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Lockheed Martin F-35: News ONLY topic

rooster

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Not really surprising as he's a Seattle area Democrat
He’s made numerous statements undermining other defence programs over his tenure, which suggests to me that he’s the enemy within. Thankfully for the US military, he usually caves during budget fights.
The guy is entitled to his opinions no one is requiring you to agree with them. Kind of what democracy is all about, so there’s no need to describe someone as the enemy within.
The is what happens when societies fail: they are destroyed from within. If people don't do something soon we are going to be the next Rome. Yes off topic but for 40 years I've watched politicians take delight in destroying weapons system after weapons system because it want absolutely perfect.... I can remember when they hated and despised the f15 that seems to be all any democrat wants to buy. Thank god almighty the eagle is still a great aircraft.
 

Wyvern

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These are just rumours, and the Review will be published in a week. We need to keep our fingers crossed that these remain rumours.
 
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bring_it_on

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I feel the recent statements in the US by the CSAF, HASC Chairman and the ACC boss are more of a pressure tactic to get the O&S cost down to a certain level so that the project is sustainable well into the future. The RFI for that effort seems to be out and I suspect that much of this effort is for all these stakeholders is to put more pressure on the vendors. It is time to see if that $25K by 2025 is anything more than marketing speak or if it has some serious meat to it which is what I think is the source of some of this frustration. There are always going to be voices inside the DOD and Congress that would want t take money from a system, and fund whatever they wish to prioritize (whether that is shipbuilding, another platform or no one program in particular). And when you are one of the largest systems, then you are always going to be a target. The flip side is of course that the largest systems also have the most support which the F-35 has certainly enjoyed, and will likely continue to enjoy to an extent, within Congress as is apparent from how they've constantly upped the numbers guided by the services' UPL. But with the B-21 getting ready for LRIP, the Navy's frigate program, the nuclear enterprise modernization bill becoming real, the F-15EX being acquired, and both services looking to boost funding on the NGAD in this coming FYDP, there are now other competitors which didn't exist in the past. So this tug of war for funds is only going to get more complicated.
 

haavarla

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Not that i disagree with you BIO.
But as for other large costly arms program, they surly been there all the time F-35 program has been running.
KC tanker, different Navy programs etc.

For me, i think its a shift in US top millitary staff opinion. Perhaps people that did not run at the top when the F-35 program was early in the Years.
 

bring_it_on

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Not that i disagree with you BIO.
But as for other large costly arms program, they surly been there all the time F-35 program has been running.
KC tanker, different Navy programs etc.

For me, i think its a shift in US top millitary staff opinion. Perhaps people that did not run at the top when the F-35 program was early in the Years.

Not in terms of the $$ they would consume and the overall budget trajectory and the bills that are going to be due soon (KC-46 is already in acquisition whereas these programs are new and coming out of R&D and entering acquisition). KC-46 is not a combat aircraft program and its annual spend is roughly $2.5-3 billion which is going to remain stable. The annual fighter acquisition on the other hand is a $15+ billion enterprise between the three tactical fighters the DOD is currently buying. And the F-35 is a large chunk of that (roughly 90 of the 120+ or so aircraft the US bought this year were F-35's)

NGAD is ramping up with even the Navy (which has been reluctant to green light something) now wants to stop buying its SH and move to the NGAD work. GBSD and the Columbia class are both going to have major costs associated with them that are going to be many times larger this decade than the previous one, for example. So while I am not saying that these specific programs are the reason why there is now a change in tone in some corners, but it is likely a combination of multiple factors one being this, and the other obviously the effort to reduce the operating cost down by a 1/3 over the next 5 years. Then there are the future looking folks saying that NGAD will solve all their problems (which is also not correct but I bet there are folks with decision making powers who actually believe this) All these things are probably contributing to this.

So if you are one of the stakeholders involved in the big budget tug of war each year (which these folks are), then you will naturally see a flat budget (a budget that doesn't grow with inflation is actually declining in real terms) and see some of the biggest programs as natural targets if you want to prioritize what you believe should be the emphasis. So if you want more ships, then you target aircraft, bombers, figthers etc. If you want more bombers, you target carriers and Army long range strike platforms for example. And if you want more fighters and the overall budget for fighters is under pressure you would naturally want to preserve the most advanced capability.

Long term, if Lockheed ad P&W can live up to their O&S promises, and finish Block 4 modernization efficiently, I'm sure the DOD will buy a $hit load of aircraft. It may not be as large as what is the current program of record but it will still be a very large number by any modern or global standards. When you have a program that is executing at the level the F-35 is in terms of production, there are advantages to be had for modernization as long as other promises and capabilities are being delivered. With the backdrop of the imminent RFI for sustainment, and LRIP 15 right around the corner (just a few years away), I think much of this "talk" is to put some pressure on the vendors much the same way they did when they wanted to get the per unit cost down a few years ago when it was going for $100+ million a pop.
 
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haavarla

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Well you kind of hinted this;
One way of reducing spending, be that acquisition, operation cost or both of them is.. procuring less F-35.
 

bring_it_on

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That is not a smart way to do it obviously because it leaves you with a more diverse fleet of less capable aircraft which has a cost of its own. The right way is to hold the vendors and services accountable to what they are promising (for example LM is promising $25 K hourly operating cost which is lower than any F-15EX cost) and look for alternatives only if they aren't able to deliver. I suspect one of the fallouts of this will be that LM and P&W will accelerate their internal investments focused at reducing the operational cost. You also have to look at alternatives and see if they meet your need so that you aren't buying aircraft just for the sake of buying aircraft but with an overall objective in mind. We know that the DOD determined that the Block 3F F-35 requires modernization to Block 4 to meet the post 2030 threats. Sure, a F-16 is cheaper but is it as capable? How can it magically replace a block 4 F-35 when you've yourself determined that even a block 3 F-35 won't suffice? The F-15EX is only cheaper at the per hour operational cost. It is actually more expensive to acquire and will requiring more extensive upgrades down the road. If they think that a 6th gen. fighter with the range and payload required for the pacific is going to come in and be cheaper to operate than the F-35A then that too is wishful thinking (same for anyone who expects the Tempest, and FCAS to cost less to run than the Typhoon, Rafale's of the world). So in my opinion this is all about pushing folks to find efficiencies if they want to keep having a strong position in future budgets. If they can't then the chorus of those wanting to look elsewhere will continue to get louder. This was the same when the acquisition cost was the sticking point.
 

kitnut617

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There's also the sticky point of other nations buying into project, who only did so because the cost per unit was going to be 'X' amount if 'Y' quantity of F-35's were produced. If the USA suddenly decide to reduce the quantity they are going to buy, the costs per unit will jump back up and then you'll get a load of other cancellations as countries won't want to pay more for the aircraft.
 

bring_it_on

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Cost per unit is primarily determined by 2-3 year production time horizons and not necessarily a long term project view. So the issue there is do you keep on the accelerator through Lots 15, 16 and 17 (these will be block 4 lots) or do you slow down afterwards (I believe Lot 17's will be delivered in the 2025/2026 timeframe). Slight production increases will help offset some of the additional block 4 costs. And what about beyond Lots 17.. I don't really think there is going to be a significant impact on unit cost in the next 3-5 years. You have a pretty well laid out production plan into block 4 (which is the future variant) and you have new customers who want to get in on the program (Poland, UAE, and follow on orders from Israel). What about those ordering for delivery into the 2030s? Yeah it may be difficult to tell both in terms of what production rate into the 2030's will be and what post block 4 capabilities cost. But that is quite a bit away and its not like another 5th gen. aircraft is going to be in operation and as mature within the next decade or so so there should be a good demand at least in the next decade or so.

 
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Flyaway

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The U.K. cut will be justified in two ways I bet that of the current economic situation and money needed for Tempest. And I was bang on once I read the articles, I wanted to see if I could predict right, but it was very obvious.
 

Flyaway

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This is slightly older article on the issue of F-35 numbers in the U.K.

Commenting on the balance between investment in Tempest and the acquisition of F-35s Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) research fellow and editor of RUSI Defence Systems Justin Bronk told Air Force Technology: “The Tempest vs F-35 order numbers trade-off is politically complex but in terms of outputs it is straightforward.

“Since Tempest will not produce a viable combat air fleet until the end of the 2030s at the earliest, funding put towards Tempest instead of F-35 orders represents a direct reduction in UK combat air capabilities over the next 20 years in exchange for industrial and economic benefits in the UK military aerospace sector.”

In the same hearing, Deputy Chief of Defence Staff Air Marshal Richard Knighton suggested that after the current 48 jets were ordered, the UK would not be ordering more F-35s until after 2025. Knighton also acknowledged that there was a need to acquire more than 48 jets.

 
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Foo Fighter

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It's behind a pay wall so can somebody leave a synopsis please?
 

bring_it_on

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^ makes me wonder if the F-35B/Cs will be the last of the manned carrier fighters
USNs NGAD and the FCAS will both come in the 2030-2040 timeframe. China is also likely to field many carrier aircraft in the coming decades.
 

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Maloney and Lynch applauded the Pentagon for its efforts to hold Lockheed Martin accountable for failing to meet contract requirements for F-35 spare parts. The company is required to provide RFI spare parts, which means that spare parts are ready to install and have an electronic equipment logbook (EEL) assigned that includes information such as part history and remaining life. Spare parts such as wheel, seat, and window assemblies without an EEL are considered non-RFI.
 

TomcatViP

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Amazing to see that the airframe providing the most accute defense to EU members would be left devoid of any incentive.
 
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TomcatViP

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Double posting (From Belgian F-16 thread)

Belgian MoD confirms F-35 commitment in front of the house:
Le gouvernement De Croo "n’a pas l’intention de mettre fin au contrat d’achat" de 34 chasseurs-bombardiers américains F-35A, a affirmé ce mercredi la ministre de la Défense, Ludivine Dedonder, interrogée par plusieurs députés
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The De Croo government "does not intend to terminate the contract for the purchase" of 34 American F-35A fighter-bombers, Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder said on Wednesday.

« Le gouvernement actuel n’envisage pas de mettre un terme à ce contrat », a répondu Ludivine Dedonder (PS) à la Chambre. « La communication des autorités américaines peut sembler inquiétante, surtout si on la retire de son contexte. L’US Air Force reste bien engagée sur le F-35, qui reste la pierre angulaire de sa capacité de combat. » Et la ministre d’expliquer : « chaque année, les autorités américaines publient un rapport sur les capacités opérationnelles sous leur responsabilité. Il existe trois versions du F-35, le A, le B et le C. La Belgique a acheté la version A. D’après les rapports concernant cette version, aucun manquement en matière de sécurité des vols n’a été constaté. En outre, le nombre de manquements est passé de 13 en 2019 à 8 en 2020 avec une correction systématique planifiée au cours de l’année 2021. Il faut savoir que le F-16 présente encore aujourd’hui un nombre de points d’amélioration supérieur. »
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"The current government has no plans to end this contract," Ludivine Dedonder (PS) told the House. “The communication from the American authorities can seem worrying, especially if we take it out of context. The US Air Force remains firmly engaged on the F-35, which remains the cornerstone of its combat capability. "And the minister explained:" Every year, the American authorities publish a report on the operational capacities under their responsibility. There are three versions of the F-35, the A, the B and the C. Belgium bought version A. According to reports for this version, no flight safety deficiencies were found. In addition, the number of reported deficiencies decreased from 13 in 2019 to 8 in 2020 with a systematic correction planned during the year 2021.It should be noted that the F-16 today still has a superior number of deficiency points noted for improvement."

 
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AN/AWW-14(V)

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AF-1-JSM-release.jpg


AF-1-JSM.jpg


 

TomcatViP

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In his opening remarks, Garamendi voiced his concern that the services aren’t properly resourced to keep sustaining older systems, even as preparations are made for new ones. He’s worried about “overly-optimistic timelines” for introducing new platforms, and not having infrastructure in place to keep old ones going until the new ones arrive. At the same time, he said he’s frustrated that the services “pay a premium for old technology that is less capable, not fuel-efficient, dependent on a limited network of suppliers, and reliant on obsolete manufacturing processes.”

[...]

“We must ensure we can hire and train the next generation in a timely fashion,” he said. Kirkland replied that the Air Force has numerous intern, STEM, and scholarship programs with schools in the areas around its major depots to attract new line workers. The average age of employees in Air Logistics Centers is 44.5 years, he noted.


Notice:
Kirkland, Garamendi said, “The Air Force is going to have a large number of new platforms, extremely sophisticated platforms,” in the coming years, some of which are “still classified.” The committee needs to know, he said, “What are your maintenance demands for those new platforms,” so Congress can help prepare the service to care for them? He wants the Air Force to provide an integrated maintenance plan within the next three or four months.
 

Thorvic

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The UK Strategic Defence Review has committed to buying additional F-35B above the original Tranche of 48 already accounted for, it didnt say how many and didn't commit to the original 138 planned but it should give us the 4 squadrons worth that are required for the Carrier Strike capability (plus training, spares & repairs)
 

Wyvern

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The UK Strategic Defence Review has committed to buying additional F-35B above the original Tranche of 48 already accounted for, it didnt say how many and didn't commit to the original 138 planned but it should give us the 4 squadrons worth that are required for the Carrier Strike capability (plus training, spares & repairs)
As Thorvic correctly stated, the RAF is going to purchase more than the initial order of 48. However, most news sites are saying the contrary.

https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/uk-to-increase-f-35b-fleet-beyond-48-jets/
 

Colonial-Marine

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Forest Green

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Why is fixing the troubled software development for this program proving to be such a great challenge? Seems to have been a bottleneck for this program since AA-1 first flew.
Possible Skynet infiltration?
 

Josh_TN

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I think the sensor integration level was just too ambitious and that relatively minor changes have too many knock on effects through out the larger system.
 

rooster

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Why is fixing the troubled software development for this program proving to be such a great challenge? Seems to have been a bottleneck for this program since AA-1 first flew.
The software fixes needed new microprocessors... At least some of the fixes. When I develope a module for a vehicle i spec out 25% excess capability than needed to avoid this problem.
 

archipeppe

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Cavour carrier successfully completed the compatibility tests, achieving its certification. Now is heading back to Norfolk.

 

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