F135 program still has low flight hours and configuration risk and will need cost margin to mitigate that risk.”
“Low manufacturing readiness levels existed for several key components, with the most expensive engine part having the lowest Manufacturing Readiness Level.” Various components had a rating of “3”-“6.” For low rate production these components should have been rated “7.” “3” represents proof of concept; “4” represents lab environment [The F135 was in the third year of low rate production in August 2009]
“Increased manufacturing costs existed over the F119 due to the step increases in manufacturing complexity.” [the F119 is the twin engine F-22 engine, made by Pratt & Whitney]

[FACT:] In February 2008, the estimate to complete the F135 primary engine development program, fiscal year 10 to completion, was $385 million. That estimate is now $2.1 billion, a 445 percent increase over the original estimate. [a portion of this increase is attributed to issues related to the development of the F-35B lift fan].

[FACT:] Five months into fiscal year 2011, the fiscal year 2010 engine contract has yet to be signed.

[FACT:] F-35 test aircraft engine modifications are on-going to correct problems that restrict test aircraft flight in portions of the flight envelope.

[FACT:] The F-35 primary engine had, as of the end of 2010, 680 total flight test hours and has 90 percent of its flight testing to go – not 20,000 flight hours as has been stated publicly.

[FACT:] “The F136 is 2-3 months behind schedule to the original plan.” April 12, 2010, response to question for the record, March 24, 2010, Hearing before the Air and Land Forces and Seapower subcommittees of the House Committee on Armed Services.

[FACT:] During the past 4 and ½ years in which Congress has had to fund the competitive engine, the program was funded at 90 percent of the required level through fiscal year 2010. For fiscal year 2011, operating under a continuing resolution, on a monthly prorated basis, the Pentagon has released only 30 percent of the required funding for the competitive engine through February — even though Congress provided the required funding in the continuing resolution that has been in effect since last October.


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Mrt 15 2011

F-35 flight testing to be resumed partly

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

Last week a total grounding was ordered for the entire F-35 test aircraft fleet. Immediately an investigiation started to find the root cause of the t problem. Based on the first analysis of the incident, data showed that the electrical generator failure and oil leak is typical for the newer type generators.

Seven test aircraft with the old types of generators are cleared to resume test flights again. This means prototype AF-1, AF-2, AF-3, BF-1, BF-2, BF-3 and BF-4 are cleared to fly again.

Three other protypes AF-4, BF-5 and CF-1 ares still grounded. Also the first two pre-production aircraft AF-6 and AF-7 are grounded. These aircraft have a newer type generator, an upgraded redesign of the old type generator. The root cause of the problems after the redesign has to be investigated.

The problem may influence all aircraft of the LRIP-2 and LRIP-3 series in various stages of production at the moment. Also it will delay the first flights of prototype CF-2 and CF-3.

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Mrt 14 2011

Debate in Turkey about participation in F-35 project

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

In Turkey a budget of US$ 10 billion has been budgetted by the Ministry of Defence for the F-35 fighter project, with first F-35 deliveries planned to Turkey some time in 2015. Turkey has planned to acquire 100 F-35A’s
During the last months there is growing awareness that there will be a cost growth in the project to about US$ 16 billion. Turkey wants to have more industrial off-set to compensate the cost growth.

Latest news from Turkey is that they want to have access to the software code, and that the USA refusal is leading to a “Code crisis”. Turkish Newspaper Todayszaman reported Saturday March, 12 2011:
“A “code crisis” has erupted in Ankara that could threaten Turkey’s participation in a US-led project to produce F-35 fighter jets, further complicated by the presentation of a bill to Turkey for an additional $4 billion to offset the growing costs of the project.

The Turkish side in this $16 billion project has repeatedly knocked on America’s door to ask for the flight codes for the fighter jets into which so much money has been invested. However, the Pentagon has rejected these demands on the part of Turkey. America’s refusal to turn over the codes belonging to the jets and to share the software technology used in their production is making Turkey nervous.

Though Ankara plans at this point to purchase around 100 of these fighter jets, there is the awareness in the Turkish capital that without the codes in question, possession of the jet planes will only be partial. There are assertions at hand that the F-35s will be controllable from outside sources, that they may be defenseless against electronic warfare and that no changes will be able to be made to their software. Currently, Turkish bureaucrats and the government are trying to decide on a definitive stance to adopt in this matter. As for the ultimate fate of the F-35s in question, it will become clear at a meeting scheduled for April 13 in the US. Turkey is to be represented at this critical
meeting by the undersecretary for the defense industry (SSM), Murad Bayar.

Despite this debate, it is unlikely Turkey will discontinue their participation in the F-35 project and this kind of negotations may be considered as a typical Tukey’s way of doing business to get as much industrial off-set and an optimal price for their F-35’s.

Todayszaman; 12-mar-2011; Emre Sonca; Code crisis’ overshadows Turkey’s planned purchase of F-35

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Mrt 12 2011

US House Armed Services hearing about tactical aviation

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

On Tuesday March 15, 2011 at 11:30 a hearing will start of the Subcommittee of the Armed Forces of the U.S. House of Representatives about the US Navy and US Marine Corps, and Air Force Tactical Aviation Programs. Main subject will be the progress and funding of the Joint Strike Fighter program.

The hearing will be opened by an inquiry of the Honorable Ashton Carter, Under Secretary of Defense for Acqusition, Technology, and Logistics of the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Second person to be inquired is Mr. David M. Van Buren, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition of the U.S. Air Force.
Next is the debute of Vice Admiral David Venlet, Program Executive Office, F-35 Lightning II Program of the U.S. Department of Defense and responsible since June 2010 for the progress of the F-35 program.
Finally Mr. Michael J. Sullivan, Director for Acquisition and Sourcing of the U.S. Government Accountability Office will be heard about his findings in the F-35 program.

Wahington insider skeptical about the hearing

One Washington insider’s is skeptical about the House Armed Services hearing. He wrote: “The scheduled witnesses for this HASC hearing are a classic set up for non-oversight: Aston Carter and a bunch of bobbleheads. GAO’s Michael Sullivan, whose GAO group has in the past done some perfectly decent F-35 reporting, is the single exception; rest assured, however, that all Committee members, except for the rare skeptic — if one exists on that House Armed Services Committee — will be fully primed with questions about GAO’s work researched, if not written, by Carter and his bobbleheads. Keep an eye out for the F-35 farm-defending question read off by a Member from staff, rather DOD, notes in front of him or her. The other waste of time in questioning will be about the GE/RR F-136 engine; none of them have a decent airframe to put competed engines into, but then for a real fighter engine they would need to start all over again, wouldn’t they?”

Mrs. Fox, Director of DOD Cost Estimate and Eval Office, missing

One person, missing this year is Director Mrs. Fox (DOD Cost Estimate and Program Eval Office). A F-35 Program insider supposed that Mrs Fox was not on the schedule this time, probably because what she would have to say would be too depressing.
One year ago, on March 10, 2010, as part of the reporting to Congress due to the Nunn McCurdy breach Director Fox testified that the DOD Cost Estimate and Program Eval Office would soon present to Congress new estimates of F-35 operating costs. This proofed to be very revealing information, confirming that the cost estimates of JET I (2008) and JET II (2009) were realistic and not those of Lockheed Martin and the JSF Program office.

These new operating cost projections by Director Fox will be extremely revealing and could end up being more important than the new unit cost projections. It will also be very interesting to see how close to accurate the USN operating cost estimate is of USN and USMC F-35’s of around $31,000 an hour from the “leaked” Jan 4 2010 briefing slide.

In a second witness panel the following persons will be heard:
(1) Vice Admiral Mark Skinner, Principal Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) of the U.S. Navy.
(2) Lieutenant General Terry G. Robling, Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps for Aviation of the U.S. Marine Corps
(3) Rear Admiral Kenneth E. Floyd, Director of the Air Warfare Division of the U.S. Navy
(4) Lieutenant General Mark D. “Shack” Shackelford, Military Deputy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition of the U.S. Air Force
(5) Lieutenant General Herbert J. “Hawk” Carlisle, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations of the U.S. Air Force


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Mrt 12 2011

Vliegverbod JSF vanwege technisch probleem

Gepubliceerd door onder Ontwikkeling JSF

Fort Worth, USA - Lockheed Martin heeft in een persbericht meegedeeld dat de volledige F-35 Joint Strike Fighter testvloot aan de grond zal worden gehouden, totdat de oorzaak is opgespoord van een serieuze technische storing die optrad tijdens een testvlucht op 9 maart 2011. Hierdoor moest een F-35A prototype, de AF-4, de vlucht afbreken en een voorzorgslanding maken.

De tekst van het persbericht luidt letterlijk: “As a routine safety precaution, the Joint Program Office (JPO) has temporarily suspended F-35 flight operations until a team of JPO and LM technical experts determines the root cause of the generator failure and oil leak.”
Hoewel in dit stadium nog weinig valt te zeggen over de oorzaak, kan het feit dat er sprake was van zowel een generator storing, als een olielekkage er op duiden dat sprake is van een probleem in de “gearbox” die vanuit de motor de generator aandrijft. Als de oorzaak van het probleem is opgespoord, en eventueel correctieve maatregelen zijn genomen, wordt het testvliegen hervat. Hoe lang dit duurt is op dit moment niet te zeggen.

Functie van de Integrated Power Package

De F-35 JSF beschikt over een zogeheten “Integrated Power Package (IPP)”die in een enkel systeem de functies combineert die traditioneel worden uitgevoerd door drie gescheiden systemen (auxiliary power system, emergency power system, environmental control system). Dit levert ruimte- en gewichtsbesparing en mogelijk minder onderhoudskosten.
De kern van deze IPP wordt gevormd door een kleine gas-turbine motor, die vermogen levert aan de aan de motor gekoppelde starter/generator-combinatie, gebruikt om de motor op te starten
Nadat de motor is gestart en “stationair” loopt, wordt de functie van “starter” als het ware omgekeerd en gaat het systeem functioneren als “generator” en vermogen leveren voor het elektrische systeem. De IPP is tevens bedoeld om tijdens de vlucht “noodstroom” te leveren in geval van een motorstoring.

Backup systeem maakt veilige landing mogelijk

De F-35 beschikt over een innovatief nieuw 270-volt systeem met electro-hydraulische actuators die de besturing regelt (in tegenstelling tot de traditionele hydraulische systemen).
Als de “stroom” uitvalt, kan de vlieger de controle over het toestel verliezen. Maar in dit geval, nam de “emergency power” functie van de IPP, dat functioneert als back-up power systeem de stroomvoorziening over en deed waar het voor ontworpen is: noodstroom leveren. Zo kon JSF prototype AF-4 veilig een voorzorgslanding maken.
Het probleem doet enigszins denken aan de ernstige storing tijdens de 19e testvlucht in mei 2007, toen er kortsluiting optrad in het – door Moog geproduceerde - 270-volt electro-hydraulische actuator systeem, waardoor een deel van de besturing niet meer functioneerde en prototype AA-1 een noodlanding moest maken op het fabrieksvliegveld in Fort Worth. Na die gebeurtenis moesten diverse aanpassingen worden ontworpen en stond het testvliegen circa zeven maanden stil, tot december 2007.

Testen blijkt toch meer dan “verificatie van wat we al wisten”

Er is altijd gezegd dat het testen bij de JSF totaal onvergelijkbaar was met vorige generaties vliegtuigen. Dankzij gebruik van computermodellen en simulaties zou nauwkeurig te voorspellen zijn welke problemen konden optreden en in een vroeg stadium ontwerpaanpassingen gemaakt kunnen worden. Dit zou betekenen dat, niet zoals voorheen, het testvliegen detectie zou zijn van problemen middels “trial and error”, maar testvliegen zou alleen een “verificatie zijn van wat men al wist” in de simulatie- en ontwerpfase.
De harde praktijk lijkt deze optimistische visie te logenstraffen. Computermodellen en werkelijke vliegomstandigheden lijken nog ver van elkaar af te staan. Daadwerkelijk testen, en daar voldoende tijd voor inplannen alvorens tot productie over te gaan, is ook anno 2011 een absolute noodzaak. De grote overlap tussen ontwikkelen en testen; tussen testen en productie in het JSF programma blijkt een miljarden kostende ernstige beoordelingsfout te zijn. Met alle gevolgen van dien.

Testvloot aan de grond

Het toestel waar het om ging, is prototype AF-4, die op 22 januari 2011 arriveerde op Edwards AFB, het testcentrum van de US Air Force. Er zijn totaal 11 F-35 prototypes en 2 pre-productietoestellen actief voor testvluchten. De AF-4 was het vijfde toestel van de F-35A CTOL (conventional takeoff and landing) variant die op Edwards is afgeleverd. Daarnaast zijn vijf F-35B STOVL (short-takeoff-vertical-landing) en een F-35C CV (carrier variant) toestel actief op het testcentrum van de US Navy, marinebasis Patuxent River.
Afgelopen weken maakten de eerste twee pre-productietoestellen, AF-6 en AF-7, de eerste vlucht. Deze zullen overigens worden toegevoegd aan de testvloot op Edwards AFB, in plaats van, zoals tot voor kort de bedoeling, naar Eglin AFB te verhuizen voor opleiding van instructeurs.

Lockheed briefing over testvliegen

Eerder deze week, dinsdag 8 maart 2011, hield Lockheed Martin nog een briefing voor journalisten, waarin het meldde dat februari 2011 een topmaand was voor het testen. Met elf beschikbare toestellen werden 65 vluchten gemaakt, een niet eerder vertoond maandtotaal en meer dan gepland. Tot 8 maart werden 24 van de 55 voor maart geplande vluchten uitgevoerd. Voor heel 2011 staan 872 testvluchten gepland, daarvan zijn er circa 140 uitgevoerd. De optredende storing één dag na de briefing, en het daarop volgende vliegverbod is hierbij een onwelkome tegenvaller.
De eerste vlucht van de JSF vond plaats in december 2006. Na ruim vier jaar testvliegen zijn nu bijna 700 testvluchten voltooid van de ruim 7.000 uit te voeren testvluchten. Het afgelopen jaar nam door het beschikbaar komen van meer prototypes de intensiteit van het testen verder toe. De ontwikkelingsfase moet in 2018 zijn voltooid, 6 jaar later dan bij het begin van het project voorzien.

Persbericht Lockheed Martin


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Mrt 11 2011

Canadees parlementsrapport: JSF kost 12 miljard meer dan budget

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

Ottawa (Canada) - Een officieel rapport van het Canadese Parlement wijst uit dat de tot op heden door de regering gehanteerde budgetten voor het Canadese JSF project C$ 12 miljard hoger zullen uitvallen. Het betreft een uitvoerige en gedegen studie van tal van aspecten rond de aanschafkosten, de gebruikskosten, de planning en het selectieproces van de F-35 Joint Strike Fighter ter vervanging van de huidige CF-18 Hornet jachtvliegtuigen.

Tot de taken van de Parliamentary Budget Officer (afgekort PBO) behoren onafhankelijke analyse ten behoeve van het Parlement inzake de toestand van Rijksfinanciën, controle van de budgetaire kant van regeringsvoorstellen en analyse van trends in de Canadese economie.

Op 16 July 2010 maakte de Canadese regering het voornemen bekend een aantal van 65 F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) jachttoestellen te willen aanschaffen ter waarde van C$ 9 billion, met geschatte onderhouds- en instandhoudingsksoten van C$ 250–300 millioen per jaar. Deze getallen leverden een totaalbeeld op van de zogeheten “Total Ownership Cost” voor het F-35 programma van naar schatting C$ 16–18 miljard.

Onderzoeksopdracht van Parliamentary Budget Officer

Het nu verschenen PBO report is een reactie op het verzoek van een leden van het Canadese parlement van Vancouver South en Beauséjour met betrekking tot de voorgestelde aankoop. Het verzoek aan het PBO was twee specifieke onderdelen te onderzoeken:
(1) Vast te stellen wat de extra kosten waren die Canada zou gaan betalen, vanwege het feit dat de beslissing de toestellen te gaan komen zonder daadwerkelijke, onafhankelijke kandidatenevaluatie en leverancierscompetitie was uitgevoerd (zogeheten “Single Source” aankoop) (otherwise known as sole-sourcing)
(2) Analyse op onafhankelijke wijze van de werkelijke aankoop- en gebruikskosten van de F-35.

Samenvatting uitkomsten

Het antwoord op de eerste vraag luidt dat, op basis van aanwezige en relevante gegevens, aangenomen moet worden dat door de keuze zonder daadwerkelijke competitie de kosten circa 20% hoger zullen uitvallen, dan in het geval een daadwerkelijke leverancierscompetitie zou zijn gevoerd. Niettemin zijn deze gegevens ontoereikend voor de PBO om hier definitieve conclusies aan te verbinden inzake de F-35.
Wat betreft de tweede vraag,is de PBO van oordeel dat een redelijk betrouwbare berekening gedaan kan worden van de te verwachten aanschaf- en lange-termijn instandhoudingskosten, gelet op de signifiicante hoevoelheid beschikbare historische gegevens inzake jachtvliegtuig verwervingen.

Op basis van berekeningen en gegeven uitkomsten (historische trends) en van toepassing zijnde rekenmodellen, komt de Canadese Parliamentary Budget Officer tot de conclusie, dat de totale “ownership cost” van de F-35 gedurende 30 jaar en 65 toestellen ongeveer US$ 29.3 miljard zullen bedragen. Dit betreft zowel aanschaf als instandhoudings (upgrade en onderhoudskosten).

Download van F-35 Rapport; 10-mrt-2011; Canadian Parliamentary Budget Officer

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Mrt 11 2011

Daily Telegraph: UK spending £389m on unneeded F-35B jets

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

In the United Kingdom James Kirkup of the Daily Telegraph reported about the Ministry of Defence, spending about £389 million on three F-35B Joint Strike Fighter jets that will never enter British service.
In October 2010 the Strategic Defence and Security Review scrapped the original plans to buy F-35B aircraft for Britain’s new aircraft carriers. The new Royal Navy carriers will be redesigned for conventional aircraft, meaning there is no need for Short Take-off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) jet capabilities.
However, the Coalition is still obliged to spend hundreds of millions of pounds on the new fighters that will take part in “test and evaluation” exercises in the US, because they signed contracts to obtain early production (LRIP3 and LRIP4 series) F-35B jets and because they signed a Memory of Understanding to participate in the – postponed – Initial Operational Test & Evaluation phase of the F-35.

Daily Telegraph reports that “Ministers are still engaged in a last-ditch attempt to alter the contract with the United States that obliges Britain to buy the aircraft. (….) Instead, ministers said they would buy the F-35C “carrier variant” aircraft. David Cameron said the conventional take-off plane was “more capable, less expensive, has a longer range and carries more weapons”. (…) Three F-35Bs will be bought despite a desperate attempt by the Government to renegotiate the sale contract to buy at least one C-variant jet. Lockheed, one of the US defence contractors building the F-35, revealed in December that the MoD had asked if the third jet order could be switched so that the UK would buy a C-variant aircraft instead of the jet.

According to the Daily Telegraph some inside sources say British ministers are still negotiating with the US government over the third jet: Lord Astor of Hever, a defence minister, told peers that the UK had no choice but to spend millions on jump jets but insisted they would still be valuable. He said: “While we are committed to procuring three F-35B aircraft, at a total of $632?million, to conduct joint test and evaluation with the US armed forces, we will gain substantial benefit from operating these aircraft as a part of the F-35C programme.” Britain’s participation in the test exercises was “vital” to the delivery of the F-35C aircraft, he said.

Source: Daily Telegraph; 10-mar-2011; James Kirkup “MoD to spend £389m on jump jets it does not need

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Mrt 09 2011

General Amos defending the F-35B before Congress

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

Last week several commandants of the US Forces were questioned about the proposed US Defense Budget for Fiscal Year 2012. Among them General Amos, fiercely defending the need of the F-35B STOVL (Short-Take-Off/Vertical Landing) variant of the JSF (Joint Strike Fighter).

Here the partly transcription of the testimony of General Amos, US Marine Corps before the House Appropriations Subcommitte on Defense on the Proposed Fiscal 2012 Appropriations for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, March 9, 2011

Questions by Member of Congress Young

And now, General Amos, we’d like to welcome you again since I believe this is the first opportunity we’ve had to be officially in a subcommittee hearing since you became the commandant.

It is, sir. And I appreciate that. Thank you, Chairman and Ranking Member Dicks. It is my first time as a commandant, although I’ve been before this — this committee several times as just a young assistant commandant and three-star before that. So it’s good to be back.
The F-35B STOVL joint strike fighter is absolutely critical to the expeditionary nature of the Marine Corps. We deploy in places and employ our forces in areas in a manner that is not common to aviation across all the other services.
When we marched from the border of Baghdad — excuse me — Kuwait all the way through Baghdad up to Tikrit, we flew off bombed out runways or off highways. I’ve got pictures of AV-8 (ph) Harriers flying off highways that look like Interstate 95.
We’ve been on taxiways, parking lots. We have fought our way all the way — that’s the way we employ our assets, and I ask for your continued support for the F-35B.

Questions by Member of Congress Granger

General Amos, we were talking about acquisition and the difficulty and the length of time it takes. Can you give us a little more information about the joint strike fighter, the future of the Marine fighter variant?
And then, also, when we met in my office, you talked about the unique position you’ve assumed in the oversight of that. Could you talk to the committee about that?
Yes, ma’am, I’ll be happy to. And — and I’d just like to reiterate what the CNO said earlier on when he was responding to Chairman — or Ranking Member Dicks’ questions.
I think that we have become enamored with the process up — it’s — it’s a great process, but we can speed things up, and it — and it requires oversight. It requires oversight from the service chief, which is the last point you were making, ma’am.
The F-35B — let me just give you a snapshot of where it is. We’ve got a new program manager that — Vice Admiral Venlet came in in the late fall.
The leadership — and my sense is has lined up not only within the program, within the Department of Defense — certainly within the secretariats and within the service chiefs and industry. Lockheed Martin is providing the oversight and the management to the degree necessary. So I’m encouraged.
Let me just give you a few facts that — things that have happened just this year, just since January the 1st. We’ve flown — when you take an airplane in a test mode, which is — which is what they are at that (inaudible), but we’ve got five airplanes out there.
You schedule so many sorties, and you schedule so many test points per sortie. Each sortie goes up, and it’s — it has to — it has to achieve so many test points.
We’ve got 465 test points scheduled for this year alone. We’ve already flown 191 since January. We’re almost not quite halfway to — through these scheduled test points for this year alone in the STOVL version.
We’ve flown 143 percent of the scheduled test flights. In other words, they were scheduled to fly — let’s see, 46 — excuse me — 64 and we had 45 planned. The structural repairs and the engineering efforts on the airplane are coming through. Many of the fixes are in place right now. I watch that carefully.
To my oversight on this thing, what I look for in this thing — and I’ve got metrics on my computer, and it’s real time. It’s like the New York Stock Exchange — where I get the aircraft performance. I watch the weight growth of the airplane. They’re not allowed to put a pound on the airplane that I’m not — that I’m not aware of and that I haven’t authorized.
The engineering challenges are all articulated there and the mitigation strategy, who’s responsible to mitigate that engineering challenge, and then what’s the timeline. And then one day that challenge leaves and another one comes in. And, finally, the test process.
So we look at that — I look at that every single day. That’s in — that’s in unison with Lockheed Martin. That’s in unison with the program office, so we’re all in sync.
And it’s my goal to develop a reasonable set of metrics, such that I can go back to the secretary of defense and propose that the airplane, based on these metrics and this performance — that the airplane does come off this two-year probationary period sooner rather than later. And that’s — and I have not had a chance to talk to Secretary Gates about it. It’s certainly his call, but that’s my intention, Congresswoman.


Questions by Member of Congress Calvert

One last question — I’m also on the Budget Committee, which I get to serve on. But, nevertheless, questions will be brought up about defense expenditures and the defense budget, and some members are bringing up the — the procurement of the F-35, which I’m a supporter of.
But, for the record, could you point out why it’s important that we move ahead on the F-35 versus acquiring additional F-18 ENS (ph)? There’s some folks around here who believe that that’s sufficient based upon the future threat on this country. And can you point out why that isn’t the case?

The United States needs fifth generation air capability and from stealth, from weapon systems, and particularly to get into anti-access environments that we are increasingly facing across the world. The three versions, the A for the Air Force, the B for the Marines, and the C for the Navy, give us the widest range of capabilities.
And it is a leap in technology, it’s a leap in capability that if we are going to do the missions that we have been tasked to do in the future, we absolutely need. General Amos can do a more technical view than that.
But, overall, the Chinese, for example, when Secretary Gates was Beijing, made a test flight of their fifth generation fighter. And I think that for us to do the missions, it’s an absolutely crucial capability.

Thank you. I absolutely agree with that.

Sir, just one comment on — on the F-35 at large. It is fifth generation. We are — there are other countries around the world that are building fifth generation airplanes. The Chinese just rolled one out not too long ago.
So I — it’s not a matter of trying to keep up with the Joneses, but it’s the prudent thing to do. We planned on it for well over 10 years. That airplane does many, many things besides doing precision bombing. But it’s also an incredible ISR, intelligence surveillance reconnaissance platform.
It has an information sharing network. Among all assets that are airborne and assets that are on the ground, too, including the young Marine corporal down there that is going to be relying on this thing, it has that capability inherently built into it. It’s got an electronic warfare, electronic attack capability that is not quite up to our current EA-6B Prowler.
But inherent in the airplane weapons system itself right now on the radar, it is reasonably comparable. In other words, it’s up there with our current state-of-the-art electronic attack airplane. So you can imagine, if you were to hang a next generation jamming pod on this airplane, you would surpass anything that’s out there today. So it has an awful lot of capabilities. It truly is a multi-function airplane.

Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Source:; 9-mar-2011

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Mrt 09 2011

Haaretz: Israel may wait for later version of F-35

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

Jerusalem - The Israel Air Force is reconsidering the early delivery of the F-35 fighter jets, based on information that first-batch production units (Block 2, Block 3) will lack the advanced features it requires, local daily Ha’aretz reported Wednesday.

Under the terms of a US$ 2.75 billion deal signed October 2010 with Lockheed Martin, delivery of the 20 units ordered (average price US$ 137 million) by Israel will begin in late 2015 and is expected to take two years.

But the first jets that will roll off the assembly lines will most likely lack the advanced avionics, communications and radar capabilities that the IAF needs in order to maintain its technological superiority in the region, Israeli Air Force sources told Haaretz:
“Teams from the IAF and the Defense Ministry have left for the United States in the past two weeks to take part in discussions between Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Air Force. The sides will plan production and the various delivery dates.
The Israel Air Force now believes that timing must be considered against capabilities. The IAF wants to acquire the jets as soon as possible to increase its technological lead over other countries in the region. This would bolster the air force’s deterrent capabilities.”

Block 3 jets that will have these capabilities will not be available before late 2016, a fact that presents the Israeli Air Force brass with a dilemma of timing versus capabilities. The same is valid for several JSF partner countries like Australia, Norway and The Netherlands.

According to Lockheed Martin they “…remain convinced they will provide Israel with fully battle-ready F-35 jets on the schedule discussed by the U.S. and Israel governments.”

Source: Haaretz; 9-mar-2011; Anshell Pfeffer; In bid for air superiority, Israel may wait for better jets

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Mrt 07 2011

Second F-35 Production Jet Takes First Flight

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

FORT WORTH, Texas, March 7th, 2011 — AF-7, the second F-35 Lightning II production jet, takes off on its first flight Friday, March 4, from Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base.

The F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variant flew for 1.3 hours. AF-7 is the second and final aircraft from Low Rate Initial Production lot 1. The first, AF-6, flew for the first time a week earlier.

The two production jets and eleven preproduction F-35 test aircraft have completed 683 flights since testing began in December 2006. (Lockheed Martin photo by Randy Crites) Reserve Base. The F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variant flew for 1.3 hours. AF-7 is the second and final aircraft from Low Rate Initial Production lot 1. The first, AF-6, flew for the first time a week earlier. The two production jets and eleven preproduction F-35 test aircraft have completed 683 flights since testing began in December 2006.

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