F-35 Program - General Discussion

db2646

Banned Member
No, this doesn't imply "further" delays.

It is a direct result of US Congress demanding concurrency within the F-35 program as a whole and then cutting the dollars to do the work required, as well as cutting the number of LRIP aircraft with which to do the work, with the expected delays from this eventuating and requiring something in the meantime to provide capability.

These F-16 life extensions to cover for F-35 delays were also first announced nearly 3 years ago too...
In simple terms, what do you really mean by your statement relative to the F-16, i.e., "It is a direct result of US Congress demanding concurrency within the F-35 program as a whole and then cutting the dollars to do the work required, as well as cutting the number of LRIP aircraft with which to do the work, with the expected delays from this eventuating and requiring something in the meantime to provide capability."? I would really like to understand it more clearly. Thanks.
 

Vivendi

Member
I thought the F-16 life extensions announced earlier were for just a fraction of the F-16 fleet and not the whole fleet, but I may be wrong about that?

I also don't quite understand the phrase "cutting the dollars to do the work required", my understanding is that the F-35 budget has not gone down, in general it has gone up or remained stable. Correct me if I am wrong but I though what happened was that instead of just pouring more and more money into the program Pentagon cut down on the number of LRIP jets and used those money to add extra funding to the development?

Instead of saying "cutting the dollars" perhaps on should say "redistributing the dollars within the program". Or has the F-35 budget really been cut?

Also, was it really Congress that demanded the huge amount of concurrency? I thought it was LM that suggested this strategy? I remember some people were very concerned about it and that LM responded that due to the extensive use of computer simulations there was virtually no risk in having so much concurrency. I don't recall LM expressing any concerns regarding this.
 

ADMk2

Just a bloke
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
In simple terms, what do you really mean by your statement relative to the F-16, i.e., "It is a direct result of US Congress demanding concurrency within the F-35 program as a whole and then cutting the dollars to do the work required, as well as cutting the number of LRIP aircraft with which to do the work, with the expected delays from this eventuating and requiring something in the meantime to provide capability."? I would really like to understand it more clearly. Thanks.
Quite simple. Operational F-35's won't be in a position to undertake the operational missions it's users require of it in the timeframe that the users need, because largely of multiple poor decisions made by the US Congress. Now the contractor hasn't performed spectacularly to date this is true, but mostly the current issues with the program are as a result of poor decision made by the fools within US Congress.

3 aircraft types based on one "common" airframe, produced by one major contractor without competition. Who made those decisions? US Congress.

Enormously over-lapping production and concurrent testing plans. Who made those decisions? US Congress.

Reducing the dollars to be spent on SDD and the number of testing airframes. Who made those decisions? US Congress.

End result of those decision? Huge delays, increasing costs and fewer airframes. The "death spiral" which everyone in the world can recognise, except those who are apparently "in charge..." As John McLane once said, "Sorry Dwayne, but from up here it looks like you aren't in charge of jack sh*t..."

As F-35 won't be available until after 2017 and it will be middle to late 2020 before it exists in sufficient numbers to fully replace the USAF F-16 fleet, something needs to take up the slack until then.

USAF is choosing a fleet of AESA radar upgraded (as well as other enhancements obviously) F-15's and F-16's to meet that need.
 

ADMk2

Just a bloke
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
I thought the F-16 life extensions announced earlier were for just a fraction of the F-16 fleet and not the whole fleet, but I may be wrong about that?

I also don't quite understand the phrase "cutting the dollars to do the work required", my understanding is that the F-35 budget has not gone down, in general it has gone up or remained stable. Correct me if I am wrong but I though what happened was that instead of just pouring more and more money into the program Pentagon cut down on the number of LRIP jets and used those money to add extra funding to the development?

Instead of saying "cutting the dollars" perhaps on should say "redistributing the dollars within the program". Or has the F-35 budget really been cut?

Also, was it really Congress that demanded the huge amount of concurrency? I thought it was LM that suggested this strategy? I remember some people were very concerned about it and that LM responded that due to the extensive use of computer simulations there was virtually no risk in having so much concurrency. I don't recall LM expressing any concerns regarding this.
L-M tried to argue otherwise and concurrency was imposed upon them regardless. They've said pretty things to try and smooth over the stupidity inherent in such an idea (though every program HAS to have a degree of concurrency - can't test something that hasn't been produced etc...) but they've had to try and make do with what they were given or lose the contract altogether. What would you do in such a situation if you were a contractor? Try and make it work, or forgoe a $300B + program?

Development funding might not have been reduced overall, but it has certainly been spread out over many more years, which has had the effect of delaying the program, constantly pushing capability further back, which will take more money in the end to rectify and led directly to fewer LRIP aircraft, which has led to increase cost and on and on it goes.
 

db2646

Banned Member
Quite simple. Operational F-35's won't be in a position to undertake the operational missions it's users require of it in the timeframe that the users need, because largely of multiple poor decisions made by the US Congress. Now the contractor hasn't performed spectacularly to date this is true, but mostly the current issues with the program are as a result of poor decision made by the fools within US Congress.

3 aircraft types based on one "common" airframe, produced by one major contractor without competition. Who made those decisions? US Congress.

Enormously over-lapping production and concurrent testing plans. Who made those decisions? US Congress.

Reducing the dollars to be spent on SDD and the number of testing airframes. Who made those decisions? US Congress.

End result of those decision? Huge delays, increasing costs and fewer airframes. The "death spiral" which everyone in the world can recognise, except those who are apparently "in charge..." As John McLane once said, "Sorry Dwayne, but from up here it looks like you aren't in charge of jack sh*t..."

As F-35 won't be available until after 2017 and it will be middle to late 2020 before it exists in sufficient numbers to fully replace the USAF F-16 fleet, something needs to take up the slack until then.

USAF is choosing a fleet of AESA radar upgraded (as well as other enhancements obviously) F-15's and F-16's to meet that need.
Ok, now I understand where you are coming from. Undoubtedly, the US Congress has a hand in the F-35 program. However, the congress shouldn't shoulder all the blame as far as commonality in the design of the 3 aircrafts. The USAF should have had a hand on deciding what course of action LM will undertake in the design and development of the aircrafts. The US congress will not act on their own without any input from the DOD and/or USAF/Navy/MC.

There should be enough commonality between the 3 aircrafts that will reduce operations and maintenance costs in the future. One reason why the US congress, the DOD and the 3 services decided on once common airframe.

Simulation came to my mind with the concurrent development, production and testing of the aircrafts. LM probably sold the simulation concept to the nth degree to the congress and services? Therefore, that type of process was implemented.

IMHO, if the US economy didn't go on a nosedive, we will not have all these funding and sequestration problems, because the US congress will just pour more money into the program. In addition, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have something to do with this as these wars drained and continue to drain the US economy.

I could understand why we need to upgrade F-16s to take the slack from not having enough F-35 until 2017 when the aircrafts become totally operational. This will only affect, however, the USAF? How about the Navy and Marine Corps?
 

Bonza

Super Moderator
Staff member
USN should be fine, they've got hundreds of block II Super Hornets to fly, and an active production line to draw from should they need to make up for any shortfalls on a pure numbers basis.

Same would go for the USMC I suppose, although they want no part of the Super Hornet at all (for good reasons - less money to spend on F-35s later). And they bought up a substantial amount of Harrier airframes from the British in order to maintain a large pool of spare parts for their own Harriers.
 

Vivendi

Member
These F-16 life extensions to cover for F-35 delays were also first announced nearly 3 years ago too...
do you have a source for this claim?

This is from August 2012:

The US Air Force is hoping to upgrade some 300 Lockheed Martin F-16C/Ds as a stopgap measure until the Lockheed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter comes online.

The aircraft, which are drawn from the USAF's fleet of Block 40, 42, 50 and 52 machines, will undergo a structural service life extension programme (SLEP) and a combat avionics programmed extension suite (CAPES) upgrade.

USAF details F-16 life extension programme

SLEP and updates for only 300 F-16 is mentioned here -- not a word about SLEPing all 1018 F-16.

December 2010:

Over the next 15 years, the USAF inventory is projected to dip as much as 10% below the required threshold of 2,000 fighters. As a result, service officials are considering extending the service life of as many as 300 F-16s by as much as 50%, to 12,000 flight hours.
Fatigue test plots F-16 future for USAF

Again, SLEPing up to 300 F-16 is mentioned; not 1018 F-16.

Perhaps one of the reasons SLEPing all 1018 now is because it was not possible to extend the life to 12,000 hours in those 300 "new" planes? Still, I wonder if that is all there is to it.
 

SpudmanWP

The Bunker Group
There are several ways that Congress/DoD have caused delays and cost increases in the F-35 Program.

1. Demanding Concurrency but not sticking with it.

2. Basing the projected price on a 120 F-35A FRP build rate and then lowering it to 80 (a 33% decrease).

3. When delays were encountered they decided to stretch out development to keep the annual dev cost the same. This further pushed IOC and FRP to the right.

4. They gutted the LRIP build rates which caused the LRIP costs to skyrocket.

5. Rising LRIP pricing caused Partners to pull orders or delay decisions (see Canada and Denmark as worst case so far).

6. The JPO may lose the South Korean bid due to high LRIP pricing

7. They moved the goalposts re:IOC. Initially (no pun intended) IOC was to be declared along with IOT&E. Now it’s after.
 
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db2646

Banned Member
There are several ways that Congress/DoD have caused delays and cost increases in the F-35 Program.

1. Demanding Concurrency

2. Basing the projected price on a 120 F-35A FRP build rate and then lowering it to 80 (a 33% decrease).

3. When delays were encountered they decided to stretch out development to keep the annual dev cost the same. This further pushed IOC and FRP to the right.

4. They gutted the LRIP build rates which caused the LRIP costs to skyrocket.

5. Rising LRIP pricing caused Partners to pull orders or delay decisions (see Canada and Denmark as worst case so far).

6. The JPO may lose the South Korean bid due to high LRIP pricing

7. They moved the goalposts re:IOC. Initially (no pun intended) IOC was to be declared along with IOT&E. Now it’s after.
1. There are so many things that can be gained by concurrent processes involved with the 3 aircrafts. Why would anyone change something on one aircraft and not do the same on the other 2 aircrafts when the change is affecting a common item?

2. Why will you go to an higher build when you are not sure of the configuration, ie., functional and physical? Would you rather retrofit more aircrafts later spending more time and money, rather than decreasing or slowing down your LRIP with less aircrafts?

IMHO, I would rather have less aircraft during LRIP than producing more when I know I have to fix these aircrafts anyway? There is a reason why it is called LRIP...the design is not mature enough to go to FRP.
 

SpudmanWP

The Bunker Group
1. There are so many things that can be gained by concurrent processes involved with the 3 aircrafts. Why would anyone change something on one aircraft and not do the same on the other 2 aircrafts when the change is affecting a common item?
I support concurrency and understand the need for it. Sorry for the confusion and I have updated my post above to reflect that it was the government NOT supporting the concurrency that it REQUIRED that led to the delays.

2. Why will you go to an higher build when you are not sure of the configuration, ie., functional and physical? Would you rather retrofit more aircrafts later spending more time and money, rather than decreasing or slowing down your LRIP with less aircrafts?
This is the core of concurrency. Look at the above problems that have been caused by the delays and balance them against the increased monetary cost of Concurrency. Not even included in the above “problems with delays” is that by delaying production for so long our fighting forces are at a level below what they would have been.

IMHO, I would rather have less aircraft during LRIP than producing more when I know I have to fix these aircrafts anyway? There is a reason why it is called LRIP...the design is not mature enough to go to FRP.
It’s lees new aircraft and spending a LOT more to keep ALL the other aircraft flying for another 10 years.
 

OPSSG

Super Moderator
Staff member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #31
NG said:
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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StobieWan

Super Moderator
Staff member
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?
 

SpudmanWP

The Bunker Group
You missed a key announcement in there
"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". :)
 

colay

New Member
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.
 

db2646

Banned Member
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.
 

OPSSG

Super Moderator
Staff member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #37
DAVE MAJUMDAR said:
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.

DAVE MAJUMDAR said:
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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the road runner

Active Member
JSF displays High angles of attack stalls.Some great footage demonstrated in the video.The JSF looks to be doing some high angle turns.

[nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWji8AcOYGA"]F-35 Flight Test Intentional Departure - YouTube[/nomedia]
 

db2646

Banned Member
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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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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