F-35 program News and Discussions

Khafee

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Pentagon ‘can't afford the sustainment costs‘ on F-35, Lord says
By: Aaron Mehta  
02.02.2018

The Pentagon is looking at ways to lower F-35A sustainment costs. (U.S. Air Force/Connor J. Marth)

WASHINGTON – Sustainment costs on the F-35 are poised to become unaffordable, and that’s a big challenge for Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s newly christened undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment.

As a result, Lord is focused on testing new business and data processes on the fifth-generation stealth fighter, including leveraging big data analytics for sustainment purposes.
“Right now, we can’t afford the sustainment costs we have on the F-35. And we’re committed to changing that,” Lord told reporters at a Jan. 31 roundtable, adding that the plane is the “most significant” program in the Department of Defense.


The A&S head described the jet as an “awesome aircraft” in all three of its variants, but acknowledged that “the threat is rapidly evolving and we want to make sure we get the development work done to make sure by 2025” that there is new capability on the plane.

It’s not the first warning on F-35 sustainment costs in recent weeks. On Jan. 18, Will Roper, the nominee to be for Air Force acquisition chief, said he was “deeply concerned” about sustainment on the F-35, saying it would be one of the first things he would tackle if confirmed.

With just over 250 joint strike fighters absorbed into the fleet already, the Defense Department is experiencing a number of problems sustaining the aircraft. In an October report, the Government Accountability Office laid out numerous challenges, including long maintenance times for parts, a spare parts shortage and delayed updates to the F-35’s logistics system.

After the report was released, the F-35 joint program office stated that although it was factually accurate based on the data gathered at the time, it “does not fully account for the critical work the F-35 sustainment team has led over the past several months to accelerate depot capability and capacity, implement solutions to increase spare parts and reduce overall sustainment costs.”

Lord said her team is “in the process” of detailing six acquisition professionals from her team just to focus on the sustainment issue for the jet, working hand in hand with the F-35 joint program office. The goal, she said is to go to the basics of how sustainment is done and to try new methods for driving costs down.

“It’s really deconstructing a program, as you always would, but [F-35] being a large complex program with international partners, [foreign military sales] coming up, there’s a complexity to it that benefits from fresh eyes that are familiar with the program routinely looking at and asking questions,” she explained.

Because F-35 is such a massive program, the hope is to prove out these fresh approaches and then drag them onto other sets of major defense acquisition programs, including the use of data analytics to find ways to cut costs.

“One of the things we’ve been talking about a lot is that we will be data driven. So we are frankly wasting people’s time if we sit around with opinions and concepts,” Lord said. “If that is not backed up by analytical rigor and the data behind it. So, we’re practicing all of that on the F-35. I think we’re getting a little sharper in all the areas.”


Valerie Insinna in Washington contributed to this report.

https://www.defensenews.com/air/2018/02/01/pentagon-cant-afford-the-sustainment-costs-on-f-35-lord-says/
 

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Exclusive: Japan to buy at least 20 more F-35A stealth fighters - sources
FEBRUARY 21, 2018
Tim Kelly, Nobuhiro Kubo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan plans to buy at least 20 additional F-35A stealth fighters over the next six years, some or all of which it may purchase directly from Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) in the United States rather than assemble locally, three sources said.

“In view of budgets and production schedules a new acquisition of around 25 planes is appropriate,” said one of the sources with knowledge of the plan. The sources asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

The sources said buying complete aircraft from the United States, at about $100 million each, will save Japan about $30 million per airframe.

The purchase will add to an earlier order for 42 of the fighters, most of which are being constructed at a “final assembly and check out” plant in Japan operated by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (7011.T), the country’s leading defense contractor.

That plant is one of only two such factories outside the United States. The other, in Italy, is operated by Leonardo Spa (LDOF.MI).
As China fields ever more advanced aircraft, including stealth planes, and as North Korea pushes ahead with its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs, adding F-35s will further increase Japan’s reliance on U.S. military technology to give it an edge over potential foes in East Asia.

Japanese military planners are also considering buying F-35Bs, the vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) version of the aircraft. Those models can operate from small islands skirting the East China Sea or from ships such as the Izumo-class helicopter carriers.
“We have not yet made any plan and we are evaluating what fighter aircraft we need,” Itsunori Onodera said at a news briefing on Tuesday when asked whether Japan planned to buy more F-35s.

Onodera’s ministry will release two defense reviews by the end of the year that will outline Japan’s security goals and military procurement plans for the five years beginning in April 2019.

The first of the 42 F-35As ordered by Japan’s Air Self Defence Force (ASDF) are being deployed to Misawa Air Base in northern Japan. Japanese government officials and Lockheed Martin executives are set to attend a ceremony there on Saturday to mark the entry of the first Japanese F-35 into service.

The F-35 accounts for about a quarter of Lockheed Martin’s total revenue. The company is hiring 1,800 workers for its Fort Worth, Texas, factory to build a fleet that is expected to grow to more than 3,000 jets worldwide. Lockheed Martin is scheduled to nearly triple annual production to more than 160 jets by 2023.

The first Japanese F-35s will replace aging F-4 Phantom fighters that date back to 1960s. The next batch will allow Japan to retire some of the aging 200 F-15s flown by the ASDF that are the main interceptor workhorse of the nation’s air defenses.

Japan also wants to build its own stealth fighter, dubbed the F-3, although the high cost of military aircraft development means it will probably need to find foreign partners to share the expense.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-defence-f35-exclusive/exclusive-japan-to-buy-at-least-20-more-f-35a-stealth-fighters-sources-idUSKCN1G507W
 

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Stealth features responsible for half of F-35 defects, Lockheed program head states
By: Valerie Insinna  
06 March 2018

WASHINGTON — As the production rate of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 joint strike fighter goes up, the company is wrestling with quality escapes involving the jet’s low observability features, which now amount to about half of all defects on the aircraft, the company’s vice president of the program revealed Monday.

Last week, Vice Adm. Mat Winter, the head of the government's F-35 Joint Program Office, slammed Lockheed for what he sees as its too-slow progress on eliminating so-called “quality escapes”— errors made by Lockheed’s workforce that could include drilling holes that are too big or installing a dinged part.

While those errors are minor, the rework done to bring the plane up to requirements is driving up the amount of money and time spent producing an airplane, Winter said.

Speaking to reporters at Lockheed’s media day on Monday, Jeff Babione acknowledged that low observability, or LO, capabilities in particular are posing a challenge to the company.
In part, that’s because they are so unique and because production is ramping up quickly.

“That’s something that no other weapon system since the F-22 has had to do, and the F-22 never did it at the rates that we’re trying to do it. Once we get a handle on that, you’re going to see a dramatic reduction in the quality escapes that are made around the LO system,” he said.

In order to reduce the F-35’s signature, the panels making up its airframe must be precisely aligned. As each panel goes through the production process — build, then installation, then joining to other panels — small deviations can make it very difficult to meet standards, even for an experienced mechanic.

“It’s not a human problem; that’s just the result of our ability. We’re approaching the limits of our ability to build some of these things from precise-enough technology,” Babione said.

Still, he allowed that some human error remains.

“On the other hand, we inadvertently scratch the coating system, and we have to repaint it. Or when the mechanics spray the airplane [with LO coating], not all of it is robotically sprayed. There’s some overspray, and they have to go clean that,” he said.

Babione called decreasing the number of manufacturing defects on the F-35 a “huge, huge priority,” and for good reason. The company has had a couple of high-profile quality escape issues that have grounded operational F-35s , or had the potential to set back the number of planned aircraft deliveries.

Most recently, in September, the Defense Department temporarily halted F-35 deliveries for a month after it found Lockheed had not applied a primer in certain fastener holes, as per requirements. The error, though minor, needed to be corrected to prevent future corrosion on the aircraft and could have kept the company from delivering all planned 66 F-35s last year.

In 2016, the Air Force grounded 15 F-35s after coolant tube insulation installed in the wings of the jet was found to be breaking down. Ultimately, Lockheed determined that one of its suppliers had delivered the wrong insulation.

Babione said company is taking a two-pronged approach to cutting down on defects.
“Quality starts at the very lowest supplier and what are we doing is to ensure that quality is coming up to the supply chain as good as it can get,” he said. That means blocking faulty parts from ever getting to Lockheed’s production line in Fort Worth to “stop the quality issues from coming up in the first place.”

But to cut down the number of LO-related quality escapes, Lockheed is also taking steps to make it easier for workers to build the aircraft, whether through increased training or improved practices, he said without elaborating.

For the F-35 Joint Program Office, reducing the rework on the aircraft will help it close in on the “true cost” of the aircraft, allowing the government to push Lockheed’s price per aircraft as low as possible, Winter said last week at a roundtable with reporters.

It’s also seen as critical for keeping Lockheed’s delivery schedule as planned, with no future delays as production ramps up from 66 jets last year to about 90 this year and beyond, he said.

“I don’t have concerns that we’ll be able to keep having aircraft coming down the line and putting them together and delivering them. We’ll be able to do that,” he said. “But I have concerns that we might not be able to do it at the rate that our war fighter has asked us to do it.”

https://www.defensenews.com/air/2018/03/06/stealth-features-responsible-for-half-of-f-35-defects-lockheed-program-head-states/
 

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According to "Forecast International" 3243 fighter aircarft with the total amout of $249.3 bln will be produced within the next decade. The forecast figure is 13% higher, than for the previous decade when 280 fighter aircraft were produced annually. The production peak will be reached in 2021 with the production of 380 fighert aircraft. Lokheed Martin F-35 will be the biggest fighter aircraft programme during the next decade. All in all 1466 F-35 aircraft will be produced, which takes 45% of the total share of the market.
European aircraft giants will hold only 11,6% of the market: Eurofighter Typoon (95 aircraft), Dassault Rafale (158 aircraft) and Saab Griphen (125 aircraft).
 

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Speaking about the F-35 Program, it's not actually clear whether Turkey will get the F-35 fighters or not. At first, it was said, that Turkey was excluded from the program, but at the same time the pilots had already been sent for the training course. The official ceremony of the first aircraft handover were planned on the 21st of June, though it's somehow obscure.
 

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Speaking about the F-35 Program, it's not actually clear whether Turkey will get the F-35 fighters or not. At first, it was said, that Turkey was excluded from the program, but at the same time the pilots had already been sent for the training course. The official ceremony of the first aircraft handover were planned on the 21st of June, though it's somehow obscure.
Isn’t Turkey involved in the f-35 production?
 

Zaslon

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Isn’t Turkey involved in the f-35 production?
The Turks are a level 3 partner which means they plan to spend a total near 10 billion on the F-35. Turkey's TAI (aviation company) will construct between 96-98 of their F-35As under license which means they are massive partner in it especially after the Netherlands. Turkey also developed the SOM-J to be launched from the F-35 series for foreign partners.
on that note, Turkey has been threaten to be kicked from the F-35 program over their own project the TF-X and buying the S-400 etc. thing is though if the US does officially boot Turkey from the program it will hit them hard as a "reliable partner" which means other countries will turn to others
 

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The Turks are a level 3 partner which means they plan to spend a total near 10 billion on the F-35. Turkey's TAI (aviation company) will construct between 96-98 of their F-35As under license which means they are massive partner in it especially after the Netherlands. Turkey also developed the SOM-J to be launched from the F-35 series for foreign partners.
on that note, Turkey has been threaten to be kicked from the F-35 program over their own project the TF-X and buying the S-400 etc. thing is though if the US does officially boot Turkey from the program it will hit them hard as a "reliable partner" which means other countries will turn to others
Will Turkey eventually might get the F-35 with string attached like backing off the S-400 deal.
 

Zaslon

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Will Turkey eventually might get the F-35 with string attached like backing off the S-400 deal.
according to Media claims Turkey is receiving the first 2 F-35As anyways, the USA Congress is still selling the F-35s to Turkey
 

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according to Media claims Turkey is receiving the first 2 F-35As anyways, the USA Congress is still selling the F-35s to Turkey
But it has not officially received any and might be blocked pending congress approval.
 

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Three new F-35 stealth fighter jets land in Israel

Three more F-35 fighter jets landed in southern Israel on Sunday, the army announced, giving Israel at least a dozen of the state-of-the-art stealth aircraft.

Israel began receiving the fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighter from the United States in December 2016. The aircraft were declared operational approximately a year later.

Last month, the head of the air force revealed that Israel had used the fighter jets operationally, which the IDF said made it the first military do so.

Israel has, for now, agreed to purchase 50 F-35 fighters in total from the United States, which are scheduled to be delivered in installments of twos and threes by 2024.
 

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Senators 'dismayed’ as new report reveals Pentagon overestimated F-35 savings by $600 million


https://www.rt.com/usa/431552-f35-dismay-savings-estimate/

A Senate committee has slammed the Pentagon's beleaguered F-35 fighter jet program, for claiming that a $661mn spend on bulk-buying parts would help it save some $1.2 billion. The real amount is half that, it has been revealed.
The Senate Appropriations Committee, which has recently greenlighted a boost in spending for the F-35 program, despite it being plagued by delays and cost overruns, raised the issue last week, after the Defense Department's Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office report revealed that the Pentagon had greatly exaggerated the economic effect from its attempt to cut the F-35 program costs.

Last year, the program's office asked for some $661 million to procure, in bulk, material and equipment that had undergone hardware qualification testing for the F-35, claiming the bulk buy would allow it to save some $1.2 billion in costs. The parts to be supplied would be fitted into the aircraft to be purchased in 2019 and 2020. Last month, Lockheed Martin Corp. received the contract with the appropriate adjustments.

The new report, however, argues that the buying strategy is much less cost-efficient than Pentagon officials had initially claimed when they presented their case to Congress.

According to the new report, the measure will generate savings of some $600 million, which is a half of the designated amount.

While the committee did not object in principle to what has turned into the most expensive US weapons program ever, the lawmakers have said they were "dismayed by the inaccuracy of the initial estimates," the report states, as cited by Bloomberg.


Dissatisfied with the apparent discrepancy between the estimates, the lawmakers asked the F-35 program office to explain the drastic difference and advise on how to compensate for the lack of funds. The proposals should be submitted within 30 days until the defense appropriations bill, approved by the House on June 28 becomes law.

The F-35 has been in development at Lockheed Martin since 2001. In the past decade, it has been mired in controversy over its mounting costs and bogged down by its as-yet unresolved technical issues.

Last month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommended that Congress withhold funding from the program until it fixes its 996 deficiencies, of which over a hundred were considered to be severe enough to pose a threat to user safety and security. The flaws include faulty oxygen-supply systems, an injury-causing ejector seat as well as an unusable helmet-mounted display system.

The new estimate by the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office was requested by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Arizona), a long-time critic of the program, who once called it "both scandal and a tragedy with respect to cost, schedule and performance."
 

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F-35 landing gear collapses after in-flight emergency

AR-180829443.jpg

WASHINGTON ― After a mid-air emergency forced an F-35A fighter jet to return to Eglin Air Force Base, the plane’s nose landing gear collapsed, leaving the fifth-generation fighter face down on the runway.
The incident happened around 12:50 p.m. Wednesday. Fire crews responded immediately, and the pilot suffered no injuries, according to the Air Force. The plane is assigned to the 58th Fighter Squadron, and the service has launched an investigation into the incident.
Photos captured by local news outlets show the plane sitting safely on the runway, with its nose down on the ground. What damage may have resulted from the incident, and the costs associated with repairing it, is unclear; the service did not share details on the initial incident which required the plane to return to base early.
It’s not the first time the F-35 has had an issue with its front landing gear.
In 2017, Navy pilots using the F-35C model — a variation of the fighter jet designed for operations on a carrier ― complained the jet would bob up and down on its nose gear when being launched from a catapult.
 

drochmhada

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The simple fact is, 12g fighters can be built.
A major limiting factor of fighter aircraft design is the need to accommodate incompressible, low speed, flow for take-offs and landings.
If , instead, the aircraft is built in 2 pieces, the aircraft can be designed for entirely compressible flow; allowing the wings to have a lower aspect ratio. Fighter wings limiting design point is torsional stiffness, the lower profile ratio allows stiffness to be maintained by deepening the airfoil thickness and reducing the skin thickness. To sustain higher gloadings, the pilots would have to wear water filled suits. The second part of the aircraft would be a !ifting wing for take-offs and landings, which would separate in flight. It all may sound insane but the engineering works.
Minimally, test aircraft should have been built 50 years ago.

I can show the basic design if anybody is interested:

YouTube/drochmhada/The f-35 is useless. (1 short or 4 long videos)
 
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