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Thread: F-35 in all it's Variations

  1. #501

    Auditors: F-35 will need 'unprecedented' levels of funding to continue

    By John T. Bennett - 03/15/11 04:47 PM ET

    Government auditors on Tuesday warned the F-35 fighter program will require “unprecedented” amounts of funding and experience further delays as engineers grapple with software development.

    “Affordability for the U.S. and partners is challenged by a near doubling in average unit prices since program start and higher estimated life-cycle costs,” the Government Accountability Office (GAO) stated in a report delivered to the House Armed Services Committee. “Going forward, the [F-35 program] requires unprecedented funding levels in a period of more austere defense budgets.”

    The GAO’s report noted continuing design changes have driven up the price and stretched out the F-35 program’s schedule.

    “After more than nine years in development and four in production, the [F-35] program has not fully demonstrated that the aircraft design is stable, manufacturing processes are mature, and the system is reliable,” according to the GAO. “Engineering drawings are still being released to the manufacturing floor and design changes continue at higher rates than desired. More changes are expected as testing accelerates.”

    The auditors also honed in on ongoing software development problems, warning new delays are ahead.

    “While progress is being made, a substantial amount of software work remains before the program can demonstrate full warfighting capability,” according to GAO.

    The report notes the program recently released its second software batch “nearly two years later than the plan set in 2006, largely due to integration problems.”

    The next three batches of software, the GAO found, “are now projected to slip more than three years compared to the 2006 plan.”

    Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), chairman of the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee, noted the GAO has made a raft of recommendations about the program that have “largely been right on the mark."

    ”But those warnings have gone unheeded” by the Pentagon, Bartlett added.

    The GAO findings come several weeks after senior Pentagon and F-35 program officials had began sounding more confident about the future of the effort, which has routinely been delayed and breached cost projections.

    Air Force Maj. Gen. C.D. Moore, the Pentagon’s deputy F-35 program chief, said earlier this month at an industry conference that he sees “a positive future.” In recent years, software problems, design flaws and testing issues have held back F-35 development and delayed goals to insert it into the fleet, stated a late 2010 report from the Pentagon’s director of operational testing and evaluation.

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates in January placed the program in a two-year probationary period. If problems are not corrected by early January 2013, Gates has said, the next Defense secretary should terminate the variant.

    Gates in January added $4 billion to the entire F-35 program’s design-and-development phase. He also altered the tri-service program’s purchasing schedule by making the Marine Corps variant the last that DOD will buy.

    Those moves were the latest changes to a program that for decades will constitute the vast majority of the U.S. fighter jet fleet. The Air Force, Navy and Marines are slated to buy around 2,440 models; U.S. allies say they will buy around 750 more.

    Bartlett said he is concerned that Pentagon officials have not yet provided lawmakers revised program cost data after those significant changes.

    “This year we are told that an additional $4.6 billion and two years have been added to the development schedule, another 124 aircraft have been removed from the planned buy for the next five years,” the subcommittee chairman said, “but we have yet to be provided an estimate of the current total F-35 program procurement cost.” But with no other next-generation fighter in development, Washington has “no choice ... but to continue to pay for F-35 development and procurement cost increases,” Bartlett said.

    That assessment echoes Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos, who last week told House appropriators there is “no Plan B” for his service.

  2. #502

    Quote Originally Posted by buglerbilly View Post
    Auditors: F-35 will need 'unprecedented' levels of funding to continue

    By John T. Bennett - 03/15/11 04:47 PM ET

    Government auditors on Tuesday warned the F-35 fighter program will require “unprecedented” amounts of funding and experience further delays as engineers grapple with software development.

    “Affordability for the U.S. and partners is challenged by a near doubling in average unit prices since program start and higher estimated life-cycle costs,” the Government Accountability Office (GAO) stated in a report delivered to the House Armed Services Committee. “Going forward, the [F-35 program] requires unprecedented funding levels in a period of more austere defense budgets.”

    The GAO’s report noted continuing design changes have driven up the price and stretched out the F-35 program’s schedule.

    “After more than nine years in development and four in production, the [F-35] program has not fully demonstrated that the aircraft design is stable, manufacturing processes are mature, and the system is reliable,” according to the GAO. “Engineering drawings are still being released to the manufacturing floor and design changes continue at higher rates than desired. More changes are expected as testing accelerates.”

    The auditors also honed in on ongoing software development problems, warning new delays are ahead.

    “While progress is being made, a substantial amount of software work remains before the program can demonstrate full warfighting capability,” according to GAO.

    The report notes the program recently released its second software batch “nearly two years later than the plan set in 2006, largely due to integration problems.”

    The next three batches of software, the GAO found, “are now projected to slip more than three years compared to the 2006 plan.”

    Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), chairman of the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee, noted the GAO has made a raft of recommendations about the program that have “largely been right on the mark."

    ”But those warnings have gone unheeded” by the Pentagon, Bartlett added.

    The GAO findings come several weeks after senior Pentagon and F-35 program officials had began sounding more confident about the future of the effort, which has routinely been delayed and breached cost projections.

    Air Force Maj. Gen. C.D. Moore, the Pentagon’s deputy F-35 program chief, said earlier this month at an industry conference that he sees “a positive future.” In recent years, software problems, design flaws and testing issues have held back F-35 development and delayed goals to insert it into the fleet, stated a late 2010 report from the Pentagon’s director of operational testing and evaluation.

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates in January placed the program in a two-year probationary period. If problems are not corrected by early January 2013, Gates has said, the next Defense secretary should terminate the variant.

    Gates in January added $4 billion to the entire F-35 program’s design-and-development phase. He also altered the tri-service program’s purchasing schedule by making the Marine Corps variant the last that DOD will buy.

    Those moves were the latest changes to a program that for decades will constitute the vast majority of the U.S. fighter jet fleet. The Air Force, Navy and Marines are slated to buy around 2,440 models; U.S. allies say they will buy around 750 more.

    Bartlett said he is concerned that Pentagon officials have not yet provided lawmakers revised program cost data after those significant changes.

    “This year we are told that an additional $4.6 billion and two years have been added to the development schedule, another 124 aircraft have been removed from the planned buy for the next five years,” the subcommittee chairman said, “but we have yet to be provided an estimate of the current total F-35 program procurement cost.” But with no other next-generation fighter in development, Washington has “no choice ... but to continue to pay for F-35 development and procurement cost increases,” Bartlett said.

    That assessment echoes Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos, who last week told House appropriators there is “no Plan B” for his service.
    Is this program slowly but surely slipping beyond the affordabilty reach of the countries that showed interest.
    Is there still any value in Australia being part of this?
    There must come a point when the cost is simply too much.
    I wonder if somewhere - someone will draw a line in the sand on this and say - we're out!
    MB

  3. #503

    Quote Originally Posted by Milne Bay View Post
    Is this program slowly but surely slipping beyond the affordabilty reach of the countries that showed interest.
    Is there still any value in Australia being part of this?
    There must come a point when the cost is simply too much.
    I wonder if somewhere - someone will draw a line in the sand on this and say - we're out!
    Yeah sure if the actual price has gone up. Has it? NO!

    All that has happened is a bunch of observers have claimed it will cost more. But back in the real world the price is still the same and that price remains below the upper limit of the level set by Government 8 years ago.

  4. #504

    Quote Originally Posted by Gubler, A. View Post
    Yeah sure if the actual price has gone up. Has it? NO!

    All that has happened is a bunch of observers have claimed it will cost more. But back in the real world the price is still the same and that price remains below the upper limit of the level set by Government 8 years ago.
    Thanks Abe.
    What is the upper limit?
    And does it mean that if the cost exceeds this we will pull the pin?
    Be interested to know.
    MB

  5. #505

    as far as i have seen, there is a lot of hype on the f-35a's cost, aus is still standing by our estimate for unit recuring flyaway cost of an average of $75m in 2008$ or usd68m

  6. #506

    F-16 A Surrogate At JSF Training Wing

    Mar 17, 2011

    By Amy Butler
    Eglin AFB, Fla., and Washington

    Fortune has graced us with time,” says Col. David Hlatky, commander of the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin AFB, Fla., which is the F-35 multinational pilot and maintenance schoolhouse.

    Time has been on the training wing’s side, as prime contractor Lockheed Martin struggles to work through flight trials and provide aircraft for training at the base. The first aircraft were expected there last year, when the wing was working to what Hlatky acknowledges was an aggressive schedule to start flight training last fall. “This is a better glide path,” Hlatky says of a wing startup plan that was revised in accordance with the Pentagon’s decision to restructure the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program.

    While working to resolve technical problems and ramp up flight-testing, Lockheed Martin is also having to dedicate significant attention to fixing persistent problems with the visor-mounted helmet display system, made by Vision Systems International (VSI—a Rockwell Collins/Elbit Systems joint venture). Lockheed Martin on March 1 issued a draft specification for proposals for an alternate helmet-mounted display system that makes use of commercial, off-the-shelf night-vision goggles, according to John Kent, a Lockheed spokesman. A final request for proposals is expected by the end of the month, and a selection by the end of June. Candidates include BAE Systems, Gentex and VSI, Kent says.

    Continuing problems on the helmet-mounted display system include jitter in the data that appear on the visor and problems with the night-vision capability. The wing at Eglin is making preparations for flight training with the VSI system; officials there have already begun custom-molding helmets for early instructor pilots. Should VSI fail to execute fixes, it is unclear how quickly an alternate design can be fed into the training wing’s operations.

    U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. C.D. Moore, deputy JSF program manager, says that the alternate helmet system has resources in the program plan, so funding is not an issue at this time.

    Meanwhile, AF 8, a conventional, takeoff-and-landing (CTOL) production version, is expected to arrive at Eglin as early as May with as many as five additional aircraft by September, when the wing is slated to be ready for pilot training.

    In the interim, the F-35s delivered to Eglin will be used for maintainer training. Moore says program officials are looking at the option of potentially conducting some limited flight-training operations prior to September. However, a lot is riding on how much of the flight envelope is cleared by the flight-test program.

    Leading up to September, AF 6 and AF 7, instrumented CTOL versions that were to go to Eglin but were diverted to support flight trials at Edwards AFB, Calif., will undergo a series of what Moore calls “maturity flights.” He says these are needed prior to a brief operational assessment so officials can be confident there will be no “seams” when the aircraft are cleared for flight training at Eglin. “Until I get the maturity stuff from Edwards, we are going to turn . . . aircraft over to the maintainers” for training at Eglin, Moore said March 1.

    In the meantime, the wing is following a traditional “walk, crawl, run” path, Hlatky says, that began last month with the use of four Lockheed Martin F-16s pulled from Luke AFB, Texas. They are surrogates for the wing to restart flight operations and maintain pilot proficiency while waiting for delivery of its first F-35s. “We get to teach this wing to fly all over again,” Hlatky says. “This wing hadn’t turned a wheel in months.” It formerly operated Boeing F-15s.

    The F-16s are currently being housed in shelters at the wing’s budding facility across from the Northwest Florida Regional Airport passenger terminal, which is located on the opposite side of the taxiway from Eglin’s operations.

    The F-16s are slated for use at the 33rd Wing for one year, Hlatky says.

    Meanwhile, the majority of the construction on the Academic Training Center—the size of six football fields—is complete. U.S. Marine Corps Col. Arthur Tomassetti, wing vice commander, says the first full-mission system trainer, a simulation-based device, is being installed; it takes about 90 days until it is operational. The wing is slated to receive eight, though there is space for 10.

    The wing will operate 59 F-35s.

    Photo: Lockheed Martin

  7. #507

    Ares

    A Defense Technology Blog

    Screech, the F135 and the JSF Engine War


    Posted by Graham Warwick at 3/17/2011 1:33 PM CDT

    For those of us who thought screech was the noise made by GE/Rolls and Pratt & Whitney in their war of words over the JSF second engine, here's the background to comments made this week about screech problems with the F-35's F135 engine.


    Photo: Lockheed Martin

    Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, JSF program executive officer Adm David Venlet said afterburner screech on the F135, which prevents the engine from sustaining full thrust, "caused us to avoid certain portions of the flight envelope." Instead, F-35s have flown to other points in the envelope to keep flight-test going. Kits are being installed to overcome the problem, he said.

    So what is screech and what's the fix?

    Pratt says screech is a phenomenon caused by pressure pulsations in the afterburner at low altitude and high speed. The problem was discovered during development testing around March 2009, having previously been encountered - and solved - in the F-22's F119 engine, from which the F135 is derived.

    Pratt points out that the F119 and F135 are the only production engines with stealthy augmentors. Their design eliminates conventional spray bars and flame holders and integrates multi-zone reheat fuel injection into curved vanes that block the line-of-sight to the turbine.

    Building on its experience with the F119, the fix for the F135 includes "minor hardware changes to the fuel system, reduced aerodynamic leakages and upgraded software," says Pratt, adding that the modified engine "now provides full max augmented thrust throughout the flight envelope."

    A kit has been developed for flight-test engines, and two have been modified. The production configuration will be validated this year in both the CTOL/CV and STOVL variants of the F135, Pratt says.

    I have asked GE/Rolls whether their F136 has a screech-free stealthy augmentor. Watch this space for their answer.

    And here it is:

    GE/Rolls says the F136 has "no known" screech problem, but acknowledges it is four years behind Pratt in development. An augmented F136 was demonstrated recently to the JPO on its Evendale test stand without experiencing screech, but the engine has not flown yet.

    GE/Rolls also points out that afterburner screech was a problem of fighters long before stealth came along...

  8. #508

    DATE:17/03/11

    SOURCE:Flight International

    Power failure investigation continues for F-35


    By Stephen Trimble

    US government officials cleared seven of 10 Lockheed Martin F-35 test aircraft to fly five days after a power outage and oil leak forced the AF-4 vehicle to land on 9 March.

    But the full costs of the programme's most serious in-flight incident in nearly four years remain unclear. Six of the seven cleared test aircraft had returned to flight by 16 March. Three of the latest test aircraft to roll off Lockheed Martin's assembly line and both production aircraft delivered to date remain grounded indefinitely while the investigation of the incident continues.


    © Lockheed Martin

    The root cause of the generator malfunction remains under investigation within the programme, but officials decline to offer any clues of the failure or details about the difference between the older and newer generators.

    It is also not clear if the AF-4 pilot was manoeuvring aggressively at the time of the power black-out.

    Since the F-35 design relies on electricity instead of hydraulics to power flight-control surfaces, a dual-generator failure is a critical safety issue. By design, the F-35's electric system has a third back-up - Honeywell's integrated power pack - which kicked in and allowed the pilot to land safely.

    For the test fleet, the difference between airworthy and grounded depends on a vital component weighing only 56.7kg (125lb) and occupying a volume of 0.04m³ (1.69ft³), according to US Navy acquisition documents.

    Airworthy aircraft are powered by an older version of the F-35's dual-redundant Hamilton Sundstrand electric starter-generators.

    The grounded aircraft, which include the conventional take-off and landing AF-4, short take-off and landing BF-5, carrier-based CF-1 and production models AF-6 and AF-7, are powered by an updated version made by Hamilton Sundstrand called the alternate electric starter generators.

  9. #509

    It's got 4 actually. On top of the IPP it has a battery backup system as well, which has been revealed by L-M for the first time. Of course Trimble isn't the biggest fan of the F-35 either, plus his job is to sell copy so it is no great surprise for him to try and make this sound worse than it is.

  10. #510

    Nice little video from L-M doing the rounds.


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