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Thread: The Endangered F-35

  1. #41
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    Default Re: The Endangered F-35

    Major F-35B Component Cracks In Fatigue Test
    November 17, 2010

    The aft bulkhead of the F-35B BH-1 fatigue-test specimen has developed cracks after 1,500 hours of durability testing, Ares has learned. This is less than one-tenth of the planned fatigue test program, which is designed to prove an 8,000-hour airframe life with a safety factor of two.

    The bulkhead design was modified in the course of the jet's weight-saving redesign in 2004-05, switching from forged titanium - proven on the F-22 - to a new aluminum forging process developed by Alcoa.

    According to Lockheed Martin,"the cracks were discovered during a special inspection when a test engineer discovered an anomaly." The company says that flight-test aircraft have been inspected and found crack-free and that flight testing has not been affected.

    Engineers are still investigating the failure and it is not yet known whether the cracks reflect a design fault, a test problem (for example, a condition on the rig that does not reproduce design conditions) or a faulty part.

    If the bulkhead design is found to be at fault, it will be a serious setback for the F-35B program, potentially imposing flight restrictions on aircraft already in the pipeline or requiring expensive changes on the assembly line.

    Six F-35Bs are included in the LRIP-2 contract, now in the mate or final assembly stage, and nine in the 17-aircraft LRIP-3 batch - which are intended to support initial Marine Corps training and operations. If a redesign is necessary it could also delay deliveries of LRIP-4 aircraft.

    Bulkheads are a major structural component of the F-35, carrying the major spanwise bending loads on the aircraft. They are produced from forgings weighing thousands of pounds, which are machined into the final shape. They are among the longest lead-time items in the airframe, being built into mid-body sections produced by Northrop Grumman.

    The F-35A and F-35C bulkheads are still made of titanium, as are similar bulkheads on the F-22.

    Correction: Northrop Grumman asks us to point out that the parts in question are built into the wing/centersection assembly made by Lockheed Martin.

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    Default Re: The Endangered F-35

    Pentagon "Not Happy" With Lockheed Fighter Costs
    December 1, 2010

    The Pentagon's chief arms buyer on Wednesday said he is "not happy" with the current state of Lockheed Martin Corp's (LMT.N) F-35 fighter program and is working with company officials to lower costs.

    "We have to get costs under control," U.S. Defense Undersecretary Ashton Carter said, adding that prospects for flat overall defense budgets were putting increased pressure on the department to make its weapons programs more affordable.

    "I'm not happy with the situation we're in now," Carter told an investment conference sponsored by Credit Suisse and Aviation Week, when asked about the Lockheed fighter.

    He said the new radar-evading fighters were initially slated to cost $50 million a piece, but cost growth was threatening to drive the price to around $92 million -- a level the Pentagon could not afford.

    "This is an example of an activity where we simply cannot accept what I call ... "will cost," Carter told the conference. "We're not going to pay more for the airplane. There isn't going to be ever more money."

    Carter said Vice Admiral David Venlet, the Pentagon's new F-35 program manager, was about 80 percent done with what he called "the most thorough and bottom up" review ever done of the program, which was helping to address cost growth issues.

    Venlet presented his preliminary findings to Carter and other top defense officials at a meeting of the Defense Acquisition Board on Nov. 22, but decisions about the program's funding level in the fiscal 2012 budget will not be finalized until another high-level meeting in coming weeks.

    The Pentagon this year already restructured the $382 billion fighter program, adding 13 months to the development phase, but Venlet's review is pointing to a further possible delay of up to three years and added costs of up to $5 billion, sources familiar with the program said last month.

    Carter said he believed costs on the new fighter jet could be reined in, calling Venlet "a real black belt" when it came to running big weapons programs.

    Pentagon spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin said no date had yet been set for the next meeting of the Defense Acquisition Board.

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    Default Re: The Endangered F-35

    F-35B Put On Probation; New Bomber To Go Forward
    January 7, 2011

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates has put the U.S. Marine Corps’ troubled F-35B short-takeoff-and-vertical landing (Stovl) Joint Strike Fighter on “probation,” while endorsing the U.S. Air Force’s long-coveted new bomber program.

    The F-35A and F-35C models emerged unscathed from Gates’ review. However, the F-35B “is experiencing significant testing problems,” Gates said at the Pentagon Jan. 6.

    Implying that problems are more serious than previously reported, he adds that “these issues may lead to a redesign of the aircraft’s structure and propulsion — changes that could add yet more weight and more cost to an aircraft that has little capacity to absorb more of either.”

    The JSF test program will be restructured so that testing of the F-35A and F-35C runs ahead of the B model, rather than the other way around. If the B model cannot be “fixed or gotten back on track” in two years, “I believe it should be canceled,” Gates says.

    Gates’ comments came during a press conference announcing a series of budget efficiencies designed to cut or redirect more than $150 billion from current Defense Department spending over the next five years.

    Delays to F-35B testing so far — fewer than a dozen vertical landings have been logged since March 2010 — have been publicly attributed to a problem with the auxiliary engine inlet door, and individually minor issues with components such as cooling fans.

    More details of changes to the JSF program also emerged, including another delay in the completion of systems development and demonstration (SDD) and a cut-down production ramp. SDD is now delayed to early 2016, versus mid-2015 as planned in the restructuring of the program early last year. SDD finishes with the conclusion of development testing and precedes initial operational testing and evaluation, so the move likely will push initial operational capability (IOC) into 2017. (The individual services are assessing their IOC dates.) This will cost an additional $4.6 billion to the program.

    The Fiscal 2012 JSF buy — low-rate initial production (LRIP) Lot V — will be held at 32 aircraft, both to reduce concurrency and because “the final assembly process at Fort Worth is still maturing,” Gates says. Deliveries at this point are late by multiple months.

    In Fiscal 2013 and later, deliveries will ramp up by a factor of roughly 1.5 per year, for a total of 325 aircraft through LRIP IX (on contract in 2016 and delivered by 2018) versus 449 in the previous plan.

    The LRIP IV contract, just signed, will be changed to eliminate all but three Stovl aircraft. The U.S. will buy only six Stovl aircraft in each of the next two LRIP Lots (V and VI), regarded as the minimum needed to sustain the supplier base and unique skills.

    Gates indicated in response to questions that a last-ditch appeal by Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos and his predecessor may have saved the B-model from outright cancellation. Gates said the commandants made a convincing argument for more time to fix the program.

    The Navy also plans to acquire more Super Hornets and extend the structural life of 150 “classic” Hornets as a hedge against late JSF deliveries. The service will buy 41 more F/A-18s in Fiscal 2012-14.

    Meanwhile, in a major breakthrough for advocates of long-distance airpower, Gates strongly endorsed a program for “a new long-range, nuclear-capable penetrating bomber.” The Air Force has been struggling to get this program reinstated since Gates deferred development of the so-called “2018 bomber” in 2009, against the opposition of some senior Pentagon leaders who argued that smaller unmanned aircraft, plus cruise and ballistic missiles, could adequately supplement existing bombers in the foreseeable future.

    Gates also announced decisions on a number of controversial aspects of the new aircraft. It will be nuclear-capable — some had argued for this, on the grounds that radiation-hardening is relatively inexpensive at the design stage and costly to retrofit, while others had opposed it because it brings the bomber within the scope of arms-control discussions. Gates also says that it would be “optionally” piloted rather than unmanned, and that it would make use of existing technologies to speed development.

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    Default Re: The Endangered F-35

    US Military Unveils Possible F-35B Redesign In Sweeping Budget Reforms
    January 7, 2011

    Lockheed Martin may need to redesign the airframe structure and propulsion system of the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B, says US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

    The changes would raise the weight and cost of the variant ordered by the US Marine Corps, Gates says. As a result, the F-35B will be placed on the equivalent of a two-year probation, with termination possible if the programme fails to recover, he says.

    "The Marine Corps made a compelling case that they need some time to get things right with the STOVL and we will give them that opportunity," Gates says.

    Meanwhile, the STOVL variant will be moved to the end of Lockheed's production system, Gates says. The US Navy will buy more Boeing F/A-18s in the interim, he adds. The Department of Defense also plans to cap F-35 orders this year at 32 aircraft, or only one more than ordered in fiscal year 2010 under the fourth lot of low-rate initial production.

    The F-35 restructuring was revealed as part of a package of budget proposals unveiled by Gates on 6 January aimed at reinvesting $100 billion taken from "unneeded programmes" over the next five years into new priorities.

    Gates also announced that the US Air Force will relaunch a next-generation bomber in the FY2012 budget request to the US Congress. The follow-on bomber is a "high priority for future investment given the anti-access challenges the department faces," he says.

    The USN also plans to accelerate development and production of a next-generation jammer (NGJ) to replace ALQ-99 pods flown on the Northrop Grumman EA-6B and Boeing EA-18G escort jammers. In addition to buying more F/A-18E/F Super Hornets in place of F-35Bs in the near-term, the navy also will extend the life of 150 of its current F/A-18s, Gates says.

    The bulk of the budget proposals in the aerospace sector, however, fell on the F-35 programme. Gates estimates that the changes, which include a more realistic "repricing" plan and production schedule, will generate $4 billion in savings.

    "We recognise that long-term confidence in the programme must be earned over time by executing and meeting commitments," Lockheed says in a statement. The new plan unveiled by Gates represents "an essential foundational requirement to ensure future success", it adds.

    Gates notes that the conventional take-off and landing F-35A ordered by the USAF and the F-35C variant ordered by the navy are proceeding "satisfactorily".

    "By comparison, the Marine Corps variant has experienced significant testing problems," he says.

    In November, Lockheed revealed that the F-35B ground test aircraft had suffered fatigue cracks in the 496 bulkhead, an aluminium structure manufactured by Alcoa. The cracking issue was under investigation as Gates's staff reviewed the overall programme's cost and schedule.

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    Default Re: The Endangered F-35

    New Problems Disclosed On 2 Models Of F-35
    January 18, 2011

    The F-35 Lightning II strike fighter has previously undisclosed problems with its handling, avionics, afterburner and helmet-mounted display, according to a report by the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation.

    Both the Air Force F-35A variant and Marine Corps’ F-35B model experienced “transonic wing roll-off, [and] greater than expected sideslip during medium angle-of-attack testing,” the report said.

    The report also says that various components are not as reliable as expected.

    Additionally, the Pratt and Whitney F-135 engine has encountered an afterburner “screech,” in which airflow disruptions cause severe vibrations, preventing the engine from reaching maximum power. That problem has delayed some required testing.

    According to the report, the program has already begun efforts to fix the problem. Pratt and Whitney officials were not immediately available for comment.

    Further, the report indicates problems with the aircraft’s helmet-mounted display. Unlike many previous aircraft, the F-35 does not have a cockpit-mounted head-up display; the pilot instead views critical data projected on the helmet visor.

    The report does not elaborate on the nature of the problems, but says they must be solved before the Block 2 mission systems software can be tested. Currently, the program is testing preliminary Block 0.5 and Block 1 mission systems software. Block 2 would incrementally increase the aircraft’s capabilities and would be followed by the fully mission-capable Block 3 software.

    A Lockheed Martin official could not immediately describe the technical problems with the display.

    “The F-35 air system advances Helmet Mounted Display technology to capabilities not flying today on any other tactical platform. With this advancement in technology come challenges that the program is actively managing. The challenges are being worked with the supplier,” said Lockheed Martin spokesman John Kent.

    “While there are no current plans to change suppliers, options are being considered in parallel that mitigate the most stressing issues. Flight testing is proceeding with the HMD installed and used with no safety of flight concerns.”

    The report also calls for the Block 3 mission system software to be tested on a simulated battlefield because existing test ranges are not adequate to test the F-35’s sensor arrays.

    “Open-air testing is constrained by range limitations that are incapable of providing realistic testing of many key capabilities provided by Block 3 aircraft,” the report says.

    The report also calls for the aircraft’s On-Board Inert Gas Generations System, which generates inert gases to prevent oxygen building up inside the fuel tanks, to be redesigned.

    “The OBIGGS system fails to inert the fuel tank ullage spaces throughout the combat flight envelopes evaluated,” the report says.

    The report recommends program officials redesign the OBIGGS system “to ensure that the fuel tank ullage volume oxygen concentrations are maintained below levels that sustain fire and/or explosion throughout the combat flight envelopes.”

    These issues are in addition to the known difficulties with the B-model aircraft’s insufficiently strong structural bulkhead and problems with auxiliary air inlet doors on the aircraft’s top surface.

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    Default Re: The Endangered F-35

    This thing is never going to get built...

    Early Warning on JSF Delays
    February 7, 2011

    This morning, Graham Warwick and Amy Butler's story on detailed changes to the F-35 flight test program goes live on the Check Six page.

    Highlights: Development testing is not now due to be completed until October 2016, completion being marked by the end of testing on Block 3 software. The new program will include 7,800 flights, restoring the 2,000 test sorties that the JSF Program Office cut in 2007. See the full story for more detail.

    In total, this represents a five-year delay since the program started.
    To take a more recent benchmark: in September 2008, the schedule called for Block 3 development testing to be finished in mid-2013, five years away. Today, that milestone is more than five-and-a-half years off: in short, the JSF program has gone six to nine months backwards in just over two years.

    According to the Government Accountability Office's testimony of last March, development costs in then-year dollars had increased from a baseline of $34.4 billion on 2001 to $49.3 billion by that time. This was revised upwards to $50.8 billion as part of last year's Nunn-McCurdy review. The latest extension will cost an additional $4.6 billion, bringing the total overrun to $21 billion or 61 percent.

    Cost overruns that equal the total cost of many large development programs may come as a shock, but they are not much of a surprise to JSF program director VAdm David Venlet.

    In late 2007, analysts from Naval Air Systems Command looked at Lockheed Martin's JSF contract alone (that is, not at the engines) and concluded that the best case was a 34 percent overrun over Lockheed Martin's estimate at the time (the overall program was over its original budget by 30 percent by 2008). The worst case was 58 percent. Navair additionally predicted that the schedule could slip by 19-27 months

    The Navair analysts shared their numbers with the GAO, and it is inconceivable that they did so without the knowledge and approval of their superiors - including then-commander of Navair, VAdm Dave Venlet.

    The GAO cited Navair's analysis in its March 2008 report on the JSF program, along with estimates from the DoD's Cost Analysis Improvement Group - since absorbed into today's Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) - and the Defense Contracts Management Agency. Navair's estimate was by far the most pessimistic of the three, and the most accurate.

    The 2008 GAO report was not the first red flag, nor the last. It is part of a seven-year history in which there have been two completely different narratives in the JSF program, with the JPO, its contractors and its paid and unpaid supporters arguing that the program is sound and that setbacks are normal and temporary, and every independent agency saying something else.

    In March 2004, test experts from the US Navy, USAF and RAF started an evaluation of the JSF test plan, which took place over 21 months, completing its work in December 2005 and reporting in February 2006. (Again, Venlet - as Program Executive Officer for tactical aircraft programs from September 2004 - would have been aware of this activity,)

    What the team found, according to the GAO, was that "software development and testing schedules are success-oriented and have little margin to accommodate delays" - a problem that is clearly reflected today, as sorties are being added back to the program to accommodate regression testing and added test phases.

    The investigators also reported that the "flight test schedule provides little capability to respond to unforeseen problems and still meet scheduled start of operational testing." This, too, is something we have seen in action in the last couple of years, as the late delivery of test aircraft and reliability problems with the F-35B have thrown the schedule out of order.

    The program's response: a "risk reduction" exercise that eliminated two flight test aircraft and cut 2,000 sorties out of the program." As I noted here when the GAO published its 2008 report:
    GAO's main criticism of these cutbacks, which were designed to save money and build up management reserves - the rainy day fund - in the development program, is that they don't deal with what was causing overruns in the first place.
    Immediately after the 2008 GAO report appeared, the Office of the Secretary of Defense commissioned the CAIG to form a Joint Estimating Team, also with Navy and USAF representatives. As the GAO reported the following year, JET concluded that development would cost $51.8 billion and be completed in October 2016 - estimates which appear pretty accurate today, but were two years and $5 billion over the JPO's official figures.

    The Director of Operational Test & Evaluation's reports over the years also reveal increasing levels of concern about the program. As early as FY04 (report published in early 2005), the DOT&E was warning that "the slope of the learning curves and efficiencies required to execute Block 3 software development exceeds previous software development programs."

    DOT&E's FY07 report, issued in early 2008, criticized in detail the assumptions behind the "risk reduction" flight-test cuts. The JPO was counting on being able to share flight tests across disciplines ("ride along" or "shared sortie" flights). The JPO's plan also eliminated build-up test points, and moved verification flights from F-35 tests to the lab.

    Similar warnings continued in the FY08 and FY09 reports. By early 2009, the program had been extended by a year - but the DOT&E was still warning that the plan depended on deliveries not slipping further (which they did) and that the test force's "analytical, scheduling and decision-making power" would be critical if the planned 140 flights/month rate was to be sustained.

    There has never been any shortage of warnings about the problems now hitting the JSF program. Tomorrow, we'll look at how the program and its supporters responded in public.

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    Default Re: The Endangered F-35

    Do you remember me saying "Watch for big cuts in the DOD" a few days ago?

    The cuts are coming. On everything except the crap that should be cut.

    We're looking at a 400 or so person RIF at the MDA, US - wide.

    Thats on the CONTRACTOR side. There are 8800 employees, and about half of them are civilian and military (government). The other half is CONTRACTORS. The people who do the work are CONTRACTORS.

    So, 10% of the contractor force.

    Nice huh?

    Cut the guys who do the work, keep the big bosses though, who make 100K or more per year.. (you know, for making the cuts)
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: The Endangered F-35

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Ruck View Post
    This thing is never going to get built...

    And it looks like a group of Republicans are helping to put some final nails in the coffin.



    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/17/us...e.html?_r=2&hp

    House Votes to End Alternate Jet Engine Program

    By CHRISTOPHER DREW

    Published: February 16, 2011


    In a sign that more than half the Republican freshmen are willing to cut military spending, the House voted 233 to 198 on Wednesday to cancel an alternate fighter jet engine that the Bush and Obama administrations had tried to kill for the last five years.

    The vote was another instance in which some of the new legislators, including several affiliated with the Tea Party, broke ranks with the House speaker, John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, where the engine provided more than 1,000 jobs.



    Of the 87 new Republican members, 47 voted to cancel the alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, while 40 others voted to keep it alive.



    Many of the freshmen Republicans in the House had been hesitant to trim military spending as part of their drive to reduce the nation’s large budget deficits.



    But after forcing Mr. Boehner and other Republican leaders to propose greater cuts in domestic programs, they agreed to include $16 billion in military cuts in this year’s spending bill, which is being debated on the floor this week.



    Killing the engine would cut an additional $450 million and save up to $3 billion over the next several years.



    The Joint Strike Fighter is the nation’s most expensive weapons program, and eliminating the alternate engine would be one of the most noteworthy cancellations this year.



    The project was meant to create competition with another engine and drive down prices on what could eventually be up to $100 billion in engine purchases. But Pentagon officials have questioned the potential savings and said they could not afford the short-term costs with the military budget flattening out.



    Representative Tom Rooney of Florida, a second-term Republican who led the fight to kill the engine, said he had hoped to win votes from 30 of the freshmen and was delighted to receive 17 more. “I think it was just convincing the freshmen that this is why we ran and won in November: that everything needs to be on the table when we’re looking for waste,” he said in an interview.



    But in some ways, the votes of the Republican freshmen also broke down just like those of veteran members in both parties, with jobs in their states a primary concern.



    For instance, all nine of the Republican freshmen from Ohio and Indiana voted to save the alternate engine. It is being developed by General Electric and Rolls-Royce in those states, while Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies, is building the other engine in Connecticut.



    And in voting to cancel the alternate engine, some of the Republican freshmen formed an unusual alliance with liberal Democrats, who have opposed many of the Republican proposals for cuts in domestic programs.
    The vote was a victory for President Obama and the defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, who had called the engine “an unnecessary and extravagant expense.” Yet the willingness in the House to make more cuts could also signal trouble for Mr. Gates, who has complained that the Pentagon could face a short-term crisis if the Republicans go ahead with $16 billion in additional military cuts this year.



    G.E. said it would ask the Senate to restore the money. G.E. and Rolls-Royce have spent $3 billion so far and might need $2 billion to $3 billion more to complete the engine.
    Top Democratic senators, like Carl Levin of Michigan, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, have generally backed the engine.



    But Senator John McCain of Arizona and other Republicans have repeatedly sought to block it, and military analysts said G.E. and Rolls-Royce now face an uphill battle.



    Even if the Senate restored the money, the measure would also need subsequent approval in a House-Senate joint conference committee.
    Some liberals have sought to portray the alternate engine as an expensive example of earmarked spending by Mr. Boehner, the new House speaker, whose home state of Ohio would benefit from jobs.



    But with the Democrats in control, the House voted 231 to 193 last May to keep the project alive, even though Mr. Obama had threatened a veto. In that vote, 116 Republicans and 115 Democrats stuck with the engine.
    On Wednesday, 110 Republicans voted to kill the engine, while 130 supported it. Democrats voted 123 to 68 to cancel it.
    The F-35 is a radar-evading fighter, and the Pentagon could spend $380 billion for 2,400 planes over 25 years. Congress has financed the second engine for years to keep Pratt & Whitney from having a lucrative monopoly and as insurance against defects that might ground the fleet.



    But as costs have risen on the F-35 program, Mr. Gates has said the alternate engine seemed more a luxury than a necessity. And it is possible that the Pentagon and several allied nations will not end up buying as many of the planes as they expected.



    This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
    Correction: February 16, 2011
    An earlier version of this article misstated the number of new Republican members who voted to cancel the engine. It was 47, not 46.

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    Default Re: The Endangered F-35

    Well... The alternate engine was a bit of an unnecessary additional cost to the program. From what I heard, pretty much everyone directly involved wanted the alternate engine killed.

    To be completely honest, I suspect it was pork and I think this is a small step toward stanching the bleed out for the F-35.

    While, in general, the military should not be cut and they should be getting the best systems, it should be streamlined to make it better.

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    Default Re: The Endangered F-35

    It was my understanding though the alternate engine only came around because the original one was not meeting desired specs.

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    Default Re: The Endangered F-35


  12. #52
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    Default Re: The Endangered F-35

    Officials: Military May Deploy F-35 Early
    May 28, 2011

    The military may deploy the F-35 joint strike fighter before the tri-service combat jet formally achieves initial operational capability, top uniformed officials told Congress earlier this week.

    While the Marine Corps has always maintained that it would declare IOC with interim Block 2B software, the Air Force and Navy require that the aircraft be fielded with Block 3 software.

    However, in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Air Force and Navy leaders said Tuesday they would consider deploying the fifth-generation stealth fighter into combat zones with interim Block 2B software, provided there were no safety concerns.

    “If the combatant commander said, ‘Bring me this capability,’ then we clearly would provide it,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. Herbert Carlisle, the service’s deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and requirements.

    The Navy’s director of warfare integration, Rear Adm. David Philman, concurred.

    “I don’t see any reason we wouldn’t be able to be told to go into theater, assuming all the safety considerations have been taken care of,” he said.

    Both the Navy and the Air Force would have some number of the aircraft prior to any IOC date, but the specifics of how many planes would be available is not yet known.

    “We will have a number, probably on the order of 100 airplanes, delivered to operational units before we declare initial operational capability,” Carlisle said. “Clearly, although we may not declare IOC, we’ll be training, we’ll be doing the tactics, training and procedures with the Block 2.”

    The maintenance and logistical systems would also be built during that period, he said.

    Philman said the Navy would have some aircraft available, but not as many as the Air Force.

    Marine Lt. Gen. Terry Robling, the Corps’ deputy commandant for aviation, testified alongside Carlisle and Philman that his service still plans to declare IOC with the interim Block 2B software and would have about 50 F-35s available near that time. He said IOC for the Marines is now estimated to fall between 2014 and 2015, a two-year slip.

    Even with the interim software, the F-35 would be vastly more capable than existing warplanes, the three flag officers said.

    “There is a lot of capability even in the Block 2 airplanes that looks very impressive,” Carlisle said.

    However, the Air Force and the Navy will insist upon Block 3 hardware and software for their formal IOC declarations, Carlisle and Philman said.

    Insisting on Block 3 will allow the Pentagon to keep the pressure on Lockheed Martin, the F-35’s prime contractor.

    “I’ll be perfectly frank: In a lot of cases, if you delay an IOC, you can maintain pressure on a contractor,” Carlisle said.

    IOC for the Air Force and Navy, like the Marines, will slip by about two years from 2016, Carlisle and Philman said.

    None of the three services has set a fixed IOC date, but Philman said the 2016 date is no longer valid.
    I guess the plan is to try and rush it out to deployment to help keep the program from being cancelled.

    Well, news flash! Deployment didn't help keep the F-22 from being killed off!

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    Default Re: The Endangered F-35

    Lockheed F-35 Faces ‘Significant’ Software Delays, GAO Says
    March 15, 2011

    Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT)’s development of software for its F-35 fighter jet, the Pentagon’s largest weapons program, is “significantly behind schedule as it enters its most challenging phase,” according to congressional auditors.

    Program officials were two years late in releasing the second of five progressively more complex software versions, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported at a House Armed Services Committee subcommittee today.

    “Each of the remaining three blocks” needed for full war- fighting capability “are now projected to slip more than three years” compared with the current schedule, set in 2006, Michael Sullivan, the GAO director of acquisition management, told the panel. The final block, originally scheduled for this year, isn’t anticipated until 2015, he said.

    “Delays have cascading effects hampering flight tests, training” and accrediting 32 laboratories and models needed to verify software, according to the GAO’s findings. “While progress is being made, a substantial amount of work remains.”

    Lockheed Martin spokesman John Kent didn’t immediately comment in response to an e-mail about the GAO findings.

    The testimony distills the watchdog agency’s annual F-35 report, due later this month. Most attention on the $382 billion program has focused on flight-testing delays and technical problems with the Marine Corps version -- the most complex model of the aircraft that’s also being developed in variants for the Air Force and the Navy. Defense Secretary Robert Gates in January put that version on two-year probation.

    ‘On the Mark’

    “Concerns about the F-35, expressed annually for several years by GAO, have gone unheeded by the Pentagon and have largely been right on the mark,” the subcommittee chairman, Maryland Republican Representative Roscoe Bartlett, said in an opening statement.

    Vice Admiral David Venlet, the Pentagon’s program manager, said while there have been “challenges” in the program’s cost and schedule, changes this year to extend development work and slow production have placed the project “on sound footing.”

    Venlet also said Lockheed Martin for the first time in years has been meeting its delivery schedule, being on-time for five straight months under a new plan set last September. The Pentagon also is seeing “progress in controlling aircraft costs,” he said.

    Chronic Delays

    The GAO testimony outlines chronic delays in “one of the largest and most complex” software development efforts in Pentagon history. That’s as the program is anticipated to require “unprecedented demands for funding,” Sullivan wrote.

    Through 2035, the program to buy 2,457 jets, including 14 test planes, is estimated to require $11 billion annually, according to unreleased Pentagon budget projections, GAO said.

    “After more than nine years in development,” including four years of overlapping low-rate production, “the program has not fully demonstrated the aircraft design is stable, manufacturing processes are mature and the system is reliable,” said GAO.

    Only 4 percent of the aircraft’s capabilities have been completely verified by flight tests, laboratory results, or both, GAO said. “The pace of flight testing accelerated significantly in 2010 but overall progress is still much below plans forecast several years ago.”

    Lockheed Martin and its subcontractors are “improving operations and implementing” recommendations from a Pentagon- commissioned panel but haven’t yet demonstrated “a capacity to efficiently produce at higher production rates,” said GAO.

    Improvements Needed

    “Substantial improvements in factory throughput and the supply chain are needed,” GAO said. The program hasn’t yet “stabilized aircraft design” as “engineering changes continue at higher-than-expected rates.”

    Total labor hours required to produce test aircraft have increased instead of diminished -- an indication of “lingering management inefficiencies,” said GAO. Hours to complete assembly of test aircraft last year “exceeded budgeted hours by more than 1.5 million,” for example.

    The report discloses the financial stakes for Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin through 2016 -- the Pentagon’s five-year F-35 budget plan calls for requesting $50.7 billion during that period, including $7.9 billion in 2013 and $14.3 billion for the last year. That’s up from the $6.9 billion requested for fiscal 2012.

    Continued Development

    Gates this year delayed purchases of 242 F-35s over the five-year period to slow the program and shift $4.6 billion into continued development.

    Still, “even after decreasing annual quantities, procurement still escalates significantly,” said Sullivan.

    The aircraft depends on software with millions of additional lines of code compared with the Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor or Boeing Co. (BA)’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet for fusing data from numerous sensors, and operating fire control, propulsion and maintenance diagnostics systems.

    “Good progress has been reported on writing code,” but total lines of software needed continue to grow, said GAO.

    “Officials underestimated the time and effort needed to develop and integrate the software, substantially contributing to the program’s overall cost and schedule problems, testing delays and requiring the retention of engineers for longer periods,” it said.

    The total system-development cost since 2001, when Lockheed Martin won the program from Chicago-based Boeing, has risen to $56.4 billion from $34.4 billion and has extended to 2018, a five-year slip from the current schedule that was revised in 2007.

    Lockheed Martin’s cost-plus type development contract since 2001 has increased to at least $33.9 billion from $19 billion, GAO said.

    The total program, including development, production and military construction has increased to $382 billion, up 64 percent from the October 2001 estimate of $233 billion.

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    Default Re: The Endangered F-35

    Software people. Grrr
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    Default Re: The Endangered F-35

    Tell me about it. LOL!

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    Default Re: The Endangered F-35

    Navy Official Questions Need For JSF Variants
    August 25, 2011

    U.S. Navy Undersecretary Robert Work told the Navy and Marine Corps in July to provide lower-cost alternatives to the Navy’s current tactical aviation plan, and to examine the consequences of terminating either the F-35B short-takeoff/vertical-landing version of the Joint Strike Fighter or the carrier-compatible F-35C. Work is seeking decisions in time for the 2013 budget submission.

    Work also directed service leaders to study whether the Navy and Marines could operate fewer than the 40 squadrons of JSFs currently planned (supported by 680 aircraft, divided equally between Bs and Cs) and to look at the possibility of accelerating development of unmanned alternative systems. Canceling both the F-35B and F-35C was not identified as an option.

    The instructions were included in a July 7 memo from Work to Navy acquisition chief Sean Stackley, Vice Chief Of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert and assistant Marine Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford. Work told the leaders to form a team to develop three alternative tactical aviation force structures, respectively representing cost savings of $5 billion, $7.5 billion and $10 billion across the future years defense plan. Ultimately, Work expects to determine “the best-value alternative, factoring in both cost and capability.

    “This relook must consider every plan and program,” Work wrote. “Even cuts to long-planned buys of JSF must be on the table.” The team also was specifically charged with defining “the key performance differences between the Block 2 F/A-18E/F with all planned upgrades, F-35B and F-35C.”

    The quick-look analysis was due to be completed three weeks after the memo date, that is, by July 28. Results have not been disclosed.

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    Default Re: The Endangered F-35

    Lockheed, Pentagon At Odds Over F-35 Costs: Sources
    October 25, 2011

    Lockheed Martin Corp is pushing back against Pentagon efforts to make the company pay for problems that arise with the F-35 fighter jet during testing as a way to lower costs of major weapons programs, according to sources familiar with the emerging dispute.

    Company executives will raise the issue in a quarterly earnings report on Wednesday, the sources said.

    The Defense Department's push to change the terms of its next production contract for the F-35, or Joint Strike Fighter, could expose Lockheed to possible losses in coming years, said consultant Loren Thompson, who has close ties to the company.

    "The government wants to radically change its approach to sharing risk on new weapons programs so that all of the exposure is shifted to industry," Thompson said.

    Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Pentagon acquisition officials have been targeting overhead costs and other factors as part of a major drive to reform major weapons contracts after years of cost overruns and schedule delays.

    Defense officials have put new focus on acquisition reforms as they search for ways to trim the Defense Department's budget by $489 billion over the next 10 years.

    Shay Assad, the Pentagon's director of defense pricing, told Reuters in a recent interview that he was braced for resistance from industry to some reforms. "We're going to be breaking some glass here," he said.

    Assad and a team of more than two dozen pricing experts are finishing a review of what the fifth batch of F-35 production jets should cost this month, which will pave the way for Lockheed and the Pentagon to begin formal contract talks.

    But defense officials have already told Lockheed that they expect it to share in the costs of "concurrency" or changes that must be made to the new warplane, which has already entered production as developmental testing continues.

    The extent of the "share line" would be determined during contract negotiations, said one source familiar with the issue.

    A second source said the government wanted the company to shoulder all those costs.

    The last F-35 production contract already included a switch to fixed price terms with an incentive fee, abandoning the cost-plus type contracts usually signed early in the life of a new weapons program and compelling the company to share the costs if the program exceeded its budget.

    MOVE COULD WIPE OUT PROFITS, ANALYST SAYS

    Thompson said most changes to the weapons program resulted from government decisions, not contractor error. Forcing Lockheed to pay for such changes could reduce the company's ability to make any profit on the program, and would likely result in strong opposition from shareholders.

    "If the government succeeds in shifting the ultimate risk to Lockheed Martin, then it could easily wipe out any profit on the program and leave the company unprotected against future liability," Thompson said.

    Officials estimate it will cost $382 billion to develop and build 2,447 of the new radar-evading fighter jets for the U.S. military -- a cost that budget experts say makes the program vulnerable to big cuts as defense spending declines.

    But Carter, who moved to the Pentagon's No. 2 job this month from his previous post as chief weapons buyer, has vowed to drive the cost down to a far lower "should cost" level.

    The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program has seen massive cost growth and schedule delays since its start 10 years ago, and is under intense scrutiny now, given the Pentagon's need to cut at least $489 billion from its spending over the next 10 years.

    Assad's "should cost" review, one of the first to be done of all major weapons programs, is being closely watched by Lockheed and major F-35 suppliers like Northrop Grumman Corp, Britain's BAE Systems Plc, and other major suppliers on the F-35 program.

    Pentagon changes to weapons contractors have also drawn a reaction from contractors bidding to build Humvee replacements for the Army. Sources say several companies are considering withdrawing from that competition if the Army does not change draft requirements issued earlier this month.[/quote]

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    Default Re: The Endangered F-35

    This is what the Marine Corps is reduced to doing since the F-35 program is dragging.

    Navy, Corps Buying Decommissioned U.K. Harriers
    November 13, 2011

    The Navy and Marine Corps have agreed to buy Britain’s entire decommissioned fleet of 74 Harrier jump jets, along with engines and spare parts — a move expected to help the Corps operate Harriers into the mid-2020s and provide extra planes to replace aging two-seat F-18D Hornet strike fighters.

    Rear Adm. Mark Heinrich, chief of the Navy’s Supply Corps, confirmed the two-part deal last week during a conference in New York sponsored by Bank of America Merrill Lynch in association with Defense News.

    Heinrich negotiated the $50 million purchase of all Harrier spare parts, while Rear Adm. Donald Gaddis, the Navy’s program executive officer for tactical aircraft, is overseeing discussions to buy the Harrier aircraft and their Rolls-Royce engines, Heinrich said.

    A spokesman for the British Ministry of Defence confirmed the Disposal Services Agency was in talks with the Navy for the sale of the Harriers. The deal had yet to be concluded, he said Friday.

    Britain retired its joint force of Royal Air Force and Royal Navy Harrier aircraft late last year in one of the most controversial moves of the defense reductions, which also cut the aircraft carriers that operated the jets, other warships, maritime patrol planes and personnel.

    Most of the retired Harriers are stored at Royal Air Force Base Cottesmore, England. They have been undergoing minimum fleet maintenance, including anti-deterioration measures, in order to keep them airworthy, Heinrich said.

    A spokesman for the Navy’s Naval Air Systems Command declined on Friday to comment on the deal, deferring to the British military.

    A British MoD source said Friday that he thought both deals could be signed in the next week or two. The MoD source confirmed that the entire fleet of 74 Harrier aircraft was involved in the sale.

    Heinrich noted that payment details were the only outstanding issue on the parts deal discussions, and he said the purchase will give the Corps a relatively economical way to get their hands on key components to keep the Harrier fleet running.

    While it is unusual for the U.S. to buy used foreign military aircraft for operation, integration of the British planes into Corps squadrons shouldn’t be a major problem, one expert said.

    “I don’t think it will be costly to rip out the Brit systems” and replace them with Marine gear, said Lon Nordeen, author of several books on the Harrier.

    Nordeen noted that the British GR 9 and 9As are similar in configuration to the Marines’ AV-8B night attack version, which makes up about a third of U.S. Harriers. The British planes also are night planes dedicated to air-ground attack, he said, and while both types carry Forward Looking Infrared sensors, neither is fitted with a multimode radar such as the APG-65 carried by U.S. AV-8B+ models.

    The absence of the big radar, Nordeen said, makes the GR 9A and AV-8Bs “a better-performing plane. Weighing less, it’s more of a hot rod.”

    British GR 9s, although upgraded with improved avionics and weapons, are powered by the Rolls-Royce Mark 105 Pegasus engine. GR 9As have the more powerful Mark 107, similar to the Rolls-Royce F402-RR-408s that power Marine AV-8Bs.

    British and U.S. Harrier II aircraft had a high degree of commonality from their origin. The planes were developed and built in a joint arrangement between British Aerospace — now BAE Systems — and McDonnell Douglas, now a division of Boeing. While each company built its own wings, all forward sections of the British and American Harrier IIs were built by McDonnell in St. Louis, while British Aerospace built the fuselage sections aft of the cockpit.

    “All the planes have to fit together,” Nordeen said.

    The Harrier IIs, built between 1980 and 1995, “are still quite serviceable,” he said. “The aircraft are not that far apart. We’re taking advantage of all the money the Brits have spent on them. It’s like we’re buying a car with maybe 15,000 miles on it.”

    Operationally, Nordeen said, “these are very good platforms. They need upgrades, but on bombing missions they have the ability to incorporate the Litening II targeting pod [used by U.S. aircraft]. They’re good platforms. And we’ve already got trained pilots.”

    The Corps is planning on phasing out its Harriers by 2025, when replacement by F-35B Joint Strike Fighters should be complete.

    Nordeen, however, said he expects the British Harriers to be used initially to replace two-seat Marine F-18D Hornet fighters now operated in the night attack role.

    “The F-18Ds are more worn out than the Harriers,” Nordeen said. “Most of the conversions [of ex-British aircraft] early on will be to replace 18Ds and not Harriers.” He noted the first Marine F-35B squadron already is slated to replace an F-18D unit.
    What could possibly go wrong!

  19. #59
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    Default Re: The Endangered F-35

    Nothing at all. I'm sure the Brits maintained the planes...

    Of course only 10% of them will actually fly and another 10 can be cobbled together from good parts... (I'm sure, trust me, I've been doing the same thing these days. everything is broken and fouled up and I'm working with parts no longer made. )
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  20. #60
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    Default Re: The Endangered F-35

    This is just pathetic. Here we are, the most technologcially advanced country on the planet, with the most advanced military and we are forced to purchase junk from one of our allies just to stay mission ready. We have fallen a long way. Are we still a super-power? Or better question might be - will we still be a super-power in ten years?

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