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16 septembre 2013 1 16 /09 /septembre /2013 07:20
Un F-35 dans la chaîne d’assemblage final de l’usine de production de Fort Worth, Texas (Photo: Archives/Lockheed Martin)

Un F-35 dans la chaîne d’assemblage final de l’usine de production de Fort Worth, Texas (Photo: Archives/Lockheed Martin)

14/09/2013 par Jacques N. Godbout - 45eNord.ca

 

Un haut responsable de Lockheed Martin soutient que l’industrie aéronautique canadienne pourrait perdre environ 10,5 milliards en contrats étalés sur plusieurs décennies si le gouvernement fédéral choisit de ne pas aller de l’avant avec sa commande de 65 avions de chasse F-35, rapporte la Presse Canadienne.

 

Le vice-président exécutif de Lockheed Martin, Orlando Carvalho, affirme en effet que la compagnie respectera des contrats d’une valeur totale de 500 millions déjà accordés à des partenaires canadiens, mais que d’autres contrats seront à risque sans la commande du gouvernement canadien.

«Si le gouvernement canadien décidait de ne pas choisir les F-35, nous respecterions certainement les engagements que nous avons pris avec l’industrie canadienne, mais notre approche, à l’avenir, serait d’essayer de faire des affaires avec les industries des pays qui nous achètent des avions », a-t-il déclaré lors d’un entretien suivant l’ouverture officielle à Montréal des nouvelles installations d’Aveos, devenues le Centre d’Aviation Kelly, un centre de maintenance, réparation et révision de moteurs de Lockheed Martin.

Après un rapport accablant du vérificateur général, qui l’accusait d’avoir gravement sous-estimé les coûts d’acquisition du F-35, Ottawa avait été contraint d’évalue les solutions de rechange potentielles à son plan initial, qui était d’acheter 65 appareils F-35.

L’an dernier, un rapport de la firme de service-conseil KPMG prévenait que la facture totale pourrait même s’élever à 45,8 milliards de dollars sur 42 ans.

 

 

Le géant américain de la défense estime quant à lui que l’industrie canadienne pourrait recevoir 11 milliards de contrats sur 25 à 40 ans, période pendant laquelle elle pourrait construire 3000 avions pour les armées de partout dans le monde, si Ottawa maintient son choix initial du F-35 de Lockheed.

Orlando Carvalho affirme en outre que Lockheed continue de réduire le coût de ses F-35 et indique que les avions coûteraient au Canada autour de 75 millions, au coût d’aujourd’hui, ou environ 85 millions avec inflation lors de leur éventuelle livraison en 2018.

Le vice-président exécutif de Lockheed Martin ajoute aussi que les particularités de l’avion, dont la technologie furtive et les capacités de surveillance, en font le choix idéal pour le Canada.

De son côté, toutefois, le président et chef de la direction de Boeing, James McNerney, avait affirmé la semaine dernière croire que l’avion de chasse F-18 Super Hornet puisse répondre aux besoins du Canada, précisant qu’il avait été modifié afin de présenter des capacités de cinquième génération et soulignant que Boeing avait aussi l’avantage d’avoir un système arrivé à maturité, contrairement à un système encore en voie de développement.

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12 septembre 2013 4 12 /09 /septembre /2013 12:50
Squadron Leader Jim Schofield RAF performs the first short takeoff at sea in a F-35B aircraft from the USS Wasp (photo Todd R McQueen, Lockheed Martin)

Squadron Leader Jim Schofield RAF performs the first short takeoff at sea in a F-35B aircraft from the USS Wasp (photo Todd R McQueen, Lockheed Martin)

12 September 2013 Ministry of Defence and Defence Equipment and Support

 

UK military pilots have been involved in the second round of vertical night landings at sea of the new F-35B Lightning II fighter aircraft.

 

The pilots, along with UK ground crew, are testing 3 Lightning II jets at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, working alongside their counterparts from the US Marine Corps.

The latest testing has been used to expand the operational envelope, with aircraft flown in a variety of air and sea states, landing at day and night, all while carrying internal weapons.

The vertical night landings which took place on the USS Wasp, were the first to be conducted at sea.

Speaking at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) event in London, the UK Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Philip Dunne, said:
 

Our Armed Forces will be equipped with the best next generation jet fighter machine, giving them the operational advantage they will need to protect our citizens for decades to come.

The fifth-generation stealth aircraft will fly from the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth Carriers from 2018.

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11 septembre 2013 3 11 /09 /septembre /2013 07:20
F-35 training unit set to start training with upgraded software

Sept. 11, 2013 by Dave Majumdar – FG

 

Washington DC - Pilots at the Pentagon's first Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter training unit at Eglin AFB, Florida, are gearing up to start an updated training syllabus that incorporates more of the jet's advanced avionics.

 

While F-35 students and instructors at the base currently use the rudimentary Block 1B configuration in their aircraft, later this year, the 33rd Fighter Wing will transition to operating the more advanced Block 2A configuration.

 

"We are going to transition to a Block 2A syllabus here in the late fall and early into next spring as we get the jets upgraded," says US Air Force Col Stephen Jost, commander of the 33rd Operations Group. The upgraded aircraft also means that the base's F-35 simulators and academic course have to be updated to incorporate the new systems.

 

As such, the F-35 Block 2A transition course will include flying three additional sorties over the current syllabus, which includes six flights. Those additional sorties will focus on using the F-35's Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL), which will enable pilots at the base to conduct more realistic tactical training in the F-35 for both air-to-air and air-to-surface missions.

 

"That will become operational with the 2A software, and so that is one of the key enablers that allows us to expand our mission set," Jost says.

 

Jost says that the Block 2A software is also expected to allow the F-35 fleet at Eglin AFB to operate at night. Pilots at the joint USAF, US Navy and Marine Corps operated fighter wing are also hoping for the release of additional flight envelope clearances. "We are hoping to get some relief on the flight controls," Jost says.

 

The expanded flight envelope - which will be released as test pilots put the three versions of the F-35 through its paces - should allow operational pilots to fly at higher angles of attack and possibly greater g-forces. The flight envelope currently released for training is severely restricted.

 

Jost could not offer any specific information on exactly how much of the F-35's flight envelope will be cleared for the pilots at the wing to use because such releases are often varied and incremental in nature.

 

The updated Block 2A syllabus will start clearing the way for the USMC to declare the short take-off and vertical landing(STOVL) F-35B variant of the jet operational in July 2015 with a Block 2B configuration. The USAF will declare the F-35A operational a year later in 2016 with the Block 3i configuration - which is the same software as Block 2B, but hosted on an upgraded computer system.

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10 septembre 2013 2 10 /09 /septembre /2013 17:50
Royal Navy air squadron reformed to fly new jets

A Lightning II aircraft being prepared for take-off at Eglin Air Force Base – Picture UK MoD

 

9 September 2013 Ministry of Defence

 

A historic naval air squadron is to be resurrected as the first Royal Navy formation to fly the Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.

 

809 Naval Air Squadron, whose motto is simply ‘Immortal’, is to be reformed to operate the fifth-generation stealth aircraft that will fly from the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth Class carriers from 2018.

The Lightning II aircraft will be jointly operated by pilots from the Fleet Air Arm and the Royal Air Force.

Earlier this year, it was announced by the Chief of the Air Staff that the famous 617 ‘Dambusters’ Squadron would be the first RAF squadron to fly the jets.

The 809 Naval Air Squadron crest
The 809 Naval Air Squadron crest [Picture: Crown copyright]

Both Royal Navy and RAF pilots are already training on the Lightning II aircraft alongside the US Marine Corps at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

809 Naval Air Squadron, which dates back to the Second World War, has been selected by the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas, because of its history of striking at the enemy in operations across the globe.

In previous incarnations, aircraft from the squadron supported an attack on Hitler’s flagship, supported the invasions of North Africa, Italy and southern France during the Second World War and saw action in Suez in 1956.

It was last reformed to support operations in the Falkland Islands; the squadron also flew the Navy’s last Buccaneer, a low-level strike bomber flown in the 1960s and 1970s.

An 809 Naval Air Squadron Buccaneer
An 809 Naval Air Squadron Buccaneer landing on HMS Ark Royal in 1977 (library image) [Picture: Crown copyright]

Admiral Zambellas said:

I am delighted to announce that the name of the second Lightning II squadron, when it forms, will be 809 Naval Air Squadron.

This squadron number is chosen to link with and reflect the proud and distinguished history of embarked carrier strike, from the Second World War to the Falklands.

The early naming of 809 alongside the RAF’s 617 ‘Dambusters’ Squadron is a very visible demonstration of a joint ambition, spirit of collaboration and shared equity in the Joint Lightning Force.

When not at sea as part of the UK’s carrier strike force, the squadron will be based at RAF Marham in Norfolk.

The joint nature of the squadrons means naval personnel will serve with the Dambusters, and their Air Force counterparts will do likewise on 809 Naval Air Squadron.

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10 septembre 2013 2 10 /09 /septembre /2013 07:20
F-35 Weekly Update: 9th September 2013

09/09/2013 Defence IQ Press


 

Britain and Norway are investigating possible collaboration in the support and training for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The two sides said they are looking at cooperation opportunities in maintenance, sustainment and training of crew and technicians.

The collaboration announcement followed a Sept. 5 meeting in London between British defense procurement minister Philip Dunne and his Norwegian counterpart, Eirik-Owre Thorshaug. A spokesman for the Norwegian Ministry of Defence said exploratory discussions between officials were continuing today in London.

The talks come against a background of wider European efforts to collaborate on F-35 support, but the spokesman said that with similar delivery timelines and their geographical proximity it was natural the British and Norwegians would consider bilateral opportunities.

“This will be the first time in nearly 60 years that Norway and the UK will operate a similar type of fighter aircraft [the last time was the Vampire] and this naturally opens up new possibilities for co-operation,” said Thorshaug.

“The pooling and sharing of resources and maintenance capabilities is already at the heart of the support strategy for operating the F-35 [in Europe], and the UK and Norwegian MoD are looking to see where further national synergies may exist. In this context, both governments are encouraging UK and Norwegian industry to explore collaborative opportunities for cooperation in support and sustainment of our common F-35 fleet,” the two sides said in a statement. [Defense News]

 

Production delays on Lockheed Martin Corp.'s F-35 fighter aircraft have contributed to major cost increases and schedule delays for the $43 billion Navy program to build three aircraft carriers, and could eventually lead to pricey retrofits to the initial ship after it's delivered.

Newport News Shipbuilding is manufacturing three Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers, which will replace the current Nimitz-class carriers. The lead ship, CVN 78, is under construction and preparation work is under way for the second, CVN 79.

Among its features is the ability to launch about 90 aircraft, including the F-35, but aircraft development and testing delays have affected integration activities on the lead ship, according to a Thursday report from the Government Accountability Office.

For example, the Navy has been unable to complete planned testing of the F-35 with the ship's electromagnetic aircraft launch system, the advanced arresting gear system used when landing and the ship’s storage capabilities for the F- 35’s tires, wheels and lithium-ion batteries that provide startup and backup power.

F-35 initial capability was scheduled to occur prior to the shipbuilder’s delivery of the first ship to the Navy in 2016. But because of the F-35 delays, the Navy will not field the aircraft until at least 2017 — one year after the carrier delivery. As a result, the Navy has deferred F-35 integration activities, "which introduces risk of system incompatibilities and costly retrofits to the ship after it is delivered to the Navy," the GAO reported. [Washington Business Journal]

 

Northrop Grumman Corp. named Brian E. Chappel to lead the company’s F-35 Lightning II program, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter.

Northrop’s Aerospace Systems sector, based in Redondo Beach, is principal partner on the F-35 to prime contractor Lockheed Martin Corp.

Chappel will direct and oversee cost, schedule, technical matters, quality and customer satisfaction for production of the aircraft’s center fuselage, Northrop said in a statement. Northrop produces the center fuselage in Palmdale and performs engineering work in El Segundo.

Chappel most recently served as vice president of Business Management and chief financial officer for the company’s Advanced Development Programs business unit.

Chappel joined Northrop in 1993 after serving in the U.S. Air Force. His experience in Northrop includes business development, proposals, contracts, pricing and program business operations. [Daily Breeze]

 

The Pentagon's chief arms buyer on Wednesday said he did not expect the U.S. Navy to significantly change its plans to buy F-35 fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N), despite mounting pressure on the U.S. military budget.

Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, told the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit that the $392 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was the U.S. military's highest priority conventional warfare program.

He said the Navy needed the added capabilities that the F-35 offered, noting that other countries were developing their own radar-evading fighter planes, advanced electronic warfare capabilities and other advanced weapons that threatened the U.S. military's ability to "control the air."

"I don't see any indication that the Navy is going to change its plans in any fundamental way," Kendall told the summit.

The Navy and other branches of the military have been mapping out their options if lawmakers fail to reverse mandatory budget cuts and they are forced to implement an additional 10 percent budget cut in fiscal 2015.

One possibility under discussion has been a two-year pause in orders for the F-35C carrier variant, a move that could increase the cost of the remaining aircraft to be bought by the Marine Corps and the Air Force, according to four sources familiar with the issue. [Reuters]

 

A worst-case scenario of cost risks in a Department of National Defence report on a possible acquisition of 65 Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter jets estimates the airplanes could cost Canada up to $71-billion through acquisition, sustainment and operations over 36 years.

The costs, $25-billion more than the current National Defence estimate, are contained in a section of the department’s latest report to Parliament on the F-35 that outlines “cost risk and uncertainty” and is intended to provide a range of effects on the cost of buying and operating a fleet of stealth attack planes if factors such as inflation, the exchange rate between the Canadian and U.S. dollar, the cost of fuel and the rate of aircraft to be produced by Lockheed Martin fluctuates either higher or lower than the estimates that are behind the current National Defence figures. [Ottowa Citizen]

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4 septembre 2013 3 04 /09 /septembre /2013 06:20
Apex Industries Of Moncton To Get Work On F-35

September 3, 2013 By David Pugliese- Defence Watch

 

News release:

 

MONCTON, New Brunswick, Canada, Sept 3rd, 2013 – Apex Industries Inc., today, became the newest Canadian industrial partner with Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] on the F-35 Lightning II program. This agreement uses the machining expertise of Apex for aluminum metallic components, and they will produce structural parts that span the forward fuselage and wing. The agreement is a multi-year contract with all work being completed at Apex’s Moncton location in New Brunswick.

 

The award to Apex is a recent example of how Lockheed Martin is partnering with Canadian Industry for the F-35 program.  This opportunity is part of the more than $11 billion to be offered to Canadian Industry over 30 years and adds to the more than $500M in contracts to date.  While supporting the program, Apex can utilize and mature their capabilities to capture more opportunities in the future.  Currently, there are more than 34 Canadian suppliers on contract to the F-35 program.

 

“Lockheed Martin is honored Apex Industries is joining the F-35 Canadian Industrial team to bring value to the program as we increase our production rates and further reduce the cost of our aircraft,” said Keith Knotts,  Lockheed Martin’s director of F-35 Business Development in Canada. “Apex’s contribution will be substantial F-35 machining work which is extremely important as the program continues to grow.”

 

The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced in service support (sustainment). Three distinct variants of the F-35 will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least 10 other countries. The U.S. Air Force plans to declare Initial Operational Capability with the CTOL (Canada’s preferred variant) in 2016.

 

Apex Industries is a Canadian, privately held corporation with 225 employees.  They support various aerospace customers including Boeing Defense, Bell Helicopter, Bombardier and, now, Lockheed Martin.

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30 août 2013 5 30 /08 /août /2013 16:20
Worst Case: F-35 Could Cost Canada C$71Bn

Aug 30, 2013 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: The Hill; published Aug. 29, 2013)

 

F-35 Purchase Could Cost Canada $71-Billion Under Worst-Case Scenario: Report (excerpt)



PARLIAMENT HILL --- A worst-case scenario of cost risks in a Department of National Defence report on a possible acquisition of 65 Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter jets estimates the airplanes could cost Canada up to $71 billion through acquisition, sustainment and operations over 36 years.

The costs, $25-billion more than the current National Defence estimate, are contained in a section of the department’s latest report to Parliament on the F-35 that outlines “cost risk and uncertainty” and is intended to provide a range of effects on the cost of buying and operating a fleet of stealth attack planes if factors such as inflation, the exchange rate between the Canadian and U.S. dollar, the cost of fuel and the rate of aircraft to be produced by Lockheed Martin fluctuates either higher or lower than the estimates that are behind the current National Defence figures.

If Lockheed Martin expectations of more efficiency through continued production and economies of scale as it makes and sells an expected 3,100 jets are even just three per cent less than expected, the extra cost to Canada would be $6.1-billion over a current acquisition calendar which has the 65 aircraft being delivered over a seven-year period beginning in 2017.

…/…

Other risks the National Defence report outlines include a likelihood that Lockheed Martin will sell 250 aircraft less than the number previously expected during the period Canada would potentially buy, leading to lower economies of scale in production and an extra cost to Canada of $500 million.

The risk analysis shows if the Canadian dollar were valued at 78 cents per U.S. dollar, instead of the current forecast of 92 cents, it would add $1.6-billion more to the acquisition cost. If the inflation rate were one per cent more over the lifetime of the fleet than the inflation rate on which the current National Defence forecast is based, the extra cost for sustaining Canada’s fleet would be $3.1-billion over the aircraft lifecycle. A change of one cent in the exchange rate could mean an extra $2.1-billion in lifetime sustainment cost. On the other side of the coin, a one-cent change in the exchange rate to the benefit of the Canadian dollar would lower the lifecycle sustainment cost by $2.1-billion.

The National Defence forecast of $19.8-billion in operating costs over the F-35 fleet’s lifecycle would increase by $5.4-billion with just a one per cent increase in the inflation rate from the rate the National Defence estimates are based on. It would correspondingly drop with a reduction of one per cent in the inflation rate from the current forecast rate.

The National Defence report forecast of fuel costs over the fleet’s lifetime is based on a price of 87.9 cents per litre, and a 10-per-cent increase in that cost could raise the forecast of life cycle fuel costs by $1.5-billion, with a reduction of the same amount in the unlikely event fuel costs would drop by 10 per cent. (end of excerpt)


Click here for the full report, on The Hill website.


(EDITOR’S NOTE:
Lockheed Martin and the F-35 Joint Program Office have recently begun to claim they have significantly lowered F-35 costs when, in fact, they have simply lowered their estimates.
It is thus particularly appropriate to see how the picture can change when estimates are instead increased; in this instance, life-cycle costs jump from C$45 billion to C$71 billion if just a few assumptions change by a percentage point or two.
As the cost reductions claimed by Lockheed and the JPO are based on estimates of how various costs (labor rates, fuel, materials, exchange rates, inflation, etc. etc.) will evolve over the next 50 years, it is eye-opening to see how easily minor fluctuations can cause a totally unexpected cost blow-out.)

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29 août 2013 4 29 /08 /août /2013 11:20
F-35 team makes headway with helmet-mounted display

29 August 2013 by Dave Majumdar – FG

 

Washington DC - Lockheed Martin, Vision Systems International and the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) are making progress with solving night vision acuity problems on the F-35's helmet-mounted display, says a senior test pilot assigned to the programme.

 

Test pilots recently tested a modified second-generation helmet fitted with a new 1600x1200 resolution ISIE-11 night vision camera coupled with a new display management computer/helmet, says Lt Col Matt Kelly, an F-35 test pilot assigned to the JPO.

 

Kelly says the ISIE-11 immensely improves the helmet's night vision capabilities.

 

"The ISIE-11 has great potential for tactical operations," Kelly says of the new system. However, there is still a lot of work to do before the helmet is ready for fleet release - the system will have to be demonstrated in the air before test pilots give it a green light.

 

Meanwhile, the F-35 JPO is still funding parallel development work on a BAE Systems-developed helmet into the third quarter of 2014.

 

F-35B test pilots on the USS Wasp are using the existing helmet with the current ISIE-10 camera, which has been judged to have deficient night-vision performance.

 

The ISIE-10 has inferior night vision capability compared with the ANVIS-9 night vision goggles (NVGs) used in the Boeing AV-8B and F/A-18. However, pilots say it is easier to land the F-35B unaided by the night vision camera on a ship than a AV-8B with NVGs.

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29 août 2013 4 29 /08 /août /2013 11:20
An F-35B Lightning II aircraft lands aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) during the second at-sea F-35 developmental test event.

An F-35B Lightning II aircraft lands aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) during the second at-sea F-35 developmental test event.

29 August 2013 by Dave Majumdar – FG

 

Washington DC - The Pentagon's F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) and the US Marine Corps are well into a second set of sea trials for the Lockheed Martin F-35B Joint Strike Fighter. Having completed 17 of 19 days of testing, the USMC and the JPO were set to demonstrate the stealth short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) jet on board the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp on 28 August, but then fate intervened. Aircraft BF-1, which was set to fly that morning's test, suffered from a malfunctioning engine nacelle cooling fan that had to be fixed before the jet could fly. Meanwhile, BF-5 - the other aircraft deployed to the Wasp - had a problem with its power thermal management system computer the night before, says US Navy Capt Erik Etz, the programme's test and evaluation director for naval F-35 variants.

 

Etz says the two events interrupted what had been a better than average reliability rate for the F-35 during the shipboard deployment. Until the night of 27 August, the F-35B had 90% sortie completion rate on board the Wasp, he says.

 

Despite the setback, the F-35B's sea trial period has been remarkably successful, says Capt Michael Kingen, a USMC F-35 test pilot assigned to the VMX-22 operational test squadron but seconded to the JSF test effort. Thus far, pilots have flown 90 short take-offs and made 92 vertical landings on board the Wasp during this detachment. Nineteen of those vertical landing were made at night.

 

The goal of this second set of sea trials is to expand the operating envelope of the F-35B in preparation for the jet's initial operational capability date in July 2015. The F-35B has been tested to 40kt (74km/h) of headwind and 10kt of tailwind, Kingen says. Particular attention has been paid to landing with starboard crosswinds, where a lot of turbulence originates due to the ship's superstructure, says Lt Col Matt Kelley, a senior USMC F-35 test pilot assigned to the JPO.

 

Additionally, the F-35B's short take-off capability was tested with its maximum internal weight, Kingen says. Pilots are also determining the jet's minimum short take-off distance, he says. Those trials involve letting the aircraft "settle" toward the sea as it leaves the deck.

 

Thus far, Kingen says he is pleased with the aircraft's performance during the sea trials. Ironically, BF-1 flew its test sortie shortly after reporters departed the ship.

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28 août 2013 3 28 /08 /août /2013 11:20

27 août Aerobuzz.fr

 

Lockheed-Martin procède avec l’US Marine Corps à une campagne d’essais opérationnels du F35B (version à décollage court et atterrissage vertical du JSF) sur le porte-aéronefs Wasp. Le programme d’essais prévoit des vols de nuit avec et sans charges externes.

 

En parallèle Lockheed-Martin accentue ses efforts pour accélérer le programme de qualification et réduire les couts d’acquisition et de possession de l’appareil. En attendant les Pays-Bas demandent le stockage de leurs deux prototypes.

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28 août 2013 3 28 /08 /août /2013 07:20
An F135 engine for the F-35 joint strike fighter is fired up in a test. (Pratt & Whitney)

An F135 engine for the F-35 joint strike fighter is fired up in a test. (Pratt & Whitney)

Aug. 27, 2013 - By AARON MEHTA – Defense News

 

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has reached an agreement in principle with Pratt & Whitney on the sixth batch of jet engines for the F-35 joint strike fighter, and the company hopes to submit a proposal for its next batch within 30 days.

 

The contract will cover the production of 36 F135 engines, along with two spares. Official cost details are still being worked out, but it will likely be similar to the $1 billion agreement for the fifth low-rate initial production (LRIP-5) lot reached in May.

 

“In general, the unit prices for the 32 common configuration engines, which are used to power both the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) aircraft and the aircraft-carrier variant (CV) aircraft, [were] reduced in LRIP 6 by roughly 2.5 percent compared to the previous LRIP 5 contract for 35 engines,” wrote officials from the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) in a statement. “The unit prices for the 6 short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft engines [were] reduced in LRIP 6 by roughly 9.6 percent compared to the previous LRIP 5 contract for 3 STOVL engines.”

 

“This agreement represents a fair deal for Government and Pratt & Whitney,” US Air Force Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, the F-35 program executive officer, said in an official statement. “Driving down cost is critical to the success of this program and we are working together – in each successive contract – to lower costs for the propulsion system.”

 

The agreement closes negotiations on low-rate initial production (LRIP) lot six of engines.

 

Lockheed Martin, the F-35’s prime contractor, announced an agreement July 30 for the production of lots six and seven of the single-engine stealth warplane, although a Lockheed spokeswoman confirmed the agreement has yet to be finalized. The two buys cover the production of 71 new jets, including the first models built for Italy, Australia and Norway.

 

LRIP-6 procures 18 F-35A conventional takeoff models for the US Air Force, six F-35B jump-jet variants for the US Marine Corps and seven F-35C carrier models for the US Navy, as well as three F-35As for Italy and two F-35As for Australia. Deliveries of this block would begin in mid-2014.

 

With the LRIP-6 engine agreement in place, Pratt is hoping to build on the momentum to complete a joint package of LRIP-7 and LRIP-8 engines early next year.

 

“We’re focused on getting a proposal delivered to the JPO here in the next 30 days, certainly by the end of September, and hopefully we’ll have an agreement in the first quarter of 2014,” Chris Flynn, Pratt’s vice president of F135 engine program, said. He added that after LRIP-8, he hopes to reach an agreement on engine sales annually.

 

According to Flynn, costs have dropped 16 percent since LRIP-3 was agreed to, and 40 percent overall since the first production engine.

 

“When we’re able to deliver those types of results, I believe it helps the negotiations go a lot quicker,” he said.

 

The improved relationship between Pratt and the F-35 Joint Program Office — rocky throughout the early part of the year — has helped the deal move along.

 

In January, the Marine Corps’ F-35B variant was grounded following an engine problem during a test flight. The source of that problem was later identified as an improperly crimped line in the fueldraulic system. Nine days after the jump-jet variants were cleared to resume flights, the entire JSF fleet was grounded when a crack was discovered in one of the blades in the Pratt-designed engine.

 

The following week, Bogdan heavily criticized Pratt and Lockheed for “trying to squeeze every nickel” out of the F-35 program.

 

“We continue to improve the relationship from where I sit today,” Flynn said. “We have regular meetings with General Bogdan. He’s a demanding customer, but our intent is to deliver on our commitment. I think based on the improvements in our negotiations, the relationship continues to improve.”

 

Deliveries of LRIP-6 engines are set to begin in the fourth quarter of this year. Overall, Pratt has delivered 107 production engines.

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26 août 2013 1 26 /08 /août /2013 11:20
F-35A in-flight missile launch of an AIM-120 June 5, 2013. (Courtesy F-35 Program Office)

F-35A in-flight missile launch of an AIM-120 June 5, 2013. (Courtesy F-35 Program Office)

Aug 23, 2013 ASDNews Source : ITT Exelis

 

Exelis has successfully negotiated an agreement with Lockheed Martin Corp. to deliver carriage and release systems for the F-35 Lightning II. The combined value of the two low-rate initial production (LRIP) awards is approximately $60 million.

 

Already a supplier of carriage and release systems for the F-35, under the latest LRIP contracts Exelis will provide additional systems, including spare equipment, to all three variants of the aircraft.

 

The F-35 will be the premier combat aircraft for the coming decades,said Pete Martin, director of defense systems for the Exelis electronic attack & release systems business. Our carriage and release systems provide the aircraft with the high-performance capability it needs to carry its mission payload while maintaining its low-observable profile.

 

Delivery for the first contract is scheduled to begin in January 2014 and includes systems for 36 aircraft. The second lot is expected to commence in March 2015 with units and additional spares for 37 F-35s. The equipment provided meets all U.S. and international partner requirements.

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26 juillet 2013 5 26 /07 /juillet /2013 11:20
100th Jet In Final Production; 1st F-35 Bound For Luke

Jul 26, 2013 ASDNews Source : Lockheed Martin Corporation

 

The 100th Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] F-35 Lightning II, the first aircraft destined for Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Ariz., has entered the last stage of final assembly. This conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) aircraft, known as AF-41, is scheduled to arrive at the base next year. During final assembly, the aircraft structure is completed, and electrical and hydraulic systems are added. Additionally, these systems are tested in preparation for fuel systems checks and engine runs. The final steps prior to acceptance by the Air Force include a series of checkout flights leading to the aircraft entering the service’s F-35 fleet. AF-41 is one of 126 F-35s in various stages of production worldwide.

 

In June, the Air Force announced its decision to increase the number of squadrons at Luke AFB to six with 144 aircraft, which will make it the largest F-35 base worldwide.  In addition to training U.S. pilots, Luke will also serve as an F-35A International Training site. Currently, Luke’s economic impact on the state of Arizona is $2.17 Billion. With 14 F-35 suppliers in the state of Arizona, the program has an additional economic impact of $98Million.

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26 juillet 2013 5 26 /07 /juillet /2013 07:50
Les Pays-Bas prennent possession de leur premier F-35A

25/07/2013 par Nicolas Laffont – 45eNord.ca

 

Ce jeudi 25 juillet 2013, le premier des deux avions d’essai F-35 néerlandais a été transféré par le gouvernement américain au ministère de la Défense des Pays-Bas. Il est également le premier avion à décollage et atterrissage tactiques (CTOL) livré à un partenaire international.

 

Les Pays-Bas ont commandé cet avion en 2009 afin de participer à la phase d’essai opérationnel du programme F-35. Après que l’avion ait été entièrement vérifié, il a donc été officiellement transféré au ministère néerlandais de la Défense. Ce transfert a lieu à la sortie de la ligne de production de Fort Worth, au Texas.

 

Les Pays-Bas ont donc pris possession de l’appareil et les autorités du pays seront désormais responsable de l’entretien et de la sécurité. Lockheed Martin annonce par conséquent, que «certains employés de la défense néerlandais suivront une formation technique, après quoi ils superviseront les travaux d’entretien par les Américains et les comptes respectifs».

 

À présent, la production du deuxième avion d’essai commandé en 2011 est finalisé et l’avion passe divers «tests et vols d’acceptation».

 

Lockheed Martin s’attend à ce que le premier avion d’essai soit piloté d’ici quelques jours par un pilote américain de la base aérienne américaine d’Eglin en Floride, où l’avion restera jusqu’à ce qu’une décision ait été prise sur le remplacement du F-16 dans le cadre du mémorandum sur l’avenir des forces armées néerlandaises. Au cours de cette période de «stockage de l’appareil», il sera utilisé pour des essais techniques au sol.

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25 juillet 2013 4 25 /07 /juillet /2013 12:20
Photo Lockheed Martin

Photo Lockheed Martin

25/07/2013 Michel Cabirol – LaTribune.fr

 

Saft a récemment signé un contrat avec le motoriste General Electric Aviation, pour la fourniture d'une "batterie haute puissance à la pointe de la technologie" qui assurera l'alimentation de secours des actionneurs électromécaniques des gouvernes de vol du F-35. Un contrat d'un montant de 6,5 millions de dollars.

 

Le leader mondial de la conception et de la fabrication de batteries de haute technologie pour l'industrie, Saft, reste à bord de l'avion de combat américain, le F‐35 de Lockheed Martin. Il introduit "une technologie Li‐ion sans précédent" pour cet avion de combat. Saft a récemment signé un contrat avec le motoriste américain General Electric Aviation, pour un montant de 6,5 millions de dollars dans le cadre de la phase de production initiale à faible cadence (LRIP 6) du F‐35. "Travailler sur le programme F‐35 donne à Saft une opportunité exceptionnelle de promouvoir les solutions Li‐ion dans les avions de combat de dernière génération », a déclaré le directeur général de la division Specialty Battery Group de Saft, Thomas Alcide, cité dans le communiqué de Saft.

 

Dans le cadre de ce contrat, Saft prendra en compte les objectifs industriels MEA (More Electric Aircraft) visant une optimisation des performances et une réduction des émissions de CO2. Le groupe français produira "une batterie haute puissance à la pointe de la technologie qui assurera l'alimentation de secours des actionneurs électromécaniques des gouvernes de vol". La batterie fournira une alimentation de secours en vol aux systèmes critiques de l'appareil. Chaque ensemble livré se composera d'une batterie JSF 270V et d'une batterie JSF 28V par appareil.

 

A bord du F-35 depuis 2002

 

Saft fournit des batteries à GE Aviation depuis 2006. Cette solution s'appuie sur 15 ans de recherche sur la technologie Li‐ion et sur un historique de plus de 60 ans de développement et de fourniture de batteries à base de nickel à l'aéronavale américaine. Aujourd'hui, le programme de développement de batteries pour le F‐35 a enregistré plus de 6.000 heures de vols.

 

Saft travaille depuis le début des années 2000 sur le F-35. En 2002, Saft America avait achevé l'étape préliminaire de la phase de conception et de développement (SDD - System Design and Development) du système de gestion de l'alimentation électrique du F-35. Le groupe a remporté les contrats de fourniture des batteries 28 V, qui délivreront l'énergie nécessaire au démarrage du groupe auxiliaire de puissance, et des batteries 270 V, qui assureront l'alimentation de secours des surfaces de commande de vol. La batterie 28 V AMFB a notamment participé au succès du programme lors du premier vol du chasseur en décembre 2006. Saft a terminé la phase SDD du programme JSF en 2008 et a reçu commande de batteries Li-ion 28 V et 270 V pour les phases I, II et III du programme LRIP. Les premières livraisons de batteries LRIP ont eu lieu en 2009.

 

Des résultats en chute

 

Le groupe français a annoncé ce mercredi une chute de 44,5 % de son bénéfice net au premier semestre, en raison de ventes moins profitables, la situation devant s'améliorer lors de la deuxième moitié de l'année. "Globalement, le second semestre devrait enregistrer un plus fort niveau de ventes, tant dans nos activités traditionnelles que dans les nouveaux marchés du lithium-ion", a indiqué Saft dans un communiqué. Lors des six premiers mois de l'année, Saft a dégagé un bénéfice net de 11,1 millions d'euros, contre 20,0 millions lors du premier semestre 2012. Le chiffre d'affaires a affiché une légère baisse de 1 % à taux de change et périmètre constants, à 284,9 millions d'euros.

 

Outre une perte de 5,2 millions d'euros due à SNB (42 millions d'euros de chiffre d'affaires en 2012 pour 340 salariés), son activité désormais vendue de petites batteries au nickel, ce recul s'explique surtout par une baisse des marges du fabricant de batteries, dont les ventes les plus rentables ont piqué du nez. "Le niveau global des ventes a été inférieur à nos attentes, ce qui a eu pour effet d'affecter la profitabilité du premier semestre", a expliqué le président du directoire, John Searle, cité dans le communiqué. Saft a certes affiché des ventes "excellentes" sur certains créneaux comme les réseaux de télécommunication, avec un gros contrat avec un client indien, mais "la rentabilité de ces ventes additionnelles a été faible". Quant aux ventes de la division de batteries de spécialité, la plus rentable, elles ont décliné par rapport à 2012, précise Saft.

 

Avertissement sur résultat début juillet

 

Saft avait émis un avertissement sur résultat début juillet. Le groupe s'attend désormais à un excédent brut d'exploitation (Ebitda) annuel entre 90 et 95 millions d'euros contre 102 et 106 millions attendus initialement et à un chiffre d'affaires dans le bas de la fourchette de 630 à 650 millions prévue auparavant. Ces prévisions ont été confirmées mercredi. L'Ebitda du premier semestre s'est établi à 40 millions d'euros, en diminution de 20,2 %.

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19 juillet 2013 5 19 /07 /juillet /2013 16:50
The UK's first F-35 Lightning II during a test flight – Picture Lockheed Martin

The UK's first F-35 Lightning II during a test flight – Picture Lockheed Martin

18 July 2013 Ministry of Defence

 

The Royal Air Force's famous 'Dambusters' will be the first operational UK squadron to use the Lightning II aircraft.

 

The Lightning II is the short take-off and vertical landing UK variant of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – a supersonic multi-role stealth aircraft with the ability to operate from land or sea.

Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, made today’s announcement at a Royal United Services Institute conference on air power.

In a speech to senior representatives of air forces from around the world, Sir Stephen explained that 617 Squadron, known as the ‘Dambusters’, are to disband on 1 April 2014 as part of the planned drawdown of the Tornado GR4 Force. The squadron will then reform in 2016 with both RAF and Royal Navy personnel and take delivery of the highly advanced Lightning II.

617 Squadron badge (stock image) [Picture: Crown copyright]

617 Squadron badge (stock image) [Picture: Crown copyright]

The next Lightning II squadron to stand up will carry a Royal Navy squadron number but be similarly jointly manned.

Air Chief Marshal Dalton said:

I am delighted to announce that 617 Squadron’s outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s air power, past and present, will unequivocally continue when it reforms as the UK’s first operational F-35B Lightning II squadron.

The Lightning’s state-of-the-art stealth and precision target capabilities and the battle-proven Typhoon Force will complement each other and set the baseline for UK combat intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance air power as a contemporary global force for the 2020s and beyond.

Lightning will be operated jointly by Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm pilots from land or from the Queen Elizabeth Class carrier – overall, a hugely flexible and futuristic joint capability.

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12 juillet 2013 5 12 /07 /juillet /2013 16:20
F-35 instructor pilot

F-35 instructor pilot

July 11, 2013 Source: Lockheed Martin

 

F-35 Pilot Cadre Grows To 100 As Training Ramps Up At Eglin Air Force Base

 

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.--- Maj. Robert Miller became the 100th pilot to fly the Lockheed Martin (LMT) F-35 Lightning II when he took to the skies above Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., for a training flight on July 9.

 

Miller's 90-minute familiarization flight included normal operations for aircraft handling and landings in an F-35A fighter. The flight followed academic and simulator instruction at Eglin Air Force Base's Integrated Training Center, which provides pilot and maintainer training for the three F-35 variants.

 

"It was great to get airborne today. The jet handles well and is very easy to fly. I'm looking forward to testing the combat capabilities of the F-35 over the next few years at Edwards," said Miller.

 

Miller, currently assigned to the 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., has spent 11 years in the Air Force and has flown more than 1,300 hours in the F-16, including 369 combat hours. He joins an experienced cadre of F-35 pilots among the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, the United Kingdom and industry.

 

"Maj. Miller is representative of the highly-trained pilots populating the F-35 community," said Col. Todd Canterbury, commander of Eglin's 33d Fighter Wing. "This milestone is significant because it shows the program is maturing rapidly and highlights the successful implementation of a world-class training program and development of the F-35 Lightning II for the combat air forces. We are excited to have produced the 100th F-35 Lightning II pilot."

 

The joint service partners at Eglin Air Force Base have flown 2,292 F-35 hours and have 28 aircraft assigned, representing the largest fleet of F-35s in the world. Approximately 100 pilots and 2,200 maintainers will be qualified annually through the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Training System at the base to support initial operational capability targets. The Lockheed Martin training system is also operational at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz.

 

The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Three distinct variants of the F-35 will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least 10 other countries.

 

 

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 118,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration, and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products, and services. The Corporation's net sales for 2012 were $47.2 billion.

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12 juillet 2013 5 12 /07 /juillet /2013 16:20
F-35 instructor pilot

F-35 instructor pilot

July 11, 2013 Source: Lockheed Martin

 

F-35 Pilot Cadre Grows To 100 As Training Ramps Up At Eglin Air Force Base

 

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.--- Maj. Robert Miller became the 100th pilot to fly the Lockheed Martin (LMT) F-35 Lightning II when he took to the skies above Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., for a training flight on July 9.

 

Miller's 90-minute familiarization flight included normal operations for aircraft handling and landings in an F-35A fighter. The flight followed academic and simulator instruction at Eglin Air Force Base's Integrated Training Center, which provides pilot and maintainer training for the three F-35 variants.

 

"It was great to get airborne today. The jet handles well and is very easy to fly. I'm looking forward to testing the combat capabilities of the F-35 over the next few years at Edwards," said Miller.

 

Miller, currently assigned to the 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., has spent 11 years in the Air Force and has flown more than 1,300 hours in the F-16, including 369 combat hours. He joins an experienced cadre of F-35 pilots among the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, the United Kingdom and industry.

 

"Maj. Miller is representative of the highly-trained pilots populating the F-35 community," said Col. Todd Canterbury, commander of Eglin's 33d Fighter Wing. "This milestone is significant because it shows the program is maturing rapidly and highlights the successful implementation of a world-class training program and development of the F-35 Lightning II for the combat air forces. We are excited to have produced the 100th F-35 Lightning II pilot."

 

The joint service partners at Eglin Air Force Base have flown 2,292 F-35 hours and have 28 aircraft assigned, representing the largest fleet of F-35s in the world. Approximately 100 pilots and 2,200 maintainers will be qualified annually through the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Training System at the base to support initial operational capability targets. The Lockheed Martin training system is also operational at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz.

 

The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Three distinct variants of the F-35 will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least 10 other countries.

 

 

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 118,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration, and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products, and services. The Corporation's net sales for 2012 were $47.2 billion.

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12 juillet 2013 5 12 /07 /juillet /2013 11:35
AUS: Opportunities for Australian industry in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program

12 July 2013 Pacific Sentinel

 

Minister for Defence Materiel Dr Mike Kelly AM MP today addressed representatives of Australian companies at a Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) industry day outlining the benefits and opportunities associated with the multi-billion dollar program.
 
The Canberra event was attended by about 100 representatives from Australian industry, US companies involved in the F-35 program and US and Australian Government staff working on industry aspects of the F-35 program.
 
The Australian companies represented included those presently supplying components and services to the program as well as candidates for future sustainment of the Royal Australian Air Force and world-wide F-35 fleet. 
 
Dr Kelly told the audience the Australian Government is committed to the JSF program, the world’s largest military aerospace program ever undertaken.
 
“Australian industry is well placed to capitalise on the Government’s investment in the program, winning $329 million in contracts to date,” Dr Kelly said.
 
Over the past 12 months, the program has seen very steady progress and the production of aircraft is going very smoothly.
 
Dr Kelly said while Australian companies are currently bidding for work making parts for the construction of F-35 aircraft, in the near future there will be opportunities to bid for work associated with the maintenance and support of the world-wide F-35 fleet.
 
Dr Kelly congratulated Australian companies who have already secured contracts on the JSF, including Quickstep Technologies, Marand Precision Engineering, Lovitt Technologies, TAE, Ferra Engineering, Levett Engineering and Broens.
 
“Support provided by the Defence Materiel Organisation’s Industry Support Program, Skilling and Training Programs, as well as the Defence Materials Technology Centre and the Global Supply Chain Program have all helped Australian industry secure work,” Dr Kelly said.
 
“The ability of Australian companies to be ‘world class’ and cost competitive in high technology aerospace manufacturing processes requires world leading innovation and a highly trained and well managed workforce.”
 
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11 juillet 2013 4 11 /07 /juillet /2013 19:20
Lockheed, Italy Cancel Ceremony At Italian F-35 Plant (excerpt)

July 10, 2013 Source: Reuters



WASHINGTON --- Lockheed Martin Corp and the Italian military this week scrapped plans for a public ceremony marking the opening of an assembly plant for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter after bitter debate about the warplanes in Italy's parliament.

Orlando Carvalho, head of Lockheed's aeronautics business, and Air Force Lieutenant General Christopher Bogdan, who runs the F-35 program for the Pentagon, had planned to attend the ceremony, which was scheduled for July 18, along with Italian officials.

Lockheed spokesman Joe LaMarca said the ceremony was cancelled at the request of the Italian defense ministry, but workers were continuing to assemble the first F-35 at the plant near Milan.

"At the request of the Italian Ministry of Defense, the July 18 public ceremony recognizing the start of F-35 assembly operations at the Final Assembly and Checkout (FACO) facility in Cameri has been cancelled," LaMarca said. He gave no explanation. (end of excerpt)


Click here for the full story, on the Reuters website.

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11 juillet 2013 4 11 /07 /juillet /2013 07:20
US Air Force F-35A Lightning II aircraft fly in formation over Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., on May 14. photo Master Sgt. John R. Nimmo Sr.US Air Force

US Air Force F-35A Lightning II aircraft fly in formation over Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., on May 14. photo Master Sgt. John R. Nimmo Sr.US Air Force

July 10, 2013: Strategy Page

 

American fighter pilots (air force, navy and marine) are largely in agreement that, while the F-22 is a superior air-to-air fighter, the new F-35 is a better, if still flawed, all-round combat aircraft. A lot of this has to do with technology. The F-35 is a more recent aircraft, entering service a dozen years later than the F-22. Fighter pilots, who tend to be keen connoisseurs of aviation technology (many being university trained in aviation tech) note that the F-35 is actually using a new generation of tech as much of the F-22 stuff dates back to the 1980s and 1990s. This accounts for some of the tech updates the F-22 has received since it entered service in 2005. But the basic design and composition of the F-35 is a generation ahead of the F-22. As a result the F-35 is cheaper, more effective (in terms of tech), easier to maintain and designed as a fighter-bomber.

 

This last item is important for combat pilots, because they note there has been little air-to-air combat in the last few decades, but smart bombs (especially the GPS variety) have become cheaper, more effective and reliable and that has meant more calls for air support from ground troops. The F-22 is strictly air-to-air and despite heavily publicized efforts to give F-22s ground attack capability, the F-22 has not yet experienced combat. The smart bomb revolution also means that far fewer aircraft are needed and the air force can’t justify sending in the F-22 when there are so many available aircraft that can do the job a lot cheaper. So fighter pilots looking forward to a hot new ride tend to favor the F-35 rather than the F-22.

 

American fighter pilots do see downsides with the F-35. They believe the manufacturer and proponents promised too much and that the F-35 will never be able to deliver. There is a lot of doubt that stealth will work as promised and the shape restrictions on the F-35 (to make stealth possible) limit what the F-35 can do.

 

There are some attractive aspects of the F-35, especially because it comes in three distinct flavors. The vertical take-off F-35B is a 27 ton aircraft that can carry six tons of weapons and will enter service in two or three years. In vertical takeoff mode the F-35B has a range of 800 kilometers. The U.S. Air Force will get its 31 ton F-35A in 2016 or 2017. This is the cheapest version, costing about $154 million each. The U.S. Navy version (the F-35C) will arrive in late 2019 and cost about $200 million each (same as the F-35B). This version has a stronger landing gear to handle carrier landings and components that are more resistant to corrosion from constant exposure to salt water.

 

The F-35 has been delayed many times in the last decade and there is growing talk of cancellation. Orders have already been cut and the manufacturer is under a lot of pressure to get this new stealth aircraft into service. It’s still being debated how many F-35s will actually be produced. The U.S. Air Force assumes 3,162, but the Department of Defense is not so sure that many will eventually be built. Worst case, there will be more than ten times as many F-35s as F-22s. Most (about 60 percent) of the F-35s built will be used by foreign nations.

 

F22 raptor photo USAF

F22 raptor photo USAF

Last year the 187th, and last, F-22 fighter was completed. This last aircraft was sent to a squadron in Alaska which lost one in an accident two years ago. The manufacturer is not going to scrap or sell off the tools and equipment used to produce the F-22, but will store the stuff for a while in the hope that production may resume eventually.

 

That is unlikely as Congress passed a law forbidding the export of the F-22 fighter. Three nations (Australia, Japan, and Israel) sought to buy some. Efforts to change the law have failed. At one time there was a similar prohibition to the export of the F-16 and that law was changed. One reason for the law was the fear that F-22 technical and operational secrets would fall into the hands of a hostile power that would then build more than 200 of them.

 

The F-22 has performance that is far superior to that of any other aircraft in service, which is why several foreign air forces would like some. The combination of speed, advanced electronics, and stealth technology has created such a decisive advantage that F-22s are often matched up against as many as six F-15s to ensure their pilots face a challenge during training. So why is the F-35, with somewhat lower performance, getting all the export orders?

 

The first reason is price. The F-22 costs up to $200 million each (without even counting the huge R&D costs). The F-35 costs up to half as much (although that edge is eroding). This is one reason the U.S. is pushing exports of the F-35. This is why many more F-16s were exported, compared to the F-15. In any event, the F-35 will outclass a Rafale, F-15E, or Eurofighter, but not the F-22. The U.S. Air Force intended the F-22 to be part of a high-end/low-end mix with the F-35, much like the F-15 and F-16 were the combination in the 1990s, only the F-22/F-35 combination will be much harder to detect and defend against.

 

The U.S. Air Force saw export sales as a way to keep the F-22 production line active, giving it more time to persuade Congress to allow more to be built for the U.S. That did not work. Despite the high cost of the F-22, Russia is developing the similar T-50, and China the similar J-20. But neither of these aircraft is as capable, or as expensive, as the F-22. Neither of these aircraft is in service. The F-22 began development in the late 1980s, first flew in 1997, and entered service in 2005. The F-22 is expected to remain in service for at least 30 years. And for much of that time the F-22 will be the best, if also the least numerous, jet fighter on the planet. During that time many American fighter pilots believe the stealth advantage will be lost due to new technology. China, Russia and the Europeans will continue developing new combat aircraft designs and the appearance of unmanned fighters would change the situation most dramatically of all.

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3 juillet 2013 3 03 /07 /juillet /2013 16:50
Parts for F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – photo  Kongsberg Gruppen

Parts for F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – photo Kongsberg Gruppen

Jul 3, 2013 ASDNews Source : Kongsberg Gruppen

 

KONGSBERG has received two orders with a total value of MNOK 190 for deliveries of Rudders & Vertical Leading Edges and Centre Fuselage Parts for F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

 

The orders are based on frame agreements signed in 2008 and 2009 with Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. The orders include deliveries to 41 aircrafts.

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3 juillet 2013 3 03 /07 /juillet /2013 12:30
photo Lockheed Martin

photo Lockheed Martin

July 2, 2013 by Arie Egozi - FG

 

Tel Aviv - Rafael is in the advanced stage of work on the unique communications systems that will be installed in the Lockheed Martin F-35s to be operated by the Israeli air force.

 

Specific details of the system are highly classified, but the enhancement has been described by one Israeli source as a "big leap in airborne communications".

 

The equipment will combine some systems that Rafael has developed in recent years, including an airborne datalink system, which the company says provides the ability to accurately process and distribute real-time information to all airborne and ground units and provide total visibility in the theatre of operations. The technology also guarantees reliable, simultaneous, multi-channel voice, data, imagery and video transmissions, it says.

 

Israel's communications systems for the F-35 will also include elements of Rafael's software-defined communication system. This is designed to enable fast wideband connection between manned aircraft, unmanned air systems and their ground control stations. The equipment will allow the fighter to keep its stealth capabilities in "a variety of fighting modes", says a company source.

 

Rafael is also adapting some of its air-to-air and air-to-surface weapon system to be carried within the F-35's internal weapons bays.

 

Israel is due to receive the first of its currently contracted 20 conventional take-off and landing F-35As in 2017.

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28 juin 2013 5 28 /06 /juin /2013 20:20
F-35 test aircraft photo Lockheed Martin

F-35 test aircraft photo Lockheed Martin

28/06/13 bourse.lesechos.fr (Dow Jones)

 

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--Le Pentagone étudie la possibilité de retarder l'un des ses programmes d'armement les plus coûteux et les plus controversés, celui de l'avion de chasse F-35, dans le cadre de mesures d'économies, selon des responsables de la défense.

 

Le secrétaire américain à la Défense, Chuck Hagel, a envisagé cette option dans le cadre d'un plan présenté par un groupe de travail sur la réduction des dépenses du Pentagone entre 2015 et 2020. Mais des responsables ont insisté sur le fait qu'aucune décision n'avait été prise et que des conseillers de Chuck Hagel avaient recommandé d'écarter cette option en soulignant que les économies potentiellement engendrées n'étaient pas suffisantes pour justifier une telle mesure.

 

Selon des analystes du secteur de la défense, retarder la production de l'appareil pourrait permettre au gouvernement américain d'économiser entre 1 et 2,5 milliards de dollars par an entre 2015 et 2019. Tout retard dans le programme pourrait cependant constituer un coup dur pour l'appareil et pour son fabricant, le groupe Lockheed Martin.

 

Des responsables de la défense américaine ont refusé de dire de combien de temps pourrait être repoussée la production du F-35, ni le montant des économies qui pourraient être réalisées par le Pentagone.

 

Selon les derniers rapports militaires du Congrés, l'avion F-35B destiné à la marine américaine (Navy) doit entrer en service en 2015. Une autre version de l'appareil prévue pour la Navy, le F-35C, doit entamer ses opérations en 2019.

 

-Julian E.Barnes, DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

 

(Version française Jérôme Batteau)

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28 juin 2013 5 28 /06 /juin /2013 16:50
The UK's third F-35 Lightning II aircraft takes off from Lockheed Martin's facility near Fort Worth in Texas [Picture: Master Sergeant Randy A Crites USMC (Retd)]

The UK's third F-35 Lightning II aircraft takes off from Lockheed Martin's facility near Fort Worth in Texas [Picture: Master Sergeant Randy A Crites USMC (Retd)]

27 June 2013 Ministry of Defence

 

The third of the UK's F-35 short take-off and vertical landing Lightning II aircraft has arrived at Eglin US Air Force Base in Florida.

 

The aircraft will be used for pilot and maintainer training for the UK team currently based in the USA. At Eglin, pilots from the Royal Navy and RAF and ground crew are working alongside their US Marine Corps colleagues learning all they can about maintaining the aircraft and how to fly the platforms to get the best out of them.

Group Captain Harv Smyth, the UK’s Joint Strike Fighter National Deputy, said:

Today’s arrival of ‘BK-3’ is the latest step in delivering the F-35’s unprecedented capability to UK Defence.

With each passing day our Lightning II programme is maturing. In less than a year we have taken ownership of our first 3 aircraft and begun both pilot and engineer training.

The Lightning II truly represents a turning point for the UK’s combat air capability and will dramatically increase our ability to defend national sovereignty interests and ensure security around the globe.

The F-35 Lightning II is a fifth-generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility. More than 500 British suppliers will build 15% of each F-35 produced.

UK industry is responsible for numerous F-35 components including the aft fuselage, fuel system and crew escape system.

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