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12 juin 2014 4 12 /06 /juin /2014 16:20
F-35 : le gouvernement doit éviter de sauver la face à tout prix, dit un expert


12.06.2014 radio-canada.ca

 

Un comité indépendant qui a examiné les solutions de rechange aux chasseurs furtifs F-35 devrait présenter jeudi un aperçu de son évaluation menée sur 18 mois, mais la décision du gouvernement sur le maintien de ce programme controversé est toujours en attente.

Avant que la décision soit prise, des experts militaires espèrent que le gouvernement Harper prendra en considération les implications plus larges de ce programme sur le budget général de la Défense et évitera d'avoir recours à des manœuvres politiques pour sauver la face.

Le rapport du comité, une analyse des principales réponses aux critiques du programme émises par le vérificateur général en 2012, ne devrait pas faire de recommandations au cabinet. Il comparera plutôt les coûts et les capacités de chacun des quatre avions concurrents en fonction de ce que le Canada attend de ses avions de guerre.

Il reviendra aux hauts responsables et aux ministres de recommander la voie à suivre au cabinet, une chose qui n'a pas encore été faite, ont indiqué plusieurs sources mercredi.

 

Suite de l'article

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5 juin 2014 4 05 /06 /juin /2014 17:20
F-35 Weekly Update: 5th June 2014


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]

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5 juin 2014 4 05 /06 /juin /2014 11:50
Rafale - photo S. Fort

Rafale - photo S. Fort

 

04 juin 2014 leVif.be (Belga)

 

Le ministère de la Défense vient d'adresser à cinq agences étatiques, deux américaines et trois européennes, une demande d'informations concernant cinq avions de combat susceptibles de succéder aux F-16 vieillisants, a-t-on appris mercredi des sources concordantes.

 

La publication de ce RFI, qui n'engage en rien à un achat futur ni au choix d'un appareil déterminé, "vise à rassembler des informations" allant au-delà des sources ouvertes jusqu'ici disponibles pour la prospection, ont expliqué plusieurs sources au sein du ministère. Elle n'en représente pas moins la première étape d'un - long - processus qui devrait déboucher sur l'acquisition d'un nouveau chasseur avant la fin de vie prévue des F-16 à partir de 2023, pour peu que le prochain gouvernement fédéral s'accorde sur ce remplacement. Les cinq agences étatiques auxquelles le RFI (ou "survey") a été adressé sont le Joint Program Office (JPO), responsable du programme de chasseur F-35 Lightning II construit par le groupe Lockheed Martin, le Navy Integrated Program Office (Nipo) pour le F/A-18F Super Hornet de Boeing, la Direction générale de l'Armement (DGA) du ministère français de la Défense pour le Rafale de Dassault, la Swedish Defence and Security Export Agency (FXM) pour le JAS-39 de Saab et le ministère britannique de la Défense pour l'Eurofighter du consortium éponyme, a précisé un porte-parole de la Défense à l'agence BELGA.

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12 mai 2014 1 12 /05 /mai /2014 16:30
photo Lockheed Martin

photo Lockheed Martin

 

07/05/2014 Helen Chachaty - journal-aviation.com

 

Le sous-secrétariat à l’industrie de Défense turc a annoncé le 6 mai la commande des deux premiers exemplaires de F-35A destinés à équiper l’armée de l’air turque. Les deux avions seront issus du lot de production LRIP-10, au standard block 3F. Les livraisons devraient avoir lieu en 2018.

 

Un site d’assemblage final et de maintenance devrait également être construit pour le moteur du F-35, le F135 de Pratt & Whitney, avec la participation des industriels locaux et du personnel de la Turkish Air Force.

 

La Turquie est partenaire du programme F-35 de Lockheed Martin depuis 1999 et prévoit d’en acquérir 100 exemplaires. Le montant des commandes pourrait atteindre les 16 milliards de dollars.

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29 avril 2014 2 29 /04 /avril /2014 07:20
JSF : mise à jour de la catastrophe

 

28/04/2014 - Bloc-Notes - dedefensa.org

 

Le mois dernier, le rapport annuel du General Accounring Office donnait de bonnes nouvelles pour le JSF. Pour la première fois, il était annoncé que le prix probable de l’avion baissait de 7%. La nouvelle fut longuement acclamée par la presse-Système spécialisée, sur des sites tels que Breaking Defense et Defense One. Lockheed Martin (LM) et le chef du JSF Program Office (JPO) du Pentagone, le général de l’USAF Christopher Bogdan, surent profiter de cette occasion, qui impliquait le GAO avec sa bonne réputation et sa rigueur comptable, et jusqu’alors toujours très sévère pour le JSF ; ils annoncèrent de concert que le JSF, alias F-35, coûterait finalement autour de $75 millions l’exemplaire, loin des prévisions qualifiées de “catastrophiques” de $150/$200 millions l’exemplaire. En passant, on nous rassura : si quelques problèmes techniques subsistaient, notamment celui du développement et de l’intégration du software (question fondamentale pour l’avion, qui est totalement contrôlé par son ensemble électronique), ils étaient en bonne voie d’être résolus.

 

Winslow Wheeler, ancien fonctionnaire du Congrès qui a également travaillé au GAO, spécialiste du décryptage des labyrinthes bureaucratiques et financiers du Pentagone, intervient pour mettre les choses au point. Il le fait avec d’autant plus d’efficacité que le rapport annuel SAR (Selected Acquisition Reports) du Pentagone qui vient d'être publié la semaine dernière donne, lui, une image particulièrement grinçante et pessimiste de l’état d’avancement du programme. Wheeler publie un long article, extrêmement technique et précis, dans CounterPunch du 25-27 avril 2014. Nous donnons deux extraits de cet article, qui permet de revenir à la vérité de la situation du JSF, avec la précision embarrassante pour le GAO et sa réputation d’intégrité, que cet organisme (équivalent US de la Cour des Comptes française) a accepté sans vérification semble-t-il des chiffres vieux de deux ans de la part de LM et du JPO du Pentagone. Le fait conduit à émettre quelques doutes sur la capacité et/ou l’intégrité des analystes du GAO chargés du dossier, ce qui signifierait éventuellement que l’appareil de corruption vénal et/ou psychologique (psychologique surtout) aurait pénétré ce qui était jusqu’alors considéré comme l’ultime forteresse d’intégrité dans l’observation de la gestion des productions du système de l’américanisme.

 

«Last week the Defense Department released its new Selected Acquisition Reports (SARs) on its major weapon programs. These annual reports are the Pentagon’s effort at definitive cost analysis; they come in two forms: the summary data on all 77 of DOD’s Major Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAPs) and separate reports on individual programs, such as the F-35-the latter put on-line without a pay wall by Breaking Defense.

 

»As in recent years, the release of new data on the F-35 provoked press coverage, some of it quite thorough in summarizing much the new data and what the top F-35 defender, F-35 program manager Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, had to say about it all. However, there are some important points that did not get the attention they perhaps deserve, and one key point seems to have been generally missed.

 

»As the SARs and DOD’s summary of them made clear, the cost to acquire the F-35 has gone up compared to last year’s estimate. Page 6 of DOD’s summary of its SAR states that F-35 airframe “costs increased +$3.1 billion (+1.0%) from $326.9 billion to $330.0 billion” and costs for the separately accounted engine “increased +$4.3 billion (+6.7%) from $64.3 billion to $68.6 billion.” [...]

 

»In truth, the future of the F-35 program remains clouded, and most cloudy of all is the ultimate unit cost of the aircraft and the impact of that cost, as its reality unfolds, on existing and future buyers. As previously argued, there is good reason to think the real-world unit cost of F-35s, on average, will stay much closer to the $200 million level than it does to the dubious predictions of Lockheed and Lt. Gen. Bogdan, such as $75 million each.

 

»Second, the F-35 acquisition cost increases revealed by the new SARs come as a major embarrassment to the Government Accountability Office that pronounced in a report released just last month that DOD SAR data showed F-35 acquisition costs coming down, not going up. As previously explained, GAO’s report used two year old data, thanks to the agency’s ponderous report writing process and the fact that the analysts and manager assigned to the report used a stunningly superficial analytical methodology. Not a single news article I read on the new SAR data recalled GAO’s miss-call of the acquisition cost vector.»

 

Wheeler attaque également, avec une certaine jubilation ironique, certaines projections du Pentagone, inspirées par le JPO. Ces projections annoncent également un coût de l’avion en baisse à partir d’une projection sur le coût entier du programme, c’est-à-dire d’ici à 2065. Le Pentagone est connu pour faire des projections régulièrement fausses sur des périodes de 6 mois à un an, notamment avec des erreurs sur l’inflation, etc. Mais voilà qu’il prétend donner une projection juste sur une période de 51 ans, ce qui représente un extraordinaire tour de magie, – mais une magie si délicieusement optimiste puisque, finalement, en 2065, il fera meilleur vivre que dans 6 mois ou un an... La narrative bureaucratique n’a pas de frontières temporelles, et plus ses prévisions à court terme se révèlent fausses, plus elles se reportent sur des prévisions à très long terme, imaginant ainsi que l’addition vertigineuse de périodes de court terme faussaires finira par donner un très long terme conforme à ses vœux.

 

»We already know DOD manipulates its own inflation prognostications for both its own budget history and for short term future predictions in the five-year Future Year Defense Program (FYDP). It stretches credulity past the breaking point to assert that the cost of a weapon program will be some precise lesser amount 30 years from now because someone has readjusted inflation and labor cost predictions.

 

»In fact, in past inflation predictions for specific on-coming fiscal years (those just months ahead) DOD has proven inaccurate not just in the amount inflation has grown or declined but whether it has grown or declined. If they cannot even get the vector right a few months ahead, what business do they have asserting they can know it precisely 30 years from now? It is quite preposterous.

 

»And yet, here we are, asked to believe that the cost of F-35 O&S will be, as DOD tells us, “decreased $96.8 billion (-8.7%) from $1,113.3 billion to $1,016.5 billion” by the time the program is done in 2065...»

 

Parallèlement, Russia Today s’intéresse lui aussi au JSF. Conscient de sa mission internationaliste et américaniste mise en évidence par l’ectoplasme-secrétaire d’État fort récemment (voir le 25 avril 2014), RT s’est fait un devoir de suivre le JSF. RT s’intéresse plutôt à une conjonction intéressante US Navy-Boeing, ce 25 avril 2014. Les deux parties sont liées, parce que l’US Navy essaie par tous les moyens discrets de se débarrasser du JSF, tandis que Boeing, fournisseur principal de la marine (la famille des F/A-18) lance une attaque féroce contre le JSF, qu’il juge complètement inadéquat pour seulement survivre dans l’environnement de guerre probable. Bien entendu, Boeing a ses intérêts, – et comment ! Il propose à la Navy, ce que la Navy a commencé à faire, de commander plus de EA-18G Growler, version de guerre électronique de la famille F/A-18, seul capable selon lui (Boeing) d’assurer un environnement acceptable pour les avions de combat. (Ce serait alors des F/A-18 standard, puisque l’on n’aurait plus besoin des caractéristiques de guerre électronique, stealth et autres, à la fois affreusement coûteuses et pour certaines jugées inefficaces, intégrées dans l’avion.)

 

«As the price of the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons endeavor ever soars even further, critics are calling into question the cost and capabilities of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. [...] On Friday this week, Military.com reported that the US Navy has not only decided to drop the number of Lockheed Martin-made F-35s it plans on purchasing from 69 to 36, but that 22 new EA-18G Growlers built by Boeing have been added to a list of unfunded priorities.

 

»Reporters Kris Osborn and Michael Hoffman wrote for the website that Boeing “has worked not so quietly this past year to offer the Navy an escape hatch from the costly Joint Strike Fighter program.” According to their report, since at least last summer Boeing has been urging the Navy to buy more F/A-18 Super Hornets and Growlers as concerns continue to emerge about the F-35. [...]

 

»Mike Gibbons is the vice president for Boeing’s Super Hornet and Growler programs, and has good reason to talk down the F-35s—after all, less money to Lockheed Martin likely means more for his firm. Regardless, Gibbons told Osborn and Hoffman that the F-35 is no longer as advanced of a stealth craft as once claimed, and is not as effective as the Growler when it comes to countering a wide spectrum of air defense systems. “The density of the threat is getting more complex and more difficult. The electromagnetic spectrum is getting more complex and more difficult and requires more of what the Growler provides in electronic attack and electronic awareness. Only the Growler has this capability, Gibbons told the website.

 

»Russia and China, Gibbons added, have developed air defense systems that put the F-35’s stealth technology to the test. And if those capabilities should improve, then the Pentagon’s widely-touted weapons program may be no match for the offensive capabilities of foreign militaries. Advocates for Growlers say that those aircraft can outsmart some of that stealth-defying technology, but the ability to actually stay hidden may soon be slipping away from the DOD altogether.»

 

Dans cette dernière affaire, avec la complicité Navy-Boeing, on comprend évidemment que Boeing joue son jeu en tant que membre éminent du Système. Mais il acquiert pour cette circonstance un rôle antiSystème appréciable en se situant comme critique dévastateur du JSF, à la plus grande satisfaction de la Navy qui utilise cette action pour son propre intérêt, également antiSystème puisque qu’anti-JSF. (En effet, dans ce rangement, et compte tenu du contexte et de l’importance considérable du programme, le JSF figure comme la production la plus dévastatrice du Système, et son affaiblissement, voire sa chute catastrophique, serait un coup sévère porté au Système... Par conséquent, Boeing et la Navy, “membres éminents” du Système, sont effectivement antiSystème.)

 

On observera que les arguments opérationnels développés par Boeing et implicitement acceptés par la Navy (commande supplémentaire de Growler aux dépens du JSF) tombent évidemment à point, et leur développement n’est bien entendu pas un hasard. Les deux entités profitent de la crise ukrainienne, qui rend brutalement concevable la possibilité d’une confrontation opérationnelle de haute intensité, pour développer une critique opérationnelle du JSF. La possibilité d’un affrontement avec la Russie n’est désormais plus une vision théorique, et l’argument des formidables capacités russes en matière de défense aérienne joue désormais très largement en faveur de la ligne Boeing-Navy. Effectivement, la crise ukrainienne, véritablement multiple et aux effets innombrables, est promise à jouer un rôle important dans le destin du JSF.

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16 avril 2014 3 16 /04 /avril /2014 07:20
Quickstep, Marand sign long-term F-35 component agreement

An F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft in flight. Photo: courtesy of MSgt John Nimmo Sr.

 

15 April 2014 airforce-technology.com

 

Quickstep has signed a long-term agreement (LTA) with Marand Precision Engineering to manufacture components for the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) aircraft.

 

Under the terms of the $139m agreement, the company will manufacture and supply around 700 sets of carbon fibre composite parts for the F-35 vertical tails to Marand over a period of 14 years.

 

Specifically, the company will manufacture 18 individual parts, including skins, spars and fairings, which along with parts from other suppliers will be assembled by Marand into vertical tails for their customer, BAE Systems.

 

The vertical tails will subsequently be shipped to Lockheed Martin's facility in Fort Worth, Texas, US, for incorporation with other components for the F-35A variant of the JSF.

 

Quickstep managing director Philippe Odouard said the long-term agreement locks in the previous memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Marand for the JSF programme.

 

"This is an important step forward for Australian manufacturing, which demonstrates the value of our capabilities for global aerospace and defence contracts, and our capacity to meet the complex schedules of international supply chains," Odouard said.

 

The new LTA is expected to provide $13m in annual sales revenue for Quickstep by initially providing for annual purchase orders, with longer term purchase orders to be confirmed as the programme matures.

 

The delivery of the first parts to Marand's facility in Victoria, Australia, is anticipated in the second half of 2015.

 

Quickstep is delivering carbon fibre composite skins and subassemblies for the F-35 programme, and the overall agreement to manufacture JSF parts for different original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) is valued at up to $700m to the company over two decades.

 

Under development in three variants, the F-35 JSF is a fifth-generation multirole fighter aircraft designed to conduct an array of ground attack, reconnaissance and air defence missions with stealth capability.

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15 avril 2014 2 15 /04 /avril /2014 16:35
Australia Likely To Order More F-35s

 

16.04.2014 Pacific Sentinel
 

Australia is likely to commit to buying 58 more Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightnings this month, setting aside the alternative of consolidating its combat aircraft squadrons on the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The decision will increase the country's total commitment to 72 F-35s and expand the Royal Australian Air Force's fast-jet fleet, counting a separate order for 12 EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft as additional to, not part of, the fighter force renewal.
 
The defense department has recommended the F-35 order, probably worth around $8 billion, and the proposal has the endorsement of a leading think-tank. The government shows every sign of accepting the recommendation, says a source closely connected to the authorities. Accordingly, Lockheed Martin has probably escaped the danger of losing one of its largest F-35 customers, one that has already backed away from an original requirement for about 100 of the stealthy fighters. Even the risk that Australia could trim its commitment a little further now looks low, although that option was suggested by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute think-tank.
 
Read the full story at Aviation Week
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15 avril 2014 2 15 /04 /avril /2014 07:30
photo Lockheed Martin

photo Lockheed Martin

 

April 15, 2014 by Arie Egozi – FG

 

Tel Aviv - Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) expects to deliver its first set of Lockheed Martin F-35 wings in September 2014, and to ship sets from serial production from mid-2015, under a 10-15 year contract worth up to $2.5 billion.

 

Since signing the contract with Lockheed Martin in April 2013, IAI has invested heavily in an automated production line. The wings contract forms part of an offset agreement linked to Israel’s purchase of 20 F-35s for its air force. Israel has, however, expressed its intention to purchase as many as 75 of the fifth-generation stealth fighter.

 

The site will eventually produce 811 wing pairs for the F-35.

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13 avril 2014 7 13 /04 /avril /2014 11:20
Sharing The Skies

 

 

4/10/2014 Strategy Page

 

For more than three decades, F-16s have controlled the skies above Luke Air Force Base. Luke's first F-35 takes to the skies with an F-16.

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11 avril 2014 5 11 /04 /avril /2014 16:30
photo Lockheed Martin

photo Lockheed Martin

 

2014-04-11 xinhua

 

Les industries aérospatiales israéliennes (IAI) ont annoncé jeudi avoir fait des progrès "impressionnants" dans leurs préparatifs de lancement de la production des ailes d'avions de chasse F-35 Lightning II.

 

La production de masse dans les installations de la division Lahav près de Tel Aviv devrait commencer en septembre et la livraison à la Lockheed Martin Corporation, fabriquant de l'avion, à la mi-2015. La durée du contrat est de dix à quinze ans, avec des ventes pouvant atteindre 2,5 milliards de dollars US, d'après les IAI.

 

La division Lahav produit des ailes pour les chasseurs F-16 de Lockheed Martin et des avions d'entraînement supersoniques T-38 de l'armée américaine depuis bien plus d'une décennie.

 

Les IAI ont indiqué que depuis la signature du contrat avec Lockheed Martin en avril 2013, elles avaient investi des ressources considérables dans la construction d'une ligne d'assemblage de pointe sur leur site principal afin de respecter les normes de conception en matière de camouflage du F-35 Lightning II. La ligne automatisée emploie des technologies de contrôle strict des conditions de températures et d'humidité, et garantit le respect de l'environnement. La couche supérieure des ailes est composée de matériaux composites développés spécialement pour cet avion.

 

L'armée de l'air israélienne prendra livraison de 20 avions F-35 dans les prochaines années.

 

Le F-35 Lightning II est la cinquième génération d'avions de chasse développés par Lockheed Martin et ses partenaires par le biais du programme d'avion d'attaque interarmées, un effort multinational afin de construire et d'entretenir un avion de chasse de camouflage de la nouvelle génération, polyvalent et abordable. Le Canada, les Etats-Unis, la Grande-Bretagne, les Pays-Bas, l'Italie, la Turquie, le Danemark, la Norvège et l'Australie sont tous des partenaires de ce programme.

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9 avril 2014 3 09 /04 /avril /2014 07:20
Pratt, Pentagon Open F-35 Engine Price War

 

April 8, 2014 Source: Defense-Aerospace.com

 

PARIS --- Having canceled the GE/Rolls-Royce F136 alternate engine program for short-term savings, the Pentagon finds itself powerless to force Pratt & Whitney to reduce the cost of its own F135 engine, now the single-source powerplant for the entire F-35 program.

 

While many in Congress tried to block cancellation of the F136 program for several years, arguing that competition had very effectively reduced fighter engine acquisition costs in the past, the program was eventually killed in December 2011 when GE and Rolls-Royce finally decided to stop funding the project in the hope the Pentagon would restore funding. At the time, the Pentagon opted to cut F136 funding as part of a program-wide campaign to reduce the F-35’s ballooning costs.

 

Pratt & Whitney’s single-source, monopoly position is so strong that the F-35 Joint Program Office cannot even force the company to reveal the true cost of the engines, Rear Adm. Randy Mahr, deputy program manager of the F-35. “I can’t force somebody to go ahead and report something that by law they are not” required to report, he told Aviation Week at the Sea Air Space 2014 conference in Washington, DC on April 7 (see below).

 

The most recent F135 production contract, announced Oct. 23, 2013, covers 38 engines for Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lot 7 and is worth $1.1 billion, or an average cost of $28.9 million per engine. More precise cost figures are not available.

 

At the time, Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, F-35 Program Executive Officer, said that "The engine price has been going down and that trend will continue." He added that "I've met with Pratt & Whitney's senior leaders and they are working closely with the supply chain to continue to bring down the cost to the government."

 

Six months later, Bogdan’s comments appear very optimistic. The following two stories show that Pratt & Whitney is dragging its heels in reducing engine costs, and that the company, which now holds an unassailable monopoly position on F-35 engine production, is virtually immune to Pentagon pressure.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 16:20
Les trois versions différentes du F-35 - photo  Lockheed Martin

Les trois versions différentes du F-35 - photo Lockheed Martin

 

07/04/2014 par François Julian – Air & Cosmos

 

C'est inédit dans l'histoire du F-35 de Lockheed Martin : le coût total du programme Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aurait baissé l'an dernier, si l'on en croit les estimations du GAO, la cour des comptes américaine. Selon un rapport publié récemment, le coût de revient du F-35, pour le contribuable américain, serait passé de 343,8 Md$ pour l'année fiscale 2013, à 332,3 Md$ pour l'année fiscale en cours. Ces montants incluent la mise au point des trois versions du F-35 et l'acquisition de 2443 machines de série, pour les besoins de l'US Air Force, l'US Navy et les Marines.

 

Le GAO ne détaille pas avec précision ce calcul, ni la raison de cette baisse de coût. Pour autant, il semble que cela soit le résultat de la restructuration du programme entamée en 2012, visant à rationaliser l'ensemble des coûts, à la fois de développement et de production.

 

Dans rapport séparé, le GAO donne également une estimation du cout unitaire de chacune des versions de l'avion. Le prix du F-35A (version conventionnelle) est évalué à 124,8 M€, celui du F-35B (version à décollage court et atterrissage vertical) est de 156,8 M$, et celui du F-35C (version embarquée) est de 142,6 M$. A l'horizon 2019, il est prévu de faire baisser le prix du F-35A aux alentours de 80 M$, celui du F-35B à un peu moins de 110 M$ et celui du F-35C à environ 90 M$.

 

Le GAO maintient tout de même l'alerte sur le programme F-35  : si ce dernier ne connait plus de dérapage budgétaire et calendaire, l'inquiétude demeure sur l'avancement de la mise au point du logiciel faisant fonctionner l’avionique de bord. De même, il n'est pas impossible que le programme JSF ait à subir des coupes budgétaires, le Pentagone ayant sur le bras d'autres programmes d'aéronefs très couteux, comme par exemple le ravitailleurs KC-46A ou bien encore le très mystérieux nouveau bombardier LRS-B.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 07:20
Navy to Test F-35C on Carrier This Fall

 

April 7, 2014 by Brendan McGarry defensetech.org
 

The U.S. Navy for the first time will begin testing its version of the F-35 fighter jet from an aircraft carrier this fall, according to the No. 2 official in charge of the program.

Rear Adm. Randy Mahr, deputy director of the Defense Department’s Joint Strike Fighter program, didn’t specify a date or ship for the upcoming evaluations. But he spoke confidently of the planned milestone for the F-35C, the Navy variant designed for taking off from and landing on carriers.

“It’s going to be the year of the F-35C,” he said during a briefing at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space conference on Monday in National Harbor, Md.

Mahr acknowledged hardware and software problems that have plagued the three versions of the aircraft being developed by Lockheed Martin Corp., from a tailhook that didn’t catch the arresting cable to a bulkhead that cracks to logistics software that improperly grounded jets. In February, the program office discovered that an engine fan blade “came apart” into pieces, he said.

But the issues have either been resolved or are in the process of being fixed and won’t threaten the Marine Corps’ plans to begin in July 2015 operational flights of the F-35B, Mahr said. That version is designed for short takeoffs and vertical landings, meaning it can fly like a plane and land like a helicopter.

Corps leaders last week hinted to lawmakers that the aircraft may not meet that date.

“We are tentatively behind schedule,” Gen. John Paxton, the assistant commandant, told lawmakers during an April 2 hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Seapower. “The IOC is forecasted for July 2015,” Paxton added, referring to the date for initial operational capability. “We have every expectation that could be delayed by several months. It will continue to be conditions based.”

Lt. Gen. Kenneth Glueck, who heads up the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, also said at the hearing that the Corps would not declare IOC until the software is developed to meet the requirements of the service.

The Government Accountability Office, known as the investigative arm of Congress, in a March 24 report cited an assessment made by the Pentagon’s own director of operational test and evaluation that software problems could delay delivery of the aircraft’s most advanced technology by 13 months.

When asked specifically about F-35B operational flights, Mahr said, “the Marines have not expressed any concerns at all about the IOC in 2015.”

The F-35B operational flights will rely on a less robust version of software, known as 2B, designed to provide basic close-air support and fire such weapons as the Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile, or AMRAAM, and Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM. Both weapons have been successfully test-fired from the aircraft, Mahr said.

“We expect to be able to show that that software is ready to deploy,” he said, adding that two more software upgrades, or “drops,” are scheduled for the next two months.

Mahr acknowledged “some challenges” with the more robust version of software, known as 3F and designed to provide the full suite of war-fighting technology, which is scheduled for delivery in 2017.

“We think we have four to six months of risk on that end,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to meet that date.”

The program office has also made improvements to the Autonomic Logistics Information System, or ALIS (pronounced “Alice”), which determines whether the plane is safe to fly. A recent software upgrade to the system has drastically shortened the time it takes maintainers to load a webpage, to about 30 seconds from about five minutes, Mahr said.

 
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7 avril 2014 1 07 /04 /avril /2014 11:20
Canada: No F-35 Buys Before 2018

A move by Canada to postpone any F-35 buys until 2018 means decisions will wait until after the next federal election. (US Air Force)

 

Apr. 6, 2014 - By DAVID PUGLIESE – Defense news

 

VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Canada has told the US government it won’t be in a position to purchase the F-35 fighter jet until 2018, a move that critics of the aircraft say intentionally delays the controversial procurement until after the next federal election.

 

The decision has a number of ramifications. It will allow the ruling Conservative Party government to claim during the 2015 election campaign that no decision has yet been made on the purchase of a new fighter jet.

 

But if the Conservatives are defeated in that election, set for October 2015, it could mean further delays or even a cancellation of the proposed buy, since the country’s other political parties have raised concerns about the acquisition. Both the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party favor an open competition for a new fighter jet.

 

The F-35 Joint Program Office in the US has amended the Canadian “buy profile,” which indicates numbers of aircraft and timelines of the purchase.

 

“This moves the notional date of first delivery of aircraft from 2017 to 2018,” the Canadian government noted in a statement. No official reason was provided by Canada for the change in dates.

 

But industry, military and government officials say the change means a final decision won’t need to be made until after 2015.

 

“This whole thing is designed to delay and to get the Conservatives past the next election so they don’t have to come clean with Canadians about their F-35 plans,” Liberal Party defense critic Joyce Murray said.

 

Her analysis was echoed by Jack Harris, defense critic with the official opposition New Democratic Party, as well as Alan Williams, the Department of National Defence’s former head of procurement who approved Canada’s participation in the F-35 program.

 

Canada’s Conservative Party government committed in 2010 to purchasing 65 F-35s, but the acquisition soon became a major political albatross around the neck of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Opposition MPs alleged his government misled Canadians on the F-35’s price and performance.

 

In March 2011, the majority of the members of Parliament supported a motion that declared the Conservative government in contempt of Parliament over its withholding of information about the F-35, as well as other key financial documents on other issues. That motion of non-confidence in the government led to the federal election in May 2011, but despite the controversy, the Conservative Party was re-elected.

 

But in April 2012, Canadian Auditor General Michael Ferguson found Department of National Defence officials had withheld key information from Parliament about the fighter jet, underestimated costs and didn’t follow proper procurement rules.

 

In December 2012, the government, under continuing fire over the increasing cost of the F-35s, announced it would put the procurement on a temporary hold and examine other aircraft.

 

That process continues, but senior officers from the Royal Canadian Air Force have publicly stated they are preparing for the eventual delivery of the F-35.

 

Until the evaluation of other aircraft is complete, the government will not decide on how to proceed, said Pierre-Alain Bujold, a spokesman for Public Works and Government Services Canada. That department handles federal procurements.

 

Bujold said the “work is being completed as expeditiously as possible,” but the department could not provide any timelines on when it might be finished or a final decision on an acquisition made.

 

That’s because the process is a public relations exercise, former defense procurement chief Alan Williams alleges.

 

“It’s all designed to buy the government time so they can pick the opportune moment to announce the purchase of the F-35,” Williams said.

 

Jack Harris, defense critic with the official opposition New Democratic Party, said the F-35 acquisition has the potential to hurt the Conservative government’s image with voters in the upcoming election.

 

“They portray themselves as strong fiscal managers, but they have bungled numerous defense procurement files, particularly the F-35,” he said. “They don’t want this mess hanging over their heads during an election campaign.”

 

In his 2012 examination, Ferguson found that although Department of National Defence officials were publicly claiming the F-35 purchase would cost CAN $14.7 billion (US $13 billion), they had already quietly estimated the actual price tag to be $25 billion.

 

Mike Barton, a spokesman for Lockheed Martin Canada, said the delay will not affect the F-35 program. When Canada is ready to place its order for the planes, the company will respond, he said.

 

Canada is still a partner in the program and has not informed the US government or Lockheed Martin of any plans to change that.

 

Canada operates 78 modernized CF-18 fighters and was planning to replace those with the F-35A, the conventional-takeoff-and-landing version of the F-35.

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6 avril 2014 7 06 /04 /avril /2014 21:20
Canadian air force CF-18 Hornet  Exercise Vigilant Eagle 13

Canadian air force CF-18 Hornet Exercise Vigilant Eagle 13

 

6 avril 2014 par Richard Rutily – 45eNord.ca

 

L’idée de ce billet a pris corps lorsque j’ai pris conscience que le processus d’acquisition d’un remplaçant aux CF-18 Canadiens avait des chances d’être assez long. La question que l’on peut se poser est: Pour qui joue le temps?

 

Comme SAAB n’a pas répondu au RFI du Canada, on examinera le cas du Super Hornet, puis du F35, du Typhoon et du Rafale

 

Super Hornet

 

photo US Navy

photo US Navy

En 2012, il restait 257 avions à livrer et les commandes pour 2013 pouvaient se monter à 66 E/F et 58 Growlers, ce qui permettait de tenir jusqu’en 2015.

Depuis la date limite a été repoussée à 2016, mais l’horizon se rapproche!

Il faut dire que la stratégie de Lockheed Martin consiste à s’appuyer sur l’USAF pour détruire toute possibilité de solution alternative à l’achat du F35. L’arrêt des lignes de production du F 15 et du F18 lui permettrait d’avoir un monopole dans la production des avions de chasse.

La Navy, elle, voudrait maintenir ouverte la ligne de production du F 18. Elle a  d’abord essayé des commandes E/F, mais des indiscrétions ont fait échouer la manœuvre, alors elle essaye avec le Growler, mais là encore elle a été contrainte d’annuler une notice de pré-sollicitation.

Il ne reste donc plus que l’export. La stratégie de Boeing consistait à gagner le Brésil puis le Canada, les EAU et le Qatar. Las, l’affaire Snowden aidant, le Brésil est allé au Gripen! Boeing essaye donc d’accélérer la décision du Canada, mais les hommes politiques du Canada ne sont pas pressés et préféreraient que la décision soit prise après les prochaines élections.

Le problème pour Boeing c’est qu’il faut acheter dès maintenant les items dont les délais de livraison sont longs.

Boeing told me they’ll have to make key decisions on long-lead items in early 2014. “When you lose a line,” said Aboulafia, “you almost never get it back.”http://breakingdefense.com/2013/12/forbes-champions-buying-super-hornets-f-18-vs-f-35-round-two/

On voit donc que la décision d’arrêter la ligne de production du F18 doit être prise maintenant.

 

JSF F-35

 

Autant en emporte le temps

Le cas du F-35 est très différent de celui du F-18, le carnet de commande est théoriquement pléthorique et l’avion n’est pas encore au point.

Le problème du F-35 c’est la spirale de la mort. On appelle ainsi un cercle vicieux dont on ne sait pas sortir une fois qu’il s’est déclenché: à un prix objectif correspond un certain nombre d’avion que l’on peut vendre, si le prix augmente certain pays ne sont plus intéressés et le nombre d’avion à produire baisse. Cette baisse fait augmenter le prix et le cycle recommence. Or le prix du F 35 a augmenté de 70%.

On est à la limite du cercle vicieux que l’on a décrit, et pour éviter qu’il ne s’enclenche Lockheed Martin fait preuve d’un optimisme ahurissant dans ses annonces sur le devenir du programme.

Mais si l’on s’en tient au passé pour juger de l’évolution du programme, on peut dire qu’elle est catastrophique:

Le programme F-35 a commencé en 2001 quand le programme X-35 a été choisi. A cette époque la livraison était prévue en 2011 et il s’agissait de la livraison d’un avion complètement opérationnel. Aujourd’hui un événement équivalent serait la livraison et l’IOC du Block 3F qui est prévue en 2021.

Après 13 ans de développement, l’horizon de la livraison qui, au départ, était à 10 ans, est maintenant à 7 ans. Il a fallu 13 ans pour réduire la distance de l’horizon de 3 ans! Lockheed Martin jure qu’à partir de maintenant les délais seront tenus et les coûts vont baisser, mais la version Block 2B dont l’IOC est nécessaire pour livrer en 2015 (dans un an) le F-35 aux Marines vient de voir son planning glisser de 13 mois. Si le taux de dérive se maintient, on ne devrait pas voir cette livraison avant 2019.

Vous l’avez compris, pour le F-35 le temps est un ennemi redoutable car il démontre la fausseté de la narrative en montrant la réalité.

Par exemple il démontre que la spirale de la mort est déjà enclenchée:

Royaume-Uni: commandes prévues 150; commandes prévisibles 48
Italie: commandes prévues 130; commandes prévisibles 90 (l’annulation complète de la commande est en discussion)
Pays bas: commandes prévues 85; commandes prévisibles 37
Canada: commandes prévues 65; commandes prévisibles?
Norvège: commandes prévues 85; commandes prévisibles 52
Cela fait en tout 228 commandes en moins de la part des partenaires internationaux.

 

Typhoon

 

1er Typhoon Tranche 3 en vol photo BAE Systems

1er Typhoon Tranche 3 en vol photo BAE Systems

Le problème du Typhoon c’est que les 4 pays à l’origine du programme ne croient plus en son avenir.

Le Royaume-Uni a misé sur le F-35 et ne peut pas s’en libérer complètement car seul le F-35B peut être embarqué sur les deux portes avions en cours de construction. C’est quand même le pays qui serait le plus volontariste pour développer le programme mais il se heurte à la mauvaise santé financière de l’Italie et de l’Espagne et à la volonté d’économie de l’Allemagne qui a annulé la commande de 37 avions tranche 3B. Il y a eu une commande de la tranche 3A dernièrement, mais on peut se demander si la tranche 3B sera commandée.

De plus il faut nourrir quatre chaînes de production, si bien qu’il reste assez peu d’avion à produire, au rythme où on est obligé de les produire. Cela explique la déclaration de Tom Enders: «Je ne suis pas terriblement optimiste», a-t-il dit au sujet de l’avenir de l’Eurofighter.«Nous espérons remporter encore un ou deux succès à l’exportation mais nous devons aussi nous préparer à un scénario où, en raison d’absence de commandes à l’exportation, nous devrons bientôt réduire la production», a-t-il expliqué. Faute de quoi, les lignes d’assemblage (au nombre de 4), verront leur plan de charge réduit à zéro à partir des années 2017-2018.

Bien que de façon moins critique, le temps joue aussi contre le Typhoon.

 

Rafale

 

Rafale photo S. Fort - Dassault Aviation

Rafale photo S. Fort - Dassault Aviation

Le Rafale est un cas particulier car il a une assurance vie. L’état Français s’est engagé à alimenter une cadence de production de 11 avions par an, qui est la cadence minimum qui permet de maintenir la chaîne ouverte.

Au 1er Janvier 2014 Dassault avait livré 126 Rafale et il en restait à peu près 100 à livrer ce qui fait 9 ans. Cela nous mène donc en 2023. Bien sur l’état Français souhaiterait étaler ses commandes en donnant la priorité à l’export, c’est pourquoi la LPM (qui n’est qu’une prévision d’allocation de ressource mais qui n’est pas contraignante) fait l’hypothèse qu’il ne sera produit que 26 Rafale pour la France, entre 2014 et 2019. Si cela se vérifiait cela voudrait dire que l’on a produit 29 Rafale pour l’export ce qui repousserait la fin de la production du Rafale en 2026.

Le temps semble être critique pour la France mais pas pour Dassault.

 

Conclusion

Aussi surprenant que cela paraisse, on risque de voir Boeing être forfait sur cet appel d’offre après avoir essayé d’en accélérer la sortie, et Eurofighter pourrait les suivre 3 ans après! Il ne resterait que le JSF F-35 et le Rafale, et dans ce cas plus l’appel d’offre sera tardif, plus le Rafale sera favorisé.

Cette conclusion va à l’encontre de l’intuition, mais elle est assez robuste. Prenons pour exemple le seul cas où il y a eu une confrontation entre le Rafale et le F-35, c’est-à-dire l’évaluation qui a été faite en 2002 par les Pays Bas: l’écart était insignifiant, la note du Rafale était de 6.95 et celle du F35 de 6.97, mais la comparaison se faisait entre un avion réel que l’on pouvait essayer et un avion sur spécifications. Or les spécifications du F-35 n’ont pas été tenues et ont du être dégradées tandis que le Rafale est devenu mature et a démontré des progrès continus pendant 12 ans. Il semble donc évident que si une évaluation devait se faire aujourd’hui, la position du Rafale serait plus favorable qu’elle n’a été à l’époque.

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2 avril 2014 3 02 /04 /avril /2014 16:20
Assistant Air Force Secretary Hopeful F-35 Cost Could Drop To Mid-$80 Million Range By 2019

 

 

April 2, 2014. David Pugliese - Defence Watch

 

Reuters is reporting that the U.S. military is working closely with Lockheed Martin Corp and other suppliers to lower the per-plane cost of the F-35 fighter jet and improve its reliability.

 

More from Reuters:

 

Assistant Air Force Secretary William LaPlante said the price of the new A-model F-35 is on track to drop from $112 million now to the mid-$80 million range by 2018 or 2019, but the program is developing plans to drive the price even lower.

 

The Government Accountability Office, a congressional watchdog agency, remains skeptical about those efforts, noting that the A-model jets procured in 2013 cost $124.8 million each, about $41 million above the Pentagon’s target for 2019.

 

The U.S. military was also focused on improving the reliability of the jets, which are breaking down between flights more often than expected, he said.

 

The F-35 A-model was intended to cost around $50 million per plane, giving the United States and its allies a low-cost way to replace a dozen warplanes now in service.

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2 avril 2014 3 02 /04 /avril /2014 11:20
USAF F-35 Makes First Night Flight

US Air Force pilots can now fly night training sorties. (US Air Force)

 

Apr. 1, 2014 - By BRIAN EVERSTINE –Defense News

 

Navy-based Display Sends 15 Pilots to Simulators for Updated Training


 

WASHINGTON — Pilots in the US Air Force’s newest and most expensive fighter can now fly at night.

An F-35A training pilot took off March 24 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., for the joint strike fighter’s first night training sortie. Previously, the service’s training syllabus explicitly prohibited the advanced stealthy fighter from flying at night or during adverse weather because of the different air worthiness standards in the various services flying the plane.

The joint strike fighter is designed as a common fighter for all services. However, an issue arose with the symbols that the system’s pilot interface uses.

The Air Force believed it “didn’t have enough data to ensure the pilot-vehicle interface for night flying was good enough,” Air Force Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, the joint F-35 program office executive officer, said March 26 in response to questions from Air Force Times. “What I mean by that, is back in [training] the displays the pilots were looking at were confusing to Air Force pilots but not confusing to Navy and Marine Corps pilots because a lot of the symbology was of Navy origin.”

The confusion arose because the Air Force has a different air worthiness authority than the other services. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, handles the air worthiness standards for the service, while the Navy and Marine Corps use standards from Naval Air Systems Command.

Because the NAVAIR standards are used on the F-35’s night systems, the Air Force trained 15 pilots through simulators at Eglin and the F-35 plant in Fort Worth, Texas, until it was confident its pilots were ready to begin night flying at Eglin, Bogdan said.

The F-35 program as a whole was cleared for night flying in December, with Navy and Marine Corps pilots beginning sorties in January.

Air Force Gen. Mark Welsh on March 26 told the House Appropriations Committee that despite continuing software issues with the jet, he is “more confident than I’ve ever been” the F-35A will reach its initial operating capability by the end of 2016 as currently scheduled. However, he expects that some issues to remain and will need to be addressed while the jet is flying operationally.

His comments came the day after the Government Accountability Office released a report on the technological issues plaguing the jet, including continuing issues with the complex software in the jet.

“Delays in developmental flight testing of the F-35’s critical software may hinder delivery of expected warfighting capabilities to the military services,” the GAO wrote. Delivery dates vary by service.

The Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation has said that delivery of operational capabilities could ultimately be delayed by as much as 13 months due to delays in software delivery, limited capability in delivered software, and the need to address problems and retest additional software versions.

“[I]f 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,” the GAO wrote.

The Defense Department agrees that software problems are the largest problem facing the F-35 program as a whole, but is more confident in the jet’s future.

“My biggest technical concern in development is still software,” Bogdan said in March 26 testimony to the House Armed Services Committee’s tactical air forces subcommittee. “Over the past two years, the program has implemented significant changes in how system software is developed, lab tested, flight tested, measured and controlled.

“These changes are showing positive effects, and I am moderately confident that the program will successfully release the [software upgrades] Block 2B and 3I capability as planned in 2015 and 2016, respectively.”

The first F-35A arrived for pilot training in March at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The base will accept 16 jets this year, and eventually house 144 jets for training. Instructor pilots are still in training at Eglin, which is expected to graduate its 100th pilot and 1,000th maintainer this week

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2 avril 2014 3 02 /04 /avril /2014 07:50
RAF retires two Tornado squadrons

 

31 Mar 2014 By: Craig Hoyle – FG

 

London - A phased reduction of the UK Royal Air Force’s fleet of Panavia Tornado GR4 strike aircraft has taken its latest step, with two frontline units having been stood down on 28 March.

 

The service’s 12 and 617 squadrons ceased operations with a disbandment ceremony conducted at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland, which from mid-2014 will instead become home to its Eurofighter Typhoon-equipped 1 and 6 squadrons, which are to be relocated from RAF Leuchars.

 

“Both squadrons have delivered precision air power around the world, whether that be in air-to-air combat, air-to-ground attack or in the intelligence-gathering role. We are proud of our heritage but we look to the future,” says AVM Stuart Atha, Air Officer Commanding the RAF’s 1 Group.

 

Known as “The Dambusters”, 617 Sqn will be reformed in 2018 as the UK’s first frontline unit to operate the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II. Some personnel from 12 Sqn, meanwhile, will be retained at Lossiemouth to support operations with the Typhoon.

 

The latest unit retirements leave the RAF with operational Tornado GR4 squadrons only at its Marham base in Norfolk. Its 15 Sqn operational conversion unit for the type will remain at Lossiemouth until 2018, with its last examples currently expected to leave use during 2019.

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1 avril 2014 2 01 /04 /avril /2014 16:35
Marand delivers first Australian made Vertical Tails for F35

 

 

BAE Systems

 

A ceremony was held at Australian company Marand, commemorating the delivery of the first ship of Australian made F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter vertical tails.

 

The Honourable Dr. Denis Napthine, Premier of Victoria and The Honourable Michael Ronaldson, Senator for Victoria representing the Defence Minister were among the distinguished guests in attendance.

This delivery of the first major air frame components marks an important production milestone for Marand, ourselves and Australia, demonstrating the significant industrial benefits the F-35 program brings to the growing Australian aerospace industry.  The work on the F-35 vertical tails is subcontracted to Marand by ourselves and is one of the largest planned manufacturing projects for the F-35 in Australia, with 722 ship sets anticipated.

 “We take our commitment to international participation very seriously, and today is a very proud day for us, for Marand, and for Australia’s F-35 programme.  In just two years, we have worked side by side with Marand to develop a world class aerostructure facility with a first-rate, repeatable capability for the next 20 to 30 years,” said Cliff Robson, senior vice president F-35 for BAE Systems. 

David Ellul, managing director of Marand, commented, “This is a major step for Marand to move into the field of aerostructures manufacturing.  I am very proud of our team for achieving so much in such a short time with tremendous support from BAE Systems. The unique capability we have established will serve the Australian Defence industry and create high technology Australian jobs for many years to come.”

The F-35 Lightning II aircraft will provide the Royal Australian Air Force with a transformational 5th generation fighter capability and provides significant benefits to the Australian aerospace industry, with more than $350 million (USD) already contracted and $6 billion (USD) in expected manufacturing orders over the life of the programme.

“The F-35 is not only transforming the battlefield but also the global aerospace industry. This programme is built on a foundation of unprecedented partnerships that not only tie our countries together, but also link our companies with one another. There’s really no better example of the true global nature of this programme than right here at Marand,” said Orlando Carvalho, executive vice president Aeronautics, Lockheed Martin Corporation.

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1 avril 2014 2 01 /04 /avril /2014 07:50
Making the Most of The F35 B

 

One of the fundamental changes in SDSR 2010 was to select the F35C over the F35B. The rational for this was that the F35C could also replace the Tornado and cover the RAF’s Future Offensive Air System requirement as well as the Joint Combat Aircraft requirement designed to replace the Harrier. However once it became clear that the cost of converting the aircraft carriers would be in the £ 5 billion pound range the decision was taken to revert back to the B model. However despite the decision to revert back to the B model no decision was taken to replace the Tornado with something else. The F35B will now have to serve as both a Harrier replacement and a Tornado replacement.

 

Having F35B as a replacement for the Harrier will give us capabilities light years ahead of what we had. Despite the criticisms of the B model in comparison to the Harrier it is a major capability improvement. However as a replacement for the Tornado the F35B does have limitations. I believe there are some relatively simple fixes that the UK can use to overcome the limitations of the B model so that it can serve as an effective replacement for the Tornado.

 

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28 mars 2014 5 28 /03 /mars /2014 13:20
F-35B Short Takeoff Vertical Landing Variant - Lockheed Martin

F-35B Short Takeoff Vertical Landing Variant - Lockheed Martin

 

March 28, 2014 by Mike Hoffman - defensetech.org



Pentagon leaders are deciding whether to allow the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to make its international air show debut this summer outside London at the Farnborough Air Show and the Royal International Air Tattoo, according to a Reuters report.

Defense analysts expect Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to green light a summer trip to London for the F-35 in order to demonstrate to allies the potential capabilities of the stealth jet. South Korea is expected to sign a $6.8 billion contract to buy 40 F-35s.

Allowing Lockheed Martin, the lead contractor building the F-35, to showcase the fifth generation fighter outside London could build support for the coalition of nations already on track to buy F-35s. Canada and Denmark are reported re-evaluating how many F-35s, if any, these U.S. allies might buy, according to the Reuters report.

The F-35B is the likely model that would be displayed. Three F-35Bs have already been built for the British.

The F-35’s performance at Farnborough would be a boon to the international air show circuit. Last year, the U.S. left their fighter jets at home during the Paris Air Show because of budget cuts connected to sequestration. America’s absence allowed Russia to steal the show as Su-35 performances dominated the headlines for the week.

Farnborough and Paris are the top European air shows. The shows rotate every other year so neither one falls on the same year. This year’s Farnborough Air Show will be July 14–20. Military​.com will have a team on site to witness the potential F-35 performances first hand for Defense Tech and the rest of Miltiary.com’s properties

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28 mars 2014 5 28 /03 /mars /2014 12:20
F-35B short takeoff vertical landing (STOVL) - photo Lockheed Martin

F-35B short takeoff vertical landing (STOVL) - photo Lockheed Martin

 

27.03.2014 Helen Chachaty - journal-aviation.com

 

Alors que Lockheed Martin n’avait exposé qu’une maquette de son F-35 lors du dernier salon aéronautique de Farnborough (près de Londres) en 2012, il se pourrait fort bien que l’édition 2014 soit marquée par la présence d’un, voire de plusieurs F-35. C’est ce que croit savoir l’agence de presse Reuters, qui cite des sources selon lesquelles le chasseur de nouvelle génération pourrait effectuer son premier vol transatlantique au mois de juillet, afin d’être exposé à la fois au salon de Farnborough, mais également lors du Royal International Air Tattoo.

 

Une annonce du secrétaire d’État à la Défense Chuck Hagel en ce sens serait « très proche » selon Reuters, qui parle de deux ou trois F-35 qui effectueraient le voyage depuis les États-Unis, dont un F-35B destiné à la Grande-Bretagne.

 

Il s’agirait bien évidemment de « montrer » le F-35 et d’en faire la promotion, une opportunité pour un programme dont les coûts explosent et dont les délais de livraison s’allongent. Une opération de communication qui pourrait bénéficier à la Grande-Bretagne, mais aussi au Danemark, à l’Italie, à la Norvège ou encore aux Pays-Bas.

 

Aucune annonce officielle - gouvernementale ou industrielle - n’est pour le moment venue infirmer ou confirmer l’information livrée par Reuters.

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28 mars 2014 5 28 /03 /mars /2014 08:20
Le gouvernement [canadien] repousse d’un an sa décision d’achat de nouveaux avions de chasse

 

27 mars 2014 par Nicolas Laffont – 45eNord.ca

 

Dans une mise à jour publiée sur son site Internet, Travaux publics et services gouvernementaux Canada indique que désormais, la première livraison d’avions chasseurs prévue est passée de 2017 à 2018.

 

Ainsi, les quatre premiers F-35, si la décision de maintenir l’achat des avions de Lockheed Martin est maintenue, ne seraient pas livrés avant 2018.

Cela pose donc certaines questions étant donné que la mise en œuvre du projet de remplacement des CF-18 doit s’échelonner sur un certain nombre d’années, si bien que de nouveaux avions seront déjà en service alors que d’autres ne seront pas encore acquis. En 2020, les CF-18 auront atteint leur fin de durée de vie utile, et l’Aviation royale canadienne n’aura théoriquement reçu que 20 F-35, les quatre derniers devant être livrés en 2024.

Cela veut donc dire que le contrat de «financement intégral» pour les 65 avions doit être passé au plus tard en 2016, et donc une décision d’achat avant. Des experts s’attendaient à ce qu’une décision soit prise en 2013, avec une signature de contrat en 2014, mais avec la reprise à zéro du processus de remplacement de la flotte de CF-18, le gouvernement ne veut pas prendre de décision finale tant que son «Plan à sept volets» ne sera pas achevé.

 

 

Dans sa «Mise à jour annuelle de 2013», le Secrétariat national d’approvisionnement en chasseurs (SNAC) indique qu’en retardant le profil d’achat d’un an, la Défense nationale bénéficierait d’une économie du coût d’acquisition d’environ 160 millions $, mais qu’en contrepartie, il s’ensuivra une hausse des coûts du soutien.

En interview téléphonique pour 45eNord.ca, la porte-parole en matière de défense du NPD Elaine Michaud s’est dite peu surprise de cette décision de repousser l’échéancier. «C’est une situation préoccupante, a dit la députée. Il faudrait que le processus soit beaucoup plus transparent et ouvert qu’il ne l’est. [...] Des sommes considérables sont en jeu et le gouvernement nous cache des informations juste avant les prochaines élections».

Le rapport définitif de l’Aviation royale canadienne sur l’analyse complète des capacités, des coûts et des risques liés à chaque option est en cours d’examen par le SNAC et devrait être rendu public dans les prochains mois, si tout va bien.

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26 mars 2014 3 26 /03 /mars /2014 08:20
GAO Reports Persistent F-35 Software, Cost and Affordability Problems

Mar 25, 2014 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: Government Accountability Office; issued Mar 24, 2014)

 

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: Problems Completing Software Testing May Hinder Delivery of Expected Warfighting Capabilities



Delays in developmental flight testing of the F-35's critical software may hinder delivery of the warfighting capabilities the military services expect.

F-35 developmental flight testing comprises two key areas: mission systems and flight sciences. Mission systems testing verifies that the software-intensive systems that provide critical warfighting capabilities function properly and meet requirements, while flight sciences testing verifies the aircraft's basic flying capabilities.

Challenges in development and testing of mission systems software continued through 2013, due largely to delays in software delivery, limited capability in the software when delivered, and the need to fix problems and retest multiple software versions.

The Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) predicts delivery of warfighting capabilities could be delayed by as much as 13 months. Delays of this magnitude will likely limit the warfighting capabilities that are delivered to support the military services' initial operational capabilities—the first of which is scheduled for July 2015—and at this time it is not clear what those specific capabilities will be because testing is still ongoing.

In addition, delays could increase the already significant concurrency between testing and aircraft procurement and result in additional cost growth.

Without a clear understanding of the specific capabilities that will initially be delivered, Congress and the military services may not be able to make fully informed resource allocation decisions.

Flight sciences testing has seen better progress, as the F-35 program has been able to accomplish nearly all of its planned test flights and test points. Testing of the aircraft's operational capabilities in a realistic threat environment is scheduled to begin in 2015. The program has continued to make progress in addressing some key technical risks.

To execute the program as planned, the Department of Defense (DOD) will have to increase funds steeply over the next 5 years and sustain an average of $12.6 billion per year through 2037; for several years, funding requirements will peak at around $15 billion.





Annual funding of this magnitude clearly poses long-term affordability risks given the current fiscal environment. The program has been directed to reduce unit costs to meet established affordability targets before full-rate production begins in 2019, but meeting those targets will be challenging as significant cost reductions are needed.

Additionally, the most recent cost estimate for operating and supporting the F-35 fleet is more than $1 trillion, which DOD officials have deemed unaffordable. This estimate reflects assumptions about key cost drivers the program can control, like aircraft reliability, and those it cannot control, including fuel costs, labor costs, and inflation rates.

Reliability is lower than expected for two variants, and DOT&E reports that the F-35 program has limited additional opportunities to improve reliability.

Aircraft manufacturing continued to improve in 2013, and management of the supply chain is evolving. As the number of aircraft in production has increased, critical learning has taken place and manufacturing efficiency has improved. For example, the prime contractor has seen reductions in overall labor hours needed to manufacture the aircraft, as expected. In 2013, the contractor delivered 35 aircraft to the government, 5 more than it delivered in 2012 and 26 more than it delivered in 2011. The prime contractor has put in place a supplier management system to oversee key supplier performance.

Why GAO Did This Study:

The F-35 Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, is DOD’s most costly and ambitious acquisition program. The program seeks to develop and field three aircraft variants for the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps and eight international partners. The F-35 is integral to U.S. and international plans to replace existing fighter aircraft and support future combat operations. Total U.S. planned investment in the F-35 program is approaching $400 billion to develop and acquire 2,457 aircraft through 2037, plus hundreds of billions of dollars in long-term spending to operate and maintain the aircraft.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 mandated that GAO review the F-35 acquisition program annually for 6 years. In this, GAO's fifth annual report on the F-35, GAO assesses the program's (1) ongoing development and testing, (2) long-term affordability, and (3) manufacturing progress.

GAO reviewed and analyzed manufacturing data through December 2013, program test plans, and internal DOD analyses, and spoke with DOD, program, and contractor officials.
What GAO Recommends


Recommendation for Executive Action
Due to the uncertainty surrounding the delivery of F-35 software capabilities, the Secretary of Defense should 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.
DoD concurs.


Click here for the full report (41 PDF pages) on the GAO website.

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25 mars 2014 2 25 /03 /mars /2014 17:50
UK and US demonstrate new concepts for landing F-35 aircraft on carriers

An F35 simulator. Photof BAE Systems

 

25 March 2014 naval-technology.com

 

The UK and the US have jointly conducted piloted flight simulation trial at the BAE Systems' F35 Simulation facility at Warton to test new concepts for landing fixed wing aircraft on aircraft carriers.

 

The trials demonstrated a new shipborne rolling vertical landing (SRVL) manoeuvre concept, designed by BAE for recovering the UK Ministry of Defence's (MoD) Lockheed Martin-built F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighter on to the deck of its new Queen Elizabeth-class (QEC) aircraft carriers.

 

Both the nations have developed enhanced aircraft flight controls and displays for the F35C carrier variant arrested recovery and the F35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant SRVL recovery to the aircraft carrier.

 

During the testing, the enhanced control law modes for F35C arrested recoveries have been validated to a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, resulting in positive feedback from the US Navy and F35 test pilots.

 

The US Naval Air Systems Command Aeromechanics division James Denham said: "During this trial we've identified improvements to deliver more accurate touchdowns, less bolters and reduced pilot training.

 

"Ultimately, what we've been able to test in this simulated environment allows us to inform future concepts of operation," Denham added.

 

The SRVL manoeuvre offers enhanced 'bring back' payload, including weapons and fuel, capability for the F-35 aircraft when compared to vertical landings owing to the wing lift created by forward airspeed at touchdown.

 

Further trials to test the same control law mode for F35B SRVL recoveries are scheduled to commence soon for the UK's QEC aircraft carriers with the US Navy observing.

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