04.06.2014 Defence IQ Press
Of the jets in production that promise to take military fighters deep into the 21st century and beyond, the U.S. F-35, the Chinese J-20, and the Russian Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA are at the top of the heap.
The T-50 will be offered to countries — and Russian allies — looking for an alternative to the F-35, Lockheed Martin’s long-delayed fifth generation fighter. The Russians expect to sell about 1,000 fighters worldwide.
But those countries won’t be training pilots any time soon. According to Russia’s Centre for Analysis of World Arms Trade (CAWAT) the delivery schedule could be decades away for some purchasing nations. Malaysia won’t get their T-50s until 2035 at the earliest.
And if Americans thought they were alone in questioning the need for an advanced fighter program in today’s drone-filled skies, many Russians are also wondering at the need for their new aircraft.
“There is no mission and no adversary for such plane,” Russian defence analyst Konovalov says. “It would be more expedient to fit modern avionics to older generation jets.” [Business Insider]
The government’s commitment to transparency on the F-35 is being called into doubt amid questions over its refusal to release a “public” report, and suggestions it plans to announce a decision over the controversial stealth fighter in the dead of summer.
Cabinet ministers are reviewing the information they received in April after ordering military officials back to the drawing board to reassess the F-35 and its main competitors, Public Works Minister Diane Finley said Tuesday.
Yet with less than three weeks until Parliament rises for the summer, Finley is refusing to provide a timeline for when a decision will be made on whether the government will move ahead on purchasing the F-35 without a competition.
The government is also refusing to release a report that was intentionally stripped of sensitive material so it could be read by Canadians. That document was key to the promise of more openness in the process for replacing Canada’s aging CF-18 fighter jets.
“Our primary goal is to ensure that the men and women in uniform get the equipment they need to do the job that we ask,” Finley said in the House of Commons. “Once we have made a decision we will announce it, and the reports will be released.”
NDP defence critic Jack Harris suggested the government’s refusal to provide more information is undermining the government’s promised new approach after Auditor General Michael Ferguson raised serious concerns about the F-35 project two years ago.
“From cost overruns and delays to secrecy about the cost of the project, Canadians either do not trust the project or the process used or the government itself,” Harris said in the House of Commons.
“The minister was happy to tell (defence industry representatives) that there would be a decision in the next few weeks, but she has not commented on what will happen here in the House.”
The Conservative government first announced that Canada would be buying 65 F-35s for $16 billion in July 2010, when many Canadians were on vacation. It has since been revealed that the full cost of the F-35s could top $45 billion. [Ottawa Citizen]
Even as Lockheed Martin 's ( LMT ) F-35 stealth fighter sets flight-test milestones, the defense contractor is busy securing space contracts.
This prediction model is worth noting because it nearly triples the market's average yearly gain.
The Navy on Monday successfully test-launched from a submarine two missiles built by Lockheed. That marked the 150th successful test launch and set a new reliability record for large ballistic missiles, according to the aircraft and defense gear maker.
This week, Lockheed is slated to deliver an F-16 fighter jet to Iraq, the first of 36 the country ordered in 2011 and 2012.
On Monday, the Bethesda, Md.-based company landed a $914.7 million contract from the Department of Defense to track space junk for the U.S. Air Force's Space Fence program. It defeated rivalRaytheon ( RTN ), which had also bid for the contract.
Late last month Lockheed said it's buyingAstrotech 's ( ASTC ) Space Operations business, which provides satellite launch preparation services, for $61 million. [NASDAQ]
In three separate flight tests on May 27, Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II aircraft demonstrated air-to-air combat capability, completed the first flight test with the next level software load, and accomplished a landing at the maximum test speed and drop rate.
In the Point Mugu Sea Test Range airspace off the Central California coast, an F-35B demonstrated the jet's air-to-air combat capability when it sequentially engaged two aerial targets with two AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) during a Weapon Delivery Accuracy mission.
Test pilot Lt. Col. Andrew "Growler" Allen tracked two maneuvering drone targets, making the very first dual AMRAAM shot from any F-35 variant, and the first live AMRAAM shot from the F-35B Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant.
"The U.S. Marine Corps, which operates F-35Bs, will be the first military service branch to attain combat-ready Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in 2015," said J.D. McFarlan, Lockheed Martin's vice president for F-35 Test & Verification. "This Weapon Delivery Accuracy test highlighted the air combat capability that will give Marine aviators a decisive combat edge in contested airspace."
The F-35's internally-carried AIM-120 AMRAAMs are a beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile capable of all-weather day-and-night operations and considered a "fire-and-forget" missile using active target radar guidance.
Flying from Edwards Air Force Base, an F-35A flew a 1.9 hour mission with the first-ever load of Block 3i hardware and software. Block 3i is the next level of capability and is planned to support U.S. Air Force F-35A IOC in 2016. [Lockheed Martin]
Turkish President Abdullah Gul will inaugurate an engine factory in western Izmir province on Friday which will produce engine parts for the world's most advanced aircraft, the U.S. fighter jet F-35.
The factory, a joint enterprise with Turkey's Kale group and American aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, is expected to employ around 700 to 750 people.
Turkey’s Under-secretariat for Defense Industries and Pratt & Whitney signed a letter of intent last month for the establishment of an F-35 engine center for the fighter jets in Turkey.
F-35s are a family of advanced fighter jets with the capability of avoiding radar detection. The A-variant is built for traditional air force bases. The factory will produce critical engine components for the F-35 Lightning II aircraft - the world's most advanced aircraft. The aircraft's components will be produced in Turkey and in other countries and will be assembled in the U.S.
Kale group owns 51 percent of the factory and Pratt & Whitney owns 49 percent. The first batch of investment, worth US$75 million, is completed and two more batches are expected.
Turkey, which has been in the Joint Strike Fighter program from the concept development phase, has contributed to the system development and demonstration and production sustainment and follow-on development phases as a partner nation. [World Bulletin]