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F-35 - News and Discussions

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F-35 program office announces a ‘strategic pause’ on new logistics system

By: Valerie Insinna  

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U.S. Airmen from the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron prepare to launch an F-35A Lightning II assigned to the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, April 24, 2019. F-35 maintainers use the Autonomic Logistics Information System to monitor the health of the joint strike fighter. (Staff Sgt. Chris Drzazgowski/U.S. Air Force)

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department is pausing its efforts to field replacement software for the F-35′s troubled logistics system due to a lack of funding, the head of the F-35 program office said Thursday.

In 2020, the F-35 program executive office announced plans to develop a replacement for the Lockheed Martin-made Autonomic Logistics Information System currently used by maintenance crews to perform functions such as ordering spare parts or logging repair work.

Known as the Operational Data Integrated Network, or ODIN, the new system would combine hardware produced by Lockheed with software coded by the government, allowing the Defense Department to retain more control over the system.

But because of a 42 percent cut to ODIN’s development and testing funding in fiscal year 2021, the program office has decided to take a “strategic pause” in ODIN’s software development effort, said Lt. Gen. Eric Fick, F-35 program executive officer.

“Despite all the positive activities, we underestimated the complexity of deprecating ALIS capabilities while migrating to ODIN and learned several important lessons,” Fick said in April 22 testimony before the House Armed Services Committee.

For years, ALIS has ranked as one of the F-35 enterprise’s biggest headaches. The Government Accountability Office has repeatedly documented problems, such as a bulky “deployable” version of ALIS that cannot connect to the internet or incorrectly signaling to maintainers that a plane is not mission capable due to incorrect data.

“We need to continue to improve the functionality of ALIS in the near term, as we ensure that the ODIN structure that we put into place, from a hardware perspective, from a data environment perspective, and from a software perspective, is what the users need,” Fick told lawmakers during the hearing.

In late 2020, the program office developed an ODIN user agreement and capability needs statement, which lays out what tasks ODIN needs to be able to accomplish and how the system should function, he said.

In addition, “The JPO and Lockheed Martin established a contract that captured data rights, frequent software deliveries, and proper data marking for modern software development,” Fick stated in testimony.

Fick’s testimony did not address when the program office intends to restart ODIN software development efforts, saying only that the JPO will update its plan based on available funding, inputs from the services and its finalized strategy for migrating from ALIS to ODIN.

However, ODIN hardware development is moving forward. Lockheed delivered the first hardware kit for testing at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in September.

“The new kit is 75 percent smaller, weighs 90 percent less than the current hardware, and is projected to be 30 percent cheaper. In addition to the smaller footprint, we are seeing significant performance improvements in ALIS such as data processing and synchronization times 2-3 times faster than ever seen before,” Fick wrote in testimony.

The program office plans to roll out additional kits this summer, which will save money by being able to host multiple squadrons on a single unit, Fick said. The Defense Department plans to invest $471 million into both ALIS and ODIN over the next five years.
 

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Turkey’s removal from F-35 program to cause hike in engine price

By: Valerie Insinna  
15 hours ago

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A Pratt & Whitney F135 engine, used to power the F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft, undergoes testing at Arnold Air Force Base in Tullahoma, Tenn. (PRNewsfoto/Pratt & Whitney)


WASHINGTON — The cost of the F-35′s engine is set to increase by 3 percent due to Turkey’s removal from the program in 2019, the head of Pratt & Whitney’s military engines division said Thursday.

The company’s F135 engine — which is used in all three variants of the Lockheed Martin F-35 joint strike fighter — was initially manufactured with a total of 188 parts produced by Turkish suppliers, Matthew Bromberg told lawmakers during a House Armed Services Committee hearing.

“These are some of the most critical parts of the engine, and the Turkey suppliers were high-quality, low cost,” he said. “Seventy-five percent of them have been qualified in new suppliers. Most of those are domestic here in the United States.”

Pratt & Whitney expects to have the remaining 25 percent of Turkish-made parts for the F135 qualified by the end of 2021, with all Turkish parts flushed from the system by the time engines for the fifteenth lot of aircraft roll off the line in 2020. At that point, about 20 percent of the F135′s parts will be made by international vendors.

Turkey, once a partner in the F-35 program set to buy 100 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing models, was expelled from the program after accepting delivery of the Russian S-400 air defense system. At the time, the Pentagon hoped to remove all Turkish suppliers from the program by 2020, but it will take until 2022 for all contracts with Turkish companies to come to a close, said Greg Ulmer, head of Lockheed’s aeronautics programs.

The Pentagon’s F-35 joint program office is “continuing to work with Pratt and Whitney on steps to address the projected cost growth to ensure that the F135 Propulsion System remains affordable component of the F-35 air system,” F-35 program executive Lt. Gen. Eric Fick stated in written testimony to lawmakers.

Aside from the forthcoming engine cost increase, the F-35 program is also grappling with difficulties in sustaining the F135 due to a power module shortage.

On April 22, a total of 21 Air Force F-35As were grounded due to engine problems, said Brig. Gen. David Abba, who leads the F-35 integration office. Fifteen of those aircraft would be flyable with engine repairs.

In a March interview, Bromberg told Defense News that a complicated array of factors had caused the engine shortage — which was further exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis — and it would take time for corrective actions to take effect.

Unlike most fighter engine programs, where a spare ratio of about 20 to 30 percent is maintained to ensure parts are available on the flight line or the depot, the F-35 program funds a spares ratio of only about 10 to 12 percent, he said.

“The whole program was designed to eliminate intermediate maintenance and have a very robust international sustainment depot system that will be able to turn modules very effectively in the field,” Bromberg explained. “The lower spares ratio, though, is making all that a little bit more exposed than you would have seen on another program. And we have to get through that.”

Another issue is that much of the planning and funding of spare parts, repair activity and logistics processes years before it is actually needed. For a program like the F-35, which has only been operational for a couple years, those plans were based on estimates — not hard data from decades of flying and maintaining the plane.

That analysis left Pratt & Whitney a bit late when it came to fielding certain support equipment and technical data, which Bromberg said has since been delivered. On top of that, the COVID-19 pandemic added about three months delay to the company’s plans to ramp up engine production and sustainment efforts.

“We pick our best estimate. In some cases, you’re over. In some cases, you’re under. All that was in place a years ago,” Bromberg said. “But in light of 2020, we probably didn’t have enough margin.”

The F-35 program is beginning to see increased output of F135 power modules due to the arrival of needed support equipment and technical data, Fick said. The F135 engine depot at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., plans to end a second shift by the end of the year, and the program office is also working to accelerate the stand up of F135 engine maintenance at the Fleet Repair Center South East in Jacksonville, Fla.

“The actions we have taken to date have begun to show benefit, as power module production at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex has increased significantly in the last year and the projected readiness impacts, while still above our requirement, have started to stabilize,” he said.

The Tinker depot plans to produce 40 power modules this year and ramp up to 60 modules in 2022, Abba said.

However, because the services will begin conducting 2,000 hour overhaul inductions in 2022, the program office estimates the costs to maintain the F135 will grow over the next five years, Fick stated.
 

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GAO: Poor planning, sustainment problems driving F-35 costs

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The active-duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings conducted an F-35A Combat Power Exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, in January 2020. Photo by R. Nial Bradshaw/U.S. Air Force | License Photo

(UPI) -- The Pentagon should develop a plan to ensure it can afford to sustain the future F-35 fleet, said a Government Accountability Office report release Thursday.

According to the report, the Defense Department plans to acquire nearly 2,500 F-35 aircraft for a cost of $400 billion, but the costs of sustainment are far higher -- and have climbed steadily upward over the last decade.

Estimated sustainment costs for the jet over its 66-year service life have increased steadily, from $1.11 trillion to $1.27 trillion since 2012, according to the GAO.

The Air Force will need to reduce estimated annual per-plane costs by $3.7 million -- or 47% -- by 2036, or costs will be $4.4 billion more than it can afford.

The cost per aircraft per year would total $6 billion in 2036 alone, the GAO said -- meaning the services "will collectively be confronted with tens of billions of dollars in sustainment costs that they project as unaffordable during the program."

The report recommended Congress should consider requiring the Defense Department to report annually on its effort to contain costs for the fighter jet -- making F-35 aircraft procurement decisions contingent on the department's progress in containing costs.

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft, and currently regarded as the world's superior fighter plane -- but the F-35 program has also come under fire for operating problems and spiraling costs.

A May 2020 report said the cost per plane is falling, but other recent projections show ancillary costs -- like sustainment and modernization -- spiraling upward.

Last month the GAO released a report saying a Pentagon project to continuously modernize the F-35 jet has seen about $2 billion in cost growth since 2019.

The jet's problems have left a bad taste in the mouth of some lawmakers, who on Thursday vowed to fight efforts to hasten the production of F-35s in next year's defense budget due to surging costs.

One major problem, USNI reported, is the engines: while Pratt & Whitney maintains that the F135 engines have achieved a 95% availability rate, which is above the program's requirement, there's a shortage of spare engine parts and a lengthy work backlog at the program's maintenance depot.

"The program's over budget. It fails to deliver on promised capabilities and its mission-capability rates do not even begin to meet the services' thresholds," said Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee's readiness subpanel, during a Thursday hearing reported by Stars & Stripes. "Don't expect more money. Do not expect to have more planes purchased than are in the president's [fiscal year 2022] budget. That's not going to happen."

Since 2015, Congress has ordered 98 more F-35s than the Pentagon has requested, even as parts shortages have hampered production -- but Garamendi said any lawmakers who suggested such purchases this year would be in for "a hell of a fight."
 

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Two US Democrats vow to oppose additional F-35 requests to those in budget

26 April 2021
by Pat Host

US Representatives Donald Norcross and John Garamendi, both Democrats, vowed on 22 April to oppose authorising additional Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters (JSFs) to those requested in the Pentagon’s fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget proposal.

The Democrats control both the House of Representatives and Senate.

Norcross of New Jersey, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s (HASC’s) tactical air and land forces subcommittee, said during a House hearing that providing 97 additional F-35s, more than was requested since FY 2015, has created a sustainment issue for parts. Although the subcommittee has been supportive of the F-35 programme in the past, Norcross said financial resources are limited, and he would not support any request for additional aircraft given affordability concerns with the programme.

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An F-35B at the Sentry Savannah in April 2021, hosted by the Georgia Air National Guard in Savannah, Georgia. A pair of Democrats vowed to oppose authorising additional F-35s than those requested in the Pentagon’s FY 2022 budget request. (US Air National Guard)

Garamendi of California, the HASC readiness subcommittee chairman, said neither to expect more F-35s, nor more funding for the F-35 programme.

“It seems that the … industry solution to many of these problems is to simply ask the taxpayers to throw money at the problem,” Garamendi said. “That will not happen.”

Mackenzie Eaglen, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) think-tank in Washington, DC, told Janes on 22 April that she would not be surprised to see other Democrats, both on the HASC and off, to take a cue from HASC chairman Adam Smith of Washington, who has been critical of the F-35 programme. This would be drawing a line as leverage with prime contractor Lockheed Martin, she added.
 

mtime7

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They are realizing stealth is overkill
actually I think they are pushing forward on NGAD, or 6th gen that low band radar won't be able to see. They are going rebalance the high low mix, which the F-35 was supposed to be the low, but it's way too expensive, so they will have pocket force of them like F-22s, and what they are going to do about the low mix is still up in the air.
 

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They moving back to 4 ++ gen or we can say 4+++ F-36 to reduce operational cost .. secondly anti sealth readers will die out the worthness of sealth aircraft slowly in future
actually I think they are pushing forward on NGAD, or 6th gen that low band radar won't be able to see. They are going rebalance the high low mix, which the F-35 was supposed to be the low, but it's way too expensive, so they will have pocket force of them like F-22s, and what they are going to do about the low mix is still up in the air.
 

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If you look at what's going on in Europe, the British defense outline that recently came out, they are cutting airframes and purchases and throwing the money at developing the new 6th gen aircraft. Don't think the United states is going to be flying 4th gen when everyone else has 6th gen
 

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Usa already two active programs for 6th gen one with Airforce and 2nd for navy

The need replace f16 and fill out numbers which financial and practically not possible with 5th and 6th
 

mtime7

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Usa already two active programs for 6th gen one with Airforce and 2nd for navy

The need replace f16 and fill out numbers which financial and practically not possible with 5th and 6th
That's right, they just hadn't figured out what to do yet, The Air Force Secretary wanted new F-16s, now they are talking about a ground up new fighter with longer legs and more speed, but I don't know where they can come up with the money for a clean sheet fighter
 

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That's right, they just hadn't figured out what to do yet, The Air Force Secretary wanted new F-16s, now they are talking about a ground up new fighter with longer legs and more speed, but I don't know where they can come up with the money for a clean sheet fighter
They are earning for F35 export and will earn by continuing to sale and that money can used on there new 4.5 + gen jet
 

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American has released that flying 5th gen is very costly and even 6th gen will be more costly,

So they need combination of expensive and ecnomical jets in future as well
 

mtime7

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They are earning for F35 export and will earn by continuing to sale and that money can used on there new 4.5 + gen jet
Yes, right now, I think purchases are pretty much to keep the line going, hopefully to get exports, but the reality is to get 6th gen
 
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