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The F-35 Saga


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Test aircraft cleared for flight, production jets still grounded ...

 

From Aviation Week's Ares blog

 

[excerpt]

 

No Fly Zone -- Update

Posted by Bill Sweetman at 8/18/2011 9:45 AM CDT

 

Update: The grounding of the F-35 test force has been lifted. A procedure for monitoring the valve in the integrated powerpack (IPP) has been approved, allowing test aircraft to continue flying before the USAF Safety Investigation Board completes its report.

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From Flight Global

 

[excerpt]

 

DATE: 23/08/11

SOURCE: Flight International

Production F-35s to stay parked for IPP fix

By Stephen Trimble

 

Lockheed Martin F-35s resumed flight testing over the weekend, but two production aircraft remained grounded while US Air Force safety investigators continue scrutinising their power and thermal management system.

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  • 2 weeks later...

From DEW Line blog

 

[excerpt]

 

Can a new structural crack suggest F-35 is healthier?

By Stephen Trimble on September 6, 2011 1:59 PM

 

When an aluminium alloy bulkhead inside the Lockheed Martin F-35B cracked last year after just 1,600h of durability tests, the programme was caught by surprise. Lockheed's analysis had not predicted the 496 bulkhead would buckle before the end of the 16,000h-long durability exam.

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From DefenseNews

 

[excerpt]

 

What's The Price Tag For a Production F-35?

By DAVE MAJUMDAR

Published: 12 Sep 2011 12:28

 

What is the true unit cost of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)?

 

It's tough to say. The JSF program office has one estimate. The Pentagon's Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation has another.

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From DefenseNews

 

[excerpt]

 

Senate Appropriators: Kill JLTV, Cut JSF $1.2B

By KATE BRANNEN

Published: 13 Sep 2011 12:30

 

In its markup of the 2012 defense spending bill, the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on defense is recommending terminating the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) and cutting $1.2 billion from the Air Force's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. ...

 

As for the $1.2 billion cut to the JSF program, Inouye cited "excessive concurrency in development and production," and recommended maintaining 2011 production levels for two more years "in order to limit out-year cost growth."

 

"The test program is only 10 percent complete, yet the request continues to ramp up production of aircraft in fiscal years 2012 and 2013," Inouye said. "For each aircraft we build this early in the test program, we will have to pay many millions in the future to fix the problems that are identified in testing."

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From Defense Aerospace

 

[excerpt]

 

Australia, Canada Share Concern About JSF Delay

(Source: Australian Associated Press; published Sept. 12, 2011)

 

Australia and Canada share a common concern that the new Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) will be delayed, possibly requiring acquisition of an expensive interim air combat capability.

 

To present a united front, Australia and Canada will now conduct top level talks on procurement and capability issues of mutual concern.

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From Aviation Week

 

[excerpt]

 

Senate Appropriators Slice $700M Off JSF

Sep 13, 2011

By Jen DiMascio, Michael Bruno

WASHINGTON

 

Key U.S. Senate appropriators are recommending a $695 million reduction to the Defense Department’s fiscal 2012 request for the Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter—a move coordinated or checked with the Pentagon, to some degree—saying the funds are not needed with the program slowed as it is.

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From DefenseNews

 

[excerpt]

 

Looming U.S. Budget Cuts Hot Topic at Carter Confirmation

By MARCUS WEISGERBER

Published: 13 Sep 2011 17:52

 

Speaking at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Pentagon acquisition executive Ashton Carter continued the U.S. Defense Department's warning that these large-scale budget cuts would put the country at risk. ...

 

■ F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: Carter said he is open to competing subsystems and logistics support to help lower the program's sustainment price tag, estimated at about $1 trillion over the life of the program. Calling the costs "unacceptably high," Carter said: "I'm expecting that they will come down."

 

■ F-35 alternatives: No other aircraft out there meets the Joint Strike Fighter's joint requirement. Also, the 2,443-aircraft requirements across the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps remains valid, he said.

 

■ F135 engine: Carter said he is not "completely satisfied" with the Pratt & Whitney-run F135 engine program, which has experienced cost growth. "I will say that, like with everything else on the JSF, we are working very hard to manage to a better result," he said. "And those performing the work on the engine, like those performing the work on the air frame are joining us in trying to restore affordability."

 

■ F136 engine: Carter said he was open to meeting with executives from General Electric and Rolls-Royce to listen to the group's plan to self-fund the JSF F136 alternate engine program, which DoD canceled earlier this year. But that's no green light that the effort will continue. "I do have to say I have real concerns about that proposal on the basis of what I've heard so far," Carter said. "Any time one of our industry partners has an idea on affordability, I'm very open to ideas on affordability and would be willing to listen to that," he added.

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From Flight Global

 

[excerpt]

 

DATE: 15/09/11

SOURCE: Flight International

US Senate seeks four-year F-35 production rate freeze

By Stephen Trimble

 

Lockheed Martin F-35 production could be frozen at around 32 aircraft for four years, if a US Senate committee's version of the fiscal year 2012 defence budget is signed into law.

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From Defense Aerospace

 

[excerpt]

 

Pentagon Caused Most of the Increases In F-35 Costs, So It Can Fix Them

(Source: Lexington Institute; issued September 14, 2011)

 

During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on September 13, deputy defense secretary-designate Ashton Carter assured legislators that the Pentagon is working real hard to reduce a trillion-dollar bill for sustaining the F-35 fighter over its 50-year operational lifetime. That's good news, since in his previous capacity as the Pentagon's acquisition chief, he presided over an office that has done just about everything possible to drive those costs up.

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From Aviation Week

 

[excerpt]

 

Lockheed Wraps Up F-35 Structural Testing

Sep 20, 2011

By Amy Butler

 

Lockheed Martin’s Joint Strike Fighter program has achieved one of five major milestones linked to the company’s ability to earn financial reward in 2011 with the recent completion of static structural testing.

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From Defense Aerospace

 

[excerpt]

 

What's the Deal with Aircraft Design Flaws in the Joint Strike Fighter?

(Source: Project On Government Oversight; issued Sep 23, 2011)

 

Earlier this month, Bloomberg News reported on a "design flaw" in the wing of the Air Force and Marine Corps variants of the F-35 discovered during testing. The F-35 program office told Bloomberg and at least one other news outlet that the problem is not serious.

 

However, a March briefing slide by the F-35 program office never intended for public release, but obtained by POGO, indicates the solution to the problem was considered "likely to be expensive and time consuming."

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