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US defence procurement

Articles taken from Flight International magazine.

1st October: F-35 grounded to fix new software problem
Lockheed Martin has grounded the F-35 to fix a newly-discovered software problem that can cause a fuel boost pump to shut down in flight.

The manufacturer announced the grounding order only a few hours after releasing a statement saying the F-35 was restricted from operating above 10,000ft (3,050m) because of the same problem.

7th October: F-35s resume flight operations, but problems persist
A software glitch grounded the Lockheed Martin F-35 test fleet for at least four days and the short take-off and vertical landing mode remains barred due to an unresolved mechanical problem.

Lockheed lifted a grounding order on 5 October after installing a software fix that prevents a BAE Systems-supplied fuel boost pump system from potentially failing in flight. The grounding order was announced on 1 October, but F-35s had not flown since 28 September.

The F-35B STOVL fleet has been cleared to resume conventional flights, and Lockheed officials expect the type to resume tests shortly.

7th October: New Dutch government to retain JSF commitment
The Netherlands' new coalition government is expected to maintain the nation's commitment to the test phase of Lockheed Martin's F-35 programme, although a decision on whether the type will replace its Lockheed F-16s will not be made for several more years.

8th October: Israel signs $2.75bn agreement for 20 F-35s
The letter of offer and acceptance for the supply of 20 Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighters to the Israeli air force was signed in New York on 7 October.

8th October: Lockheed gets funds for UK F-35 landing modification
Lockheed Martin has received a $13 million contract to incorporate a shipborne rolling vertical landing (SRVL) capability with the short take-off and vertical landing F-35B, with the work to be performed on behalf of the UK.

14th October: Israel's F-35 engine selection in dispute between rival manufacturers
An announced engine selection for Israel's first batch of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters has sparked a new dispute between both rival manufacturers.

Pratt & Whitney says the company has received a verbal commitment by Israel to buy the F135 engine to power the first batch of 20 F-35s ordered under a $2.75 billion agreement signed last week.

The General Electric/Rolls-Royce team developing the F136 alternate engine claims the selection process remains ongoing. "We fully anticipate we will have an opportunity to compete with the F136" in Israel, GE says.

19th October: P&W details success with F135 engine STOVL tests
Pratt & Whitney has completed a key test in the process to clear the initial service release for the short take-off and vertical landing version of the F135 engine powering the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

 

Articles taken from Flight International magazine:

1st September: IAI to build wings for Lockheed's F-35
Israel Aerospace Industries will receive a multi-year contract from Lockheed Martin to manufacture up to 900 wing pairs for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter under a new industrial co-operation agreement.

The expected pact will follow the signature of a letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) by Israel to purchase 20 F-35s for its air force.

1st September: F-35B delays lead to rephased flight-test schedule
The F-35 programme is likely to have a reshuffled flight-test schedule again as Lockheed Martin continues to struggle with the reliability of the short take-off and vertical landing variant.

It is not immediately clear if the possible "rephasing" of the flight-test schedule would result in a new overall delay for any of the three F-35 variants.

2nd September: L-3 division pushes for more F-35 work in Canada
L-3 MAS is lobbying the Canadian government to negotiate a greater role on the Lockheed Martin F-35 programme.

Concerned about the level of industrial participation on the Joint Strike Fighter, company president Sylvain Bédard pressed the case during a visit on 1 September by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to L-3's factory in Mirabel, Quebec.

8th September: DoD official shows fresh optimism on F-35 cost
A senior Department of Defense official says Lockheed Martin is now on track to reduce the cost of each F-35 by as much as 6.25%, only four months after the programme confirmed a major cost breach.

The remarks by Frank Kendall, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, represent a massive turnaround by the DoD's leadership since reporting a Nunn-McCurdy cost overrun in June and restructuring the programme last February.

Instead, Kendall, addressing the Common Defense (ComDef) 2010 conference on 8 September, cited the F-35 as a key example of what Secretary of Defense Robert Gates means about making the defence industry produce more with less.

17th September: MBDA reveals clipped-fin Meteor for F-35
MBDA has revealed a slightly modified Meteor that would allow four of the beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles to be stored inside the Lockheed Martin F-35.

A miniature Meteor mock-up featuring four clipped fins appeared for the first time in the company's display at the Air Force Association's Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition in Washington DC.

The missile's total fin area is reduced by roughly 20% compared with the original design, says Rob Thornley, MBDA sales and business development executive. The new shape allows the Meteors to squeeze into the space designed to house four Raytheon AIM-120C7 AMRAAMs.

17th September: Israeli cabinet approves $2.75b JSF deal
The Israeli cabinet has formally approved the purchase of 20 Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters for the nation's air force. The value of the deal will be around $2.75 billion.

The decision was made after a series of talks between US and Israeli officials. These focused on issues including the extent to which Israel will be allowed to instal its own electronic warfare equipment, and the level of industrial involvement that its defence industry will be granted in return for the order.

Sources suggest that the value of immediate offsets linked to the buy will total over $2 billion.

23rd September: Lockheed, US government strike deal on next F-35 order
The US government has reached an agreement with Lockheed Martin on the structure of a fixed-price contract worth more than $5 billion for up to 32 more F-35s.

The agreement is necessary before the Department of Defense signs a contract for the fourth lot of low-rate initial production, which orders F-35s projected for delivery after 2012.

The agreement ends a negotiating process that was extended by about four months to satisfy demands by the DoD for a fixed-price contract.

Lockheed previously delivered the Joint Strike Fighter under a "cost-plus" structure, allowing the contractor to be reimbursed for cost overruns.

28th September: F-35 alternate engine damaged after high-speed anomaly
General Electric/Rolls-Royce is investigating manufacturing and assembly data on a single F136 engine after it was damaged during a checkout test on 23 September.

The alternate engine for the Lockheed Martin F-35 was shut down "in a controlled manner" after an unknown anomaly at near maximum fan speed on the test stand damaged the front fan and compressor area, the company says.

29th September: Norway defers some F-35 orders by two years
Norway has pushed back orders for 16 of 20 Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters by two years to 2018, but reaffirmed its commitment as a "serious and credible partner" in the programme.

The Norwegian defence ministry announced on 25 September that it will buy four F-35s in 2016 to serve as trainers, but that the remaining aircraft planned for purchase in 2016 and 2017 will be postponed until 2018.

Oslo originally planned to order as many as 48 F-35s over the five-year period from 2016 to 2020.

 

By Rebekah Blowers

The US Navy Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) welcomed the Navy's first Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35C Lightning II, to the fleet in a ceremony on July 28 2009.

The F-35C is the Navy's first stealth fighter and enables the Navy to decrease the time from threat to response at sea. The aircraft possesses "uncompromised carrier suitability and low-maintenance stealth materials designed for long-term durability in the carrier environment."

Read more...  

Articles taken from Flight International magazine

First F-35 completes flight test program
The first F-35, known as AA-1, conducted its 91st and final flight on December 17th - three years and two days after it first took to the skies. Test pilot Jeff Knowles flew the aircraft from Edwards Air Force Base, California, to Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California, where it will undergo live-fire testing. During its flight test program, AA-1 was flown by six pilots, including US Air Force and Marine Corps pilots. The aircraft was the first F-35 to break the sound barrier, flying at Mach 1.1 with a full internal weapons load of more than 5,000 pounds.

Read more...  

Articles taken from Flight International magazine

Lockheed Martin unveils Navy's first stealth fighter

On July 28th, Lockheed Martin rolled out the first F-35C, the third and final variant of the Lightning II, designed for the U.S Navy's large-carrier fleet. Adm. Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations for the U.S Navy, expressed his enthusiasm for the F-35, saying the plane "will top anything that comes its way". the F-35C, designed to replace the F/A-18, will bring 5th generation fighter capabilities like advanced stealth to the Navy for the first time.

Read more...  

Articles taken from Flight International magazine

F-35B in-flight STOVL operations begin

The Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) stealth fighter engaged its STOVL propulsion system in flight for the first time January 7th near Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, and again on January 9th. The aircraft slowed to 150 knots, entering semi-jet borne flight with both the propulsion system and the wings providing lift. Pilot Graham Tomlinson of BAE Systems reported that the aircraft flew smoothly during STOVL-system engagement. The aircraft is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney F135 engine driving a Rolls-Royce LiftFan®.

Read more...  

Offset – the compulsory inward investment imposed on foreign defence suppliers by a purchasing government – is tolerated as a feature of the market rather than embraced. Tolerance of offset has become increasingly important over the last ten years. Since 1999, 22 countries have introduced formal offset legislation or policies. The scope of offset obligations is also increasing in terms of both the quota required by the buyer and the range of contractors obligated. This helps to explain why the European Commission (EC) and the US Department of Commerce (DoC) view offset as legally and commercially problematic.

Read more...  

US House of Represntatives Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton today released the following statement on the Department of Defense's update of the Joint Strike Fighter/F-35 competitive engine cost-benefit analysis:

"Yesterday, I was finally provided with a copy of the 'business case' upon which Secretary Gates based his decision to oppose the development of the competitive engine for the F-35. While the committee is still reviewing the analysis, it appears that the Department's approach focuses on near-term costs to the exclusion of what the committee sees as the long-term benefits of this program. The costs of the second engine in the next few years must be balanced against the fact that life-cycle costs of having two engines are comparable to having only one. The Department's analysis does not consider the risk that a single engine would present not only to our fighter force, but to our national security, given that the F-35 will account for 95 percent of our nation's fighter fleet. With this program, as with all others, we cannot use near-sighted vision when long-term security is at stake. I look forward to continuing the dialogue on this program with my colleagues and the Department of Defense. But I remain unconvinced that terminating the alternate engine program makes sense."

 

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) delivered the statement below during House consideration of H.R. 5013, the IMPROVE Acquisition Act of 2010, bipartisan legislation to overhaul defense acquisition spending, potentially saving billions of taxpayer dollars and expediting the process to get the necessary equipment to our warfighters.

"I rise in strong support of H.R. 5013, the IMPROVE Acquisition Act of 2010. For many years, we've witnessed waste in the Department of Defense's acquisition system spiral out of control, placing a heavy burden on both American taxpayers and on our men and women in uniform. Less frequently, but still far too often, fraud and abuse creep into the system as well, as sadly happened so extensively in Iraq. Our troops rely on the acquisition system to buy the equipment they need to keep them safe on the battlefield and protect our country. When that system breaks down, they suffer.

Read more...  

Northrop Grumman begins centre fuselage for first international F-35
Northrop Grumman Corporation has started the centre fuselage for the first international F-35 Lightning II, and F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant for the United Kingdom. The centre fuselage is one of the core structures around which the F-35 aircraft is built. The assembly process began at the company's Palmdale, California, manufacturing centre with the loading of an all-composite air inlet duct into special tooling structure.

Lockheed Martin flies optimised conventional F-35
On Nov. 14th, the first optimised conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) F-35 made its inaugural flight, the fourth F-35 to begin flight operations. Piloted by Lockheed Martin test pilot David "Doc" Nelson, the Lockheed Martin F-35A, called AF-1, climbed to 20,000 feet, performed 360-degree rolls and flew at angles of attack up to 20 degrees during the 89-minute flight. AF-1 features a production-representative structure and was built on the same assembly line as the 31 Low-Rate Initial Production aircraft now in assembly.

F-35B flies to Maryland test site, supported by Automated Sustainment System
The first Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) stealth fighter, BF-1, arrived November 15th at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, where its first hovers and vertical landings will be conducted. The F-35 Autonomics Logistics Information System (ALIS), the aircraft's computerised maintenance management system is currently monitoring BF-1 from its sustainment operations centre in Fort Worth, Texas. BF-1 is the first test aircraft to be supported solely by the fleet's Autonomic Logistics Global Sustainment (ALGS) System. ALGS was developed in parallel with the F-35 and is a key driver of the financial affordability equation of the F-35 compared to the legacy aircraft it is replacing.

Based on paid-for updates in Flight International magazine.

 
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