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F-35 Program - General Discussion

This is a discussion on F-35 Program - General Discussion within the Air Force & Aviation forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; Originally Posted by NG Northrop Grumman-Developed MADL Achieves Successful Flight Test Milestone for F-35 Program: Fifth-generation data link allows coordinated ...


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Old April 24th, 2013   #31
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Northrop Grumman-Developed MADL Achieves Successful Flight Test Milestone for F-35 Program: Fifth-generation data link allows coordinated tactics and engagement in high-threat environments

23 April 2013 -- The Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL) waveform developed by Northrop Grumman Corporation was successfully demonstrated in a Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter program flight test, validating an eight-year development effort to advance communication among fifth-generation aircraft.

MADL is a high-data-rate, directional communications link. It allows coordinated tactics and engagement to bring significant operational advantages to fifth-generation aircraft operating in high-threat environments. MADL is a key capability provided by Northrop Grumman's F-35 integrated communications, navigation and identification (CNI) avionics. The F-35 CNI avionics flying onboard two Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft established the MADL link between two airborne platforms for the first time. Data passed between aircraft via MADL was correlated with data from other F-35 sensors by Lockheed Martin's fusion system to form a simplified situational awareness picture on the cockpit displays...

<snip>
The MADL flight test is another element of Lockheed Martin's F-35 Block 2 software release, which provides advanced mission systems capability. MADL joined the CNI Link-16 and Variable Message Format network waveforms already in flight test on F-35 aircraft.

In other F-35 news, here is a link to a new brochure for the Canadian CF-35, and a report on F-35's preliminary cost-per-flying-hour, revealed to Dutch lawmakers by USAF Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan and reported on 18 April 2013.
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Old April 24th, 2013   #32
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Any word on the approximate range for MADL ? I understand it's LOS and point to point but assuming two platforms in LOS, how far apart can they be? Obviously the exact numbers are classified but any comment publicly about whether we're talking 20km or 200?
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Old April 24th, 2013   #33
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You missed a key announcement in there
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"During the flight tests, MADL functioned reliably with excellent range at multiples of required specifications while demonstrating ability to network fifth-generation fighters," said Mike Twyman, vice president and general manager of the Defense Systems division for Northrop Grumman Information Systems.
It's good to see some "exceeded spec" news rather than "missed spec".
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Old April 24th, 2013   #34
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Any word on the approximate range for MADL ? I understand it's LOS and point to point but assuming two platforms in LOS, how far apart can they be? Obviously the exact numbers are classified but any comment publicly about whether we're talking 20km or 200?
One thing that has intrigued me is how MADL determines the relative location of other F 35s in the vicinity.
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Old April 25th, 2013   #35
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A very interesting article in The Diplomat on the F35. Game Changer: The F-35 and the Pacific | The Diplomat Well worth the read. I think the Goon show would find it difficult - not enough pictures and too many long words.
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Old April 25th, 2013   #36
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A very interesting article in The Diplomat on the F35. Game Changer: The F-35 and the Pacific | The Diplomat Well worth the read. I think the Goon show would find it difficult - not enough pictures and too many long words.
Not sure if everyone read the below article this morning?

Fort Worth Star-Telegram
April 25, 2013

Cuts Could Jeopardize On-Time F-35 Rollout, Official Says
By Beena Raghavendran, Star-Telegram Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- The on-time rollout of the F-35 fighter jet in 2017 could be in jeopardy because of forced federal budget cuts, a key military official testified to Congress on Wednesday.

The monetary problems could lead to a loss of customers for Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth-based program, hurting the company.

Lt. Gen. Christopher C. Bogdan, the Pentagon's executive officer of the F-35 program, told a Senate Armed Services subcommittee that he has "moderate confidence" that the first two software upgrade phases needed to complete the program will be delivered on time. But he's less optimistic that the final phase will be completed as scheduled because of mandated budget cuts, known as sequestration, in the current fiscal year.

President Barack Obama's proposed budget for the next fiscal year would give $6.36 billion to build 29 F-35s for 2014 and would increase production to as many as 60 aircrafts a year by 2018.

The F-35 program's eight partner countries, including the United Kingdom, are carefully watching the growing cost of F-35s. The United States pushed back an order of 179 planes, which caused Italy to reduce its jet order from 140 planes to 90. Canada and the Netherlands, too, have cut back on plane orders, Bogdan said, though Singapore is showing interest.

Any reduced orders mean increased unit costs for the rest of the customers.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Bogdan's doubt was unnerving. "None of us around here seem to like the word moderate ," McCain said.

Without the funding it has maintained from previous years, it could be difficult to complete the last phase of the project, Bogdan said. "It is vital for us to keep the partners in the program," he said.

In his prepared testimony, Bogdan also said that the government expects to reach a contract with Lockheed by the end of May on the next production order for as many as 60 F-35s. The parties reached a preliminary agreement on the deal in late December.

McCain questioned the program's efficiency and affordability and said history is repeating itself. Cost overruns on big aircraft programs are not new, having happened on the F-22 and B-2 programs, he said. It's time to understand the core of these financial problems to ensure that they don't happen again, he said.

Bogdan said he is ready to tackle the F-35's long-term costs and is analyzing cost reduction methods in hope of reducing the estimated $1.4 trillion over the next 50-plus years that will be spent to roll out the jets.

Bogdan said he will be more sure at the end of the summer about the likelihood of the program's 2017 completion.

Michael Rein, Lockheed Martin's F-35 spokesman, said that despite budget cuts, the United States and several international partners still rely on F-35 production, and Lockheed Martin will still have orders to fill.

"While sequestration will have an impact, F-35s are going to be built at Fort Worth for years to come," Rein said.

About 6,000 employees work on the F-35 program at the Fort Worth complex, and hundreds more are involved indirectly.
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Old May 11th, 2013   #37
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Eglin AFB receives its first Block 2A F-35

9 May 2013 -- ...The Block 2A configuration adds new functionality to the F-35, Kloos says. The aircraft was previously only able to operate three of its six Northrop Grumman AN/AAQ-37 electro-optical distributed aperture system (DAS) infrared cameras. "This version is the first time all six cameras will be on and we'll be able to use it in flight," Kloos says. "Now, in the first release of the Block 2A software we're not going to be able to put it in the helmet yet, but we'll at least be able to turn on all of them and at least let the aircraft display the information to us on the glass."

Additionally, about a month ago, Kloos says, the wing received clearance to turn on the jet's built-in Lockheed electro-optical targeting system, which is similar to the company's Sniper targeting pod. "It was always in the [Block] 1B, we just didn't have the clearance to turn it on in flight," he says.

The initial Block 2A software release also adds a weather radar mode, which though not tactically significant, is very useful flying around Eglin AFB especially as thunderstorm season approaches, Kloos says. The jet is not yet cleared for instrument meteorological conditions...

<snip>
Flight Global reports with more good news with the release of the Block 2A software for the F-35. Ease of maintenance is taken care of with the release of autonomic logistics information system version 1.03. IMO, software development is the bottleneck to watch for the future F-35A/B IOC schedules. Software development is also key to what LM calls Flying with the Common Operational Picture (COP). For more details on COP, see this link.

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Stealth coatings on F-35 'easier to maintain' than on older jets

10 May 2013 -- ...Maintaining the LO coatings on the new aircraft marks "a significant improvement", says Senior Master Sgt Eric Wheeler, a maintainer assigned to the 33rd Fighter Wing at the base. "Typically, [it] has not caused us a whole lot of downtime on this jet." As maintenance personnel have become used to working on the F-35, the process has also become a lot easier. "We started off with an engine run being a huge event for us, [and progressed] to flying a four-turn-four," Wheeler says, referring in the latter case to a situation where a four-ship formation of aircraft can return from a sortie and be swiftly prepared to take off again...

...One significant recent development at Eglin AFB is that the maintenance is upgrading the autonomic logistics information system (ALIS) version 1.03 with the delivery of the base's first Block 2A configuration F-35...

<snip>
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Old May 13th, 2013   #38
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JSF displays High angles of attack stalls.Some great footage demonstrated in the video.The JSF looks to be doing some high angle turns.

F-35 Flight Test Intentional Departure - YouTube
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Old May 14th, 2013   #39
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Article below that appeared in the Blomberg news this morning if not read by everyone. Article is about the valve that was taken out of the F35 to decrease weight. DOD now studying the possibility of putting the valve back into the aircrafts. Contractor is in midst of thinking of designing a lighter valve.


May 13, 2013

Lockheed F-35 Should Get Safety Valve, Official Says


The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer is backing calls to restore a valve on Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 jet that improves the fighter’s chances to survive a hit from a high-explosive round.

“The addition of an improved” valve “would result in the aircraft being fully compliant” with its operational requirements, Frank Kendall, the under secretary for acquisition, wrote a lawmaker last month in a previously undisclosed letter.

The two-pound valve system was part of 43 pounds of equipment removed in 2008 to save weight on the F-35, the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program. The valve is intended to shut off the flow of a flammable liquid used to cool avionics.

Computer analysis of the pared-down F-35 design last year determined that the aircraft’s vulnerability to fires ignited by enemy bullets or missile fragments increased 25 percent from an assessment before the equipment’s removal, according to data from the Pentagon’s weapons-testing office.

Questions about the aircraft’s vulnerability in combat are among those surrounding the $395.7 billion program, which has increased in estimated cost by 70 percent since 2001.

Pentagon and congressional supporters have stood by the plane as it has weathered production flaws, aircraft delivery and software delays, bulkhead cracks, groundings and sour relations between the Pentagon’s program office and Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed.

The program has yet to deliver an aircraft with a durable tailhook for carrier landings, a helmet that gives pilots undistorted images and software that will operate all combat systems.

Every aircraft has vulnerable areas that could disable or destroy an engine, fuel tank or the pilot if hit by a bullet or fragment. Testing is intended to calculate which areas are vulnerable and the likelihood of a hit. The F-35 analysis assessed the jet’s vulnerability to an onboard fire.

The shutoff valve removed in 2008 was designed to prevent a fire by detecting leakage of liquid used to cool the F-35’s computerized avionics and stopping the flow from a damaged fuel line.

The Pentagon’s F-35 program office and Lockheed Martin are in the preliminary stages of reviewing an improved valve, which is a “technically challenging activity,” Kendall wrote.

A final decision will be made by the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and international purchasers that will fly the aircraft, Kendall wrote Representative James Moran, a Virginia Democrat who serves on the House defense appropriations subcommittee and has insisted on restoration of the safety equipment.

Even without the valve, the F-35 design is “far more survivable than any of the legacy tactical aircraft we have ever fielded,” Kendall wrote. The F-35 is replacing the F-16, A-10 Thunderbolt, F-18A/C/D models and AV-8B Harrier aircraft.

“The combination of stealth, data fusion, advanced sensors, advanced countermeasures and electronic attack” greatly reduce the chances the aircraft will be hit by enemy fire, Kendall wrote.

Kendall said the test office conclusion that vulnerability increased 25 percent focused on a small area “assuming that the aircraft is hit.” The probability “is actually a small, classified number,” Kendall wrote. This means “the overall impact to aircraft survivability is small, less than 0.5 percent,” he said.

The F-35 program office and the Government Accountability Office have cited recent improvements in the plane.

Lockheed’s performance since a strike of its aerospace workers ended in July “has been fairly stable and the program has seen marked improvement in design stability,” Air Force Lieutenant General Christopher Bogdan, the program manager, told a Senate Armed Services Committee panel April 25.

The GAO, the watchdog agency for Congress, reported in March that the fighter’s “current outlook is improved but long-term affordability is a major concern.”

“Overall, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is moving in the right direction after a long, expensive and arduous learning period,” the GAO said. “It still has tremendous challenges ahead.”

Kendall’s letter fits that theme of improvement. Last year, he said putting the aircraft into production while development testing was beginning constituted “acquisition malpractice.”

He told reporters last month, “I feel much more comfortable” now about the F-35.

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Old May 17th, 2013   #40
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JSF displays High angles of attack stalls.Some great footage demonstrated in the video.The JSF looks to be doing some high angle turns.

F-35 Flight Test Intentional Departure - YouTube
Very interesting, todays AFM-Daily Report contained an announcement from Edwards AFB, that all High AoA testing had been completed, with the A model clean or stealthy, and with weapons pylons and the weapons bay opened. The aircraft was deliberately departed as the video notes and recovered to controlled flight without have to deploy the spin chute. Very good show all round. Brat
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Old May 21st, 2013   #41
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USAF plans to go IOC in 2016 with Block 3I!!!


Exclusive: U.S. Air Force to move forward target date for F-35 use - chicagotribune.com




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Andrea Shalal-Esa
Reuters
8:33 p.m. CDT, May 20, 2013




WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Air Force plans to start operational use of Lockheed Martin Corp.-built F-35 fighter jets in mid-2016, a year earlier than planned, using a similar software package as the Marine Corps {Block 3I} , two sources familiar with the plans said on Monday.


The Air Force's decision to accelerate its introduction with a slightly less capable version of the F-35 software package means the planes will carry fewer weapons at first, although the software will later be upgraded to the final version, said the sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly.

We shall see. Official plans due by June 1st.


Here is a good breakdown of the blocks.

blocks1_zpsccc5bbbf.jpg
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Old May 24th, 2013   #42
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An encouraging development. Hopefully the trend continues once the aircraft goes into FRP.

Lockheed F-35 Cost Declines $4.5 Billion, Pentagon Says - Bloomberg

Lockheed F-35 Cost Declines $4.5 Billion, Pentagon Says
By Tony Capaccio May 23, 2013

The development and production cost of Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT)’s F-35 fighter, the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program, has decreased by about $4.5 billion, primarily because of savings on labor, according to the Pentagon’s latest cost estimates. The 1.1 percent decrease to $391.2 billion from $395.7 billion includes the aircraft and the engines produced by United Technologies Corp. (UTX)’s Pratt & Whitney unit for an eventual fleet of 2,443 planes.

(more at the link)
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Old May 26th, 2013   #43
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Presumably the drops of labour costs and the build costs of the early production models are the result of economies of scale and more efficient production methods kicking in and not - at least the majority - people being let go.

But it's the trend to be expected, thanks to OPSSG pointing out a while ago that the original plan was LRIP 8 followed by FRP 1, but that a LRP 9 slot has been created, so we'll be waiting a bit longer for the FRP production to kick in somewhen past 2017.
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Old May 26th, 2013   #44
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Well, F35A LRIP I was over $200m, the last LRIP V price for the same jet, $130m? It's going the right way.

I used to work at a production facility where we used a shed load of cut drain pipe for one finished article - and the drain pipe came in grey, which we had to paint black, which took three coats plus lacquer and drying time. We could have ordered black but the minimum order for black drainpipe at the time was 30m - so they never ordered it. If they had, they'd have reduced their production costs per item by a massive amount.


I know aircraft are more complicated but the example still seems relevant
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Old May 30th, 2013   #45
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Hot on the heels of the news that the US Marines have set the IOC of their first F-35B squadron in the latter half of 2015, there was a rumor that USAF will set their F-35A IOC earlier too.

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Originally Posted by Chicago Tribune
20 May 2013 -- The U.S. Air Force plans to start operational use of Lockheed Martin Corp.-built F-35 fighter jets in mid-2016, a year earlier than planned, using a similar software package as the Marine Corps, two sources familiar with the plans said on Monday. The Air Force's decision to accelerate its introduction with a slightly less capable version of the F-35 software package means the planes will carry fewer weapons at first, although the software will later be upgraded to the final version, said the sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly...

<snip>
I am less interested in the USAF moving the goal posts to hit an earlier IOC date (with version 3i) and more interested in when version 3F of the software, along with LRIP Lot-9, will be ready (with full weapons). For more details see the chart in SpudmanWP's post above.
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