F-35A Completes 1st In-Flight Missile Launch

F-35A Completes 1st In-Flight Missile Launch

An F-35A conventional takeoff and landing aircraft completed the first in-flight missile launch of an AIM-120 over the Point Mugu Sea Test Range, June 5.

It was the first launch where the F-35 and AIM-120 demonstrated a successful launch-to-eject communications sequence and fired the rocket motor after launch — paving the way for targeted launches in support of the Block 2B fleet release capability later this year.

The Air Force F-35A variant has seen significant development in training and operations recently including the beginning of pilot training at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., the delivery of the first operational test aircraft to Edwards and Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., the first operational aerial refueling and the completion of high angle of attack testing.

“It’s a testament to the entire military-industry test team,” said Lt. Col. George “Boxer” Schwartz, F-35 Integrated Test Force director, who also piloted the flight. “They’ve worked thousands and thousands of hours to get to the point where we are today. It’s fantastic to see that it’s all paid off. We’re rolling into a lot of additional weapons work in the coming months to put that expanded capability on the aircraft.”

The F-35A 5th Generation fighter is designed to carry a payload of up to 18,000 pounds using 10 weapon stations. The F-35A features four internal weapon stations located in two weapon bays to maximize stealth capability. The CTOL aircraft can also utilize an additional three external weapon stations per wing if required.

The U.S. Air Force has established an F-35A initial operating capability target date of December 2016. By this date, the Air Force will have fielded an operational squadron with at least 12 aircraft along with Airmen trained and equipped to conduct basic close air support, interdiction and limited suppression, and destruction of enemy air defense operations in a contested environment.

Moving into the active phase of weapons test is another large step toward delivering Block 2B software capability that will enable initial combat deployment.

“We’ve spent years working on the design of the aircraft, and many months ensuring that weapons could be contained within the aircraft and dropped as designed,” said Charlie Wagner, F-35 weapons director. “This event is the result of tremendous effort and collaboration in the F-35 Enterprise, and marks a turning point in F-35 capabilities; the AIM-120 launch is one small but critical increment toward proving combat capability,”

The 5th generation F-35 Lightning II combines advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Three distinct variants of the F-35 will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for other countries.

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F-35A operating costs to exceed F-16, official says

Operating costs for the conventional take-off and landing version of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter are expected to be roughly 10% greater than those of the Lockheed F-16.

According to the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO), Lt Gen Christopher Bogdan, who leads the tri-service effort, provided some preliminary numbers to the Dutch parliament comparing costs per flying hour between the two aircraft on 18 April.

“In his statement, Bogdan indicated that the cost per flying hour of an F-35A is estimated to be $24,000 per hour; roughly 10% higher than F-16 cost per flying hour,” the JPO says. “This data was derived in co-operation with the US Air Force and the Department of Defense Cost Assessment & Program Evaluation Office. Comparable baseline assumptions were used to evaluate relative operational costs between F-35 and legacy aircraft.”

 

 

 Lockheed Martin

The final cost figures are due to be released in the Pentagon’s 2012 selected acquisitions report for the F-35, which is set to be published during May.

Earlier this year, USAF chief of staff Gen Mark Welsh told reporters that the JPO was attempting to reconcile two different sets of cost estimates: one from the USAF and another from Lockheed. The cost numbers diverged because of differing underlying assumptions from which each side based its estimates.

FY 14 budget: Sequester puts key Air Force objectives at risk

Upon release of the Air Force Fiscal Year 2014 budget here April 10, the services’ senior leaders said the shadow of sequestration in 2013 and on-going fiscal uncertainty will affect critical programs and objectives for years to come.

While Air Force officials have scrambled to minimize impacts on readiness and people, the bow-wave of reductions, deferments, and cancellations will challenge the strategic choices made in the FY14 budget submission, said Maj. Gen. Edward L. Bolton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget.

The Air Force FY 2014 Budget Request is strategy-based, fiscally informed, and sets a course toward full-spectrum readiness of the force to execute the Defense Strategic Guidance, he added.

Under the Budget Control Act, the Defense Department is required to reduce expenditures by $487 billion over the next 10 years with a reduction of $259 billion over the next five.

“Given today’s fiscally constrained environment, the Air Force must pursue the best combination of choices available to balance force reductions and manage war-fighting risks, resources and the bow-wave of impacts from FY 2013,” Bolton said. “Taking these actions allows us to keep faith with our 687,634 total force Airmen and continue to excel in our role to fly, fight, and win in air, space and cyberspace.”

The general said the FY 2014 Budget Request supports military end strength of 503,400. This includes active component end strength of 327,600, a decrease of 1,860; Reserve component end strength of 70,400, a decrease of 480; and Air National Guard end strength of 105,400, a decrease of 300 relative to the Air Force’s FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act-enacted levels.

“This budget reallocates manpower to our highest priorities and sustains, with less-than- desirable risk, our cornerstone programs across the broad Air Force portfolio of mission sets,” Bolton said.
According to Bolton, the FY14 operation and maintenance budget request supports 79 major installations: 72 active duty, two Air National Guard and five Air Force Reserve. The request also funds flying operations, space operations, cyber operations, intelligence, logistics, nuclear deterrence, search and rescue and special operations activities.

The procurement portfolio, officials said, delivers both immediate and future capabilities through investment across four specific appropriations: aircraft, missile, ammunition and other procurement.

A new multi-year C-130 procurement initiative leverages resources across services, funding six C-130J aircraft, one HC-130, four MC-130s and five AC-130s in FY14, Bolton said.
“Additionally, the Air Force procures twelve MQ-9, nineteen F-35A, and three CV-22B Osprey in addition to various upgrades and modifications to the existing fleet.”

The Air Force’s space and missile objectives include procuring a fixed price block buy of advanced extremely high frequency satellite vehicles and space-based infrared systems in addition to space situational awareness systems and global positioning systems.

“To ensure future viability of our nation’s nuclear deterrence operations, we’ve requested funding for long-range, penetrating bomber as well as Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile modernization projects,” Bolton said.

In addition to funding for the KC-46A cargo aircraft, resource allocations will foster system development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the next generation strike aircraft for the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and our allies, the general explained.

The Air Force military construction appropriation, Bolton said, funds construction projects supporting operational needs, infrastructure modernization, combatant commander priorities and quality-of-life initiatives for Airmen and joint personnel.

“The FY14 MILCON budget request restores funding to historic levels when compared to last year,” he said.

In FY14, the Air Force requests $1.3million for the active, Guard and Reserve MILCON programs, an $880 million increase from FY13.

“We do maintain the capability to support the strategy; we did accurately balance the active duty, Guard and Reserve,” Bolton said. “We do support Airmen and their families, but the capabilities are at risk as a result of the bow wave between ’13 and ’14. Bottom line … to completely reconstitute the Air Force is going to take some time.”

Boeing unveils updated F/A-XX sixth-gen fighter concept

By:   Dave Majumdar Washington DC
6 hours ago

Source:

Boeing

Boeing is unveiling an updated version of its F/A-XX sixth-generation fighter concept at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition in Washington DC this week.

The tail-less twin-engine stealth fighter design comes in “manned and unmanned options as possibilities per the US Navy,” Boeing says. The design features diverterless supersonic inlets reminiscent of those found on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The Boeing concept also features canards, which is somewhat of a surprise because the motion of those forward mounted control surfaces is generally assumed to compromise a stealth aircraft’s frontal radar cross-section. But the lack of vertical tail surfaces suggests the aircraft would be optimized for all-aspect broadband stealth, which would be needed for operations in the most challenging anti-access/area denial environments.

Also of note in the manned version of the company’s F/A-XX concept is the placement of the cockpit-rearward visibility appears to be restricted without the aid of a sensor apparatus similar to the F-35‘s distributed aperture system of six infrared cameras.

The Boeing F/A-XX concept is a response to a USN request for information (RFI) from April 2012 soliciting data for a replacement for the service’s Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler fleets in the 2030s. The Super Hornet fleet is expected to start reaching the end of the jet’s 9000h useful lifespan during that time period.

“The intent of this research is to solicit industry inputs on candidate solutions for CVN [nuclear-powered aircraft carrier] based aircraft to provide air supremacy with a multi-role strike capability in an anti-access/area denied (A2AD) operational environment,” the navy RFI stated. “Primary missions include, but are not limited to, air warfare (AW), strike warfare (STW), surface warfare (SUW), and close air support (CAS).”

Navy leaders had said at the time that they expect any new F/A-XX design to have greatly increased range and offer far superior kinematic performance compared to existing tactical aircraft.

F-35B completes first night short take-off and vertical landing

By:   Dave Majumdar Washington DC
Source:
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A Lockheed Martin F-35B Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) completed its first night short take-off and vertical landing during a test sortie at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, on 2 April.

According to Lockheed and the Pentagon’s F-35 joint programme office (JPO), US Marine Corps test pilot Maj CR Clift conducted the flight to gather data on the aircraft’s helmet and lighting conditions for night time operations. The F-35 JPO says that the flight was conducted using the aircraft’s original Vision Systems International helmet-mounted display equipped with the older Intevac ISIE-10 night vision camera rather than the updated ISIE-11 model.

“The completion of this test event demonstrates the F-35B is one step closer to delivering a critical capability to the US Marine Corps and F-35B partners in the United Kingdom and Italy,” says Lt Gen Chris Bogdan, the F-35 programme executive officer. “There is plenty of work to be done and progress to be made, but we’re on a solid path forward.”

The test was flown as part of ongoing efforts to prepare for the jet for the second of three scheduled sea-trials for the F-35. The first F-35 ship trials happened in October 2011, when two F-35Bs performed 72 vertical landings and take-offs aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp off the Virginia coast. The first two ship-borne test periods are for developmental testing while the third is for operational evaluations.

There is no definitive schedule yet for the second F-35B sea-trial onboard USS Wasp.

South Korea Requests F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft

By on Friday, April 5th, 2013

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The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress March 29 of a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Korea for 60 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL) aircraft and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $10.8 billion.

The Government of the Republic of Korea has requested a possible sale of (60) F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL) aircraft. Aircraft will be configured with the Pratt & Whitney F-135 engines, and (9) Pratt & Whitney F-135 engines are included as spares.

Other aircraft equipment includes: Electronic Warfare Systems; Command, Control, Communication, Computer and Intelligence / Communication, Navigational and Identification (C4I/CNI); Autonomic Logistics Global Support System (ALGS); Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS); Full Mission Trainer; Weapons Employment Capability, and other Subsystems, Features, and Capabilities; F-35 unique infrared flares; reprogramming center; F-35 Performance Based Logistics.

Also included [are]: software development/integration, aircraft ferry and tanker support, support equipment, tools and test equipment, communication equipment, spares and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documents, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics personnel services, and other related elements of logistics and program support.

The estimated cost is $10.8 billion.

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by meeting the legitimate security and defense needs of an ally and partner nation. The Republic of Korea continues to be an important force for peace, political stability, and economic progress in North East Asia.

The proposed sale of F-35s will provide the Republic of Korea (ROK) with a credible defense capability to deter aggression in the region and ensure interoperability with U.S. forces. The proposed sale will augment Korea’s operational aircraft inventory and enhance its air-to-air and air-to-ground self-defense capability. The ROK’s Air Force F-4 aircraft will be decommissioned as F-35s are added to the inventory. Korea will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft into its armed forces.

The proposed sale of this aircraft system and support will not negatively alter the basic military balance in the region.

The prime contractors will be Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company in Fort Worth, Texas; and Pratt & Whitney Military Engines in East Hartford, Connecticut. This proposal is being offered in the context of a competition. If the proposal is accepted, it is expected that offset agreements will be required.

Implementation of this proposed sale will require multiple trips to Korea involving U.S. Government and contractor representatives for technical reviews/support, program management, and training over a period of 15 years. U.S. contractor representatives will be required in Korea to conduct Contractor Engineering Technical Services (CETS) and Autonomic Logistics and Global Support (ALGS) for after-aircraft delivery.
Read more: http://www.defencetalk.com/south-korea-requests-f-35-joint-strike-fighter-aircraft-47352/#ixzz2PalQVhJU