Archief van de juni, 2012

Jun 30 2012

Japan inks contract to procure first four F-35’s

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

The Japanese government concluded Friday June 29, 2012 an official contract with the U.S. Defense Department to procure their first four F-35 fighter jets. Japan chose the Lockheed Martin F-35 in december 2011 after evaluating the Boeing Super Hornet, the F-35 and the Eurofighter. Planning is to buy a total of 42 aircraft, much less than the original planned 100-120 aircraft, as a replacemnet of the F-4 Phantom and other obsolete fighter jets.

Japan will pay 10.2 billion yen (US$ 127,6 million) for each of the planes. Last year the price was estimated at 9.9 billion yen (US$ 123,8 million).

Planning is that these first jets will be delivered to the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force in april 2016.

Source: The Daily Yomiuri; 30-jun-2012

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Jun 29 2012

First external weapons test flight for the F-35C

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – The carrier variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter flew for the first time with external weapons June 27.

Navy test pilot Lt. Christopher Tabert flew CF-1 with inert AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles on port and starboard pylons to measure flying qualities and aircraft vibrations.

The F-35C carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter is distinct from the F-35A and F-35B variants with its larger wing surfaces and reinforced landing gear to withstand catapult launches and deck landing impacts associated with the demanding aircraft carrier environment. F-35C is undergoing test and evaluation at NAS Patuxent River prior to delivery to the fleet.

Source: US Navair News - PEO(JSF) Public Affairs

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Jun 28 2012

Nine week strike ends at Lockheed Martin

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

Press Agency Reuters reports about the nine-week strike at Lockheed Martin:
“….. workers who build the F-16 and F-35 fighter planes voted on Thursday to accept a new labor contract that would provide yearly pay increases of 2.5 percent to 3 percent and bonus payments, …..”

It ends the nine-week strike at Lockheed Martin.

Read more (source): Reuters “Lockheed workers okay labor contract

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Jun 27 2012

F-35 Program test status June 2012

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

Program Status
Cumulative flight test activity totals for 2012 as of May 31, are provided below:
- F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) jets have flown 211 times.
- F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft have completed 161 flights, 128 of which began with a short takeoff. Additionally, F-35B STOVL aircraft have conducted 52 vertical landings.
- F-35C carrier variant (CV) jets have flown 109 times.

Since December 2006, F-35s have flown 2.242 times and accrued more than 3.500 cumulative flight hours. This total includes 91 flights from the original test aircraft, AA-1; 1.945 SDD test flights; and 206 production-model flights.

Special events May 2012

During May 2012, the program achieved the highest number of F-35 flights in a single day, 11, three different times: May 10, May 17 and May 22.
During May, AF-7, an F-35A CTOL, flew 14 times accumulating 35.6 flight hours to set an individual jet record for the most flight hours in a single month.
On May 10, AF-6, an F-35A CTOL, flew the highest altitude to date for a Mission Systems test jet, 39,000 feet.
On May 15, AF-7, an F-35A CTOL, became the first production F-35 to fly supersonic.
On May 17, the Cooperative Aircraft Test Bed (CATB), highly modified 737-300 aircraft designed to integrate, develop, and test the F-35 Lightning II sensor suite and associated mission systems software, demonstrated the F-35’s Electronic Attack (EA) capabilities against Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) range emitters.
On May 22, CATB achieved integrated Multiple Advanced Datalinks (MADL) communications with the Open Air System Integration System (OASIS) laboratory.
On May 31, the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) fleet, including the original test aircraft AA-1, achieved 2.000 total flights.

Source: Lockheed Martin Factsheet 12-jun-2012

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Jun 27 2012

MBDA Spear missile integration for F-35

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

European manufacturer MBDA has unveiled a UK-developed design for a next-generation air-to-surface weapon suitable for internal carriage by the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

To be shown for the first time as a full-scale mock-up at the Farnborough air show, the Spear concept would use a turbojet engine and a wing kit to provide a stand-off range of about 100km (54nm). “Speed and range are the two main drivers” behind this configuration, says Rob Thornley, export working group leader for MBDA UK.

“Another key requirement is to provide multiple load-out on the F-35,” says Thornley. The company expects to be able to fit up to four Spear weapons and one Meteor beyond visual-range air-to-air missile in each of the F-35’s two weapons bays.

Firm decisions have yet to be made on the final Spear configuration, but MBDA says it will be about 2m (6.5ft) long, carry a multi-effect warhead and use a multimode seeker. The high subsonic-speed weapon will also feature INS/GPS guidance, and be able to receive mid-course updates via an onboard datalink.

The basis of the concept is now in an assessment phase study for the UK Ministry of Defence’s Spear Capability 3 requirement. This activity is due to conclude in 2014 with an airframe and propulsion system demonstration using a representative weapon design.

“We are on track, and continue to mature the technologies,” says business executive Adrian Monks. However, MBDA acknowledges that the UK’s recent decision to revert to the short take-off and vertical landing F-35B “brings some challenges”, as the type’s weapons bays are shorter than those found on the carrier variant F-35C previously favoured by London.

Source: Press Release MBDA 27-jun-2012

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Jun 21 2012

The parallel reality of F-35 Flight Test Progress

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

One of the advocates for the F-35, Lockheed Martin consultant and lobbyist Loren Thompson wrote about the F-35 at June 13, 2012:

Flight tests. Let’s start with the flight tests that are steadily verifying all the performance features of the aircraft. The program has surpassed its goals for flight testing in each of the last three years, doing 15 percent better than planned in 2011 and 20 percent better than planned so far in 2012. Collectively, the three versions of the F-35 have now flown well over 2,000 times, accomplishing more than a quarter of the planned tasks in a comprehensive testing regime. By the end of this year, the most common version of the plane (F-35A) the one that will be used by the Air Force and exported to most foreign customers will be 45 percent of the way through all its flight tests.”

Getting test points is not the same as making progress

Mr. Loren Thompson is living in a kind of parallel reality, not in real world. May be, what he wrote is true, but it is incomplete. However, this incomplete truth JPO is telling to defence organisations and parliaments in Norway, The Netherlands, Canada, Australia, etc.

We will explain why it is important to know the other side of the truth:

(1) A lot of the testing being done is “regression testing:”. Due to a lot of design changes and configuration changes it’s mandatory “do over” testing.
(2) Compared to the original test plan the F-35 testingt is way behind, and the current test plan is a repeatedly reduced one that the Pentagon imposed in the several recent restructures of the program.
(3) The F-35 testforce ise not executing the 2012 plan as planned. Source near the testforce mention the fact that they are “pulling” test points from upcoming years because of what the testers call “engineering blocks” on the testing they have planned. In this way the testforce is still doing the easy part of the tests, getting a lot of “easy” test points. Difficult issues, like weapons release, high angle of attack flights, more complex mission profiles, ship deployments, and much more, are yet to come.
(4) The real questions are: “Has the testing produced the results needed to move ahead at the expected rate?” and “Is the program proving what it had planned to prove through flight test at this point in time?”. That questions are not answered by Mr. Thompson.

What US GAO tells us from “real world” about F-35 test progress

The US GAO report of June 2012, page 16 tells another side of the truth, and yes, not commercial driven, but from real world.

Some quotes from the US GAO Report about the real world F-35 test progress facts:
(1) Even with the progress in 2011, most development flight testing, including the most challenging, still lies ahead. Through 2011, the flight test program had completed 21 percent of the nearly 60,000 planned flight test points estimated for the entire program.
(2) According to JSF test officials, the more complex testing such as low altitude flight operations, weapons and mission systems integration, and high angle of attack has yet to be done for any variant and may result in new discoveries of aircraft deficiencies.
(3) Initial development flight tests of a fully integrated, capable JSF aircraft to demonstrate full mission systems capabilities, weapons delivery, and autonomic logistics is not expected until 2015 at the earliest. This will be critical for verifying that the JSF aircraft will work as intended and for demonstrating that the design is not likely to need costly changes.
(4) Initial dedicated operational testing of a fully integrated and capable JSF is scheduled to begin in 2017.
(5) The JSF operational test team assessed system readiness for initial operational testing and identified several outstanding risk items. The test team’s operational assessment concluded that the JSF is not on track to meet operational effectiveness or operational suitability requirements.
(6) Flight training efforts were delayed because of immature aircraft.
(7) Durability testing identified structural modifications needed for production aircraft to meet service life and operational requirements. Analysis of the bulkhead crack problem revealed numerous other life-limited parts on all three variants.
(8) DOT&E also found that, although it is early in the program, current reliability and maintainability data indicate that more attention is needed in these areas to achieve an operationally suitable system.

What is your choice: parallel reality or reality?

Author: Johan Boeder

(1) Forbes; 11-jun-2012; Loren Thompson; Pentagon’s Best-Kept Secret: F-35 Fighter Is Progressing Nicely
(2) US GAO; report 12-437, June 2012 “JSF: DOD Actions Needed to Further Enhance Restructuring and Address Affordability Risks”


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Jun 20 2012

Lockheed Martins view on the latest US GAO F-35 report

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

During the annual Lockheed Martin media day Steve O’Bryan, the vice president for F-35 business development, gave his view of the F-35 Program, world’s biggest defense program. His view is optimistic and, no surprise, slightly different from that of the Government Accountability Office (See Mixed performance, Major concerns)

Read the complete Q and A, as reported by DOD Buzz

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Jun 20 2012

US Senator Levin: Lockheed Needs Pressure to Pare F-35 Costs

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

Bloomberg reports about the reaction of Senator Levin on the latest US GAO report and the news that the first four Low Rate Initial Production series (total of 63 aircraft) are exceeding the combined (contractual) target price with about US$ 1 billion.

Some quotes:
We have to keep the pressure on,” Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, said in an interview. “We’ve got to have contracts which are fixed-priced. We have to make reductions.


We’ve got to have a backup, which is what the F-18 is all about,” Levin said of the current fighter built by Boeing Co. The Navy has included funds through 2017 to buy 51 additional F-18s, in part as a hedge against further delays in the 78 F-35s it wants to acquire in those years.

Read more, including reaction of Lockheed Martin: Bloomberg Businessweek 19-jun-2012

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Jun 20 2012

F-35 helmet visor: bouncing too much to find the enemy

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

In an interesting article, published by the US Center for Public Integrity the Washington Post journalist Jeffrey Smith writes about the troublesome helmet visor of the Joint Strike Fighter (the F-35 doesn’t have the traditional Head-Up Display)”:

A host of problems plague the military’s newest jet fighter, the F-35, but one of the simplest yet most troublesome is identified in a new government audit as unreadable “symbology.”

The problem exists inside a small item at the heart of what makes the F-35 the world’s most sophisticated aircraft — if only it could be made to work. Namely, the pilot’s helmet visor. On the world’s most advanced, fifth-generation military aircraft, the visor is meant to be much more than a sun shield. It is supposed to do wondrous things.

Acting like a small, see-through movie screen, it is designed to display data showing how the plane is performing, where enemy targets are, and which weapons the pilot can use to handle them. As the pilot swivels his head, the display is meant to adapt, creating a direct link — as in a science-fiction movie — between the pilot and the aircraft’s unprecedented computing power.

The visor is, according to the Government Accountability Office’s latest annual report on the F-35’s development, “integral to the mission systems architecture.” In other words, the plane was more or less designed around the unique capabilities of that fancy helmet appendage.

Just one problem: It doesn’t work. In flight tests, the visor’s “symbology” has evidently been unreadable, because the plane itself has been bouncing up and down in the air more than expected. The effect is probably like trying to read an e-book while riding a bicycle along a boulder-strewn path.

Problem 1: Jitter caused by vibrations

“Display jitter,” the GAO report says in a footnote, “is the undesired shaking of display, making symbology unreadable … [due to] worse than expected vibrations, known as aircraft buffet.”

Problem 2: Delay in display of sensor data

Unfortunately for the plane’s designers, jitter and buffeting are only part of the problems undermining the visor’s use. The others are a persistent delay in displaying key sensor data — making the visor symbols outdated as the aircraft streaks through the air at speeds up to 1,200 mph —

Problem 3: inproperly night vision

—-and an inability to show night vision readings properly.


So what’s the big deal? It’s just a visor. Well, the GAO report says “these shortfalls may lead to a helmet unable to fully meet warfighter requirements — unsuitable for flight tasks and weapons delivery, as well as creating an unmanageable pilot workload, and may place limitations on the [F-35’s] operational environment.”

In short, if the visor doesn’t work, the plane may not be able to do all the impressive things that the Pentagon is spending more than $1.5 trillion — over the next 30 or so years — to make it do. The GAO said this alarm was sounded by the program officials interviewed by its investigators.

A new visor is under development, at an estimated cost of just $80 million, so the Air Force may have a backup if the original visor’s kinks cannot be worked out. But according to the GAO, the alternate visor won’t be as capable. An Air Force spokesman did not respond to a request for comment, but quoted the F-35 program director in March as promising that the helmet troubles are “being addressed,” partly through the backup visor.

Source/Read more: iWatch News 18-jun-2012 “Bouncing too much to find the enemy

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Jun 20 2012

S.Korean official says: F-35 gets zero point in flight testing

Gepubliceerd door onder Global F35 News

Defense News reports about the fighter evaluation in South Korea:
South Korea could delay awarding an eight trillion won ($6.9 billion) contract for 60 dvanced fighter planes, the arms procurement agency said June 20 after setting a new deadline for bids.”

But South Korea doesn’t accept a 100% simulator based evaluation (like Norway, The Netherlands, Canada, Japan):
Controversy has erupted over plans to assess the performance of Lockheed’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter using simulators rather than actual test flights with South Korea’s pilots.”

DAPA commissioner Noh Dae-Rae told Yonhap News Agency in comments confirmed by a spokesman for the agency: “If the U.S. side rejects our request, we will have no choice but to give a zero point in the criteria of flight-testing [of the F-35].”

Read more: Defense News 20-jun-2012 “S. Korea ‘Could Delay’ $6.9B Fighter Competition

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