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Simple economics really, the more orders for the aircraft, the lower the cost. Whats cheaper ordering 10 or order 100 ?
Norway reaches IOC milestone with F-35
Norway has declared initial operating capability (IOC) status for its Lockheed Martin F-35As, with the milestone having been reached on 6 November.
The achievement followed a deployment to Rygge air station to check that the aircraft could be successfully operated away from its home base of Orland.
Norway is third European country after Italy and the UK to reach the IOC milestone.
Oslo has conducted two years of test and evaluation activities with its F-35s, including a focus on the fighter’s cold-weather capabilities [emphasis added].
Since receiving its first three examples of the fighter in November 2017, the Royal Norwegian Air Force’s fleet has grown to 22 aircraft. Of these, seven are stationed at Luke AFB in the USA as part of a multi-national training component.
Next year, Norway will deploy its F-35s to Iceland to conduct NATO air-policing missions. By 2022, the country will perform quick reaction alert missions with the fighters from Evenes air base in the north of the country [emphasis added].
dapaterson said:Does IOC for Norway include any weapons testing? It sometimes seems that the quest for "good news" stories (We've reached IOC!) means we overlook basic things like the ability of a military aircraft to do military things.
If all IOC for a fighter requires is an ability to operate in cold weather, and operate in an austere deployed location, then we can buy some new Twin Otters to get that IOC...
Why Not Just Buy New-Build Viking Air Twotters for RCAF?
PuckChaser said:Unless Norway is buying a F-35 that they're building themselves from the ground up (they're not, same production line as USAF A/C), I think they're good considering F-35s are dropping JDAMs in Iraq from April 2019 until presumably the present. https://www.defensenews.com/air/2019/04/30/us-air-force-conducts-airstrikes-with-f-35-for-first-time-ever/
Don't tempt the Liberal government with Twin Otters. If they can get Bombardier to build them and squeak through NORAD capability requirements, that's what we'll get.
In First, Air Force Will Send Secure Data Between an F-22 and F-35
The U.S. Air Force will soon test out a gateway that could finally allow the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and F-22 Raptor to share data during missions without compromising the fighters' stealth, a service official said Thursday.
It would be the first time the Air Force will test how the two highly capable fifth-generation fighters can exchange battlespace information after years of incompatibility, said Preston Dunlap, the Air Force's chief architect serving the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.
"From zero to 60 in four months, [the goal] is to design and integrate the gateway so we can have something to triangulate" the information, Dunlap said during the DefenseOne Outlook event in Washington, D.C. The testing is set to begin in December, he said.
Dunlap said the two aircraft were built with different communications standards in mind.
Because the F-22 was built with a datalink -- Intra-Flight Data Link, or IFDL -- system that is incompatible with the F-35's Multi-Function Advanced Datalink system, or MADL, it can receive data from the F-35 and fourth-generation fighters through its legacy Link 16 system, but cannot share data back. Link 16 is the standard U.S. and NATO operating system.
"That's both the physics, like frequency, and software, like a radio and what's behind that actual antenna," Dunlap said. "So for the first time, we want to be able to share data as we would like to in a relevant time and environment -- and we want to operate in a highly contested environment -- and ensure it gets [securely] from one place to the other."
The technology is "something that can translate from that way not only one platform talks, [like] the language, but also has to cross over the frequencies," he added.
In 2013, Lockheed Martin demonstrated linking the F-22 and F-35 avia a Link 16 capability in what the company called "Project Missouri." But the process never became standard-use.
In line with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein's vision for the service, the effort also supports the Defense Department's goal to connect and share between platforms and streamline and centralize the information.
"We want to move quick, and we want to show it can be done, and we want to push ourselves to continue to enhance capability," Dunlap said, adding officials will share progress reports with the Army and Navy.
Speaking to reporters after his panel speech, the chief architect said the experiment will bring in a range of Air Force units, with operations taking place in widely separated geographic locations.
Earlier this year, the F-35 connected and shared information between a U-2 Dragon Lady reconnaissance aircraft and a ground control facility operated by the Missile Defense Agency, according to Lockheed Martin Corp., which ran the test.
"During the demonstration, called 'Project Riot,' an F-35 detected a long-range missile launch with its onboard sensors and shared the information through the U-2 to the air defense commander on the ground, enabling the commander to quickly make the decision to target the threat [emphasis added]," Lockheed officials said in a September news release.
"This next-level connectivity reduces the data-to-decision timeline from minutes to seconds, which is critical in fighting today's adversaries and advanced threats," it stated.
SupersonicMax said:Link between aircraft is nothing new. The fact they couldn’t talk from the beginning is a travesty.
The first F-35 jet is being tested at Eielson Air Force Base. The Fairbanks area is preparing for a population jump.
The first F-35A Lightning II fighter jet has landed at Eielson Air Force Base and will spend much of November going through testing to ensure it can operate on an icy runway in frigid Interior Alaska.
“They‘re going 150 miles per hour down the runway, hitting the patch of ice and making sure they can still keep it under control,” said 2nd Lt. Kitsana Dounglomchan, a public affairs officer on the base southeast of Fairbanks.
The F-35 arrived at Eielson last month. It‘s the to bring 54 of the new F-35 stealth fighters to Eielson. The F-35 is the military‘s most advanced jet yet, and also its most expensive.
Eielson‘s batch of the radar-evading planes will start arriving in April 2020. With them will come about 3,500 people, including airmen, contractors and family members, most of whom are expected to settle in nearby North Pole, said Kevin Blanchard, who directs the 354th Fighter Wing‘s F-35 Program Integration Office at Eielson.
Blanchard said he expects the first wave of new military personnel to arrive at the base between October 2018 and September 2019, followed by even larger groups in 2020 and 2021.
He said the F-35 program will increase the number of military personnel at Eielson by about 50 percent, a significant change for a base once on the brink of closure...
At Eielson, about $550 million will be spent on construction and renovation projects for the F-35 program, according to Blanchard. The projects include renovating airmen‘s dormitories and building a new child care center. There will also be a new building to house a flight simulator and a new maintenance hangar [emphasis added, Cold Lake and Bagotville?].
“We‘re in constant planning mode right now,” he said...
At Eielson over the next few weeks, the military will continue to test the F-35‘s ability to maneuver on an icy runway and taxiway, which does not yet include it taking flight, Dounglomchan said.
Eielson is also testing a drag chute, requested by Norway, that would help the F-35 land on a short runway with high crosswinds [emphasis added], said Lt. Col. Tucker Hamilton, commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
Dounglomchan said the F-35 will head back to the California base on Nov. 20.
In January, five F-35 fighters will arrive in Eielson for more robust testing, including flights.
In a startling statement reported this month, two recent Air Force chiefs assert Australia has made some grave force structure errors. It seems the RAAF needs a new bomber, as the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter now entering service is inadequate for future strike operations. The chiefs’ intervention raises questions about how this could have happened and, given growing international tensions, how such expensive strategic missteps can be avoided.
The first two F-35s finally arrived in Australia in late 2018, with the last nine planned for mid-2023. These nine are expected to be the Lot 15 Block 4 version, the fully developed standard broadly envisaged back in 2002. The rest, comprising six different interim-build standards, will then be progressively modernised to this definitive configuration.
The Lot 15 aircraft has significant hardware and software changes so the complete maintenance and support system, simulators and training centres will also need modernising. This will take time and additional money, but there is no choice. If not modernised, the earlier F-35s – almost all the RAAF’s brand-new fleet – will become hard to maintain or software update, and gradually operationally deficient.
Australia’s F-35s: Lessons from a problematic purchase
The rush nearly 20 years ago to buy the fighter of the future exposed fundamental shortcomings in defence acquisitions.
n a startling statement reported this month, two recent Air Force chiefs assert Australia has made some grave force structure errors. It seems the RAAF needs a new bomber, as the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter now entering service is inadequate for future strike operations. The chiefs’ intervention raises questions about how this could have happened and, given growing international tensions, how such expensive strategic missteps can be avoided...
Firstly, the F-35 acquisition decision was made independently of considering the overall force structure. Airbase defence illustrates this shortcoming. RAAF focused on acquiring F-35s, rather than on also building a capability to defend the airbases they might operate from. China’s long-range missile attack capabilities now mean that in time of crisis, the RAAF might be ill-advised to deploy F-35s to Southeast Asian airbases. In time, this vulnerability might also apply to Australia’s northern bases. Any “reset” needs to be made cognisant of all pertinent aspects, even if they are difficult ones.
Secondly, the chiefs consider that “we need to urgently review where we stand”. The F-35 decision was perceived by some as urgent, a perception less obvious in retrospect. There is apparently a review underway that will report on Air Force structures and composition early in 2020. This is a process that needs considerable thought and deliberation. Rushed decision-making today can produce poor results and long delays downstream. A repeat of the F-35 acquisition should be avoided. This review might be headed that way.
Thirdly, the chiefs blame the Air Force’s parlous state of affairs on changing strategic circumstances that no one could have foreseen. Force structures, though, are acquired for the longer term. The chief’s critique implies the current Defence White Paper process has serious fundamental shortcomings in terms of comprehending the possibility of strategic change.
Before undertaking an “urgent” review or rushing to buy a new jet, it is essential to address the methodology used when designing the future force. This all sounds pretty dry, but its absence can be seen in the chiefs’ conclusion that Air Force’s brand-new fighter is inadequate. This is potentially operationally disastrous, strategically unacceptable, and a waste of taxpayers’ money.
There are methodologies well-suited to thinking about future uncertainty. The Defence Minister’s very first review needs to determine which to use. Until then, all future reviews or White Papers will be of doubtful value. The chiefs’ have done the nation a service in highlighting the shortcomings in contemporary Australian strategic thinking – even if they were involved in making it so. Their critique needs acting on.
tomahawk6 said:Simple economics really, the more orders for the aircraft, the lower the cost. Whats cheaper ordering 10 or order 100 ?
MarkOttawa said:RAAF heads having second thoughts (some concerns,e.g., strike range, Chinese threat to bases, do not seem that relevant to RCAF):
RDBZ said:More like the RAAF and Aus gov assessing what long range strike capabilities are now needed given the changing strategic situation in the Asia-Pacific region. It will be interesting to see the outcomes: ALCMs, additional KC-30s, a long range strike role for the new submarine fleet. I suspect the RAAF are simply looking at acquiring a new capability, similar the acquisition of EA-18G previously.
Dimsum said:As the meme goes, why not both? It wouldn't be the first time that some folks became enamoured with one "all-singing-all-dancing" piece of kit then realize it wasn't working as well as it should.
How big production increases caused Lockheed Martin F-35 problems
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter’s mission capability rate was hurt due to difficulty Lockheed Martin and its suppliers had producing spare parts, an issue caused by a three-year push to dramatically increase production of the aircraft, a top US Air Force official says.
Over the past several years, production of the stealth fighter increased about 114%, from 66 aircraft produced as part of lot 9 in 2017 to 141 aircraft to be produced as part of lot 11 in 2019, according to Lockheed Martin and the US Department of Defense.
“The ramp that we've been through from production perspective — that affects not just Lockheed and how they process aircraft through their production line, but all of the lower-tier vendors as well that are now producing the parts at dramatically increasing rates,” says US Air Force Lieutenant General Eric Fick, the F-35 program executive officer, speaking at a press conference on 29 October. “And then they must also produce spares, even above those rates, right? And making that ramp, not just from a production perspective, but from a purchase of spares perspective, has been challenging.”
Parts shortages were to blame for the F-35 fleet missing the Pentagon’s 80% mission capability goal in September. The mission capability rate of the aircraft went from 55% in October 2018 to 73% in September 2019, according to Fick.
In particular, the F-35 programme was held back by problems with just a handful of parts.
“We are particularly having issues in three areas: one is canopies, two is engine fuel hydraulic tubes, and then wingtip lenses [emphasis added],” says Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment.
“The issue with the canopies has to do with the loss of the coating that's applied to the outside of the canopy,” says Fick. “And, we're working to mitigate that with the prime contractor, Lockheed and their subs GKN [Aerospace] and PPG [Industries].”
Suppliers should be helped by a coming slowing of production increases, says Fick.
“The comparatively minor quantity changes across Lots 12 through 14 should give it some breathing room as we move forward,” he says.
Talk of production issues comes as Lockheed Martin and the F-35 Joint Program Office agreed on 29 October to a $34 billion production contract for 478 examples of the F-35.
As part of that three-year deal, the price of all aircraft variants will fall an average of 12.7% from lot 11 to 14. The lowest-priced variant of the stealth fighter, the F-35A, is to be priced at $77.9 million by 2022 [emphasis added]...
Lockheed’s Stealthy F-35 Breaks Down Too Often, Pentagon Says
Weapon tester’s review comes after deal for 478 more F-35s
Warplane is the U.S. Defense Department’s costliest program
The Pentagon’s chief weapons tester said the next-generation F-35 jet continues to fall short of full combat readiness targets and, despite some progress on reliability issues, all three versions of the fighter are breaking down “more often than planned.”
None of the Air Force, Marines and Navy variants of the Lockheed Martin Corp. fighter are meeting their five key “reliability or maintainability metrics,” Robert Behler, the Pentagon’s director of operational testing, said [emphasis added] in prepared remarks Wednesday before two House Armed Services Committee panels.
The House subcommittees are reviewing the $428 billion program’s status and progress recovering from years of cost overruns and production delays.
“The operational suitability of the F-35 fleet remains at a level below service expectations,” Behler said in the prepared remarks. “In short, for all variants, aircraft are breaking down more often than planned and taking longer to fix.”
His statement is a reality check just weeks after the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin announced that they finalized the largest contract in the program’s history, a deal valued at $34 billion for 478 additional aircraft. About $27 billion of F-35s have already been placed on contract even though the program hasn’t completed all its combat testing and struggles with reliability.
The program continues in its most rigorous phase of combat testing, a stage that will stretch into next year. So far, 458 jets have been fielded out of about 3,500 planned purchases by U.S. and allies from Australia to Poland. Pentagon approval for full-rate production, delayed from December, looms for 2020 [emphasis added].
Even with that 2020 target approaching, analysis to date shows that neither the Marine Corps nor Navy F-35 models are currently “on track” to meet their reliability metrics even as they log more hours, according to the latest assessment.
Among the key lagging metrics cited by Behler are “mean flight hours between critical failure” -- a data point that refers to the time between failures that result in the loss of capability to perform a mission-critical task, or mean time between part removals for replacement from the supply chain.
Significantly, while the F-35 fleet demonstrated, over short periods, “high mission capability” rates reflecting the percentage of time jets are safe to fly and able to perform at least one specific mission, the jets “lagged” by “a large margin” the more complete measure of “Full Mission Capable” status, he wrote.
That indicates “low readiness” for combat missions “that require operationally capable aircraft,” Behler said.
‘Readiness Has Grown’
Nevertheless, Pentagon and Lockheed Martin officials repeatedly highlight the “mission capable” rates of operational units deployed overseas when discussing program progress. In her statement to the Congressional panels Wednesday, Pentagon Under Secretary for Acquisition Ellen Lord cited “improving overall F-35 sustainment outcomes and aircraft readiness despite dramatic fleet size increases.”
“As the fleet has grown, aircraft readiness has grown,” Lord said. All three U.S. military services have declared their respective aircraft as possessing an initial combat capability. Lord added that overall “mission capable” rates increased to 73% last month from 55% in October 2018.
Across the services, over the same time period, the Air Force increased its mission capable rate to 75% from 66%, Air Force Lieutenant General Eric Fick, the Pentagon’s F-35 program manager, said in his prepared statement. The Marine Corps rate rose to 68% from 44%, he added...
Lawmakers Cooling on F-35 Multi-Year Production Contracts
Lawmakers said Wednesday they’re unlikely to authorize the Pentagon to award a coveted multi-year contract to build F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters unless the program solves such problems as chronic shortages of spare parts that often wear out quicker than anticipated.
During the F-35 program’s planned 60-year lifecycle, acquisition costs are expected to be more than $406 billion and sustainment costs are estimated at more than $1 trillion, said Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) , chair of the House Armed Services readiness subcommittee. He was speaking during a joint hearing of his committee and the subcommittee on tactical air and land forces.
Two decades into F-35 development and production, prime contractors Lockheed Martin and engine maker Pratt and Whitney would like to sign multi-year production contracts.
However, the F-35 program is still plagued by what Garamendi called high operating costs, inadequate repair capacity, spare part shortages and poor replacement part reliabilities. Ongoing challenges running the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), which was created to deliver parts to aircraft maintainers, are compounding the spare parts problems [emphasis added].
Pentagon officials have detailed operating problems with ALIS for years, including during a March 2018 House Armed Services subcommittee hearing on tactical air and land. In the time since ALIS hasn’t improved much, Garamendi said. Only about half of the military’s F-35 fleet was available to fly on any day in 2017 and 2018, he said.
“I don’t see a multi-year contract going forward until the fundamental questions that have been asked thus far, and several that have not yet been put on the table have been resolved,” Garamendi said. “Heretofore, the contractors have had the long end of the leather. and the government has been on the short end of the leather, that’s going to change.”
Timely delivery of spare F-35 parts to maintainers is at the heart of high maintenance costs. ALIS was described by Pentagon officials as hard to use, especially at remote locations [emphasis added--RCAF?] and by Navy personnel on large deck amphibious warships.
The Pentagon is in the process of revamping the system’s underlying architecture, which is now pushing 20 years old, said Robert F. Behler, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation.
“ALIS is a key enabler for tactical and operational availability and sadly as presently constituted, ALIS is not delivering the capabilities the warfighter needs,” said Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment. “The department is progressing towards a future ALIS developed and sustained utilizing agile software development techniques designed to rapidly deliver flexible applications on a modern secure architecture.”
Lord also recently said the Pentagon is at least a year away from considering asking for approval to consider awarding F-35 multi-year contracts [emphasis added].
Lockheed Martin is spending roughly $50 million to improve ALIS and an additional $120 million to make other system architecture improvements, said Greg Ulmer, Lockheed Martin’s general manager of the F-35 program.
“The department is progressing towards a future ALIS developed and sustained utilizing agile software development techniques designed to rapidly deliver flexible applications on a modern secure architecture,” Lord said.