F-35 - International Participation

ngatimozart

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South Korea is reported to be receiving another four F-35A this week, bringing the number in country to eight. South Korea is yet to make public any announcement regarding it's progress on introducing a F-35B capability. Meanwhile it is reported that Japan has confirmed an order for 42 F-35B which it will acquire in addition to the approx 105 F-35A that it is acquiring.

Seoul to receive four more F-35As, as Tokyo confirms F-35B
 

seaspear

Active Member
F-35 set for laser boost
This comes from Fox News and is about the U.S.M.C f35b having lasers used on the surface of the aircraft to achieve a consistent unblemished finish perhaps aiding in its application of stealth , I have a memory of when the reunification of Germany came and pilots had access to the East German fighters like the Mig29 they at first were dubious of its quality because the surface of the aircraft was inconsistent from its construction but the comments during testing of the aircraft believed this may in face have aided the aircrafts maneuverability
 

DaveS124

Active Member
Busy week in embarked F-35B world.

USS AMERICA did a spell in Lightning Carrier mode last week as part her predeployment workups with 13 jets embarked. In this mode all bar a company or two of ground forces are left ashore. Ship soon to depart for Japan to replace WASP.

Also, a few hours ago HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH landed on the first two of 10 jets (six UK, four USA) as part of her second round of F-35B trials. Remaining jets to embark over the next day or two.

First ship's workups were off California, the second off the US southeast coast.

Official USN/MC and RN pics attached.
 

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OPSSG

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12 Dec 2019 – With 7 F-35As arriving at RAAF Base Williamtown, the total number of F-35A’s that are operating at RAAF Base Williamtown is increased to “13, with another five aircraft based at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, USA,” Minister Reynolds said. In addition, the Australian Government has approved the next 24 aircraft – meaning all 72 Australian F-35A Lightning II aircraft are now locked in. Defence has also signed onto an international deal known as the Block Buy Contract, valued in total at USD$34 billion, which will deliver 45 of Australia’s F-35A Lightning II aircraft.

“The deal is great news for Australia with the unit price now five-percent below the estimate at Government approval in 2014,” Minister Reynolds said.

This follows an Oct 2019 US Department of Defense announcement on the Block Buy Contract, that includes the 291 US, 127 international partner, and 60 Foreign Military Sales (FMS) aircraft in Lots 12, 13, and 14. These orders comprise 351 conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variant F-35As, 86 short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35Bs, and 41 carrier-variant (CV) F-35Cs.

USAF Lieutenant General Eric Fick, F-35 Program Executive Officer, said, "Driving down cost is critical to the success of this programme. I am excited that the F-35 JPO and Lockheed Martin have agreed on this landmark three-lot deal. This agreement achieves an average 12.7% cost reduction across all three variants and gets us below USD80 million for a USAF F-35A by Lot 13 [USD79.2 million] - one lot [and one year] earlier than planned [in 2019]."

In other news, South Korea is expected to declare initial operating capability (IOC) for its F-35A on 17 Dec 2019. South Korea has so far brought in 12 F-35As, beginning with two in late March, under a plan to deploy a total of 40 fifth-generation jets through 2021.
 
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OPSSG

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Growth road map to the F-35I "Adir" (“Mighty One”)

1. According to a 18 Dec 2019 Breaking Defense report, Lockheed Martin senior official Gary North revealed that a F-35 test aircraft will be delivered to the Israeli Air Force (IAF) in the summer of 2020.
  • The IAF has prepared a list of weapon systems and “functional” systems that it intends to test on the special F-35 test aircraft. The special test aircraft has been manufactured according to specifications that took two years to prepare. From this update we know that the testing for new sub-systems and customisation for country specific mission requirements is ongoing.
  • The special aircraft is designed to adapt Israeli-developed systems to the IAF’s F-35s. “All our platforms have been upgraded to enable stretching the flight envelope while using the unique weapon systems made by the Israeli industries,” an IAF officer from its flight test center said.
2. IAI wants to co-develop with Lockheed bolt-on conformal fuel tanks which “hug” the F-35 airframe so as not to compromise stealth and aerodynamics — a feature that will be of interest to other international customers beyond Israel, like Korea and Singapore whose 60 F-15Ks, 40 F-15SGs and upgraded F-16V fighter fleet already operate with conformal fuel tanks, supported by their A330MRTTs and have deep strike as part of the IAF, Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) and Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) doctrines.
  • To support the deep strike mission, IDF chief of staff, Lt. General Aviv Kochavi, decided there is an operational need for 12 to 14 V-22s and Israel has submitted in Jun 2019 a LoR for 2 KC-46s (with a longer term requirement for 7 to 8 to replace the ageing Boeing KC-707 Reem tankers, of which about seven of which remain in service) and reports suggest that the IAF will request early delivery of two Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tankers, taking over two US Air Force production slots.
  • Iran’s success in the Syrian Civil War and growing influence in Iraqi and Lebanon will translate in ambitious (covert) operations against Israel, creating a need for Israel to conduct deep cross border raids and other military operations against IRGC’s al-Quds Force and their proxies at strong holds in Lebanon, in Quneitra and Suweida, Syria or even in Iran, should the need arise.
  • Due to the fact that the IAF, ROKAF and RSAF all use their Harpoon or Gabriel Mk 4 armed fighters like their F-15s for long range ISR and maritime strike missions, a conformal fuel tank equipped F-35 would be of similar interest to these countries.
3. Beyond the F-35’s capability as a littoral and deep strike platform for the IAF, ROKAF and RSAF, the fighter’s X-band AN/APG-81 AESA radar may be used for boost-phase interception of missile threats. According to the MDR, and comments from the US Undersecretary of Defense for Researching and Engineering Michael Griffin, this would likely require the development of a new air-to-air interceptor. To learn more about the F-35’s boost phase intercept capabilities, check out the MDAA’s Congressional Roundtable on boost phase intercept missile defense. Transcripts and a recording of the Nov 2017 event can be found here. This future requirement is sensible as Korea, Japan and Israel all need to deter and defend against the very real North Korean and Iranian Ballistic Missile Threats, respectively. Beyond attacking Ballistic Missile sites, in Oct 2018, the US Marine Corps have achieved a milestone when a target was destroyed by connecting an F-35B with a HIMARS rocket for the first time.

4. Since 6 Dec 2017 when IAF F-35As turned operational in Israel, some Israeli-made systems have been tested in different scenarios, including during combat operations across the Middle East. The first nineteen fighters received by Israel are standard F-35As, while the following thirty-one will be true F-35Is modified to integrate Israeli-built hardware. However, most media sources have taken to labeling all of them as F-35Is. But the test aircraft to be delivered in the summer of 2020 will allow these tests to be fully performed. While not many details are offered, Israeli defense companies are busy adapting operational systems for use on the F-35, including electronic systems and special weapons systems. These initial designs have been updated based on Israel’s combat experience, with the aircraft striking targets across the Middle East. Israel is not an investor in the F-35’s development, but Tel Aviv was quick to sign on to the program with an initial order of fifty. It also negotiated a favorable deal in which billions of dollars worth of F-35 wings and sophisticated helmet sets would be manufactured in Israel. Israeli F-35Is uniquely will have an overriding Israeli-built C4 program that runs “on top” of Lockheed’s operating system. One of F-35’s key capabilities come from its superior ability to soak up data with its sensors and share it with friendly forces. The new system will also allow the IDF to install Israeli-built datalinks and defensive avionics systems such as radar-jamming pods.

5. In addition to the special capabilities Israel plans to install on their F-35s, the IAF wants to perform all heavy maintenance — depot-level — in Israel but North said the aircraft has been designed so that it does not need depot maintenance. The IAF has decided that only subsystems of the Lockheed Martin F-35 will be sent for maintenance and repair in special regional centers abroad. “We have made it clear that the maintenance of the aircraft — including depot level — will be done in our bases” an IAF senior officer said. He added that even major subsystems will be sent to other countries only if “there is a technical reason.” There will also be tough discussions on sovereign control by a user state over the lifecycle of the F-35 aircraft by the IAF, ROKAF and RSAF with the US.

6. If you ignore the sensational but meaningless headlines of the Breaking Defense article (on 75 F-35s and F-15X) and read the details, it reveals the start of F-35 customisation in 2020. In Jun 2019, the Israel defense ministry issued an official request for information for the Boeing F-15X, and a price and availability (P&A) request for the Lockheed Martin F-35I. Israel already has 50 F-35Is on order and has had a long-standing intention to buy 25 more, but recent reports suggest that the Israel Air Force intends to buy 75 additional F-35Is and a similar number of F-15X strike fighters. In Aug 2019, Israel issued a P&A request to the U.S. Navy’s V-22 program office, following a decision by the IDF that there is an operational need for 12-14 V-22s to transport special forces elements “very fast over long distances.”
 
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ngatimozart

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Singapore gets the green light to buy F-35s

Seems according to this, Singapore will go for F-35B. Not surprising in my opinion. I do recalled long way back in 90's on BAE effort to offer VTOL Harrier in the region. Seems if not mistaken RSAF and TNI-AU shown some interest on Harrier before choosing F-16.

Now F-35B can provide what Harrier still lacking.
Good. The DSCA notifciation has been published, Singapore – F-35B Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) Aircraft, with a bit more info.
 

Todjaeger

Potstirrer
US approves $2.75b fighter jet sale to Singapore

$ 2.750.000.000 for just 12 JSFs/F-35....even with all the spareparts, GSE and training, thats quite a lot in my opinion.
Perhaps half that is the likely the "flyaway" purchase cost. IIRC the latest LRIP 10 for the F-35B was USD$122 mil. per aircraft for the "flyaway" cost. I suspect it has since dropped, much like it has for the F-35A (though not necessarily by as much).

The rest of the costs are likely related to training, spares and support. Since I am uncertain how Singapore records certain defence acquisitions I do not know if that pricing might also cover modifications and/or expansions to current Singaporean defence infrastructure (hangars, heat treatments for runways/landing pads, etc.)
 

Redlands18

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Perhaps half that is the likely the "flyaway" purchase cost. IIRC the latest LRIP 10 for the F-35B was USD$122 mil. per aircraft for the "flyaway" cost. I suspect it has since dropped, much like it has for the F-35A (though not necessarily by as much).

The rest of the costs are likely related to training, spares and support. Since I am uncertain how Singapore records certain defence acquisitions I do not know if that pricing might also cover modifications and/or expansions to current Singaporean defence infrastructure (hangars, heat treatments for runways/landing pads, etc.)
And lets not forget Trg includes going from conventional Jets to VSTOL Jets so in more ways than usual a very different Beast to what Singapore has operated before. We are not just talking about introducing a 5th Gen Fighter here but one with an extra unique capability as well.
 

OPSSG

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Singapore joined the JSF Security cooperation programme in Feb 2003. But Singapore JSF programme went under the radar until around 2013 (when Dr Ng Eng Hen said in Parliament that his ministry was in the final stages of the evaluating the F-35) and the Jan 2020 approval by the US State Dept for the sale of up to 12 F-35Bs.
Perhaps half that is the likely the "flyaway" purchase cost...

The rest of the costs are... related to training, spares and support.
There will be costs incurred in the US associated with reprogramming center access, tanker support and setting up another RSAF fighter detachment in the US and this may be a factor in the ‘price’. Given that the infrastructure, such as simulators and other support equipment at bases like US Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Beaufort in South Carolina or MCAS Yuma in Arizona (where the US Marines base F-35Bs) will be specific to the aircraft to be acquired, the case for the RSAF setting up a training detachment at one of these bases is strong. The RSAF’s fifth detachment is likely to be there.

Training may also involve partnership programmes with friendly air forces that have purchased the F-35B variant – which on top of the US (353 F-35B) and UK (138 F-35B), include Italy. Italy will order 30 F-35Bs, which will be evenly split between the navy and air force.

In addition:
  • Norway and Italy stood up a software lab at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, allowing the two nations to manage its mission data separately from the US military. Italy was also working on hardware and software that would filter out sensitive F-35 data and keep it from being sent to the US.
  • The VLO F-35B and the un-stealthy F-15SG both carry about the same amount of internal fuel — 13,326 lbs vs 13,550 lbs. But the F-15SG with CFT fitted have a fuel capacity of around 23,000 lbs before any optional external drop tanks are added. This F-35B acquisition gives the RSAF a Mach 1.6 (1,200 mph; 2,000 kph) STOVL fighter with an impressive range (when compared to the F-16V it replaces for the RSAF in the 2030s) before optional external drop tanks are added or taking into consideration, air-to-air refuelling.
Since I am uncertain how Singapore records certain defence acquisitions I do not know if that pricing might also cover modifications and/or expansions to current Singaporean defence infrastructure (hangars, heat treatments for runways/landing pads, etc.)
For land-scarce Singapore, merging three fighter airbases into two in the near future, this added capability provided by the F-35B will give the country a needed boost in its air power generation capabilities. Base improvement costs incurred in Singapore will not be published as declassified figures — as the project to close Paya Lebar Air Base at about 2030 and beyond, is well advanced in planning and upgrade works at Tengah Air Base ongoing. The SAF’s current military airbases are located close to neighbouring states. For example, Tengah airbase is located only 6 kilometres from Malaysia and is vulnerable to attacks by swarms of drones, missiles or artillery fire. The successful attack on a Saudi Arabian oilfield by drones and cruise missiles in Sep 2019 highlights the vulnerability of Singapore’s airbases. According to Mike Yeo:

“Singapore’s air bases will also change with the arrival of the F-35 in Singapore. This goes beyond the base realignment that has already been announced so far, which will see Paya Lebar Air Base close in the 2030s to free up land for other uses and the aircraft, equipment and personnel moved to the expanded Tengah and Changi East airbases.​

Work at whichever base(s) the RSAF’s F-35s will be stationed at will also need to take into account US security requirements for F-35 basing. Essentially, an extra layer of fencing will need to be built around all F-35 parking areas, along with additional security arrangements. These include limiting access to these areas only to personnel specially cleared to enter, essentially turning it into an airbase within an airbase.​

Another upgrade would entail the building of landing pads to allow F-35B pilots to conduct vertical landing training and operations on. These pads would need to be specially reinforced to withstand the intense downward heat generated by the F-35B’s powerful engine as it lands vertically.”​
And lets not forget Trg includes going from conventional Jets to VSTOL Jets so in more ways than usual a very different Beast to what Singapore has operated before. We are not just talking about introducing a 5th Gen Fighter here but one with an extra unique capability as well.
Agreed.

Singapore’s forward defence strategy has now shifted focus to the maritime domain. A F-35B acquisition will eventually enable the 21st Division and its 7th Singapore Infantry Brigade (7 SIB), as an infantry formation specializing in heliborne and amphibious operations, supported by the future Joint-Multi-Mission Ship (JMMS) to operate more like a mini Marine expeditionary brigade (MEB) of the US Marines with its aviation combat element. Details of the JMMS are currently sketchy, but they will reportedly have double the capacity of the current Endurance Class vessels. The 7 SIB comprises of the Army Deployment Force, 1st Guards, 3rd Guards Battalions and a specialist C4I battalion — C4I stands for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence Battalion. This was formed through the merger of Signals units and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) units of Army Intelligence. Over time SAF will declassify more of 7 SIB’s military capabilities with its spectrum of ISR capabilities and operations that include Operations Other than War. It will all become much clearer to both you and me — but I caution that a MEB has more assets than a heliborne and amphibious Singapore Brigade, so they will never be equivalent.

With regard to the JMMS (if it is based on the Endurance 160 design), Mike Yeo has suggested the length of the flight deck is too short for F-35B operations (550ft/168m being the minimum for F-35B operations on a conventional flight deck) or the addition of a ski jump which would reduce the F-35B's take off distance to 450ft/137m.
Artillery threats, be they shells, mortars and rockets against Singapore main island has been around before Singapore gained her independence and during WWII, the crown colony was shelled by the Japanese Imperial Army. It is not something new and the SAF’s force structure is designed for forward defence to manage this threat. Learning from the US Marine Corps, dispersion of forward deployed Singapore forces via an Expeditionary Advance Base, is possible using Naval and Air Force logistics capability present in Endurance class LPDs (to replaced by JMMS), Chinooks (eg. logistics and munitions lift) and the 6 A330 MRTT to sustain air patrols of the F-35Bs. A squadron of STOVL aircraft ensures that the RSAF can keep up combat air operations even in the event of it's runways being out of action, even for a short period of time. Knowing that the RSAF retains an air combat capability even without runways in operation would complicate any adversary's calculations in attempting a first strike to negate Singapore's defences. Dispersion enables Singapore to utilise alternative airfields (eg. Pulau Sudong, Seletar Airport or Sembawang helicopter base) that were previously unsuited for fighter aircraft due to the limited runway length. This allows RSAF aircraft to conduct flight operations for several days from numerous sites like stretches of highway, or expeditionary airfields using matting (eg. San Carlos Harrier FOB, built by the British in 1982 on the Falkland Islands - the runway length was 260m long).

The 2 RSAF fighter bases located in the rear (at Tengah and Changi in Singapore) would provide logistical and maintenance support for ongoing operations and subsequent overhauling and repairing of aircraft. Since only some of the surveyed sites would be occupied, enemy targeting would be reduced to a complicated shell game. It is clear, the SAF is keen and capable of learning from the US Marines, their concept of operations and strive to inter-operate with them at a joint service level (eg. on 9 February 1991, US Marines AV-8B Harriers operated out of a forward site at Tanajib, less than 40 miles from ground operations, to support Operation Desert Storm; Tanajib was an oil field support base that had an airstrip but this was expanded by the use of matting for taxiways and aircraft parking).
 
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OPSSG

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The RAAF announced on 15 Jan 2020 that it was transferring pilot training for the F-35A from the US to Australia. As such, the RAAF will end its international training mission participation with the 61st Fighter Squadron (FS) and Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU) at Luke Air Force Base (AFB) in Arizona. Having achieved the training goals it set out in 2014, Australia will now pass its future F-35A pilots and maintainers through the service's own 2 Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) at RAAF Base Williamtown in New South Wales. See: Jane’s Defence Weekly

The RAAF currently owns 20 F-35As and the ferrying missions from the US will continue until it receives the last of its 72 aircraft in 2023.
 
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John Fedup

The Bunker Group
US Senator Tom Cotton is proposing a law to ban F-35 sales to countries using Huawei 5G tech thus putting UK sales at risk. Not likely that this law will get passed. Seems like an easy out on the F-35 for Canadian PM junior, just buy Huawei. BTW, the Ottawa citizen is reporting another likely extension to the fighter tender today.

 
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