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Thread: F-35 in all it's Variations

  1. #1961

    UK funds initial SPEAR Cap 3 integration for F-35B

    Richard Scott, London - IHS Jane's Missiles & Rockets

    29 March 2017

    More goodies to fit in an F-35B........................

    Key Points
    • The UK has funded initial de-risking of SPEAR Cap 3 integration on the F-35B Lightning II
    • SPEAR Cap 3 integration is planned as part of the Block 4 update

    The United Kingdom has funded initial integration of the Selective Precision Effects At Range (SPEAR) Capability 3 on the F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

    Under a USD10.47 million contract awarded by the Naval Air Systems Command, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics will complete a risk reduction and integration study phase running through to March 2020.

    MBDA was in 2016 awarded a GBP411 million (USD511 million) contract to develop its Spear stand-off precision-guided weapon to meet the SPEAR Cap 3 requirement.

    (134 of 607 words)

  2. #1962

    Interesting to see if RAAF looks at these. They will have time with SBDII still in LRIP, given they have only just ordered SDBI they don't seem in a real hurry to update their air-launched weapons...
    In a low speed post-merge manoeuvring fight, with a high off-boresight 4th generation missile and Helmet Mounted Display, the Super Hornet will be a very difficult opponent for any current Russian fighter, even the Su-27/30

  3. #1963

    OPINION: Can Pentagon's new F-35 chief keep on target?

    31 March, 2017 SOURCE: Flight International BY: Flight International

    A military acquisition manager has a tough job. There are schedules to meet and budgets to keep, fickle politicians to placate, penny-pinching from bureaucrats and relentless finagling by contractors.

    By those standards, the hardest job of all must belong to Lt Gen Christopher Bogdan, the US programme executive officer (PEO) charged with managing the contracts for the Lockheed Martin F-35 airframe and Pratt & Whitney F135 engine. He does not have just one legislature to navigate, but more than a dozen, supervises a unique global supply chain, and has two primes that do not work off the same contract.

    Bogdan will leave the F-35 Joint Programme Office this summer after an extended, five-year run as first the deputy PEO and, after December 2012, the top military official on the world’s most expensive weapon system.

    It has been a remarkable tenure, however. A former US Air Force B-2A test pilot, Bogdan swept into office at full blast, rhetorically carpet-bombing his two main contractors, accusing them of “trying to squeeze every nickel out of the F-35”.


    Lockheed Martin

    “I want them both to start behaving like they want to be around for 40 years,” he told journalists in February 2013. “I want them to take on some of the risk of this programme. I want them to invest in cost reductions. I want them to do the things that will build a better relationship. I’m not getting all that love yet.”

    It is possible he was never fully satisfied by the “love” from Lockheed and P&W, but there was progress. Both committed to a 2014 initiative to cut F-35 production expenses, followed up by a second effort last summer targeting sustainment costs. The programme has stayed on budget too. Schedules for key operational and sustainment capabilities have slipped, but not by years.

    The programme is still not out of the woods. The long-promised Block 3F software standard could be further delayed and the Autonomic Logistics Information System is still playing catch-up.

    Bogdan’s successor, Rear Adm Mathias Winter, faces key structural decisions, including the ongoing review ordered by defence secretary James Mattis. Moreover, Sen John McCain, chairman of the Senate armed *services committee, may still pressure Mattis to break up the F-35 programme office, which employs over 2,000 personnel.

    If he navigates all that successfully, Winter has Bogdan to thank. Unlike several of his predecessors, he leaves the F-35 in much better shape than he found it.

  4. #1964

    Communications gateway between F-35 and F-22 still TBD

    03 April, 2017 SOURCE: Flightglobal.com BY: Leigh Giangreco Washington DC

    Two of the US Air Force’s premier fifth-generation fighters, the Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II and F-22A Raptor, still can’t transmit data back and forth but the service’s plan to fix the communication gap is undetermined.

    Today, the F-22’s Link 16 network can only receive data from the F-35. The JSF can both transmit and receive data with other Link 16 legacy aircraft including F-16, F-15 and other NATO aircraft, Brig Gen Scott Pleus, director of the F-35 Integration office tells FlightGlobal.

    The F-35 would not receive F-22 data until a fourth to fifth generation gateway is deployed, but the timeline on that gateway is undecided, the service tells FlightGlobal. The USAF has plans for fourth to fifth-generation communications, which would cover the F-22’s Link 16 radio, but they’re not yet programmes of record.

    The real crux of the matter is that F-22 — in addition to Link 16 — operates with uses an intra-flight data link (IFDL) to communication within the Raptor fleet, while the F-35 uses both legacy Link 16 and the Multi-Function Advanced Datalink (MADL), Pleus said in a 24 March interview with FlightGlobal.

    Both IFDL and MADL have a low-probability of intercept and low-probability of detection capability that fends off jamming and eavesdropping. But the two systems can’t talk to each other in the same way the F-15C and F-22 can communicate using the Talon HATE pod, Pleus says.

    “We don’t have anything like that and there’s currently nothing on the books for any testing,” he says.

    Pleus argues linkLink 16 was built to share information across multiple aircraft through a secure gateway, something the F-22 and F-35 can achieve through a fusion engine that takes in information and displays it to the pilot on a single screen.

    “That information doesn’t necessarily have to be passed through IFDL or through MADL,” he says. “The bigger issue is, can I get that information into fourth-generation fighters?”

    The USAF has the technologyability to secretly connect an F-35 flying in defended airspace with an F-15 outside the threat zone, though it requires a web of communications, Pleus says. In one notional scenario, Pleus describes placing multiple F-35s in a line, with the first aircraft deep inside and defended airspace and the last outside the threat zone. The F-35 aircraft is hostile airspace relays critical data, such as targeting information, along the chain of MADL-equipped stealth fighters, until the message reaches an F-35 outside the threat zone, which then relays the data to the F-15 on Link 16.

    The air force could string F-35 on MADL and then could transmit “outside the bubble” to the rest of the force on Link 16 while maintaining the LPD network, he says.

    Pleus also argues that MADL was never designed to share information in the same way as Link 16. Rather than enable the F-35 to communicate with F-16s or F-22s, the MADL network was designed to display information and give the pilot situational awareness, he says.

  5. #1965

    USAF completes last tests for F-35 ejection seat

    03 April, 2017 SOURCE: Flightglobal.com BY: Leigh Giangreco Washington DC

    The US Air Force completed electromagnetic environmental effects (EEE) testing on the Lockheed Martin F-35’s escape system 23 March, marking the last round of testing on the Martin-Baker US16E (MKk16) ejection seat.

    The air force’s airworthiness engineers are analyzing the data and so far the results appear to be good, Brig Gen Scott Pleus, director of the F-35 Integration office, told FlightGlobal in a 24 March interview.

    During the test, the seat’s electronic controls were hit with electricity to test their functionality, F-35 programme executive officer Lt Gen Chris Bogdan told reporters last week. The data from the EEE, helmet and dummy testing on the ejection seat will help the USAF decide whether to remove restrictions on pilots weighing less than 62kg (136lb), Bogdan says.

    “We think that weight restriction could be removed anywhere from April and beyond,” he says. “We’ll start modifying airplanes in April to the new seat configurations with the new helmets, so as soon as the USAF gives it the OK, that’s up to them.”

    Meanwhile, the air force is also examining the cost to qualify United Technologies Aerospace Systems (UTAS)’ ACES 5 ejection seat. It would be premature to halt that second source qualification and until the USAF receives the results from the Martin-Baker study and decides on the weight restriction, the service still has a competition to qualify the ACES 5 seat, Pleus says.

    The UTAS UT’s seat would represent not only a second option for the service, but a domestic source as well. But Pleus says he is less concerned with beefing up the local industrial base and more focused on pilot safety.

    “We are going to put the safest seat we possibly can and if it happens to be an American industry, great,” he says. “We believe that if the seats meets the specifications there would be no need to take a secondary look at qualifying a seat.”

    When asked about the potential cost and schedule implications of qualifying the ACES 5 seat, Bogdan expressed strong support for the Martin-Baker seat. Other fixes on the US16E, including a switch that briefly delayed opening the parachute with a lightweight pilot and a lighter weight helmet, have also made the escape system safer for all pilots flying the aircraft, he says.

    “I have an ejection seat on this airplane now that is better than anything in the field or projected to be in the field,” Bogdan says. “So as a programme manager I got what I need. I gave the warfighter what he asked for. Yes it was painful, yes I had to make some changes to the seat, yes it was controversial, but the seat today meets all the requirements.”

  6. #1966

    Proof of Concept: First Hot Load of GBU-32 on F-35B

    (Source: US Marine Corps; issued April 6, 2017)


    Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 prepare to conduct a hot load on an F-35B at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. (USMC photo)

    MCAS YUMA, Ariz. --- Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 with Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron (MAWTS) 1, conducted hot loads with the F-35B Lightning II during the semiannual Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI) 2-17 at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, April 4, 2017.

    “A hot load is when the Marines are performing the loading evolution while the aircraft is turning,” Master Sgt. Jason Daniel, an ordnance chief with MAWTS-1. “This poses more challenges as far as communicating and just creating some chaos as far as noise and a lot of moving parts.”

    The hot load consisted of loading a Guided Bomb Unit (GBU) 12, an aerial laser-guided bomb, and the GBU-32, a GPS guided bomb which has never been hot loaded onto the F-35B before.

    It ultimately takes five Marines during the loading process: two Marines to give direction, two Marines manually moving and inserting the bomb, and a quality assurance safety observer Marine to ensure everything runs smoothly.

    “We’ve loaded the GBU-12 before, but this will be the first time doing it while the aircraft is turning,” said Daniel. “This is the first time loading the GBU-32. There are hazards; the Marines are in close proximity to the intake. There is potential of someone getting hurt, but we’ve put a lot of time and effort into looking at those hazards and trying to minimize them.”

    The ability to hot load the F-35B, opposed to shutting down the aircraft completely to load, can save wear and tear on the aircraft. In a combat situation, performing a hot load would save time and minimize any failure opportunities with the aircraft, according to Daniel.

    “Hot loading is going to give us the advantage of minimizing maintenance hours, time on deck, and maximizing the capability of the F-35B,” said Daniel. “Whenever the jet is turned off and back on, it puts more stress on a lot of parts in the aircraft and it increases the opportunity to fail. In a combat scenario this evolution would benefit us because the jet is already turning, the Marines can get in and get out, leaving no trace of them being there, making it harder for the enemy to locate them.”

    The hot load evolution is slowly being perfected, reducing safety risks, and is on its way to being validated to prove the concept so that it can be published and distributed throughout the Marine Corps to be taught at the squadron level at command discretion.

    “VMFA-211 is stepping up to the plate to perform the tasks and getting their pilots trained and implementing the ideas and tactics that WTI has created,” said Daniel. “With WTI, we have all the resources available to us. This is the one opportunity when all the aircraft are here dedicated to supporting WTI. We’re able to execute and fully implement the hot load. Hot loading will most definitely enhance what we get out of the F-35B.”

    Lasting seven weeks, WTI is a training evolution hosted by MAWTS-1 that provides standardized advanced and tactical training and certification of unit instructor qualifications to support Marine aviation training and readiness.

    -ends-

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