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The F-35 Saga


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From Flight Global

 

[excerpt]

 

Lockheed adds $771 million to early F-35 production bills

By Stephen Trimble

 

Lockheed Martin has added $771 million to the final bill for the first 31 early production models of the F-35 joint strike fighter, prompting a key lawmaker to describe the latest cost overrun as "disgraceful".

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From The Economist

 

[excerpt]

 

Coming up short

America should cut back orders for its late and expensive new fighter—and spend the cash on more useful kit

Jul 14th 2011 | from the print edition

 

IT SEEMED like a great idea at the time. When Lockheed Martin won the contract in 2001 to develop what became known as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the aim was to produce a relatively cheap tactical aircraft with radar-beating stealth capability that would replace at least four other types in service.

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  • 2 weeks later...

From Defense Aerospace

 

[excerpt]

 

Lockheed Martin F-35 Flight Test Progress Report

(Source: Lockheed Martin; issued July 26, 2011)

 

FORT WORTH, Texas --- Lockheed Martin's F-35 flight test program moves closer to achieving year-end milestones since the last update issued June 13. The F-35 Lightning II 5th Generation multirole fighter conducted 107 test flights, bringing the total number of flights for the year to 518.

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From DefenseNews

 

[excerpt]

 

1st Catapult Launch for F-35C Joint Strike Fighter

By CHRISTOPHER P. CAVAS

Published: 27 Jul 2011 19:18

 

For the first time, an F-35C Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) was propelled into the air July 27 by a steam catapult, marking a significant milestone in the test program to qualify the aircraft for carrier operations.

 

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of the first F-35C cat launch.
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Great video that; it's finally getting somewhere.

 

The development and testing program continues, but so does the struggle to reduce the cost.

 

A relevant quote I saw today from Shay Assad, former US DoD director of defense procurement and acquisition:

 

"[Control costs] so we don’t go down the path of spending a tremendous amount of money in [development] only to find out that what we’ve designed and developed, we can’t afford".

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From Air Force Magazine, August 2011

 

[excerpt]

 

Make or Break Time for the F-35

By John A. Tirpak, Executive Editor

 

The Joint Strike Fighter has to be affordable. Currently, it is not.

 

As the Pentagon’s biggest and most expensive program, the F-35 is getting intense scrutiny, both from Pentagon managers and Congress. Now that tight fiscal limits put every defense dollar under threat, the F-35 needs to prove itself—and fast.

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Lockheed adds $771 million to early F-35 production bills

When Lockheed pay this cost by it self as retribution for bad cost estimation, why not.

 

Why is the developement of new military planes so expensive?

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By my calculations the F35 is coming up on 150 million apiece. My God this is 3 times the cost of the F/A 18 which is combat tested. The F22 although has a shorter combat history and limited air to ground capability seems to be as stealthy as you can get at 350 million. Seems to me that we could have saved some coin if we started with those existing airframes and mashed them together. And with the high design and maintenance costs assosiated with stealth aircraft 150 million sounds like an afterthought for a stealth aircraft. Anyone know why we built so many of these?

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Anyone know why we built so many of these?

So many F-35? to replace the 2'100 F-16, replace the F/A-18 C/D/E/F, replace the AV-8 and replace the A-10.

(Un)frotunately I'm not US, but to replace the A-10 with the F-35 is like replace an agricultural tractor with a Mercedes (for farming?). An all-in-one device suitable for every purpose => not payable.

 

From my point of view the Navy went in the right direction to push the developement of the F/A-18E/F and now push the X-47B. The key questions are; how many and how big are the airplane carrier when you have a big fleet of X-47B? And will the society still have the required culture and know-how in the future to maintain this kind of fleet?

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From Aviation Week

 

[excerpt]

 

JSF Force Grounded

Aug 3, 2011

By Bill Sweetman

WASHINGTON

 

All flight and ground operations for the Joint Strike Fighter force have been suspended after the secondary power system of F-35A AF-4, a USAF-variant test aircraft, failed on Tuesday morning at Edwards AFB, Calif.

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From DefenseNews

 

[excerpt]

 

DoD Might Cut Jets from 5th F-35 Batch

By MARCUS WEISGERBER

Published: 8 Aug 2011 16:01

 

The Pentagon might have to cut the number of F-35 Lightning II fighters it purchases in an upcoming buy to cover increased development costs in early model jets, unless Congress approves a $151 million funding transfer, according to U.S. Defense Department documents.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Interesting comments from the Aussie defense minister today ...

 

From Defense Aerospace

 

[excerpt]

 

Minister for Defence – House of Representatives

(Source: Australian Department of Defence; issued Aug. 17, 2011)

Transcript: House of Representatives Question Time

 

... I made it clear that our concern was rubbing up against risk on schedule. We are proposing in conjunction with our Joint Strike Fighter program partners to do an exhaustive risk assessment of delivery schedule by the end of this year.

 

My advice, or the advice I have from my Department, is that we are in the position to wait until 2013 to make a judgement about whether alternate arrangements are required to ensure that there is no gap in our capability. I’m not proposing to wait until the last minute. I’m proposing to recommend to the Government that we make that decision next year.

 

There is an obvious option or Plan B, which I have stated publicly in the United States and on my return here. ...

 

... I’ve stated publicly in the United States and here that there is a viable alternative. While the Government has not committed itself to this, the obvious alternative is the Super Hornet.

 

So I’m proposing to recommend to Government in the course of next year whether there is a need for us to take alternative steps to ensure there is no gap in our air combat capability. So far as cost is concerned, we’ve committed ourselves to fourteen at a cost of about $3 billion. ...

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