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F-35 - News and Discussions

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The National Interest

Russia is About to Get A Close Look at the F-35 Stealth Fighter


September 26, 2019

Italy has become the first country to deploy F-35 stealth fighters for NATO’s air-policing missions.

Italian F-35As belonging to the Italian air force’s 13° Gruppo, 32° Stormo are on track to take over the air-policing mission in Iceland, David Cenciotti reported at The Aviationist on Sept. 25, 2019.

“The Italian aircraft, that have already deployed to Keflavik International Airport, from their homebase at Amendola air base in southeastern Italy, will start flying familiarisation sorties in the next few days,” Cenciotti wrote. “After achieving the NATO certification they will start quick-reaction alert duties.”

“The F-35s, were accompanied by a KC-767A tanker, a C-130J and a P-72A maritime patrol aircraft,” Cenciotti added, citing data from flight-tracking websites.

F-35s surely will become regular fixtures in NATO deployments. Several NATO countries besides Italy are acquiring F-35s, including the United States, the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Norway. Spain has expressed interest in the stealth fighter. Canada seems likely to acquire the type.

Under the air-policing scheme, NATO’s larger members deploy fighters in order to patrol the air space of smaller members that lack their own fighters. The main air-policing destinations are Iceland and the Baltic States. F-15s, F-16s and Typhoons have handled most of the air-policing deployments in the last decade.

The deployments are significant because they put NATO fighters in close contact with Russian warplanes flying along Russia’s western frontier and in North Atlantic air space. It probably won’t be long before NATO F-35s intercept Russian Sukhois.

The F-35 recently has passed several important milestones despite lingering cost, technical and maintenance problems. The Royal Air Force’s F-35Bs flew in combat for the first time on June 16, 2019.

Taking off from the British air base at Akrotiri in Cyprus, a pair of the vertical-landing stealth fighters patrolled over Syria alongside RAF Typhoon fighters, the U.K. Defense Ministry announced.

The F-35s didn’t drop bombs or fire missiles or guns during their combat patrol. Still, the mission made the United Kingdom the third country after Israel and the United States to deploy F-35s in wartime.

The Israeli air force claimed it was the first to fly F-35s in combat. Tel Aviv in May 2018 announced it deployed the radar-evading jet on two fronts. The Israeli government circulated a photo of an Israeli F-35A flying over Beirut in Lebanon during the daytime, strongly implying the fighter struck targets in Lebanon. Israeli warplanes also frequently operate over Syria.

U.S. Marine Corps F-35Bs in September 2018 conducted an air strike in support of what the U.S. Navy described as "ground clearance operations" in Afghanistan. The U.S. Air Force flew its own F-35As in combat for the first time over Iraq in April 2019. The U.S. Navy is still working up its F-35C squadrons for their first front-line cruise aboard an aircraft carrier, currently scheduled for 2021.

The U.S. military plans to begin rotating F-35 stealth fighters into South Korea starting in a few years, a South Korean newspaper reported. The American planes would join a growing fleet of South Korean F-35s.

So far, the U.K. F-35B’s sortie rate in wartime conditions is no better than the sortie rate the remnant fleet of 1980s-vintage Tornadoes achieved in the years preceding their retirement. The eight Royal Air Force Tornadoes at Akrotiri as recently as 2015 managed two, two-ship sorties a day, each lasting six to eight hours, according to Financial Times.

Trade publication Defense News in early June 2019 revealed lingering flaws in the F-35’s design.

At high angles of attack, the F-35B and the carrier-compatible F-35C have a tendency to depart from controlled flight, Defense News reported.

“Specifically, the Marine short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing variant and the Navy’s carrier-launched version become difficult to control when the aircraft is operating above a 20-degree angle of attack, which is the angle created by the oncoming air and the leading edge of the wing,” Defense News explained.
 

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Stealthy no more? A German radar vendor says it tracked the F-35 jet in 2018 — from a pony farm
By: Sebastian Sprenger
September 29
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Visitors of the 2018 Berlin Air Show walk past a Lockheed Martin fighter jet in Schoenefeld, Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)


COLOGNE, Germany — In the illustrious history of the F-35 fighter jet, add a pony farm outside Berlin as the place where one company claims the plane’s stealth cover was blown.

The story that follows is a snapshot in the cat-and-mouse game between combat aircraft — designed to be undetectable by radar — and sensor makers seeking to undo that advantage. In the case of the F-35, the promise of invisibility to radar is so pronounced that it has colored much of the jet's employment doctrine, lending an air of invincibility to the weapon: The enemy never saw it coming.

But technology leaps only last so long, and Russia and China are known to be working on technology aimed at nixing whatever leg up NATO countries have tried to build for themselves.

Now, German radar-maker Hensoldt claims to have tracked two F-35s for 150 kilometers following the 2018 Berlin Air Show in Germany in late April of that year. The company’s passive radar system, named TwInvis, is but one of an emerging generation of sensors and processors so sensitive and powerful that it promises to find previously undetectable activities in a given airspace.

What happened in Berlin was the rare chance to subject the aircraft — stealthy design features, special coating and all — to a real-life trial to see if the promise of low observability still holds true.

Stories about the F-35-vs.-TwInvis matchup had been swirling in the media since Hensoldt set up shop on the tarmac at Berlin’s Schönefeld Airport, its sensor calibrated to track all flying demonstrations by the various aircraft on the flight line. Media reports had billed the system, which comes packed into a van or SUV and boasts a collapsible antenna, as a potential game changer in aerial defense.

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Air situation picture provided by Hensoldt's passive radar tracking system, which covers the airspace of southern Germany. (Hensoldt)

At the same time, F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin was still in the race to replace the German Tornado fleet, a strategically important opportunity to sell F-35s to a key European Union member state. The company set up a sizable chalet at the air show, bringing brochures and hats depicting the aircraft together with a German flag.

Showtime in Schönefeld

The most convincing pieces of marketing for Hensoldt were meant to be two F-35s flown in from Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. The trans-Atlantic journey marked the jets’ longest nonstop flight, at 11-plus hours, officials said at the time.



But Lockheed and the U.S. Air Force did not fly the jets during the show so that its engineers — and anyone walking by the company’s booth, for that matter — could see if the aircraft would produce a radar track on a big screen like the other aircraft.

Reporters never got a straight answer on why the F-35s stayed on the ground. One explanation was that there was no approved aerial demonstration program for the aircraft that would fit the Berlin show’s airspace limitations.

Regardless of the reason, with no flight by the F-35, companies could not try out their technologies on perhaps the most illustrious of test cases. Passive radar equipment computes an aerial picture by reading how civilian communications signals bounce off airborne objects. The technique works with any type of signal present in airspace, including radio or television broadcasts as well as emissions from mobile phone stations. The technology can be effective against stealthy aircraft designs, which are meant to break and absorb signals from traditional radar emitters so that nothing reflects back to ground-station sensors, effectively leaving defensive-radar operators in the dark.

Because there are no emitters, passive radar is covert, meaning pilots entering a monitored area are unaware they are being tracked.

There are limitations to the technology. For one, it depends on the existence of radio signals, which may not be a given in remote areas of the globe. In addition, the technology is not yet accurate enough to guide missiles, though it could be used to send infrared-homing weapons close to a target.


Hensoldt said various radio station broadcasts in the area, especially a bunch of strong Polish FM emitters broadcasting deep into Germany, improved TwInvis calibration during the Berlin show. The border is about 70 kilometers away from Schönefeld Airport.

During a system demonstration by Hensoldt at the exhibit, company engineers convened around a large TwInvis screen showing the track of a Eurofighter performing a thundering aerial show nearby. But the prized target of opportunity, the two F-35s, remained sitting on the tarmac.

Horse country

As the event ended, Hensoldt kept a close eye on any movement of the heavily guarded F-35s on the airfield. As exhibitors began to clear out, it looked like the chance of catching the planes during their inevitable departure back home would be lost.

But in Hensoldt’s telling, someone had the idea of setting up TwInvis outside the airport, which ended up being at a nearby horse farm.

Camped out amid equines, engineers got word from the Schönefeld tower about when the F-35s were slated to take off. Once the planes were airborne, the company says it started tracking them and collecting data, using signals from the planes’ ADS-B transponders to correlate the passive sensor readings.

A spokeswoman for the F-35 Joint Program Office said she was unable to comment by press time on Hensoldt’s claim of having tracked the aircraft in Berlin or about the plane’s general vulnerability to passive radar.

There are several horse and pony farms in the vicinity of Schönefeld Airport, offering everything from riding lessons to horse-themed summer camps for kids. A woman answering the phone at the business closest to the airfield, “Keidel Ranch,” a couple kilometers to the west, confirmed to Defense News that “someone” from the Berlin Air Show had showed up and stayed for “two or three days.”

Hensoldt previously said its passive-radar detection works regardless of whether the targeted aircraft has radar reflectors (so-called Luneburg lenses) installed. Those features — little knobs on the roots of the F-35 wings — can be seen in photos released by the U.S. Defense Department on the occasion of the journey to Berlin.

The reflectors are often mounted on the stealthy aircraft to make them visible to local air traffic authorities during friendly missions, like air show appearances. They artificially create a radar cross section in the frequency bands in which airspace-deconfliction radars operate so that traditional, defense radar systems know what they are dealing with.

According to a source close to the program, Luneburg lenses mounted on the departing F-35s would make it a certainty that the jets can be tracked, suggesting that the situation would be different without the reflectors installed.

“When the F-35 is not flying operational missions that require stealth — for example, at air shows, ferry flights or training — they ensure air traffic controllers and others are able to track their flight to manage air space safety,” Lockheed spokesman Michael Friedman wrote in a statement to Defense News. “The Air Force can best address questions related to their F-35s participation at the Berlin Air Show.”

Hensoldt argues that passive-radar detection works in a different spectrum, making the presence (or absence) of reflectors irrelevant. In layman’s terms, passive radar tracks the entire physical shape of planes, versus being triggered by smaller, angular features on the body of a jet.

Talking stealth

Whatever Hensoldt's claims, the German military has embraced passive radar as an emerging technology key for future capabilities, including air defense. Earlier this year, the country's Air Force was in the process of creating a formal acquisition track for passive sensing, Defense News reported.

That step came after the Defence Ministry sponsored a weeklong “measuring campaign” in southern Germany last fall aimed at visualizing the entire region’s air traffic through TwInvis.

Also noteworthy, in the year and a half that followed the air show, emphasis on stealth features for the Franco-German-Spanish Future Combat Air System program, meant to be Europe's next-generation warplane, shifted.

Officials from the industry teams involved in the program increasingly converged around the idea that stealth as we know it had lost its shine — this following rumors circling the German defense scene about how Hensoldt had apparently managed to light up the American aircraft on the radar screen.

Valerie Insinna in Washington contributed to this report.
 

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F-35 Testing Delays Continue, Even as Aircraft Has Made Its Combat Debut
By Oriana Pawlyk
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Capt. Andrew “Dojo” Olson, F-35 Demonstration Team pilot and commander, performs a high-speed pass during the Oregon International Airshow on ,Sept. 21, 2019 in McMinnville, Oregon. The F-35 Demo Team co-headlined the show with the Royal Air Force Red Arrows. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Alexander Cook)

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will not complete its already-delayed formal operational test phase this fall because of a setback in the testing process, according to a source close to the program.

While the F-35 Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) was supposed to be complete by late summer, a source with knowledge of its development said the testing is still incomplete due to an unfinished phase known as the Joint Simulation Environment.

The JSE simulations project characteristics such as weather, geography and range, allowing test pilots to prove the aircraft's "full capabilities against the full range of required threats and scenarios," according to a 2015 Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E) report.

The F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO), in coordination with the Defense Department, confirmed that the Joint Simulation Environment testing phase is still being worked through, but could not provide a timeline for its completion.

"This final phase of IOT&E will occur when the JSE is ready to adequately complete the testing," DoD spokesman Air Force Lt. Col Mike Andrews said in a statement Wednesday. "The JSE is required to adequately perform F-35 IOT&E against modern adversary aircraft and dense ground threats in realistic scenarios."

The JPO and F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin announced Dec. 6 that all three F-35 variants belonging to the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps would be field-tested "for the purposes of determining the weapons systems' operational effectiveness and operational suitability for combat." IOT&E had originally been set to begin in September 2018.

The latest delay raises doubts about when the stealth jet will hit its next crucial benchmark: expanded production.

IOT&E paves the way for full-rate production of the Lightning II despite the fact three U.S. services and multiple partner nations already fly the aircraft. Some versions of the F-35 have even made their combat debut. The Office of the Secretary of Defense will be the authority to sign off on the decision, moving the program out of its baseline low-rate initial production (LRIP) stage.

JPO spokeswoman Brandi Schiff said the JSE is in the process of integrating Lockheed's "'F-35 In-A-Box' (FIAB) model, which is the simulation of F-35 sensor systems and the overall aircraft integration." FIAB is the F-35 aircraft simulation that plugs into the JSE environment.

"This integration and the associated verification activities are lagging initial projections and delaying IOT&E entry into the JSE," Schiff said.

Lockheed Martin originally proposed a Virtual Simulator program for this testing. But in 2015, the government instead opted to transition the work -- which would become the JSE -- to Naval Air Systems Command at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.

The Pentagon is looking at other potential JSE environments at locations such as Edwards Air Force Base, California, according to a recent Air Force news release. Another could be housed at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, the release said.

"DOT&E is not aware of any viable substitute for the JSE that would be ready sooner," Andrews said.

"Any substitute simulation would still require high-fidelity F-35, weapons, threat and environmental models to be able to provide the operationally representative scenarios and data required to complete IOT&E," he said.

Despite the testing delay, production continues, according to Lockheed.
"We have delivered on all requirements for this software to be integrated with NAVAIR's JSE and are providing our full support to ensure successful integration and testing as soon as possible," company spokesman Mike Friedman said Friday. "F-35 production continues to ramp up.

"We have delivered more than 425 aircraft to date, doubled production since 2016, met our annual delivery targets two years in a row and continue to increase production rates, improve efficiencies and reduce costs year-over-year," he said. "We are confident the enterprise is prepared for full-rate production and ready to meet growing customer demand."
 

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South Korea displays F-35 stealth jets seen by the North as a threat
01 Oct 2019


View attachment 10352
A South Korean fighter pilot (L) stands next to a F-35 A Stealth during the 71th anniversary of Armed Forces Day at the Military Air Base in Daegu on Oct 1, 2019.
(Photo: JEON HEON-KYUN/POOL/AFP)



SEOUL: South Korea showcased newly acquired F-35 stealth fighter jets to mark Armed Forces Day on Tuesday (Oct 1) as President Moon Jae-in tries to allay concerns that his policy of engagement with North Korea may be weakening the South's commitment to defence.

North Korea has criticised the South's weapons procurements and its joint military drills with the US military as undisguised preparations for war that were forcing it to develop new short-range missiles.

Moon has thrown his support behind dialogue to end the North's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, urging that working-level negotiations between the North and the United States be held soon. No new dates or locations have been set.

Moon marked the founding of the South Korean military at a ceremony at an airbase in the city of Taegu that highlighted four of the eight Lockheed Martin F-35A jets delivered this year. Forty of the aircraft are to be delivered by 2021.

Analysts have said the F-35 stealth jets put North Korea’s anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence systems in a vulnerable position, with Pyongyang claiming that use of the jets forced it to develop new missiles to "completely destroy" the threat.

Negotiations aimed at dismantling North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes have stalled since a second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un broke down in February over disagreements on denuclearisation.

North Korea blamed the United States on Monday for a failure to restart talks, with Pyongyang's UN ambassador Kim Song saying it was time for Washington to share proposals for talks that showed Washington had adopted a new "calculation method".

South Korea and the United States have separately begun talks for a new military burden-sharing agreement to decide the portion South Korea will shoulder for the cost of stationing what is now about 28,500 US troops in the country.

Moon told Trump during a summit in New York last week what South Korea would contribute, including an increase in purchases of US weapons and future purchase plans, a senior official at South Korea's presidential office said.

Source: Reuters/aa
 

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View attachment 10407

On 1 October 2019, this F-35A (serial 18-0005 and construction number AT-5) took the skies from Fort Worth for the first time... in full Turkish markings.

As well known, in July 2019 the US suspended Turkey's involvement in the F-35A programme due to the introduction of the advanced S-400 air defense system. It is surprisingly to see a brand new jet flying from Fort Worth in Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (THK, Turkish Air Force) markings. Maybe the jet was already assembled and to clear space at the production plant it is flown over to Luke AFB (AZ).

On 25 September 2019, the only four delivered THK F-35As were seen at the 63rd FS/56th FW flightline of Luke AFB (AZ). They were parked, and not observed in flight operations.

Photo credit: Carl Richards
 

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Netherlands to buy 9 Additional F-35 fighters for $1.1B
October 9, 2019

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Netherlands on Tuesday announced its plan to procure 9 additional F-35 fighters from the United States for an estimated €1 billion ($1.1 billion).
The new acquisition is to replace the country's ageing fleet of F-16s purchased in 1979. The stealth jets will bring the total number of F-35s with the Netherlands to 46. The agreement will include supply of spare parts, training, simulators and related support.

The envisioned agreement will “lay the foundation” for a third F-35 squadron in the Dutch air force, a plan that government officials first floated in late 2018, Netherlands' defense ministry said in a statement.

The additional aircraft are expected contribute to the air force's objective of having four jets available for NATO missions while also performing homeland defense operations and accounting for training requirements and maintenance downtime.
 

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South Korea to buy 20 more F-35 jets
By: Jeff Jeong  
5 hours ago
View attachment 10690
A South Korean fighter pilot, left, stands near an F-35A in the 71st anniversary of Armed Forces Day at the Air Force Base in Daegu, South Korea, on Oct. 1, 2019. (Jeon Heon-kyun/AP)

SEOUL — South Korea will begin the second phase of its plan to acquire stealthy fighter jets, code-named F-X III, by acquiring 20 more F-35s, the country’s arms procurement agency has confirmed.

The Asian economic power had ordered 40 F-35As for Air Force operations under a 2014 deal worth about $6.4 billion, with the delivery of the fifth-generation fighters starting earlier this year.

“The government is preparing to launch the second phase of the F-X III in 2021 for the five years to come,” the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, or DAPA, said in a report to the National Assembly on Oct. 7. About $3.3 billion will go toward buying the additional Lockheed Martin-made aircraft, the report noted.

Which F-35 variant is under consideration has been a point of debate here, though multiple defense sources say the government will buy the F-35A rather than the "B" variant because of the former’s short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing capability. The STOVL ability allows the aircraft to take off and land from South Korea’s new large-deck landing ship planned for deployment in the 2030s.

“The state-funded Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, or KIDA, has concluded a study on the additional acquisition of F-35 aircraft, and the study is to suggest the introduction of more F-35As be more feasible,” a source at the Ministry of National Defense told Defense News on the condition of anonymity.

In July, the South Korean military approved a plan to construct a carrier-type landing platform helicopter ship as part of its long-term force buildup plan. The new vessel is to be refit to displace 30,000 tons, double the capacity of the previous two types with 14,500 tons of displacement.
“There are two issues [with getting] the F-35B. First, it’s more expensive than the conventional-takeoff-and-landing version. Second, the deployment of a carrier-type landing ship is far away from now,” the source said.

On Oct. 1, the Air Force showcased its F-35As for the first time since it received the fighters during an Armed Forces Day ceremony.

The service has so far brought in eight units, with five more arriving here by year’s end. Fourteen more aircraft are scheduled to be delivered to South Korea next year, according to the service.

“For its operational deployment, we are now carrying out related processes such as training pilots and maintenance technicians and the construction of facilities and relevant systems,” the service said in a report submitted to lawmakers on Oct. 10. “As a centerpiece of the country’s strategic targeting scheme against potential enemy forces, the radar-evading warplane is expected to boost operational capabilities and strengthen the readiness posture against threats from all directions.”

The F-35A can fly at a top speed of Mach 1.8 and carry top-of-the-line weapons systems such as the Joint Direct Attack Munition.

North Korea has decried the deployment of F-35 aircraft in South Korea due to the jet’s capability to evade radars and penetrate its territory. In July, Pyongyang threatened to destroy all the F-35As arriving in South Korea.

A senior North Korean official was quoted by the state-run media as saying that the North has “no other choice but to develop and test the special armaments to completely destroy the lethal weapons reinforced in South Korea.”

North Korea test-fired new short-range ballistic missiles and guided rockets in recent months. The weapons take aim at the F-35 base in particular, experts say.

The ballistic missile, identified as KN-23, appears to have been modeled after Russia’s SS-26/Iskander. It’s believed to be capable of maneuvering at different altitudes and trajectories during flight so as to evade anti-ballistic missiles.
 

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Norway’s F-35s have a problem with a unique piece of gear
11 Oct 2019

View attachment 10742
An F-35A, modified with a drag chute designed for Norwegian Air Force F-35As, deploys its chute upon test landing at Edwards AFB, California. (Lockheed Martin)


WASHINGTON — Norway’s F-35s have a unique feature that distinguishes them from other countries’ version of the joint strike fighter: a drag chute that is used to slow the landing of the jet in icy conditions.

However, the the drag chute is failing more than expected and the Royal Norwegian Air Force is working with the Pentagon to fix the issue before next winter.

“It’s not working the way we expected, and they are working on reconfiguring this capability,” Norwegian air chief Brig. Gen. Tonje Skinnarland said in an exclusive interview with Defense News on Thursday.

“That said, our experience operating the F-35 on slippery airfields is that it’s more safe and easier than with the F-16s,” she added. “With the stability of the [F-35] aircraft, it’s easier to take off and land on slippery airfields. … It’s performing extremely well.”

The F-35’s drag chute is mounted as a removable pod between the aircraft’s vertical stabilizers, according to Lockheed Martin. Activating a switch will open the pod doors and release the drag chute — a Kevlar parachute that creates drag on the aircraft, helping it to slow down more quickly in icy, high-wind conditions.

Norway has a reliability requirement of no more than one failed drag chute opening per 10,000 uses, the F-35 Joint Program Office said in a statement to Defense News. Flight testing in 2018, as well as subsequent uses of the drag chute by Norway, have made clear that the current drag chute is not meeting that standard, necessitating a number of design modifications to the pilot chute and parachute deployment bag.

“A prototype incorporating many of these changes was validated by the Norwegian Air Force at Ørland [Main Air Station, in Norway] earlier this year, and that design is now being formalized,” F-35 JPO spokesperson Brandi Schiff stated. “These technical changes will be tested and confirmed through a combination of ground and flight testing through February 2020. ...The JPO anticipates delivering the first compliant parachutes in early Summer 2020.”

Lockheed Martin spokesman Mike Friedman said the new drag chute prototype is going through the engineering processes needed to ensure it will meet requirements, and that the company is on schedule.

Skinnarland said that it “is important for us to fix this” before the 2020-2021 winter season. However, she noted that the problem was “not a continuous challenge” and made clear that it would not prevent Norway from declaring initial operational capability for the F-35 this year and from operating the jet as planned.

“It’s a new program in development and facing new challenges is expected,” she said. “We are very satisfied with the way we are working to solve the challenges we face together with the joint program office, together with industry and partners.”

Norway is currently the only country that operates the F-35 with the drag chute. Although the Netherlands has contributed about $11 million to the development of the capability, according to FlightGlobal, it has not committed funding to buy the drag chute pods for its F-35s.

Despite the drag chute problem, the Norwegian military is bullish on the F-35.

With Russia building up its anti-aircraft capabilities on the Kola Peninsula, a strip of land on its northwestern flank that borders Norway and Finland, Norway sees an opportunity to use the information gathering capabilities of its new F-35s and P-8 Poseidon submarine-hunting aircraft to be the eyes and ears of NATO in the Far North.

“For Norway, the F-35 is not an air force capability in itself. It’s a more strategic, important, new capability for the joint force of Norway, for the defense of Norway and [for] our possibility to be the NATO in the north, providing our part of the deterrence threshold,” Skinnarland said.

“The performance of the aircraft — in general and in Norwegian conditions specifically — is more than expected. It’s an incredible capability. It performs extremely well in cold weather and the sensor capability and fusion is remarkable also when it comes to our challenging environment with the geography, topography and distance,” she said.

Over the next two years, the Royal Norwegian Air Force plans to check off a series of major milestones with the F-35. It will declare its F-35s operational at the end of the year after completing a deployment in November meant to validate that the jets can operate away from their home base of Ørland Main Air Station.

Norway has already amassed 15 F-35s at Ørland, as well as the trained pilots and technicians it needs for IOC. The deployment, where F-35 operators will rely on containerized versions of F-35 support systems like the Autonomic Information Logistics System, is the last requirement needed for the milestone, Skinnarland said. “We need to verify that this works.”

Then, in March, Norway’s F-35s will deploy to Iceland to conduct air policing efforts there on behalf of NATO.

Finally, by 2022, the air force will have built up enough jets, pilots and maintainers in the country that the F-35 will take over the “quick reaction alert” mission, which calls for operators to stand on a 24/7 alert and scramble, if needed, to intercept aircraft flying near Norwegian airspace. At that point, Norway will completely phase out its F-16s, Skinnarland said.

The QRA mission will take place at Evenes Air Station in northern Norway, which is being rebuilt after military activities stopped in the 1990s. The air force is making investments to repair existing features like its runway and fuel storage facilities, as well as to construct a new squadron building.

The QRA mission could bring Norway’s F-35s very close to Russian aircraft attempting to access Norwegian airspace, which theoretically could afford Russian aircraft an opportunity to learn more about the F-35. Skinnarland said she is cognizant of the possibility, but confident that the Royal Norwegian Air Force will take the proper steps — like using radar reflectors and other countermeasures — to ensure that a potential adversary doesn’t get insight into its stealth capability.

“When you operate them, you have to make sure you don’t expose your capability more than needed, and we operate them configured not to expose the full range of capabilities,” she said. “The most complex training that we do, we do in simulators to make sure that we don’t expose the full capability of the F-35 being that close to a potential near-peer adversary.”
 

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Air Force F-35 squadrons improve readiness capability amid deployments
The Air Force said that a focus on readiness and capability has allowed deployed squadrons of the fifth generation fighter aircraft to complete missions and surpass goals set by the Pentagon.
Oct. 15, 2019
By Ed Adamczyk
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Oct. 15 (UPI) -- A concentration on mission readiness has improved the capabilities of F-35 Lightning II fighter planes and pilots, the U.S. Air Force said Tuesday.

Officials said all three squadrons of the 388th Fighter Wing were involved in missions and exercises away from home this summer, operating in nine countries, meeting goals set out by now-former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.

Col. Michael Miles, 388th Maintenance Group commander said the group has seen remarkable improvements since Mattis told Air Force and Navy fighter squadrons to improve their mission-capable readiness rate to 80 percent. Officials called the goal "lofty," considering the requirements and constrains of the military.

But on a single day in September, two of the squadrons were at a 90 percent capability rate while the third was above 80 percent, the Air Force said.

"This is a reflection of processes that are on the right track. It took hard work and there will be a lot of naysayers, and many people don't understand the trajectory the program is on," Miles said in a press release.

One squadron was involved in the European Theater Support Package with deployment to Germany, and another conducted off-station operations at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, while runways at its home base of Hill Air Force Base, Utah, were under construction. The third is currently involved in the first F-35A combat deployment in the Middle East.

In total, nearly 70 F-35As of the three squadrons have been operating away from their home bases, with commanders saying the wing met all requirements.

"It was a team effort, and I'm proud of our folks," said Col. Steven Behmer, 388th Fighter Wing commander. "We're focused on maintaining and improving every aspect of readiness -- training, manning and developing our people and tactics to meet current threats. Our maintainers are doing a great job providing the sorties we need to do just that."

The successes of the summer are an improvement over training, maintenance and supply chain issues of the recent past.

A report in April by the government's General Accounting Office cited spare parts shortages and limited repair capabilities, making F-35 planes throughout the U.S. military "unable to fly nearly 30 percent of the May-November 2018 time period."

Also, the Department of Defense had a repair backlog of about 4,300 F-35 parts." It referred to the planes' readiness rate as "abysmal," which prompted Mattis to demand the capability rate of 80 percent.

Current Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in July, however, that the fleet of F-35s of the Army, Navy and Marines "is not expected" to meet Mattis's goal of readiness -- though it appears they're working to meet the goal anyway.

"We're not seeing the same problem parts and issues that we did in the past," Miles said of newer aircraft completed by manufacturer Lockheed Martin. "Problems sent in from the field are being addressed, and solutions are woven into the production line. I like the trajectory we're currently on. There have been some valleys, but our overall experience shows we're on a readiness incline."
 

Khafee

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Pentagon delays F-35 full-rate production decision by 13 months
18 October 2019

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Delays developing the JSE forced the Pentagon to delay its F-35 FRP decision by 13 months. Source: US Air Force

Key Points
  • The Pentagon is pushing back its F-35 full-rate production decision by more than a year owing to issues with Joint Simulation Environment progress
  • The facility is required to perform high-end threats that cannot be replicated in an open-air range
The Pentagon is delaying the full-rate production (FRP) decision for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) owing to a lack of progress with the Joint Simulation Environment (JSE) that will test the aircraft against high-end threats that it cannot replicate on the range.
Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (A&S), told reporters on 18 October that this announcement means the FRP decision will not be made in December, as originally anticipated, but instead potentially in December 2020 or January 2021.

Dan Grazier, military fellow with the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) watchdog group in Washington, DC, told Jane's on 18 October that
range restrictions prevent the F-35 from being tested against very high-end missions such as super dense, highly-integrated air defence networks. In theory, he said, the Pentagon should be able to replicate these missions in the simulator. Grazier said the Pentagon must have a properly functioning JSE to complete initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E), which is required to properly inform the FRP decision.

There will be at least three JSE facilities. Grazier said the US Navy (USN) has been developing one at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, for approximately three years. The US Air Force (USAF) is also planning on a pair of its own JSEs with groundbreaking for both facilities scheduled for May 2020. The first is a 21,988 sq m facility planned for Edwards Air Force Base in California, while the other 15,535 sq m facility will be located at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.
 

Khafee

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The F-35 jet might hit full-rate production more than a year late
19 Oct, 2019

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An F-35A taxis in front of the setting sun prior to takeoff from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, on Aug. 20, 2019. (R. Nial Bradshaw/U.S. Air Force)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Defense Department will not clear the F-35 fighter jet for full-rate production this year, and it may even have to push that milestone as far as January 2021, the Pentagon’s acquisition executive said Friday.

The Pentagon had intended to make a full-rate production decision — also known as Milestone C — by the end of 2019. But because the Joint Simulation Environment continues to face delays in its own development, the Defense Department will have to defer that milestone by as many as 13 months, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord told reporters during a news conference.

The Joint Simulation Environment, or JSE, is needed to conduct simulated evaluations of the F-35 in a range of high-threat scenarios.

“We actually had signed out of the JPO [F-35 Joint Program Office] earlier this week a program deviation report that documented expected schedule threshold breach in the Milestone C full-rate production decision of up to 13 months,” Lord said.

It is unclear whether the delay will cause an increase in program costs.

Although the Defense Department already buys the F-35 in large numbers, the full-rate production decision is viewed as a major show of confidence in the program’s maturity. During this time, the yearly production rate is set to skyrocket from the 91 jets manufactured by Lockheed Martin in 2018 to upward of 160 by 2023.

But before Lord signs off on the production decision, the F-35 must complete operational testing, the results of which will be validated by Robert Behler, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation.

The F-35’s testing community intended to complete initial operational test and evaluation, or IOT&E, by this summer; however, the JSE is not yet complete.

“We are not making as quick progress on the Joint Simulation Environment, integrating the F-35 into it. It is a critical portion of IOT&E. We work closely with Dr. Behler and DOT&E [[the office of the director of operational test and evaluation]. They are making excellent progress out on the range with the F-35, but we need to do the work in the Joint Simulation Environment,” Lord said.

“We have collectively decided that we need the JSE [to be] absolutely correct before we proceed, so I will make some decisions about when that full-rate production decision will be made shortly," she added.

Specifically, the Defense Department and F-35 prime contractor Lockheed Martin are lagging behind in integrating the "'F-35 In-A-Box” — the simulated model of the F-35 and its sensors and weapons — into the JSE, reported Military.com, which broke the news of the testing delay in September.

Even before IO&TE formally started, the F-35 test community had noted the challenge of maintaining the planned schedule.

The F-35 began operational tests in December 2018, three months after the originally scheduled start date in September. The program office maintained that its goal was to see the test phase finished by the summer of 2019. However, F-35 test director Air Force Col. Varun Puri documented concerns in a September 2018 presentation that the test phase could slip until September 2019, which could add budget pressure to the program.

In a statement, Lockheed Martin expressed confidence in its ability to ramp up production over the next few years.

“As Secretary Lord stated earlier today, the F-35 is performing exceptionally well for our customers and we continue to ramp up production, modernize the aircraft and improve sustainment performance,” the company said. “This year our goal is to deliver 131 aircraft and that is on track to grow to over 140 production aircraft deliveries next year. We are confident the full F-35 enterprise is prepared for full rate production and ready to meet growing customer demand.”
 

Mastankhan

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Hi,

The german news paper wanted to sell its paper / magazine---. There is no german radar that can track the F35 or find it unless the F35 wanted to be found---.

The shown map---off course the F35 would be flying in a configuration that it is visible---.
 

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First Air National Guard unit receives F-35 fifth generation aircraft
October 20, 2019

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The 158th Fighter Wing (158 FW), a unit of the Vermont Air National Guard, hosted a welcome ceremony to celebrate the arrival of the first F-35 Lightning II aircraft to the wing, South Burlington Air National Guard Base, Vt., Oct. 19, 2019.

The 158th FW is the first Air National Guard unit to receive the Air Force’s most recent fifth generation aircraft, having received two in September out of a total of 20 that will arrive over the following several months.

Air Force Col. David Smith, commander of the 158th Fighter Wing, Vermont Air National Guard, Air Force Lt. Gen. Scott Rice, director of the Air National Guard, Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau, Greg Ulmer, vice president and general manager of the F-35 program, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, Patrick Leahy, senator for Vermont, Phil Scott, governor of Vermont and Army Brig. Gen. Gregory Knight, adjutant general of Vermont, were attended a welcome ceremony to celebrate the arrival of the F-35 Lightning II to the wing.

“Of all the people we recognize today, our leaders, our supporters, our community stakeholders, by far the most significant attendees today are our airmen,” said Adj. Gen. Gregory Knight. “You make the aircraft fly.”

Airman Lt. Col. Nate Graber says the fifth- generation fighters put our country one step ahead of our enemies.

“The threats that are out there to the nation are becoming more technologically advanced. They’re becoming graver threats, if you will,” Lt. Col. Graber said. “It’s an amazing honor to be part of the force that really is out there to be able to kind of combat those growing threats.”

“The information provided to the pilot in the F-35 is right in his helmet. So as he turns his head or moves his vision around, all that information moves with him. So it really allows him very high situational awareness,” added Greg Ulmer, the Vice President and General Manager of the F-35 Program out of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.


As the first fighter wing to receive the F-35 Lighting II, Guard officials say Vermont is paving the way for stronger partnerships between the Air Force and the Air National Guard, ultimately better protecting the United States from adversaries.

“We’ve created the template that we’ve shared with the states that will follow us,” said Col. David Smith, Commander of the 158th Fighter Wing.
 

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