Archief van de maart, 2011

Mrt 07 2011

100th flight of F-35B prototype BF-1

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – On March 7, 2011, the first F-35B Joint Strike Fighter test aircraft (BF-1) completed its 100th flight with BAE test pilot Peter Wilson at the controls. BF-1 flew in short take-off, vertical landing (STOVL) mode to continue expansion of the STOVL flight envelope to demonstrate design durability and in preparation for shipboard testing scheduled for later this year. The F-35B is the first JSF variant with two aircraft completing 100 flights and will be the first stealth fighter for the U.S. Marine Corps and is undergoing test and evaluation at NAS Patuxent River.

NavAir; JSF PEO; Press Bulletin

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Mrt 06 2011

USAF Chief of Staff: F-35 software may be bottleneck

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

According to a publication in AirForce Times the U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz has expressed his concern about several issues in the F-35 development during a conference hosted by Credit Suisse.

Some quotes from his expressed worries.

The painstaking effort to write the complex software for the F-35 may slow development of the fighter jet, the Air Force’s top uniformed officer said.
said his service’s version of the tri-service stealth fighter is showing “good software stability,” but also that he was worried that the Joint Strike Fighter program might not be able to finish and test the software on time (….) That might cause the software to become “the pacing item in terms of the development schedule.”

Along with software, Schwartz said, the plane’s production schedule and technical glitches with the helmet-mounted display were his top concerns about the F-35A.
He also said the fighter was structurally sound but has a few aerodynamic “hot spots.” The aircraft continues to perform well in flight tests, exceeding both its planned time aloft and test points.

Read the full article: AirForce News; 6-mar-2011; Dave Majumdar; Schwartz: software may slow F-35 development

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Mrt 05 2011

Second F-35 engine also cut by US Senate

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

A few weeks after the U.S. House of Representatives voted against continuation of the alternative (second) F-35 engine, a U.S. Senate budget plan released on Friday March 4, 2011 also would eliminate funding for this alternate engine.

This means a blow to its manufacturers, General Electric corporation and British Rolls-Royce corporation. Cancelling the alternate engine would mean a short term saving of US$450 million in Fiscal Year 2011 and more savings in the coming years. Also, it means a major blow to several JSF Partner countries, like The Netherlands and Italy, who invested a lot of money in the development of innovative production methods of the F-136 engine. It is a breach of the MOU-PSFD, signed in november 2006, who proposes freedom of engine choice to all JSF partner countries. Hundreds of millions US dollars, invested by several JSF partner countries will be useless now and have no any dollar as a return on investment.

The Pentagon has attempted to kill the alternative engine program four times since 2007, but until now both Democratic and Republican lawmakers succeeded in adding it back into the Pentagon budget. However the current fiscal pressures - with a $1.65 trillion budget deficit - seem to have given the Pentagon the upper hand now. These latest developments may mean the tide definitely has shifted for the F-136 alternative engine. The only possibility to safe the second engine is when supporters in the Senate would introduce amendments during a floor vote, or when in the House-Senate final conference amendments are made on the final billl. But there are no signs this would be succesfulll.

Within a fortnight lawmakers will have to agree about several issues and will have to vote and sign off on a bill that would set funding levels for the remaning part of fiscal year 2011 (that already started October 1, 2010 !!).

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Mrt 04 2011

Canadian opposition launches petition against F-35

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

The Canadian Organisation launched a petition against the purchase of F-35 stealth fighters for the Canadian military. In their - political driven - opinion there would be 10 reasons to block the purchase of the F-35. Some are typical for the Canadian situation.

Reason 1.
The F-35 is for “shock and awe” combat missions.
Its stealth capability and weapons are intended for U.S.-style first strike attacks, a role Canada does not need to play.

Reason 2.
The F-35 is way too expensive.
According to National Defence’s estimates, the cost of purchasing 65 U.S.-built F-35 stealth fighters is between $16 and $21 billion — the most expensive military project in Canadian history.

Reason 3.
The government’s finances are in bad shape.
The annual federal deficit is expected to reach $56 billion this year, and cuts to social programs are expected.

The F-35 is ill suited for the arctic.
Its stealth characteristic is not needed, and only one engine instead of two puts pilots at risk of being stranded in the far north by an engine failure.

Reason 5.
Little, if any, of the $16 billion will stay in Canada.
Unlike previous military contracts, in this one the Harper government has not required the U.S. manufacturer Lockheed Martin to invest “dollar-for-dollar” in Canada.

Reason 6.
It is costing Canada job opportunities.
Buying any other aircraft would allow the government to require “Industrial and Regional Benefits.” Instead, the Harper Conservatives just hope we’ll get contracts from Lockheed Martin.

Reason 7.
The F-35 is still a model airplane.
The F-35 is still being tested and production is years behind schedule, leaving operating and maintenance costs completely unknown.

Reason 8.
There was no competition.
In a sweetheart deal, the Harper Conservatives committed to Lockheed Martin rather than inviting other firms to put in proposals, increasing the cost by an estimated 20 per cent.

Reason 9.
There is no hurry to replace our CF-18s.
Canada’s current fleet of CF-18s just completed a $2.6 billion upgrade, and could easily remain in service until the mid-2020s.

Reason 10.
There is no Russian arctic threat.
NORAD’s U.S. commander said he sees no military challengers in the arctic, and he is focused on preventing another 9/11 type of attack.

PLUS last but not least:
There is no contract to break.
Despite the government’s commitment to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth fighter, there is no signed contract and therefore no firm price expected until 2013, or even later.

Source: Ceasefire, Canada; 4-mar-2011

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Mrt 04 2011

F-35C breaks sound barrier for the first time

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – The first F-35C test aircraft (CF-1) flew faster than the speed of sound for the first time over a test range near the Navy and Marine Corps F-35 integrated test facility at Naval Air Station Patuxent River March 4.

During a test flight to expand the flutter envelope, CF-1 reached Mach 1.02 at 30,000 feet with U.S. Marine Corps pilot Lt. Col. Matt Taylor at the controls.

“It’s great to be part of bringing stealth capability to the big-deck carriers,” said Taylor. “We accomplished a large number of test points, and CF-1 handled great going past Mach 1. It was a privilege for me to take the F-35C over that milestone for the first time.”

CF-1 gathered enough supersonic flutter data for the team to continue supersonic envelope expansion in the near future.

Flutter is an evaluation of structural loads on the aircraft experienced at various speeds and while performing prescribed maneuvers. The test and evaluation team at NAS Patuxent River will expand the flutter envelope to demonstrate the required durability and reliability of the aircraft in advance of delivery of the aircraft to the fleet.

The F-35C is distinct from the F-35A and F-35B variants with its larger wing surfaces and reinforced landing gear for greater control in the demanding carrier take-off and landing environment. Carrier suitability testing for the F-35C variant is scheduled to begin later this year with land-based catapult and jet blast deflector testing.

The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program is in the system development and demonstration phase, focusing on delivering three different, new aircraft variants to the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force. The integrated test force at NAS Patuxent River is focused on testing and evaluation of the F-35B and F-35C.

Source: Naval Air Systems Command; PEO(JSF) News release; 4-mar-2011

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Mrt 02 2011

JSF Helmet Display problems to be fixed

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

Vision Systems International announced that fixes are in the works for several technical glitches that have been plaguing the F-35’s helmet-mounted display.

Key problems with the revolutionary JSF Helmet Display:
- Latency - Imagery that is misaligned with the pilot’s vision
- Jittery images.
- Problems especially with the helmet’s night-vision system

JSF Program Office manager Venlet said near-term fixes could include moving the imagery to the aircraft’s head-down flat-panel displays, and having pilots use conventional night-vision goggles. But for the long-term there is an urgent need for other solutions.
Vision Systems International is mapping out these solutions now.

Spokesman Drew Brugal of Vision Systems: “We have several engineering changes, which we have integrated in a block plan to fix some of the mechanical interference issues between the helmet shell and the display unit”

Planned fixes of the problems:
- Software to reduce the jitter problem, which is caused by the magnetic helmet tracker reacting to ejection seat vibrations (already in test).
-Installation of a tiny inertial measurement unit into the helmet to further reduce the problem.
- Correction of the night-vision problems. There are indications the current display does not have the resolution to match conventional night-vision goggles. First improvement will be a better magnetic tracker, which will arrive later in 2011.
- Around 2013 a much higher resolution display that likely would surpass any existing night-vision goggles is expected.
- Additionally, new software will allow the helmet display to reduce latency and fuse information from the various aircraft sensors.
- In a later Block the helmet will be upgraded with a color display, which would pull in more information from the F-35’s myriad sensors and help pilots identify targets at a glance.

The F-35 training unit at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., will receive the first F-35s in Summer 2011, but will not fly at night for the first two years.

One remaining question is why all flying laboratories, with their advertised “new way of developing fighter jets” did not catch all this. Why did they found this out just now about the helmet imagery, 10 years after signing the SDD contract?

Source: DefenseNews; 1-mar-2011

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