Archief van de maart, 2014

Mrt 27 2014

F-35 Funds Withheld From Pratt & Whitney Over Delays

Gepubliceerd door JSFNieuws.nl onder Global F35 News

Bloomberg News reports:

The Pentagon is withholding funds from United Technologies Corp.’s Pratt and Whitney unit because of persistent delays in delivering engines for the F-35, the head of the fighter program said.
(….)
We withhold money,” Bogdan said. “Sometimes we permanently withhold, which means they never get it back, and other times we withhold for contract delay or simply because there is a quality escape.”

Read more:
Bloomberg News; 27-mar-2014; Tony Capaccio; “F-35 Funds Withheld From Pratt & Whitney Over Delays

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Mrt 26 2014

Lockheed Says Overseas F-35 Sales Goal Intact……

Gepubliceerd door JSFNieuws.nl onder Global F35 News

Despite Italy is again looking at cutting its order down to just 45 planes, from an original 90, after two years prior having cut its order of 131 F-35s down by 30 percent t0 90 aircraft during the euro zone debt crisis, Locheed Martin is not afraid to get their sales goal (originally of 4500 aircraft).
This week South Korea announced the formal choice for the F-35, though the initial order is smaller than the 60 fighters

Dow Jones Bussines News (Nasdaq) reported:
Delays in the F-35s deployment, spiraling price and lingering technical problems have focused attention on a number of ongoing contests among a small number of buyers, notably Denmark and Canada. The outcome of deals each involving between 20 and 50 jets will be crucial to determining the fate of rival fighters produced by Boeing Co. and the Eurofighter consortium, according to analysts.”

This means Canada has a need of 50 aircraft (down from 80, later 65) and Denmark has cut the budget to 20 aircraft (down from the Original 48, later 30).
Also UK is down from 138 to 48; Australia’s ASPI institute reported that the RAAF would have to buy 58 aircraft (down from 100) and The Netherlands decided to buy only 37 aircraft (down from the original 85). The only reliable partner is Norway, that will order between 48-52 aircraft for delivery in the 2017-2021 timeframe.

Read more:
Dow Jones / Nasdaq News; 24-mar-2014; “Lockheed Says Overseas F-35 Sales Goal Intact

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Mrt 26 2014

New U.S. report warns of more delays and affordability issues with F-35 jet

Gepubliceerd door JSFNieuws.nl onder Global F35 News

Also Canadian TV reported about the US GAO report:
OTTAWA — A new report in Washington is predicting more delays and possibly higher costs for the troubled F-35 jet fighter program”.
(…..)
The plan to buy 65 of the ultra-modern jets was put on hold after an auditor general’s report, almost two years ago, accused both National Defence and Public Works of failing to do their homework and low-balling the enormous lifetime cost.
Subsequent independent reviews have said it would cost Canadian taxpayers up to $44 billion over 40 years to buy, maintain and operate a modest fleet of F-35s — much more than the $16-billion price tag the Harper government initially floated

Read more:
CTV News “New US report warns of more delays and affordability issues F-35 jet

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Mrt 26 2014

F-35 engine problems revealed by Lt.Gen. Bogdan (JSF PO)

Gepubliceerd door JSFNieuws.nl onder Global F35 News

Lt. general Bogdan revealed significant F-35/F135 engine problems during a testimony for the House of Representatives yesterday:

Pratt & Whitney SDD F135 engines have completed a total of 29,986 operating hours, 15,963 hours on flight-test engines, and a total of 5,565 hours of flying time on all three variants of F-35 aircraft. Pratt & Whitney is currently supporting flight test on all three variants at three locations. During FY13, the engine successfully demonstrated stall-free high angle of attack operations and successfully completed all engine air start testing.

Significant test failure, kept silent for months

The F135 engine did experience a significant test failure on 23 December 2013. An F-35B ground test engine suffered a failure of its 1st stage fan integrally bladed rotor (IBR, also known as a “blisk”) while doing ground accelerated mission durability testing. This failure occurred on the highest time test engine in the F135 fleet with 2,192 operating hours; roughly 75% of the engine’s required life. (By comparison, the high time SDD flight test engine has 622 flight hours and the high time operational engine has less than 250 flight hours).

Root cause unknown

While the root cause of this failure is still under investigation, safety assessments have determined that the fleet can be safely operated by inspecting the 1st fan stage rotor at regular intervals until a new rotor is installed. A cost reduction redesign of this 1st stage rotor was already in progress before the test failures; consequently, lessons learned from the root cause analysis will be incorporated into the new redesign. We expect the production break in of the redesign in the late 2016 timeframe, with a retrofit of engines beginning in 2017. While the fan module that contains this IBR can be removed and replaced in the field, replacement of the IBR itself within the module is a depot level task.

Two groundings in 2013 due to F135 engine issues

The F-35 fleet experienced two fleet-wide groundings in January and February 2013 due to issues with the F135 engines. The first incident occurred in January 2013. An F-35B was forced to abort a takeoff for what would later be understood to be an improperly crimped fueldraulic hose in the F135 engine. The F-35B fleet was grounded for 19 days, but was returned to flight after confirming the integrity of all similar hoses in the engines. The program office put in place activities to better monitor and improve the quality of the hoses being provided for the engine, and continues to track this closely. The second incident grounded all variants of the F-35 for approximately seven days and resulted from a crack discovered in the 3rd stage engine turbine blade. The engine in question had been flying at the highest heat and most significant stresses of any of the jets in the test and operational fleets, which contributed to this crack. After confirming the source of the crack, the fleet was inspected and returned to flight. Engineering work continues to assess the long-term implications of this turbine blade crack on the life of the F-35 engine, and the incident continues to be successfully managed in the fleet by monitoring the life usage of the turbine. Through incorporation of new quality inspection criteria during production all new engines are now being delivered with full life 3rd stage turbine blades.

Source:
US Department of Defense; written testimony for the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee Tactical Air and Land Forces, US House of Representatives; 26-Mar-2014 by Lt.General Christopher C. Bogdan; Program Executive Officer F-35

JSFNieuws140326-JB/jb

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Mrt 25 2014

GAO: Testing delays threaten timeline for F-35 deliveries

Gepubliceerd door JSFNieuws.nl onder Global F35 News

Washington Post, Josh Hicks reports about the US GAO report, issued yesterday:

Delays in testing critical software for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter could derail the stealth aircraft’s scheduled 2015 debut for regular combat-ready duty with the U.S. military, according to a watchdog report released this week.”

The effects of these delays compound as they also put the timely delivery of Air Force and Navy initial-operating capabilities at risk

The F-35 program has a history of budget, performance and deadline problems. The cost and schedule estimates have largely stabilized after a 2012 overhaul of the program, but the persistent software problems could throw everything off again, the report said.”

Source:
Washington Post, Federal Eye; 25-mar-2014; Jos Hicks; “GAO: Testing delays threaten timeline for F-35 deliveries

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Mrt 24 2014

US GAO Report 2014: F-35 Software Problem Number One

Gepubliceerd door JSFNieuws.nl onder Ontwikkeling JSF

Latest US Goverment Accountability Office Report confirms: software is problem number one. Affordability problem two.
Continued software problems could lead to further delivery delays of less-capable, less-reliable aircraft at a long-term pricelevel and with long-term operating and support costs that may prove unaffordable.

US GAO report too optimistic

The US GAO conclusions and suggestions on software- and mission system tests and outcomes are too optimistic. The complexity of the software is huge and further delays of Initial Operational Capability seem to be unavoidable. Also their statements on long-term affordability don’t balance te fact that US DoD has never predicted the right cost of any F-35A, F-35B or F-35C the previous budget cycles since 2010. Every budget year it comes up different (and higher as predicted one year before). Only one budget year ahead their predictions are quite right.

Not much attention for high cost of modifications

This year US GAO report has a focus on software problems, but a long series of other technical problems has to be solved.
An other fact that is nearly missing in this latest US GAO report is the budget reservation of an unprecedented US$ 1.4 billion over five years (FY2015-2019), with much more to come, to repair deficient parts at early production aircraft and bring them up to a more capable software block.
The most extensive jump between blocks, from 2B to 3i, involves:
- Installation of new radar
- Installation of integrated core processor
- Newer electronic warfare modules.
In the US GAO report is also missing the complete list of over 150 priority issues, well known within the JSF Program Office. On this list we may find:
- lightning protection
- power and thermal management system
- update air ducts on the Pratt & Whitney-produced engine
- ejection seat
- wing tip lighting and taxi system lighting
- weapon bay lights
- upgrades of bulkheads due to durability issues
- replacing the current complicated helmet-mounted display system by a newer version.
Other necessary modifications:
- IPP - integrated power package
- Life support system
- Communication equipment
- OBOGS - on-board oxygen-generation system
- Several other less important items.

This will bring high cost for (operational) testing and modification. The F-35 system still has a long way to go.

Here follows some contents of the US GAO Report, tekst copied from the report:

Conclusions

Since the F-35 program restructuring was completed in March 2012, acquisition cost and schedule estimates have remained relatively stable, and the program has made progress in key areas. However, persistent software problems have slowed progress in mission systems flight testing, which is critical to delivering the warfighting capabilities expected by the military services. These persistent delays put the program’s development cost and schedule at risk.

As a result, DOT&E now projects that the warfighting capabilities expected by the Marine Corps in July 2015, will not likely be delivered on time, and could be (extra) delayed as much as 13 months. This means that the Marine Corps may initially receive less capable aircraft than it expects, and if progress in mission systems software testing continues to be slower than planned, Air Force and Navy initial operational capabilities may also be affected. The program may also have to extend its overall developmental flight test schedule, which would increase concurrency between testing and production and could result in additional development cost growth.

In addition to software concerns, the current funding plans may be unaffordable, given current budget constraints. This situation could worsen if unit cost targets are not met. Finally, the estimated cost of operating and supporting the fleet over its life-cycle continues to be high and could increase further if aircraft reliability goals are not met.

DOD has already made a number of difficult decisions to put the F-35 on a more sound footing. More such decisions may lie ahead. For example, if software testing continues to be delayed, if funding falls short of expectations, or if unit cost targets cannot be met, DOD may have to make decisions about whether to proceed with production as planned with less capable aircraft or to alter the production rate.

Also, if reliability falls short of goals, DOD may have to make decisions about other ways to reduce sustainment costs, such as reduced flying hours. Eventually, DOD will have to make contingency plans for these and other issues. At this point, we believe the most pressing issue is the effect software testing delays are likely to have on the capabilities of the initial operational aircraft that each military service will receive. In order to make informed decisions about weapon system investments and future force structure, it is important that Congress and the services have a clear understanding of the capabilities that the initial operational F-35 aircraft will possess.

Recommendation of US GAO

Due to the uncertainty surrounding the delivery of F-35 software capabilities, we recommend that the Secretary of Defense conduct an assessment of the specific capabilities that realistically can be delivered and those that will not likely be delivered to each of the services by their established initial operational capability dates. The results of this assessment should be shared with Congress and the military services as soon as possible but no later than July 2015.

Testing of Critical Software Poses a Significant Challenge

Delays in the testing of critical mission systems software have put the delivery of expected warfighting capabilities to the Marine Corps at risk, and could affect the delivery of capabilities to the Air Force and Navy as well. F-35 developmental flight testing is separated into two key areas: mission systems and flight sciences. Mission systems testing is done to verify that the software and systems that provide critical warfighting capabilities function properly and meet requirements, while flight science testing is done to verify the aircraft’s basic flying capabilities. In a March 2013 report we found that development and testing of mission systems software was behind schedule, due largely to delayed software deliveries, limited capability in the software when delivered, and the need to fix problems and retest multiple software versions. These same challenges continued thorough 2013, and as a result progress in mission systems testing has been limited. The Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) predicts that the delivery of expected warfighting capabilities to the Marine Corps could be delayed by as much as 13 months. Delays of this magnitude could also increase the already significant concurrency between testing and aircraft procurement and result in additional cost growth. Although mission systems testing is behind, the F-35 program has been able to accomplish nearly all of its planned flight science testing. The program also continued to make progress in addressing key technical risks, although some of that progress has been limited.

Limited Progress in Mission Systems Software Testing May Cause Delays and Add Costs

While the F-35 program was able to accomplish all of the mission system test flights it had planned in 2013, it did not accomplish all of the planned test points, Developmental testing of Block 2B software is behind schedule and will likely delay the delivery of expected warfighting capabilities. The delivery of this software capability is of high near-term importance because it provides initial warfighting capability for the overall F-35 program, and is needed by the Marine Corps to field its initial operational capability in July 2015. As of January 2014, the program planned to have verified the functionality of 27 percent of the software’s capability on-board the falling short by 11 percent. The F-35 program planned to fly 329 mission systems test flights and accomplish 2,817 test points in 2013. The program actually flew 352 test flights, exceeding the goal, but only accomplished 2,518 test points. According to program and contractor officials, slow progress in developing, delivering, and testing mission systems software continues to be the program’s most significant risk area.

Further Delay of DOT & E testing

Developmental testing of Block 2B software is behind schedule and will likely delay the delivery of expected warfighting capabilities.
As of January 2014, the program planned to have verified the functionality of 27 percent of the software’s capability on-board the aircraft, but had only been able to verify 13 percent. This leaves a significant amount of work to be done before October 2014, which is when the program expects to complete developmental flight testing of this software block. According to DOT&E, Block 2B developmental testing will not be completed as scheduled and could be delayed by as much as 13 months, as the program has had to devote time and resources to address problems and completing development of prior software blocks.

Higher Development Costs

Delays in mission systems software testing could also increase costs. As currently planned, DOD expects to complete developmental flight testing in 2017. If the flight test schedule is extended, the program may have to retain testing and engineering personnel longer than currently expected, which would increase development cost.

Program Funding Projections and Unit Cost Targets May Not Be Achievable

The F-35 program’s high projected annual acquisition funding levels continue to put the program’s long-term affordability at risk. Currently the acquisition program requires $12.6 billion per year through 2037, which does not appear to be achievable given the current fiscal environment. The program is reducing unit costs to meet targets, but a significant amount of additional cost reduction is needed if it expects to meet those targets before the beginning of full rate production—currently scheduled for 2019. Additionally, the most recent life-cycle sustainment cost estimate for the F-35 fleet is more than $1 trillion, which DOD officials have deemed unaffordable. The program’s long term sustainment estimates reflect assumptions about key cost drivers that the program does not control, including fuel costs, labor costs, and inflation rates. The program is also focusing on product reliability, which is something that the program can control, and something we have found in our prior best practices work to be a key to driving down sustainment costs. According to program reliability data, each F-35 variant was tracking closely to its reliability plan as of December 2013, although the program has a long way to go to achieve its reliability goals.

Long-term Acquisition Funding Projections Pose Affordability Challenges

The overall affordability of the F-35 acquisition program remains a significant concern. As of March 2013, the program office estimated that the total acquisition cost will be $390.4 billion. At $12.6 billion a year, the F-35 acquisition program alone would consume around one-quarter of all of DOD’s annual major defense acquisition funding. Therefore, any change in F-35 funding is likely to affect DOD’s ability to fully fund its other major acquisition programs. In addition, maintaining this level of sustained funding will be difficult in a period of declining or flat defense budgets and competition with other large acquisition programs such as the KC-46 tanker and a new bomber. These costs do not include the costs to operate and maintain the F-35s as they are produced and fielded.

F-35 low reliability major concern

As the program faces key decisions about its F-35 operation and support strategy reliability is still a significant concern. Our past work has found that weapon system operating and support costs are directly correlated to weapon system reliability, which is something the program can affect.
DOT&E’s recent report noted concerns about the program’s ability to achieve its reliability goals by the time each of the F-35 variants reaches maturity—defined as 75,000 flight hours for the CTOL and STOVL variants; and 50,000 flight hours for the CV. DOT&E also noted that the F-35 design is becoming more stable, and although the program still has a large number of flight hours to go until system maturity, additional reliability growth is not likely to occur without a focused, aggressive and well-resourced effort.

Program Manufacturing Processes Continue to Show Improvement

F-35 manufacturing has improved and the contractor’s management of its suppliers is evolving. As the number of aircraft in production has increased, learning has taken place and manufacturing efficiency has improved.
The prime contractor continues to gain efficiencies in the manufacturing process as it learns more about manufacturing the aircraft. Reductions in the amount of time spent on work completed out of its specific work station have contributed to overall labor hour reductions.
As manufacturing efficiency has improved, the prime contractor has also been able to increase throughput, delivering more aircraft year over year—9 in 2011, 30 in 2012, and 35 in 2013. Over the past year, the prime contractor continued to deliver aircraft closer to contracted delivery dates. Last year we found that deliveries averaged 11 months late.

Source:
US GAO Report 2014;24-Mar-2014; “What GAO Found
US GAO; link to complete report 14-322 (41 pages, PDF)

Other related news:
Defense News; 24-Mar-2014; Aaron Mehta; “GAO: Software Delays Could Jeopardize F-35 Timeline

FEDScoop; 24-Mar-2014; Don Verton; Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter hits more turbulence

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Mrt 24 2014

New US-GAO report: F-35 JSF software (further) delayed

Gepubliceerd door JSFNieuws.nl onder Global F35 News

Washington - This week a new annual report on the F-35 Program will be published by the US Government Accountability Office, US-GAO. Software continues to remain the Number One technical risk on the program. The GAO also warns, that the long-range budget projections of the Pentagon on the F-35 program will need an average US$12.6 billion annually between 2018-2037. However, this budget is not unaffordable, because of current budget constraints. That means that the planned number of about 2400 F-35’s can not be procured. Available budget is about US$ 9 billion annually, that means a cut of the F-35 quantity with a minimum 25% or 600 units.

The Bloomberg Press Service obtained a copy of the report already. Some quotes:

“Persistent software problems”
(…)
“Delays of this magnitude would mean that the Marine Corps will not likely have all of the capabilities it expects in July 2015. The effects of these delays compound as they also put the timely delivery of Air Force and Navy initial operating capabilities at risk.”
(…)
“As of January, the military planned to have verified basic functions for 27 percent of the software intended to operate the Marine Corps version. Instead, it got to 13 percent.”

Read more:
Bloomberg News; 22-Mar-2014; Tony Capaccio; “Lockheed Martin F-35 Jet’s Software Delayed, GAO Says

Next Wednesday 26-Mar-2014 we will publish more details…..

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Mrt 24 2014

Current F-35 Stealth concept obsolete; 6th generation concepts necessary

Gepubliceerd door JSFNieuws.nl onder Global F35 News

Some interesting statements in an opinion column in Aviation Week & Space Technolgy, 24 March 2014, also published in The Daily Beast, titled “The planet’s best stealth fighter is not made in America“:

But if “fifth-generation” means more than “the ultimate driving machine,” a sixth generation will emerge. Saab—yes, that Saab—can argue that it has built the first such aircraft. The Swedish plane has got a mouthful of a name: the JAS 39E Gripen. But it could well be the future of air combat.
(….)

5th generation concept: 30 years old and obsolete

The concept behind the “fifth generation” of fighters is almost 30 years old. It dates to the final turning point in the Cold War, when the Reagan administration accelerated the arms race, believing (correctly) that the Soviet economic engine would throw a rod first. The F-22 was designed for a challenging but simple war: if you were in a NATO fighter and the nose was pointed east, pretty much everyone headed your way was trying to kill you.
(….)
The world has changed a bit. Operation Allied Force in 1999 presaged the air campaigns of the 2000s, where targets were soft but hard to find, and harder yet to pick out of the civilian environment. We can say little for certain about the nature of future conflict, except that it is likely to be led by, and revolve around, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR). For the individual pilot, sailor or soldier, that means having better sense of the conflict zone is key.
(….)

SAAB pricnciple: Software first, than hardware……

The reason that the JAS 39E may earn “sixth generation” tag is that it has been designed with these issues in mind. Software comes first: the new hardware runs the latest Mission System 21 software, the latest roughly-biennial release in the series that started with the earlier, A and B models of the aircraft.

(….)

Optimal sensor fusion against lowest cost per flight hours

“The Swedes have invested in state-of-the-art sensors, including what may be the first in-service electronic warfare system using gallium nitride technology. It’s significant that a lot of space is devoted to the system used to pick out friendly from hostile aircraft; a good IFF (“identification friend-or-foe”) system is most important in a confused situation where civilian, friendly, neutral, questionable and hostile actors are sharing the same airspace.
Sweden’s ability to develop its own state-of-the-art fighters has long depended on blending home-grown and imported technology. Harvesting technology rather than inventing it becomes more important as commercial technology takes a leading role and becomes more global.”

(….)

Conclusion:

But if “fifth-generation” means more than “the ultimate driving machine,” a sixth generation will emerge. Saab—yes, that Saab—can argue that it has built the first such aircraft. The Swedish plane has got a mouthful of a name: the JAS 39E Gripen. But it could well be the future of air combat.

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Mrt 24 2014

Republic of South Korea officially confirms selection of F-35A

Gepubliceerd door JSFNieuws.nl onder Global F35 News

FORT WORTH, Texas, 24-Mar-2014 – The Republic of Korea has formally announced its decision to procure the Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) F-35 Lightning II aircraft for its F-X fighter acquisition program.

We are honored by and appreciate the trust and confidence the Republic of Korea has placed in the 5th Generation F-35 to meet its demanding security requirements. We look forward to supporting the discussions between the Republic of Korea and U.S. governments in support of a final agreement this year,” said Orlando Carvalho, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics executive vice president. “This decision strengthens and extends our long-standing security partnership while enhancing regional stability across the greater Asia Pacific theater.”

Following a comprehensive evaluation process for their F-X program, the Republic of Korea becomes the third Foreign Military Sales country to procure the F-35, joining Israel and Japan who selected the F-35A in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

Since September 2013 the selection of the F-35 over Boeing’s F-15SE Silent Eagle had been widely expected, with a formal proposal after a 22 November 2013 Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting, that the F-35 had been selected to replace South Korea’s older F-4 and F-5 fighter fleet. Now a government committee chaired by the minister of defence has approved this decision formally. But he quantity, Industrial conditions and price has to be negotiated yet by DAPA (Defence Acquisition Program Administration).

Only 40 instead of 60 to stay within budget

Planning is a total buy of 40 CTOL version F-35A’ s. FX-III original requirement was 60 fighter jets, to buy less fighters instead is to keep within budget allocations. First delivery to be commenced in 2018. Total contract amount is not certain at this moment; official government budget is 7,34 trillion WON (US$ 6.8 billion or € 4,9 billion) (making a F-35A unit price of US$ 170 million in the 2018-2022 timeframe).

SOURCE:
PRESS Bulletin Lockheed Martin; 24-Mar-2014

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Mrt 22 2014

Lockheed Martin misleading South Korea with suggested low price of F-35

Gepubliceerd door JSFNieuws.nl onder Global F35 News

Last week, in South-Korea, Lockheed Martin distributed clearly misleading information on the price of the F-35 combat jet:

In the Korea Times we could read, that Randy Howard, director of the Korea F-35 campaign told this newspaper: “The cost of the F-35 is on a downward path that will lead to a unit recurring flyaway (URF) cost for an F-35A of between $80 million and $85 million. This projected price includes the aircraft, avionics and mission systems, and the engine.”

Some weeks ago head JSF Program Office should have told the same: “The cost of an F-35A (for the Air Force) in 2019 will be somewhere between $80 million and $85 million (86 and 91 billion won), with an engine, with profit, with inflation

The plain truth you may find in this Copy of original US Air Force Budget document (published 12-Mar-2014 by Defense Aerospace, including more comments).

The document shows that the planned price of the F-35A in 2019 will be about US$ 97 million for the airvehicle only; without engine, without any extra, without a set of spare parts. The price of the engine will be about US$ 12 million per unit; total unit price US$ 110 million.
This is much more than the suggested US$ 80 million. Also, the sales to South-Korea is a so called Foreign Military Sales; it is against the US law to sell aircraft against lower prices to other Forces, than the own US Forces.

Several European countries, including The Netherlands (budget € 4,5 billion, US$ 6 billion for 37 aircraft, unitprice US$ 162 million), are expecting their F-35’s between 2019-2023 and they are calculating with a price of between US$ 160 and US$ 175 million.

Conclusion: Lockheed Martin is misleading the South Korean public, government and parliament.

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