News

11th
JAN

Boeing KC-46

Boeing KC-46 user+1@localho Tue, 01/11/2022 - 22:17

The Boeing KC-46A Pegasus is a U.S. air-refueling tanker based on the commercial Boeing 767 airliner. The aircraft will replace the KC-10 and partially replace the KC-135 in U.S. service. A total of 179 aircraft are on order for a total program cost of at least $44 billion with $34.9 billion in procurement and $6 billion in research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) funds. As of the time of this writing, the KC-46 has two foreign military sales (FMS) customers: Japan and Israel. As of the time of this writing, 52 KC-46As have been delivered to the U.S. Air Force and a single example has been delivered to Japan.

Program History

The KC-46 s genesis began from a 2001 U.S. Air Force (USAF) effort to lease 100 tankers to replace the service s oldest KC-135s. Northrop Grumman partnered with EADS (Airbus) to offer the KC-30 based upon the A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) while Boeing offered a modified KC-767. The USAF awarded Boeing a $20 billion contract in 2003 but the program was suspended in December over allegations of misconduct on behalf of a senior USAF official charged with overseeing the program. The contract was ultimately canceled in 2005 and the USAF proceeded to completely restructure its tanker recapitalization strategy.

The Air Force published a tanker roadmap in 2006 that called for a three-step replacement for a then-combined fleet of over 500 Boeing KC-135 and KC-10 tankers. A KC-X contract award for the first 179 aircraft would be succeeded by a follow-on KC-Y contract 15-20 years later. Finally, a KC-Z, representing a purpose-built refueling system, would come last. In April 2006, the USAF completed an analysis of alternatives validating the plan. The initial request for proposals was released in January 2007.

Northrop Grumman paired with EADS to again offer an MRTT derivative (KC-45) while Boeing again offered a KC-767 derivative (KC-46). Airbus planned to open an MRTT modification and assembly line in Alabama as part of its proposal. The USAF selected Northrop s KC-45 in February 2008 but Boeing protested the award to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that March. The GAO sustained Boeing s protest in June 2008 stating, The Air Force, in making the award decision, did not assess the relative merits of the proposals in accordance with the evaluation criteria identified in the solicitation, which provided for a relative order of importance for the various technical requirements .

10th
JAN

Chengdu J-20

Chengdu J-20 user+1@localho Mon, 01/10/2022 - 21:17

The J-20 is a fifth-generation, twin-engine fighter designed by Chengdu. Early production aircraft are powered by Russian supplied AL-31FN Series 3 engines. Subsequent production configuration J-20As are powered by the AL-31 or derivatives of the WS-10 depending upon the production batch. Future aircraft may be powered by the WS-15. Much of the existing Western literature describes the aircraft as a low observable (LO) interceptor, but domestic sources universally describe the aircraft as China s premier air superiority fighter. As of early 2022, approximately 60-70 J-20s are likely in operation with the PLAAF or are undergoing testing with Chengdu.

Program Development History

The J-20 s development history spans more than three decades. The People s Republic of China (PRC) is believed to have developed an interest in low observables in the 1980s. In 1992, Yu-Ping Liu Chief Scientist at Northrop Grumman and co-holder of the YF-23 patent, stated China lacked LO engineers working in system design and system integration. Furthermore, much of the domestic literature drew upon Western efforts and produced few innovations. At that time, the PRC lacked basic experience in LO as well as the required infrastructure such as radar target scattering facilities. The Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group or CAC ( , abbreviated as ) at that time had experience with the J-5, J-7, J-9 and J-10 programs. The Chengdu Aircraft Design and Research Institute (CADI) Number 611 Design Institute or serves as the primary design group under CAC. Their rival, the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation s (SAC) Design Institute ( ) or 601 Institute, drew experience from Chinese Flanker programs such as the J-11. During the early 2000s, images of unknown credibility emerged regarding CAC and SAC concepts for Project 718.

Image

Image: CAC s J-XX proposal as of the China Aerospace Science and Technology from 2000.

The first credible look at a CAC s J-XX conceptual framework emerged in 2001. Song Wencong ( ), chief designer of the Chengdu J-10, published an academic paper titled, Research on Aerodynamic Layout of a High Lift Aircraft with Small Aspect Ratio ( ). The work describes a prospective fighter configuration featuring a blended lifting body with a canard-delta planform separated by a pair of leading-edge root extensions (LEX). The design featured pair of caret inlets similar to the F-22 and F/A-18E/F. Song Wencong notes the incorporation of S-shaped intakes, fuselage shaping, and an internal weapons bay would provide excellent signature performance. An image from the China Aerospace Science and Technology expo in 2000 shows a Chengdu model closely matching these aforementioned features. SAC s design effort reportedly was led by Li Tian ( ) whose team developed the Snowy Owl concept.

SAC s proposal features a tri-plane planform consisting of canards, trapezoidal wings and a four-tail layout. The planform reportedly was optimized to exceed the PLAAF s high AoA requirement.

Some have alleged both Chengdu and SAC sought Russian assistance in the early phases of the J-XX program such as supplying technical details on the canceled MiG 1.44 demonstrator. Renowned Russian aerospace authority, Piotr Butowski, argues cooperation at an official level was highly unlikely. For example, Russian specialists arriving in China to work on Su-27s and Su-30s are denied access to domestic Chinese Flankers let alone more sensitive projects. Butowski believes that any technical assistance on behalf of the Russians would have been on an individual and unsanctioned basis.

It s unknown when Chengdu won source selection, but the company appointed Yang Wei ( ) to lead development of the project. Yang Wei worked under Song Wencong on the J-10 program and developed its flight control system. He had graduated with a master s in-flight dynamics from Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU, ). Separately, work on the accompanying WS-15 powerplant began sometime prior to 2005 when the first bench test was conducted. Development work on the J-20 had progressed significantly by November 2009. The People s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) Deputy Commander Gen. He Weirong ( ) stated China was close to testing its next generation fighter prototype.

On Jan.11, 2011, the first J-20 technology demonstrator took flight for 18 min. Test pilot Li Gang ( ) had been preparing for the flight for more

5th
JAN

Chengdu J-20

Chengdu J-20 user+1@localho Wed, 01/05/2022 - 21:17

The J-20 is a fifth-generation, twin-engine fighter designed by Chengdu. Early production aircraft are powered by Russian supplied AL-31FN Series 3 engines. Subsequent production configuration J-20As are powered by the AL-31 or derivatives of the WS-10 depending upon the production batch. Future aircraft may be powered by the WS-15. Much of the existing Western literature describes the aircraft as a low observable (LO) interceptor, but domestic sources universally describe the aircraft as China s premier air superiority fighter. As of early 2022, approximately 60-70 J-20s are likely in operation with the PLAAF or are undergoing testing with Chengdu.

Program Development History

The J-20 s development history spans more than three decades. The People s Republic of China (PRC) is believed to have developed an interest in low observables in the 1980s. In 1992, Yu-Ping Liu Chief Scientist at Northrop Grumman and co-holder of the YF-23 patent, stated China lacked LO engineers working in system design and system integration. Furthermore, much of the domestic literature drew upon Western efforts and produced few innovations. At that time, the PRC lacked basic experience in LO as well as the required infrastructure such as radar target scattering facilities. The Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group or CAC ( , abbreviated as ) at that time had experience with the J-5, J-7, J-9 and J-10 programs. The Chengdu Aircraft Design and Research Institute (CADI) Number 611 Design Institute or serves as the primary design group under CAC. Their rival, the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation s (SAC) Design Institute ( ) or 601 Institute, drew experience from Chinese Flanker programs such as the J-11. During the early 2000s, images of unknown credibility emerged regarding CAC and SAC concepts for Project 718.

Image

Image: CAC s J-XX proposal as of the China Aerospace Science and Technology from 2000.

The first credible look at a CAC s J-XX conceptual framework emerged in 2001. Song Wencong ( ), chief designer of the Chengdu J-10, published an academic paper titled, Research on Aerodynamic Layout of a High Lift Aircraft with Small Aspect Ratio ( ). The work describes a prospective fighter configuration featuring a blended lifting body with a canard-delta planform separated by a pair of leading-edge root extensions (LEX). The design featured pair of caret inlets similar to the F-22 and F/A-18E/F. Song Wencong notes the incorporation of S-shaped intakes, fuselage shaping, and an internal weapons bay would provide excellent signature performance. An image from the China Aerospace Science and Technology expo in 2000 shows a Chengdu model closely matching these aforementioned features. SAC s design effort reportedly was led by Li Tian ( ) whose team developed the Snowy Owl concept.

SAC s proposal features a tri-plane planform consisting of canards, trapezoidal wings and a four-tail layout. The planform reportedly was optimized to exceed the PLAAF s high AoA requirement.

Some have alleged both Chengdu and SAC sought Russian assistance in the early phases of the J-XX program such as supplying technical details on the canceled MiG 1.44 demonstrator. Renowned Russian aerospace authority, Piotr Butowski, argues cooperation at an official level was highly unlikely. For example, Russian specialists arriving in China to work on Su-27s and Su-30s are denied access to domestic Chinese Flankers let alone more sensitive projects. Butowski believes that any technical assistance on behalf of the Russians would have been on an individual and unsanctioned basis.

It s unknown when Chengdu won source selection, but the company appointed Yang Wei ( ) to lead development of the project. Yang Wei worked under Song Wencong on the J-10 program and developed its flight control system. He had graduated with a master s in-flight dynamics from Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU, ). Separately, work on the accompanying WS-15 powerplant began sometime prior to 2005 when the first bench test was conducted. Development work on the J-20 had progressed significantly by November 2009. The People s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) Deputy Commander Gen. He Weirong ( ) stated China was close to testing its next generation fighter prototype.

On Jan.11, 2011, the first J-20 technology demonstrator took flight for 18 min. Test pilot Li Gang ( ) had been preparing for the flight for more

4th
JAN

Chengdu J-20

Chengdu J-20 user+1@localho Tue, 01/04/2022 - 21:17

The J-20 is a fifth-generation, twin-engine fighter designed by Chengdu. Early production aircraft are powered by Russian supplied AL-31FN Series 3 engines. Subsequent production configuration J-20As are powered by the AL-31 or derivatives of the WS-10 depending upon the production batch. Future aircraft may be powered by the WS-15. Much of the existing Western literature describes the aircraft as a low observable (LO) interceptor, but domestic sources universally describe the aircraft as China s premier air superiority fighter. As of early 2022, approximately 60-70 J-20s are likely in operation with the PLAAF or are undergoing testing with Chengdu.

Program Development History

The J-20 s development history spans more than three decades. The People s Republic of China (PRC) is believed to have developed an interest in low observables in the 1980s. In 1992, Yu-Ping Liu Chief Scientist at Northrop Grumman and co-holder of the YF-23 patent, stated China lacked LO engineers working in system design and system integration. Furthermore, much of the domestic literature drew upon Western efforts and produced few innovations. At that time, the PRC lacked basic experience in LO as well as the required infrastructure such as radar target scattering facilities. The Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group or CAC ( , abbreviated as ) at that time had experience with the J-5, J-7, J-9 and J-10 programs. The Chengdu Aircraft Design and Research Institute (CADI) Number 611 Design Institute or serves as the primary design group under CAC. Their rival, the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation s (SAC) Design Institute ( ) or 601 Institute, drew experience from Chinese Flanker programs such as the J-11. During the early 2000s, images of unknown credibility emerged regarding CAC and SAC concepts for Project 718.

Image

Image: CAC s J-XX proposal as of the China Aerospace Science and Technology from 2000.

The first credible look at a CAC s J-XX conceptual framework emerged in 2001. Song Wencong ( ), chief designer of the Chengdu J-10, published an academic paper titled, Research on Aerodynamic Layout of a High Lift Aircraft with Small Aspect Ratio ( ). The work describes a prospective fighter configuration featuring a blended lifting body with a canard-delta planform separated by a pair of leading-edge root extensions (LEX). The design featured pair of caret inlets similar to the F-22 and F/A-18E/F. Song Wencong notes the incorporation of S-shaped intakes, fuselage shaping, and an internal weapons bay would provide excellent signature performance. An image from the China Aerospace Science and Technology expo in 2000 shows a Chengdu model closely matching these aforementioned features. SAC s design effort reportedly was led by Li Tian ( ) whose team developed the Snowy Owl concept.

SAC s proposal features a tri-plane planform consisting of canards, trapezoidal wings and a four-tail layout. The planform reportedly was optimized to exceed the PLAAF s high AoA requirement.

Some have alleged both Chengdu and SAC sought Russian assistance in the early phases of the J-XX program such as supplying technical details on the canceled MiG 1.44 demonstrator. Renowned Russian aerospace authority, Piotr Butowski, argues cooperation at an official level was highly unlikely. For example, Russian specialists arriving in China to work on Su-27s and Su-30s are denied access to domestic Chinese Flankers let alone more sensitive projects. Butowski believes that any technical assistance on behalf of the Russians would have been on an individual and unsanctioned basis.

It s unknown when Chengdu won source selection, but the company appointed Yang Wei ( ) to lead development of the project. Yang Wei worked under Song Wencong on the J-10 program and developed its flight control system. He had graduated with a master s in-flight dynamics from Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU, ). Separately, work on the accompanying WS-15 powerplant began sometime prior to 2005 when the first bench test was conducted. Development work on the J-20 had progressed significantly by November 2009. The People s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) Deputy Commander Gen. He Weirong ( ) stated China was close to testing its next generation fighter prototype.

On Jan.11, 2011, the first J-20 technology demonstrator took flight for 18 min. Test pilot Li Gang ( ) had been preparing for the flight for more

20th
DEC

Airbus Tiger (EC665)

Airbus Tiger (EC665) user+1@localho Mon, 12/20/2021 - 21:17

The Tiger (formerly EC665) is an attack helicopter built by Airbus and is powered by a pair of Turbomeca Rolls-Royce MTR390 engines. Each nation uses the Tiger in slightly different roles such as force protection and armed reconnaissance, which has led to multiple divergent aircraft configurations across France, Germany, Spain and Australia. As of the time of this writing, 161 Tigers are in operational service of the more than 180 helicopters delivered.

Program History

In 1974 the Bundeswehr (German Military) conducted a threat analysis of projected threats from Warsaw Pact forces and concluded its military urgently needed to field a fleet of modern anti-tank helicopters. Early West German Army staff requirements determined it would need a 5-ton-class helicopter with a 2 -hr. endurance, cruise speed of 168 mph (270 kph), night vision capability and an armament of at least eight 2 -mi. (4 km)-range anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). West German doctrine assumed NATO forces would establish air superiority, but the new helicopter was expected to defend itself from adversary helicopters. An interim purchase of Panzerabwehrhubschrauber 1 (PAH-1, meaning anti-tank helicopter 1) helicopters, was approved in 1975 to buy time for the development of a dedicated anti-armor helicopter; the PAH-1 was a Messerschmitt-B lkow-Blohm (MBB) BO 105s armed with six HOT Semi-automatic command to line of sight (SACLOS) missiles. Germany examined the acquisition of the McDonnell Douglas AH-64 Apache and joined the Italian Mangusta program prior to its partnership with France.

Having withdrawn from NATO s integrated military command in 1966, French military requirements for new combat helicopters in the early 1970s reflected substantially different military doctrine and national defense objectives when compared to West German requirements. Under a European intervention scenario, French Army staff predicted they would face overwhelming numbers of armored forces supported by integrated air defense systems. France foresaw the need to procure two new types of combat helicopters. One type would defeat armored forces and the other would protect the anti-armor helicopter from aerial threats.

In November 1975, German and French defense ministers discussed the need for both nations to acquire modern anti-tank helicopters capable of operating at night. Political disagreements and divergent requirements delayed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) until May 1984. The MoU outlined the development of three helicopters which would all share the same airframe and engines. Germany would acquire 212 Panzerabwehrhubschrauber 2 (PAH-2) helicopters by 1996. France would acquire 140 H licopt re Antichars avec Missile Antichars de 3e G n ration (Anti-tank helicopter with third generation ATGMs, HAC-3, which was eventually shorted to HAC) and 75 H licopt re d'Appui Protection support and protection helicopter by 2000.

The program was nearly canceled in 1986 after rising costs and disagreements over the new helicopter s targeting and night vision system. Key stakeholders within the Bundeswehr s leadership favored the purchase of AH-64 Apaches. Even before the deterioration in negotiations, Germany had sought to integrate the Apache s Martin-Marietta target acquisition and night vision system (TADS/PNVS) into the Franco-German helicopter. France refused to incorporate U.S. components and was eventually able to convince Germany to adopt a European TADS/PNVS equivalent. Renewed negotiations produced an amended MoU in November 1987 which culminated in the adoption of the name Tiger/Tigre for the joint project as well as a developmental contract in November 1989. French and German industry drew closer to facilitate the realization of the program. The helicopter divisions of Aerospatiale and Messerschmitt-B lkow-Blohm (MBB) continued to work on the program until they merged in 1992 to form Eurocopter.

In December 1992, the Defense Ministry rescoped the requirements of the PAH-2 variant. The resulting Unterst tzungshubschrauber Tiger (UHT), which translates to Support Helicopter Tiger, was developed as a multirole platform rather than an attack helicopter solely focused on the destruction of enemy armor. Additional missions include combat support, escort, reconnaissance and anti-aircraft roles.

A total of seven Tiger prototypes were built, including two static test articles (PT6 and PT7). On April 27, 1991, the first Tiger prototype (PT1) took flight. PT2 followed in April 1992 and featured the HAP avionics systems by 1996. PT3 flew in November of 1993 and tested UHT mission systems. PT4 was built to the HAP configuration and conducted live fire tests including eight Mistral missiles, 50 rockets and 3,000 rounds of 30mm cannon ammunition. PT5 was the last flying prototype and was equipped with the full UHT avionics package. PS1 was built as a preproduction example to test manufacturing processes. Serial production began with the German UHT S01, which flew in August 2002 and HAP S01 for the French, which flew in March 2003.

Features

Airframe

Divergent French and German requirements ensured multiple variants of the Tiger would be produced, but all variants share the same airframe with most of the differences stemming from mission systems. The base airframe is characterized by its survivability and agility.

The Tiger airframe takes a holistic approach to survivability incorporating signature reduction, durable airframe and an extensive countermeasures suite. The Tiger s design minimizes its IR signature by mounting the engines within the fuselage. An exhaust gas dilution system further reduces emitted heat and drives exhaust up to the rotor. Radio-frequency (RF) reduction is achieved through multiple techniques. The Tiger is comparatively small relative to its contemporaries such as the AH-64 Apache. Basic shaping techniques and extensive use of composite materials further reduce the Tiger s RF signature. Seventy-seven percent of the Tiger s airframe weight is comprised of composite materials such as Kevlar (carbon aramid) frames and beams as well as Nomex honeycomb with carbon and Kevlar face laminates. The extensive use of composite materials reduced the Tiger s airframe weight by 30%. An additional 11% of the aircraft s weight is aluminum and 6% is titanium.

The airframe is built to protect the crew from vertical crashes at speeds of up to 10 m per sec. (m/s) or 23 mph. The floor of the cockpit and landing gear are built to absorb energy from a crash. The landing gear can accommodate a 6-m/sec. (13.4-mph) descent without sustaining damage. Hot-pressed boron carbide ceramic armor inserts are mounted in the seats to protect the crew against ballistic threats. The airframe s armor is resistant to 23mm cannon fire. The Tiger features self-sealing fuel tanks to further improve its ballistic protection. Lastly, the Tiger s electronics feature electromagnetic interference (EMI) protection against both lightning strikes and electromagnetic pulses.

Agility and maneuverability were also key requirements that shaped the Tiger s design. Both qualities are essential to facilitate nap-of-the-Earth (NOE) operations e.g. object avoidance at low altitude and to improve survivability. The Tiger has a maximum speed of 175 kt. (201 mph), can pivot 40 deg. in 1 sec. and can perform a complete barrel roll in less than 5 sec.

Avionics

The Tiger has three main avionics subsystems which vary depending upon the variant: electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor, helmet-mounted display and countermeasures suite.

20th
DEC

Lockheed Martin F-35 (JSF)

Lockheed Martin F-35 (JSF) user+1@localho Mon, 12/20/2021 - 21:17

The F-35 Lightning II / Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is a U.S. fifth-generation, single engine, multirole fighter developed in partnership with eight nations and produced by Lockheed Martin. It is designed in three variants and is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan engine. Each variant features a different derivative of the F135 engine. As of December 2021, more than 730 F-35s have been delivered to the U.S., international JSF partners and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. Production is expected to continue into the 2040s.

Features

Low Observable Technology

All variants of the F-35 use a variety of techniques to reduce their radar cross section (RCS). Some of these techniques were used on previous low observable aircraft while others have been improved or are completely new. As with the F-22, the F-35 uses planform alignment to orient flight surfaces, fuselage facets and gaps to concentrate radar reflections into a minimum number of angles. The canopy is metalized to reduce scattering from the cockpit. Doors and access panels have sawtooth edges. Internal weapons bays allow the aircraft to carry air-to-air weapons and a small number of ground-attack weapons while keeping the ordnance shielded from radar.

The engine exhaust is also designed with low-observability to radar in mind. The nozzle consists of vanes with rear-facing facets that abut into a circular, sawtooth pattern. The outer surfaces of the vanes appear to be covered with RAM. In addition, towards the front of the nozzle, the vanes are covered by skin panels with sawtooth patterns that also adjoin with each other in a sawtooth fashion. These panels are likely radar-absorbent structures whose purpose is to reduce scattering in the gap between the vanes and fuselage around the nozzle.

Low observable technologies significantly matured between the development of the F-22 and the subsequent F-35 as shown by the F-35 s use of Diverterless Supersonic Inlets (DSIs) and improved Radar-Absorbent Material (RAM) coatings. Lockheed Martin began internal research and development on low observable Mach 2 inlets in the early 1990s which informed the X-35 s development. In the Spring of 1997, Lockheed Martin had two competing X-35 design proposals. One featured Caret inlets (used in the F-22 and F/A-18E/F) and the other used DSIs. Lockheed had demonstrated the feasibility of DSIs through flight testing of a modified F-16 in December 1997. Inlet designs of modern fighter aircraft must provide flow compression and boundary layer control such that the engine is fed high pressure, low distortion airflow across multiple flight regimes. The F-22 s 2-D Caret inlets use a boundary layer diverter and bleed system feeding into serpentine ducts to regulate airflow at the cost of manufacturing complexity and weight. Lockheed Martin studies showed incorporating DSIs would lower weight, be easier to manufacture and lower the X-35 s RCS. The F-35 s DSIs have a 3-D bump and forward swept cowl which feed into a bifurcated, serpentine duct eliminating the need for a boundary layer diverter and bleed system.

The F-35 s RAM represents a significant improvement in signature reduction and maintenance needs when compared to the F-22 and B-2. Gaps between parts on the skin of the aircraft generate radar returns, the F-22 and B-2 solve this problem by applying a thick topcoat of RAM on top of the gaps. Lockheed Martin reduced the number of parts on the F-35 s skin and used improved manufacturing technologies (such as precision laser alignment of parts during assembly) to eliminate gaps. Lockheed Martin claims that parts fit so precisely that 99% of maintenance requires no restoration of low-observable surfaces . This new approach reduces the amount of RAM required, greatly lessens the airframe's need for line maintenance (by as much as two orders of magnitude compared to the F-22) and also makes the F-35's low observability features more resilient by mitigating the risk of skin abrasions. The F-35 still receives a RAM topcoat that is applied in thicker layers at high scattering areas, such as the engine inlets. The coating also reduces skin friction and drag, thereby saving fuel and likely reducing the aircraft's IR signature. Beneath the RAM-embedded material is a conductive layer that further reduces RCS by modifying the radio waves before they bounce back out through the RAM.

Avionics


APG-81 Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar
The F-35's radar, the Northrop Grumman APG-81, evolved from the APG-77 featured on the F-22A. Compared to conventional, mechanically-scanned radars, the APG-81's active electronically scanned array (AESA) delivers greater range, 1,000-times faster scanning and the ability to engage many more targets simultaneously. The APG-81 features at least 1,200 transmit receiver modules. Detection range varies with the square root of antenna size and fourth root of transmitted power. However, the APG-81 features better transmit/receive modules and improved processing than the APG-77. In 2000, a senior U.S. Air Force official predicted the JSF radar would have 75% of the detection range of the F-22 s. APG-81 capabilities include: Ground Moving Target Indication (GMTI), Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), high gain Electronic Support Measure (ESM) and Electronic Attack (EA), cruise missile detection and tracking and air-to-air multitarget detection and tracking. The APG-81 can simultaneously operate in air-to-air and air-to-surface modes. A maritime targeting mode will be installed later and is expected to include an inverse SAR mode.

AAQ-37 Distributed Aperture System
In addition to the radar, the JSF bears a unique Distributed Aperture System (DAS) that provides unmatched levels of visual situational awareness. Six mid-wave IR cameras, each weighing 16-17 lb., are situated around the aircraft to enable the DAS to see in all directions: one camera is mounted on each side of the chine line beneath the canopy, one camera is mounted in front of the canopy, one camera is mounted on the dorsal (in front of the boom refueling receptacle for the F-35A) and two cameras are mounted on the underside of the fuselage. Each camera provides a 95 field of regard, combining to form 570 overlapping coverage. The DAS informs the pilot of threats such as surface-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft artillery and other aircraft. When a threat is detected, the system boxes it in the visor projection or draws the pilot s attention to it with alert signals and lines.

Generation III Helmet Mounted Display System
The F-35 does not have a Head-up Display (HUD) like most modern fighter aircraft. Relevant flight reference, navigation and weapons employment functions which are typically displayed on a HUD are instead shown on the F-35 s Generation III (Gen III) Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS). The HMDS supports off boresight AIM-9X shots. The pilot looks at a target through the HMDS and locks onto it. The AIM-9X can maneuver up to 90 from the aircraft s centerline to pursue the target.

The Gen III helmet projects the feed from the DAS onto the pilot's visor, showing the image from the DAS during the day or night in whichever direction the pilot's head is turned, including down and backwards, essentially letting the pilot see through the aircraft. The Gen III helmet also bears an ISIE-11 digital night vision camera which projects its two megapixels of data at 60 hertz onto the HMDS.

AAQ-40 Electro-Optical Targeting System

The Lockheed Martin AAQ-40 Electro-Optical Tracking System (EOTS) is a mid-wave infrared sensor which provides F-35 pilots with long-range IRST, air-to-air targeting forward-looking infrared (TFLIR), high resolution forward-looking infrared (FLIR), laser designation and laser spot tracking capabilities. EOTS provides additional passive detection capability along with the ASQ-239 electronic warfare suite. The APG-81 can cue the AAQ-40 to locate and track airborne targets. The system is housed in a low observable aperture in the lower forward fuselage. Space, power and cooling constraints presented major challenges to the development of EOTS the system occupies approximately four cubic feet and weighs 202 lbs. The EOTS is mounted right below the radio frequency support electronics of the APG-81 and is cooled with polyalphaolefin (PAO) liquid coolant in a similar manner as the APG-81.

ASQ-239 Electronic Warfare Suite
The BAE ASQ-239 Electronic Warfare/Countermeasure System (EW/CM) integrates RF and IR spectrum self-protection and ESM functions. The ASQ-239 supports: emitter geolocation, high gain EW through the APG-81, multi-ship emitter location, radar warning and self-protection countermeasures and jamming. Lockheed Martin claims the F-35 s EW systems are capable of transmitting ten times the radiated power of legacy fourth generation aircraft, enabling the F-35 to provide stand-off jamming capabilities. Pre-Block 4 aircraft have six multi-element antenna array sets covering the Band 3 and Band 4 frequency spectrum (S band for IEEE designation). Two antenna apertures are installed on the leading edge of each wing and one antenna aperture is installed next to the aft wing tip of each wing. The antenna placement for the F-35C is slightly altered to account for the F-35C s longer-folding wing. Band 2 and 5 antennas will be installed as part of the Block 4 modernization program.

ASQ-242 Communications, Navigation and Identification System
The Northrop Grumman ASQ-242 Communications, Navigation and Identification System is an integrated avionics system which combines the following functions: identification, friend-or-foe (IFF), secure, jam-resistant and low probability of intercept communications and navigation and landing aids. The F-35 has two primary methods of communication, voice radio and data links. Radios include SINCGARS, HAVEQUICK, GUARD and VMF 220D.

The F-35 s primary data link is the Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL) which provides low probability of intercept communications between F-35s. Each F-35 within a four-ship formation can share data that one aircraft collects within the whole formation. In 2009, Chief of the USAF s Electronic System Center Airborne Networking Division Michael Therrian, explained MADL is a Ku-band data link which transmits a narrow beam between aircraft using a daisy chain system. The first aircraft sends the narrow beam signal to the second aircraft which in turn sends the signal throughout the rest of the formation. MADL trades bandwidth for low observability. Conventional data links like Link 16 have higher bandwidth capacity but broadcast signals which can be located by adversary electronic support measures. The F-35 can communicate with legacy platforms such as the F-15 and F-16 using Link 16 but its use will be subject to the threat environment and techniques, tactics and procedures which will be developed by the services to mitigate the limitations of Link 16.

Weapon Systems

While equipped with six external hard points (not including the centerline gun pod mount for the F-35B and F-35C), the F-35 must carry its weapons internally in two weapon bays to maintain its low observability. For strike missions, the JSF can internally accommodate two Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) -2,000-lb. GBU-31s for the F-35A and C, 1,000-lb. GBU-32s for the F-35B - along with two AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs). The bay can also house the GBU-38 500-lb. JDAM, GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb I (SDB), GBU-12 500-lb. laser-guided bomb (LGBs) and AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW), as well as the U.K.'s AIM-132 Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (ASRAAM) and Brimstone air-to-surface missile. In the air-to-air role, the F-35 can currently accommodate four AIM-120s internally. The U.S. its close allies Australia and the UK use the more advanced AIM-120D with a maximum range of 100 nautical miles. Other operators use the AIM-120C-7 and C-8 (obsolescence modification of the C-7). A pair of AIM-9X Block IIs can be carried on LO pylons. U.S. Navy budget documents suggest the latest variant of the Sidewinder features RAM to reduce its RCS, though its sill expected to degrade the F-35's LO performance.

The F-35A carries a GAU-22/A four-barrel, 25mm cannon internally; the B and C variants have no internal cannon but can carry a reduced RCS missionized gun pod externally. Four 25mm rounds are being developed for the F-35: the ATK PGU-23 training round, Nammo s PGU-47/U armored-piercing explosive (APEX) round for all F-35 variants, Rheinmetall's PGU-48A/B Frangible Armored Piercing round for the F-35A and the General Dynamics/ATK PGU-32 semi-armored piercing high explosive incendiary (SAPHEI-T) round for the F-35B and C. The PGU-48/U and PGU-32 rounds are specialized to defeat targets particular to the respective service. Over 3,400 rounds of PGU-23, PGU-47 and PGU-48 rounds were fired from F-35As against both ground and aerial targets. The DoD Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) reported that it found the accuracy of the gun, as installed on the F-35A, to be unacceptable . Possible remedial actions include re-boresighting and correcting gun alignments. A total of 2,685 PGU-23 and PGU-32 rounds were fired from the missionized gun pod during tests. The DOT&E reports the gun pod meets air-to-ground contract specifications and do not share the accuracy errors of the F-35A.

In March 2018, the USAF awarded Rheinmetall Switzerland a $6.5 million contract for 40,000 rounds of PGU-48A/B rounds. In October 2018, Orbital ATK was awarded a $1.5 billion contract to deliver 332,993 rounds ammunition across multiple types including the PGU-32.

Blocks

To support the concurrent development and early production efforts, the F-35 is being fielded in Blocks. Some blocks incorporate hardware as well as software changes. Blocks 0, 0.1, 0.5, 1A, 1B and 2A supported testing and limited training capability for early LRIP and System Development and Demonstration aircraft. Block 2B began flight testing in February 2014 and provides initial combat capabilities to the F-35 including expanded MADL capability, multi-ship sensor fusion and the carriage of two AIM-120C-7 AMRAAMs and two PGMs (either the GBU-32 JDAM or GBU-12). The USMC declared IOC on the Block 2B software in July 2015 which comprises 87% of the final code and will deliver the initial warfighting capabilities.

The Block 3i configuration forms the stepping stone for full Block 3F warfighting capability. Block 3i rehosts Block 2B software with substantial hardware changes. Block 3i includes new radar, EW and Integrated Core Processor (ICP) modules. The configuration also adds the third generation HMD which corrects the Gen II helmet s poor night vision acuity. The USAF declared IOC with the Block 3i configuration.

Block 3F configuration represents the full warfighting capability configuration for the F-35 including:

  • Full Flight Envelope: 9g maneuvering and top speed of Mach 1.6
  • Full Weapon Capability of: GBU-31 1,000 lbs. JDAM, GBU-32 2,000 lbs. JDAM, GBU-39 SDB I, Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW) C1, AIM-120D, AIM-9X and GAU-22 cannon

According to Lockheed Martin, Block 3F software has more than 8.3 million lines of code which is approximately four the amount of code in the F-22. Block 3F was released on late LRIP 9 aircraft during the Fall of 2017. There were 31 different versions of the Block 3F software by the end of October 2017. In December 2018, the F-35 began the Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) phase using version 30R02 of the Block 3F software. DoD Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) Robert Behler announced that 30R02 improves the F-35 s suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD), electronic attack, air interdiction and offensive counter air capabilities. See upgrades section for additional information about future Block capabilities. Note, upgrades beyond FOC (Block 4) are discussed in the upgrades section of the profile.

Variants

F-35A

The F-35A Conventional Takeoff and Landing (CTOL) variant is the U.S. Air Force (USAF) model powered by the P&W F135-100 turbofan. The aircraft will replace the F-16 and A-10. The variant reached Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in August 2016 and by the 2030s it will constitute the bulk of the service's fighters. The F-35A can be visually distinguished by its boom refueling receptacle port on the top of the airframe and gun blister mounted on the upper port side (left from the perspective of the aircraft when facing forward).

F-35B

The F-35B Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant is the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) model, intended to replace the service's AV-8Bs on amphibious assault vessels and F/A-18s at land bases and on aircraft carriers. The design is most distinguished by its unique lift system. The F135-600 engine has a rear nozzle that can rotate downward 90 deg. for vertical thrust, while also swiveling left and right for yaw control in a hover. The engine also drives a shaft connecting it, via a clutch, to a two-stage lift fan located behind the cockpit and exhausting downward through nozzle vanes that vector the vertical thrust fore and aft. Finally, compressor bleed air is fed to nozzles in the wings to provide vertical lift and roll control. Together, these systems allow the F-35B to take off from short runways or decks and land vertically. The F-35B can be visually distinguished by its shortened canopy as a result of the lift fan. The panel lines as well as associated markings are visible from both the top and bottom of the airframe. The B variant also has two diamond-shaped roll ducts on the underside of each wing.

F-35C

The F-35C carrier variant (CV) is the U.S. Navy (USN) model, intended to provide a stealthy strike platform to complement the F/A-18 in U.S. carrier air wings. It is most distinguished by its larger wings (which include two control surfaces each instead of one on the A & C variants) and horizontal stabilizers, as well as its tailhook and reinforced landing gear. The F-35C is powered by a single F135-400 turbofan engine. USN declared its F-35C's had reached IOC in 2019. The F-35C has a diminished flight envelope with a g-limit of 7.5 when compared to 9.0 for the other variants. Like the F-35B, the F-35C lacks an internally mounted cannon.

F-35I

The IAF version of the JSF is based off the F-35A and is sometimes designated as the F-35I for its unique features and has been dubbed the Adir (Great). Israel has insisted it be allowed to install indigenous technologies on the JSF. After long deliberations, it was decided that the first squadron of F-35s will be delivered to Israel with only unique Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) capabilities developed by Israel Aerospace Industries. The C4I system and the software will facilitate future indigenous weapon and electronic warfare capabilities. In terms of weapons capabilities, Israel has received a license to integrate Rafael s Spice GPS/EO/IIR bomb-guidance systems. Rafael is about to complete the development of a Spice seeker and tail kit that could fit into the JSF s weapons bays. In July 2018, Lockheed Martin and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to market the Smart, Precise Impact and Cost-Effective (SPICE) series of PGMs. Rafael has previously expressed interest in integrating the Python 5 short-range AAM to fit into the F-35 s internal bay, the AIM-9X is currently only certified for external carriage.

Production & Delivery History

As of the time of this writing, the U.S., eight partner nations (including the U.S. as well as Canada - the later has yet to formally order aircraft) and eight FMS customers have collectively committed to field over 3,000 aircraft, though several countries have expressed interest in increasing their fleets. As of December 2021, more than 730 aircraft have been delivered. Lockheed Martin produces all F-35s at Air Force Plant 4 in Fort Worth, Texas. The facility covers over 6 million square feet with a production bay over a mile long. The company also supports two final assembly and check-out lines outside (FACO) of the United States including one in Northern Italy (Cameri) managed by Leonardo and one in Nagoya Japan (Aichi Prefecture) managed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Lockheed Martin is currently producing F-35s under Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) lots as the DoD will not grant a full rate production (FRP) decision until the NAVAIR managed Joint Simulation Environment (JSE) is ready. In April 2021, Lockheed's CFO Kenneth R. Possenriede stated Lot 16 production was expected to be awarded in Q4 of 2021. The $9 billion order is expected to comprise a 50-50 split between U.S. and international orders. The Navy awarded Lockheed a $904 million contract to support long-lead items for 133 Lot 16 aircraft on Dec. 30, 2020.

In May 2020, Lockheed Martin announced it expected to deliver 141 F-35s in 2020, only seven more than 2019, as a result of COVID-19. The pandemic was expected to tapper production for three months by 18-24 aircraft. Lockheed Martin has not commented on which customers would be affected. However, an Australian Parliamentary Committee was briefed by the RAAF that a small number of its jets could be delayed by one or two months as a result of COVID-19. Lockheed ultimately delivered 123 aircraft in 2020, including 74 U.S. and 49 foreign aircraft (31 international partner nation and 18 FMS jets).

In June 2021, Lockheed announced it planned to deliver between 133-139 aircraft in 2021. Delays as a result of COVID-19 are now expected to persist longer than anticipated. The company had previously expected to deliver 169 aircraft in 2022 and approximately 175 aircraft a year thereafter. Lockheed had stated the peak production capacity of the FT. Worth plant was 185 aircraft per year. In September 2021, the JPO and Lockheed reached a "production smoothing" agreement to help Lockheed recover from enduring supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19. Under the framework, Lockheed would deliver 156 aircraft per year for the next several years.

United States

The U.S. DoD estimates the entire domestic program will cost $397.7 billion, including $324.5 for procurement 2,456 aircraft (not including the construction of 18 test aircraft and six static ground test articles) for three services - 1,763 F-35As for USAF, 273 F-35Cs for USN and 353 F-35Bs and 67 F-35Cs for USMC. RTD&E outlays are expected to reach $70.07 billion over the life of the program. The JPO estimates that over their lifetimes these aircraft will require operations and sustainment (O&S) spending of $1.196 trillion. All of these figures are in FY21 dollars.

U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force orders alone represent approximately 50% of projected F-35 deliveries throughout the life of the program. The USAF had plans to replace 281 A-10s and more than 900 F-16s with F-35As. The service had planned to acquire 80 F-35As per year starting in 2022 but the service subsequently revised the maximum procurement rate down to 60 aircraft per year (including 48 in recent years + 12 in the unfunded priority request or UPL until FY22). The lower annual procurement rate would extend Air Force procurement by six years or from 2038 to 2044. Growing concerns over both cost per flight hour (CPFH) and Block 4 retrofit costs resulted in the USAF reducing its FY22 buy to just 48 aircraft with no additional aircraft in the UPL. Going forward, the performance of LM's proposed sustainment strategy and rollout of Block 4 into the mid-2020s is expected to impact the overall POR and forthcoming USAF and Joint Staff future tactical aircraft (TACAIR) study which is expected to be completed by the summer of 2021.

Since at least 2018, the Air Force has become increasingly concerned with the F-35A's high cost per flight hour (CPFH) as well as broader sustainment issues affecting the type such as its mission capable (MC) rates, cost per tail per year, etc. CPFH figures vary widely due to different methodology and the base year from which they were tabulated. The F-35's CPFH figures are often measured in FY12 constant dollars as that is when the program was rebaselined or in then year (TY) dollars when adjusted U.S. DoD operations & maintenance account deflator values. For example, according to CAPE, the F-35A's CPFH of $44,000 in TY2019 compared to the F-16's $22,000. The F-35 lifecycle sustainability plan (LSP) that was approved in January 2019 highlights eight lines of effort that assess cost per flying hour, cost per tail per year and overall ownership cost, according to former F-35 program executive officer Vice Adm. Mat Winter. In Feb. 2021, Air Combat Command's Gen. Mark Kelly expressed skepticism that LM would be able to lower that figure to FY12 $25,000 ($29,036) by 2025 under the proposed performance based logistics contract (PBL). Lockheed Martin reduced the cost per flying hour by 15% from 2015-2019 and another 18% from 2019-2021. However, to achieve the $25,000 flight hour goal, LM, the USAF and P&W would have to make cumulatively reduce costs by more than 30%.

Lockheed s plan for addressing concerns about the F-35A s hourly operating costs includes a major limitation. As the airframe supplier, Lockheed directly controls only 39% of the F-35A s hourly operating cost, a company official said (as shown in the table above). By contrast, the Air Force controls about 47% of the cost. The F135 engine supplier, Pratt & Whitney, is responsible for the last 14%. In absolute terms, that means the Air Force s share of the $33,000 CPFH (FY12) comes out to $15,510. Lockheed s share is $12,870, leaving P&W with $4,620 of the total bill.

By using a variety of tools, including an emerging, supply-based performance-based logistics deal and the opening of repair depots, Lockheed believes it has a solid plan to reduce the airframe portion of the cost per flight hour by 40% by the end of fiscal 2025. Since the company s cost-saving plan only applies to its $12,870 share of the overall hourly cost, a 40% reduction would reduce the F-35A s hourly cost attributable to the airframe by only $5,148, lowering Lockheed s share of the overall total to $7,722 (table above also includes notional FY21 adjusted PBL values).

In absolute terms, Lockheed s plan, if realized, would reduce the cost per flight hour of the F-35A to $27,852, which is still $2,852 higher than the company s commitment. To hit the $25,000 (FY12) target by the end of fiscal 2025, Lockheed needs help from the Air Force and Pratt, which account for $20,130 of the $33,000 hourly cost. Fortunately, neither would be required to match Lockheed s plan to cut its share of the cost by 40% over the next 4.5 years. Instead, the Air Force and Pratt would need to reduce their costs by only 14.2% to match the overall, $25,000 cost goal. In September 2021, Lockheed Martin was awarded F-35 PBL worth up to $6.6 billion. The contract is structured over FY21, FY22 and FY23 in one year option segments. CPFH could drop by 8% over the period to $33,400 in 2023.

The Air Force is evaluating levers to reduce its share of the F-35A s hourly operating cost, Gen. Charles Brown, Air Force chief of staff, said in Congressional testimony in early June. But the Air Force s options are constrained in some cases by enterprise-wide interests. For example, Lockheed has outlined a seemingly straightforward path for the Air Force to achieve a roughly 33% manpower cost reduction for line maintenance: By cross-training maintainers on multiple systems, the Air Force could cut the number assigned to each F-35A to nine from 12. However, that proposal may require the Air Force to bifurcate a common pool of aircraft maintainers, creating separate training and career pipelines for the F-35A and the rest of the fighter fleet.

Another core sustainment metric aside from CPFH is cost per tail per year (CPTPY) - the overall sustainment cost for the whole fleet divided by the number of aircraft in service. CPTPY is an important complementary metric to CPFH because the latter is highly variable with the total number of flight hours. For example, increasing flight hours decreases CPFH but would increase total sustainment costs as reflected by CPTPY. An April 2021 GAO report (above) highlighted the significant discrepancy in actual CPTPY costs above USAF projections in FY12 dollars. Notably, GAO's analysis is somewhat limited by taking current costs and projecting them forward. In practice these metrics (MC, CPFH, CPTPY) all vary with production lot. Subsequent lots have generally shown better reliability (mean time between failure) of components and greater availability including fewer man hours in maintenance.

However, the net effect of these growing sustainment concerns has put significant pressure on the 1,763 POR as the service would not be able to sustain that fleet at current CPFH metrics. Additionally, the service appears to be recalibrating its assessment that only fifth generation fighters could participate in Day 1 actions against near-peer threats. Created in January 2018 as an internal think-tank, the Air Force Warfighting Integrating Capability (AFWIC) office had torn up the long-standing assumption that only stealthy fighters could perform a useful role in the future. By the end of 2018, the AFWIC s team of analyst had adopted a new fighter roadmap which envisioned a great power war. The principal role for each F-35A was to launch two stealthy cruise missiles Lockheed s AGM-158 JASSM from just inside defended airspace. That kick-down-the-door pairing would be combined with mass launches of multiple JASSM each from F-15Es and F-15EXs, the source said. Other missions namely, defensive counter-air and homeland defense could be performed by the F-35, but other aircraft, such as F-15EXs and F-16s, also could be used. Driven by this new appreciation for a portfolio of fighter capabilities, the AFWIC team also reconsidered how many of each type would be needed. AFWIC s fighter roadmap by the end of 2018 had capped F-35A deliveries at about 1,050 jets. If new aircraft orders are maintained at a rate of two to 2.5 squadrons a year between 48 and 60 jets for the foreseeable future, the Air Force is at least 10 years away from hitting the 1,050 cap in AFWIC s fighter roadmap.

In the meantime, the Air Force faces other decisions about whether to invest in more fourth-generation fighters, F-35As or next generation aircraft. The Air Force still operates 232 F-16C/D Block 25 and Block 30 jets, which were delivered in the mid-1980s. Air Force officials have said they expect to make a fleet replacement decision for these so-called pre-block F-16s in four to seven years. When the Air Force established the program of record for buying 1,763 F-35As, the plan assumed replacing all of those pre-block F-16s. As a replacement decision enters the DOD s five-year budgeting horizon, however, Air Force officials have been more flexible. In February 2020, the head of Air Combat Command, who was then Gen. Mike Holmes, said that low-cost, attritable aircraft would be considered for the pre-block F-16 replacement in the 2024-2027 timeframe. Discussions of a FT-7 (modified Boeing T-7A Red Hawk) or new build F-16 Block 70 were also reportedly discussed as options. In February 2021, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Brown announced CAPE would conduct a tactical combat aircraft (TACAIR) study for its future force structure. A "clean sheet" 4.5 generation aircraft would be evaluated as a potential option according to Gen. Brown. In May 2021 as part of its budget rollout, the Air Force revealed plans to replace the 600 "post-Block" F-16s by the prospective multi-role fighter (MR-X) or the F-35 should its sustainment metrics improve.

Even if the Summer 2021 TACAIR study validates the full 1,763 POR, a bow wave of modernization priorities in the mid-2020s into the early 2030s may force the USAF to reduce its buy of F-35s. The USAF's FY22 aircraft procurement budget was $15.7 billion of which $3.76 billion was for the modification of in-service aircraft and $9.74 billion for new build aircraft (remainder on spares, infrastructure, etc.). By mid-decade the USAF aircraft procurement account will be under enormous strain to fund at least five B-21s annually at FRP worth more than $3.4 billion, as well as T-7A FRP, KC-46 FRP, HH-60W FRP, MH-139 FRP and 72 TACAIR platforms per year (F-35 & F-15EX). If trends continue, the USAF would need more than a 30% higher procurement budget for new build aircraft than its FY22 request. The budget outlook becomes even more bleak later in the decade as NGAD RDT&E reaches its apex and transitions to production, MQ-Next enters service around 2031 and KC-Y (KC-46 follow-on) also enters service. Thus, the USAF has a narrow window in the 2020s in which it is able to afford to buy 60 F-35As per year to recap its legacy TACAIR platforms before the wave of next generation platforms enter service. If the USAF buys 60 F-35As per year through 2030, the USAF would reach the 2018 AFWIC figure of 1,050 airframes

The FY22 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) included a number of measures to correct the trajectory of F-35 O&S efforts across the services and re-align procurement. The bill mandates each of the services to generate CPTPY figures by October 1st, 2025 which will come into force by FY2027. If any variant is unable to meet the CPTPY, procurement could be proportionally reduced. Perhaps most significantly, the JPO would transfer all O&S responsibilities to the respective services by FY2028 followed by all acquisition responsibilities by FY2030. The bill also requests an acquisition strategy from the Secretary of the Air Force and Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment to outfit the F-35A with an adaptive cycle engine by FY2027. The NDAA discusses the prospect of B and C model engine upgrades.

Department of the Navy

Cumulatively, the USN and USMC plan to buy 693 F-35s including 353 Bs and 67 Cs for the USMC as well as 273 C models Navy. These aircraft will be procured into the early 2030s to replace the legacy Hornet and AV-8 Harrier. The Navy's slow induction of F-35Cs and expansion of its Super Hornet POR has effectively meant legacy hornets in carrier air wings have already been replaced. The FY22 budget request's UPL adds five F-35Cs for $535 million, increasing C model procurement from 15 to 20 if authorized. The Navy will operationally deploy F-35Cs for the first time in 2021 from the USS Carl Vinson.

As of the time of this writing, the USMC's POR for 353 Bs and 67 Cs remains in flux. U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger may alter the service s POR as a result of an external review following the Force Design 2030 . The wide-reaching for structure plan recommended cutting the number of F-35s per squadron from 16 to 10 while maintaining a requirement for 18 fighter/attack squadrons. The external study will re-evaluate the USMC s existing F-35 POR. The latest Selected Acquisition Report current as of the FY2021 PBR does not alter the USMC s POR.

Australia

Australia has a program of record for 72 F-35As which will be delivered by August 2023. A fourth squadron is being considered which would increase the fleet to 100 aircraft. Australia established the AIR6000 program in 1999 to study the replacement of its Legacy Hornet and F-111 Aardvark fleets. Australia joined the JSF program as a level three partner in 2002.

In December 2021, the Australian Audit Office reported the nation's total F-35 acquisition cost is AU$15.63 billion ($11.1 billion), including payments for RDT&E contributions, aircraft procurement, military construction, weapons and training under the AIR 6000 program. Australian F-35A procurement under the AIR 6000 program is divided into two phases: 14 aircraft under Phase 2A/2B Stage 1 and 58 aircraft under Phase 2A/2B Stage 2. The roll-out of the first two aircraft occurred on July 24, 2014 and the first aircraft took flight on Sep. 29. As of December 2021, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has taken delivery of 44 airframes. The RAAF is the first international customer to receive Block 3F airframes. First arrival in Australia is occurred in December 2018 with an IOC of December 2020 and FOC in December 2023. The RAAF considers the addition of maritime strike capability critical toward the FOC. One of the squadrons will be based at RAAF Tindal, with the remainder at RAAF Williamtown. Canberra will spend AUS$1.5 billion upgrading those bases as part of the F-35 acquisition.

On Dec. 17, 2014, the JPO announced Australia would be one of the countries in the Pacific region to host heavy airframe and engine maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade (MRO&U) work. In February 2015, the Australian Minister of Defence announced BAE Systems Australia and TAE Aerospace will be assigned to support regional depot maintenance for airframes and engines respectively. The U.S. Government assigned depot level work for 65 components in November 2016. BAE Australia, Northrop Grumman Australia, RUAG and GE Aviation Australia will perform maintenance for 64 out of 65 components for the Asia-Pacific. In August 2017, the U.S. announced BAE Systems Australia will provide the Asia-Pacific F-35 Regional Warehouse capability as part of the F-35 Global Support Solution. The warehouse will be located in Williamstown and will manage the organization and provision of spares for multiple F-35 operators in the Asia-Pacific region. Total Australian industry participation in the F-35 program exceeds A$1 billion ($720 million in 2018 U.S. dollars) by the end of 2018 with A$5-9 billion expected over the program ($4.31-6.47 billion).

In December 2018, RAAF Air Marshall Leo Davies said Defence had planned to request the 28-additional aircraft in the early 2020s. Air Marshall Davies suggested Australia may wait longer likely as a result of the major changes expected through the Block 4 follow-on modernization program. Australia s DWP update released in July 2020 outlines plans for additional air combat capability between 2025 and the early 2030s valued at A$4.5-$6.7 billion ($3.1-$4.65 billion). In March 2021 interview with ASPI, Air Marshall Hupfeld was non-comital on a follow-on F-35 order, "We look at all options...What s the sixth generation of airpower going to look like when we decide on the next round of F-35s? Is F-35 still valid if there s a sixth-generation aircraft? Will sixth-generation air combat capability be an aircraft? I don t know the answer to that, but they re the things I keep my eyes open for. The [uncrewed] loyal wingman is an example of what may be part of the solution when we look at the next phase of our air combat capability program. And I d never say never to any of those". As of the time of this writing, Australia remain supportive of Boeing's Air Power Teaming offering but has yet to formally commit toward fielding the aircraft operationally.

Belgium

In October 2018, Belgium officially selected the F-35 as the victor of its international fighter competition. Belgium was the last of the European Participating Air Forces (EPAF) nations to choose the F-35 to replace its F-16 fleet. The Defence Ministry reports the total cost of the acquisition of 34 F-35As as well as training and associated military construction costs total 4 billion ($4.5 billion in 2019 dollars) by 2030. The DSCA notification issued in January 2018 included a $6.53 billion estimated cost for the acquisition of the aircraft, related equipment and support services. The Defence Ministry estimates the total cost of the aircraft throughout its projected 40-year service life will reach 12.4 billion ($14.1 billion in 2019 dollars).

The competition originally included the Dassault Rafale, Saab Jas 39 Gripen, Boeing F/A-18E/F, Eurofighter Typhoon and Lockheed Martin F-35A. In 2017 both Saab and Boeing withdrew from the competition citing requirements which reportedly favored the F-35. Dassault was disqualified by not responding to the Request for Proposals (RFP). Instead, the French Defense Minister sent a letter outlining a broader industrial and diplomatic partnership conditional on the sale of the Rafale. The F-35 and Eurofighter Typhoon were subsequently left as the only qualifying bids.

Canada

Canada first joined the JSF program as a tier three partner in February 2000, contributing $150 million ($222.6 million in 2018 dollars) toward its development. Canada had planned to purchase 65 F-35As to replace its CF-18 Hornet fleet. In September 2015, Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau campaigned that he would withdraw Canada from the F-35 program and hold a competition excluding the F-35. Canada s 2017 Defence Policy Report outlined that an open competition would be held to replace the CF-18 with 88 new fighter aircraft. In October 2016, Ottawa announced its intention to purchase 18 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets as an interim fighter to bridge this gap. However, trade disputes between Boeing and Bombardier effectively canceled the purchase. Canada will now acquire 18 retired RAAF Hornets as an interim fighter, but the aircraft are approximately the same age as Canada s existing CF-18 fleet.

Eligible suppliers for the $11 billion Future Fighter Capability Project (FFCP) submitted bids in 2019. In May 2019, the U.S. Government was in discussions with Canada regarding FFCP bid language which would require all competing firms to guarantee Canadian businesses 100% of the value of the deal in economic benefits. The U.S. Government took issue with the economic offset clause as written as it would exclude the F-35 and violate Canada s prior commitments as a F-35 partner nation. Canada ultimately modified the language of the bid to allow Lockheed Martin to participate. In November 2018, Dassault reportedly withdrew from the competition as a result of information security requirements. France is not part of the Five Eyes intelligence agreement. Dassault s withdrawal leaves the Saab JAS 39 E/F, Boeing F/A-18E/F and Lockheed Martin F-35. Canada is subsequently disqualified Boeing's bid on December 1st, 2021. The country is expected to announce source selection by March of 2022 and deliveries expected to run between 2025 and 2031.

Denmark

Denmark first jointed the JSF program as a tier three partner in 2002. In June 2016, Denmark selected the F-35 as its preferred replacement for its fleet of 44 F-16s which first entered service in in 1980. The Defense Ministry projects a total program cost of 66.1 billion kroners or $10 billion in November 2018 dollars for 27 F-35As. The acquisition cost is reportedly 20 billion Danish Krone or $3 billion in 2019 dollars. In a April 2021 rollout ceremony, Denmark's first F-35A was presented. The first six aircraft will go to Luke AFB, AZ, training. The aircraft will be subsequently based in Denmark between 2022-23 and with the last F-35A to to be delivered by the end of 2024.

On April 14, 2014, Denmark issued request for information to Lockheed for the F-35A but also requested information on the F/A-18F, Typhoon and JAS 39E/F. Responses were due July 21, 2014. That month, Sweden's FXM defense export agency decided not to make a formal offer of the JAS 39E/F, believing the competition was biased toward favor of the F-35A. In a report discussing the Government s reasoning for choosing the F-35, the Danish Ministry of Defence concluded that Lockheed Martin s bid was superior to both Boeing and Eurofighter s bids in terms of strategic, military, economic and industrial aspects. A key finding of the MoD was the F-35 s airframe is built to last 8,000 flight hours when compared to 6,000 for both the Eurofighter Typhoon and F/A-18E/F. Therefore, a smaller number of F-35s could be procured to meet the same mission demands i.e. 28 F-35As compared to 34 Eurofighters and 38 F/A-18E/Fs. The procurement was subsequently curtailed to 27 F-35As.

Finland

On December 10, 2021, Finland announced its intent to acquire 64 F-35A Block 4s upon completing the HX competitive evaluation process. Like Norwegian aircraft, Sweden's F-35s will be fitted with brake-parachutes. Deliveries will get underway in 2025 to support training in the U.S, Finnish F-35s will arrive in-country in 2026 and the type will replace the Finnish Air Force s McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornets between 2028 and 2030. This decision will have a strong impact on the Defense Forces operational capability, said Antti Kaikkonen, Finland s defense minister, announcing the decision alongside Prime Minister Sanna Marin on December 10. The F-35, Kaikkonen said, would define Finnish Air Force s combat capability through into the 2060s. Helsinki s decision comes on the back of Switzerland s selection of the same aircraft in July and means that the F-35 has been successful in virtually every fighter contest it has participated in Europe. We are honored the Government of Finland through its thorough, open competition has selected the F-35, and we look forward to partnering with the Finnish Defense Forces and Finnish defense industry to deliver and sustain the F-35 aircraft, said Bridget Lauderdale, Lockheed Martin s general manager of the F-35 program. Defense officials scored F-35 as the best based on the air, land and sea scenarios posed to the bidders, although no details of the scoring system or what the other bidders achieved was revealed. The F-35 was also deemed to have the highest operational effectiveness and the best development potential.

Helsinki plans to sign the Letter of Offer and Acceptance for the Foreign Military Sale in the first quarter of 2022. Finland had budgeted 10 billion for the procurement, with the Finnish Parliament approving the use of 9.4 billion.
The breakdown of costs includes 4.7 billion for the aircraft, equivalent to 73.4 million ($83 million) for each of the 64 aircraft. Air-to-air missiles package is valued at 754 million, while the maintenance equipment, spare parts, training equipment and initial maintenance for the first five years of operations will cost 2.92 billion. Officials have put aside 777 million for infrastructure construction and project costs, while 823 million is available for additional contracts, and amendments, as well as future buys of weapons. They also note that the operating costs are well within the threshold of 10% - 254 million - of the annual defense budget, with officials noting the type s operation is possible with the resources of the Defense Forces. None of the bids were significantly cheaper in terms of operating and maintenance costs, defense officials said. The Lockheed aircraft scored 4.47/5.0, the next best package scored 3.81 - likely the Boeing F/A-18E/F & EA-18G.

Finland envisages arming its F-35s with the AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, Small Diameter Bombs, Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bomb kits, the Kongsberg Joint Strike Missile and the JASSM-ER cruise missile. Procurement officials say the F-35 s maintenance will be based on a solution modified from F-35's global maintenance system, adding that the proposed system meets domestic security of supply requirements. Finland s non-aligned status means it cannot rely on allies in wartime like other operators of the F-35 can. Lockheed Martin says Finland will be able to rely on the F-35 s Global Support Solution but it will work to enable Finnish industry to undertake the repair of around 100 critical components so that the fleet can be supported if Finland becomes isolated in the event of a conflict. There will also be additional stockpiles of F-35 spares in Finland. Lockheed Martin says it will provide work for Finnish industry which will last up to 20 years. Among the companies to benefit is Patria who will build 400 forward fuselages for the wider program. Kaikkonen said the contest was tough, and there can be only one winner, adding: I would like to stress that all countries involved, are very close and valued partners for Finland, they continue to be so. Our cooperation with all of them is based on long term partnerships, mutual trust and common security interests, Kaikkonen added.

Israel

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) is on contract to receive 50 F-35s. These aircraft are referred to both as F-35As and F-35Is depending upon the source as Israeli aircraft feature unique modifications. Jerusalem purchased a first batch of 19 JSFs for $2.75 billion in 2010. These aircraft are being produced as part of LRIPs 8, 9 and 10. The first two aircraft were delivered in December 2016, the IAF declared IOC a year later in December 2017. In November 2014, the Israeli Defense Minister concluded terms for a $4.4 billion contract for 31 additional F-35s. However, the proposal ran into unexpected resistance in the Israeli cabinet, in which the Intelligence Minister raised concerns about the aircraft's capabilities and the Finance Minister raised concerns about cost. The IAF and Defense Ministry rejected the Intelligence Minster's concerns as "old and irrelevant" and stated the alternatives to additional F-35s would cost more.

On Nov. 30, the cabinet voted to purchase 14 aircraft in the second batch under a $2.8 billion contract that will also cover two additional simulators and spare parts for the fleet of 33. On November 27, 2016, Israel's cabinet approved exercising the option to procure an additional 17 F-35s for a total of 50 aircraft. In February 2018, the DoD announced a $147.96 million contract to deliver Block 3F+ upgrades to the IAF. These upgrades will enable Israeli specific hardware and software modifications.

In December 2018, IAI opened a new production line for outer wing sets which will deliver kits starting in 2019. A total of 700 wing kits will be manufactured during the first phase, IAI is expected to produce 811 pairs of wings by 2034. Israeli industrial participation in the F-35 program is expected to reach $2.5 billion by the 2030s. Israel was originally included within the European MRO&U zone for depot level overhauls, but Israel has insisted that it will field its own local depot level MRO capability for its F-35 fleet.

As part of an offset agreement related to the UAE's potential F-35 acquisition, Israel has expressed interest in an additional squadron of F-35As which would bring its total fleet to 75 aircraft. Furthermore, Israel is reported to have obtained greater access to modify its aircraft as part of the offset deal. The first instrumented F-35I test aircraft arrived in Tel Nof Air Force Base in November 2020.

Italy

On June 24, 2002, Italy joined the JSF as a Level II partner and contributed $1 billion toward the development of the program. Rome currently plans to acquire a total of 60 F-35As and 15 F-35Bs for its air force, the Aeronautica Militare (AM). The Italian Navy will acquire 15 F-35Bs. As of December 2021, 14 F-35As and one F-35B have been delivered to the AM and three F-35Bs has been delivered to the Italian Navy.

Rome originally planned to acquire 131 F-35s (69 F-35As and 60 F-35Bs) to replace its IDS Tornado, AMX light combat aircraft and AV-8B Harriers. In February 2012, Defense Minister Giampaolo Di Paola announced cuts to the F-35 program as part of a broader effort to enact defense spending cuts. The center-left Democratic Party called for further cuts to the F-35 program in 2014 which did not materialize. In 2018, Italian participation in the F-35 program was threatened by the Five Star Movement which campaigned to withdraw from the program entirely. In June 2018, Defense Minister Elisabetta Trenta clarified that the Government would continue the acquisition of 90 F-35s. However, the government would not seek additional aircraft beyond 90 and the procurement of aircraft may be slowed to reduced Italy s financial burden.

Italian industry is the largest contributor to the F-35 program outside of the U.S. and UK. Italian industrial participation in the F-35 program broadly falls within three categories: (1) final assembly of aircraft, (2) manufacture of components for the global supply chain and (3) depot level sustainment responsibility for Europe. Italy maintains one of two Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) lines outside of the U.S. The Cameri plant was built between 2011 and 2013 at a cost of 795.6 million euros ($900 million in 2018 dollars). The facility covers approximately 101 ac

15th
DEC

Airbus Tiger (EC665)

Airbus Tiger (EC665) user+1@localho Wed, 12/15/2021 - 21:17

The Tiger (formerly EC665) is an attack helicopter built by Airbus and is powered by a pair of Turbomeca Rolls-Royce MTR390 engines. Each nation uses the Tiger in slightly different roles such as force protection and armed reconnaissance, which has led to multiple divergent aircraft configurations across France, Germany, Spain and Australia. As of the time of this writing, 161 Tigers are in operational service of the more than 180 helicopters delivered.

Program History

In 1974 the Bundeswehr (German Military) conducted a threat analysis of projected threats from Warsaw Pact forces and concluded its military urgently needed to field a fleet of modern anti-tank helicopters. Early West German Army staff requirements determined it would need a 5-ton-class helicopter with a 2 -hr. endurance, cruise speed of 168 mph (270 kph), night vision capability and an armament of at least eight 2 -mi. (4 km)-range anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). West German doctrine assumed NATO forces would establish air superiority, but the new helicopter was expected to defend itself from adversary helicopters. An interim purchase of Panzerabwehrhubschrauber 1 (PAH-1, meaning anti-tank helicopter 1) helicopters, was approved in 1975 to buy time for the development of a dedicated anti-armor helicopter; the PAH-1 was a Messerschmitt-B lkow-Blohm (MBB) BO 105s armed with six HOT Semi-automatic command to line of sight (SACLOS) missiles. Germany examined the acquisition of the McDonnell Douglas AH-64 Apache and joined the Italian Mangusta program prior to its partnership with France.

Having withdrawn from NATO s integrated military command in 1966, French military requirements for new combat helicopters in the early 1970s reflected substantially different military doctrine and national defense objectives when compared to West German requirements. Under a European intervention scenario, French Army staff predicted they would face overwhelming numbers of armored forces supported by integrated air defense systems. France foresaw the need to procure two new types of combat helicopters. One type would defeat armored forces and the other would protect the anti-armor helicopter from aerial threats.

In November 1975, German and French defense ministers discussed the need for both nations to acquire modern anti-tank helicopters capable of operating at night. Political disagreements and divergent requirements delayed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) until May 1984. The MoU outlined the development of three helicopters which would all share the same airframe and engines. Germany would acquire 212 Panzerabwehrhubschrauber 2 (PAH-2) helicopters by 1996. France would acquire 140 H licopt re Antichars avec Missile Antichars de 3e G n ration (Anti-tank helicopter with third generation ATGMs, HAC-3, which was eventually shorted to HAC) and 75 H licopt re d'Appui Protection support and protection helicopter by 2000.

The program was nearly canceled in 1986 after rising costs and disagreements over the new helicopter s targeting and night vision system. Key stakeholders within the Bundeswehr s leadership favored the purchase of AH-64 Apaches. Even before the deterioration in negotiations, Germany had sought to integrate the Apache s Martin-Marietta target acquisition and night vision system (TADS/PNVS) into the Franco-German helicopter. France refused to incorporate U.S. components and was eventually able to convince Germany to adopt a European TADS/PNVS equivalent. Renewed negotiations produced an amended MoU in November 1987 which culminated in the adoption of the name Tiger/Tigre for the joint project as well as a developmental contract in November 1989. French and German industry drew closer to facilitate the realization of the program. The helicopter divisions of Aerospatiale and Messerschmitt-B lkow-Blohm (MBB) continued to work on the program until they merged in 1992 to form Eurocopter.

In December 1992, the Defense Ministry rescoped the requirements of the PAH-2 variant. The resulting Unterst tzungshubschrauber Tiger (UHT), which translates to Support Helicopter Tiger, was developed as a multirole platform rather than an attack helicopter solely focused on the destruction of enemy armor. Additional missions include combat support, escort, reconnaissance and anti-aircraft roles.

A total of seven Tiger prototypes were built, including two static test articles (PT6 and PT7). On April 27, 1991, the first Tiger prototype (PT1) took flight. PT2 followed in April 1992 and featured the HAP avionics systems by 1996. PT3 flew in November of 1993 and tested UHT mission systems. PT4 was built to the HAP configuration and conducted live fire tests including eight Mistral missiles, 50 rockets and 3,000 rounds of 30mm cannon ammunition. PT5 was the last flying prototype and was equipped with the full UHT avionics package. PS1 was built as a preproduction example to test manufacturing processes. Serial production began with the German UHT S01, which flew in August 2002 and HAP S01 for the French, which flew in March 2003.

Features

Airframe

Divergent French and German requirements ensured multiple variants of the Tiger would be produced, but all variants share the same airframe with most of the differences stemming from mission systems. The base airframe is characterized by its survivability and agility.

The Tiger airframe takes a holistic approach to survivability incorporating signature reduction, durable airframe and an extensive countermeasures suite. The Tiger s design minimizes its IR signature by mounting the engines within the fuselage. An exhaust gas dilution system further reduces emitted heat and drives exhaust up to the rotor. Radio-frequency (RF) reduction is achieved through multiple techniques. The Tiger is comparatively small relative to its contemporaries such as the AH-64 Apache. Basic shaping techniques and extensive use of composite materials further reduce the Tiger s RF signature. Seventy-seven percent of the Tiger s airframe weight is comprised of composite materials such as Kevlar (carbon aramid) frames and beams as well as Nomex honeycomb with carbon and Kevlar face laminates. The extensive use of composite materials reduced the Tiger s airframe weight by 30%. An additional 11% of the aircraft s weight is aluminum and 6% is titanium.

The airframe is built to protect the crew from vertical crashes at speeds of up to 10 m per sec. (m/s) or 23 mph. The floor of the cockpit and landing gear are built to absorb energy from a crash. The landing gear can accommodate a 6-m/sec. (13.4-mph) descent without sustaining damage. Hot-pressed boron carbide ceramic armor inserts are mounted in the seats to protect the crew against ballistic threats. The airframe s armor is resistant to 23mm cannon fire. The Tiger features self-sealing fuel tanks to further improve its ballistic protection. Lastly, the Tiger s electronics feature electromagnetic interference (EMI) protection against both lightning strikes and electromagnetic pulses.

Agility and maneuverability were also key requirements that shaped the Tiger s design. Both qualities are essential to facilitate nap-of-the-Earth (NOE) operations e.g. object avoidance at low altitude and to improve survivability. The Tiger has a maximum speed of 175 kt. (201 mph), can pivot 40 deg. in 1 sec. and can perform a complete barrel roll in less than 5 sec.

Avionics

The Tiger has three main avionics subsystems which vary depending upon the variant: electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor, helmet-mounted display and countermeasures suite.

15th
DEC

Lockheed Martin F-35 (JSF)

Lockheed Martin F-35 (JSF) user+1@localho Wed, 12/15/2021 - 21:17

The F-35 Lightning II / Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is a U.S. fifth-generation, single engine, multirole fighter developed in partnership with eight nations and produced by Lockheed Martin. It is designed in three variants and is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan engine. Each variant features a different derivative of the F135 engine. As of December 2021, more than 730 F-35s have been delivered to the U.S., international JSF partners and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. Production is expected to continue into the 2040s.

Features

Low Observable Technology

All variants of the F-35 use a variety of techniques to reduce their radar cross section (RCS). Some of these techniques were used on previous low observable aircraft while others have been improved or are completely new. As with the F-22, the F-35 uses planform alignment to orient flight surfaces, fuselage facets and gaps to concentrate radar reflections into a minimum number of angles. The canopy is metalized to reduce scattering from the cockpit. Doors and access panels have sawtooth edges. Internal weapons bays allow the aircraft to carry air-to-air weapons and a small number of ground-attack weapons while keeping the ordnance shielded from radar.

The engine exhaust is also designed with low-observability to radar in mind. The nozzle consists of vanes with rear-facing facets that abut into a circular, sawtooth pattern. The outer surfaces of the vanes appear to be covered with RAM. In addition, towards the front of the nozzle, the vanes are covered by skin panels with sawtooth patterns that also adjoin with each other in a sawtooth fashion. These panels are likely radar-absorbent structures whose purpose is to reduce scattering in the gap between the vanes and fuselage around the nozzle.

Low observable technologies significantly matured between the development of the F-22 and the subsequent F-35 as shown by the F-35 s use of Diverterless Supersonic Inlets (DSIs) and improved Radar-Absorbent Material (RAM) coatings. Lockheed Martin began internal research and development on low observable Mach 2 inlets in the early 1990s which informed the X-35 s development. In the Spring of 1997, Lockheed Martin had two competing X-35 design proposals. One featured Caret inlets (used in the F-22 and F/A-18E/F) and the other used DSIs. Lockheed had demonstrated the feasibility of DSIs through flight testing of a modified F-16 in December 1997. Inlet designs of modern fighter aircraft must provide flow compression and boundary layer control such that the engine is fed high pressure, low distortion airflow across multiple flight regimes. The F-22 s 2-D Caret inlets use a boundary layer diverter and bleed system feeding into serpentine ducts to regulate airflow at the cost of manufacturing complexity and weight. Lockheed Martin studies showed incorporating DSIs would lower weight, be easier to manufacture and lower the X-35 s RCS. The F-35 s DSIs have a 3-D bump and forward swept cowl which feed into a bifurcated, serpentine duct eliminating the need for a boundary layer diverter and bleed system.

The F-35 s RAM represents a significant improvement in signature reduction and maintenance needs when compared to the F-22 and B-2. Gaps between parts on the skin of the aircraft generate radar returns, the F-22 and B-2 solve this problem by applying a thick topcoat of RAM on top of the gaps. Lockheed Martin reduced the number of parts on the F-35 s skin and used improved manufacturing technologies (such as precision laser alignment of parts during assembly) to eliminate gaps. Lockheed Martin claims that parts fit so precisely that 99% of maintenance requires no restoration of low-observable surfaces . This new approach reduces the amount of RAM required, greatly lessens the airframe's need for line maintenance (by as much as two orders of magnitude compared to the F-22) and also makes the F-35's low observability features more resilient by mitigating the risk of skin abrasions. The F-35 still receives a RAM topcoat that is applied in thicker layers at high scattering areas, such as the engine inlets. The coating also reduces skin friction and drag, thereby saving fuel and likely reducing the aircraft's IR signature. Beneath the RAM-embedded material is a conductive layer that further reduces RCS by modifying the radio waves before they bounce back out through the RAM.

Avionics


APG-81 Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar
The F-35's radar, the Northrop Grumman APG-81, evolved from the APG-77 featured on the F-22A. Compared to conventional, mechanically-scanned radars, the APG-81's active electronically scanned array (AESA) delivers greater range, 1,000-times faster scanning and the ability to engage many more targets simultaneously. The APG-81 features at least 1,200 transmit receiver modules. Detection range varies with the square root of antenna size and fourth root of transmitted power. However, the APG-81 features better transmit/receive modules and improved processing than the APG-77. In 2000, a senior U.S. Air Force official predicted the JSF radar would have 75% of the detection range of the F-22 s. APG-81 capabilities include: Ground Moving Target Indication (GMTI), Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), high gain Electronic Support Measure (ESM) and Electronic Attack (EA), cruise missile detection and tracking and air-to-air multitarget detection and tracking. The APG-81 can simultaneously operate in air-to-air and air-to-surface modes. A maritime targeting mode will be installed later and is expected to include an inverse SAR mode.

AAQ-37 Distributed Aperture System
In addition to the radar, the JSF bears a unique Distributed Aperture System (DAS) that provides unmatched levels of visual situational awareness. Six mid-wave IR cameras, each weighing 16-17 lb., are situated around the aircraft to enable the DAS to see in all directions: one camera is mounted on each side of the chine line beneath the canopy, one camera is mounted in front of the canopy, one camera is mounted on the dorsal (in front of the boom refueling receptacle for the F-35A) and two cameras are mounted on the underside of the fuselage. Each camera provides a 95 field of regard, combining to form 570 overlapping coverage. The DAS informs the pilot of threats such as surface-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft artillery and other aircraft. When a threat is detected, the system boxes it in the visor projection or draws the pilot s attention to it with alert signals and lines.

Generation III Helmet Mounted Display System
The F-35 does not have a Head-up Display (HUD) like most modern fighter aircraft. Relevant flight reference, navigation and weapons employment functions which are typically displayed on a HUD are instead shown on the F-35 s Generation III (Gen III) Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS). The HMDS supports off boresight AIM-9X shots. The pilot looks at a target through the HMDS and locks onto it. The AIM-9X can maneuver up to 90 from the aircraft s centerline to pursue the target.

The Gen III helmet projects the feed from the DAS onto the pilot's visor, showing the image from the DAS during the day or night in whichever direction the pilot's head is turned, including down and backwards, essentially letting the pilot see through the aircraft. The Gen III helmet also bears an ISIE-11 digital night vision camera which projects its two megapixels of data at 60 hertz onto the HMDS.

AAQ-40 Electro-Optical Targeting System

The Lockheed Martin AAQ-40 Electro-Optical Tracking System (EOTS) is a mid-wave infrared sensor which provides F-35 pilots with long-range IRST, air-to-air targeting forward-looking infrared (TFLIR), high resolution forward-looking infrared (FLIR), laser designation and laser spot tracking capabilities. EOTS provides additional passive detection capability along with the ASQ-239 electronic warfare suite. The APG-81 can cue the AAQ-40 to locate and track airborne targets. The system is housed in a low observable aperture in the lower forward fuselage. Space, power and cooling constraints presented major challenges to the development of EOTS the system occupies approximately four cubic feet and weighs 202 lbs. The EOTS is mounted right below the radio frequency support electronics of the APG-81 and is cooled with polyalphaolefin (PAO) liquid coolant in a similar manner as the APG-81.

ASQ-239 Electronic Warfare Suite
The BAE ASQ-239 Electronic Warfare/Countermeasure System (EW/CM) integrates RF and IR spectrum self-protection and ESM functions. The ASQ-239 supports: emitter geolocation, high gain EW through the APG-81, multi-ship emitter location, radar warning and self-protection countermeasures and jamming. Lockheed Martin claims the F-35 s EW systems are capable of transmitting ten times the radiated power of legacy fourth generation aircraft, enabling the F-35 to provide stand-off jamming capabilities. Pre-Block 4 aircraft have six multi-element antenna array sets covering the Band 3 and Band 4 frequency spectrum (S band for IEEE designation). Two antenna apertures are installed on the leading edge of each wing and one antenna aperture is installed next to the aft wing tip of each wing. The antenna placement for the F-35C is slightly altered to account for the F-35C s longer-folding wing. Band 2 and 5 antennas will be installed as part of the Block 4 modernization program.

ASQ-242 Communications, Navigation and Identification System
The Northrop Grumman ASQ-242 Communications, Navigation and Identification System is an integrated avionics system which combines the following functions: identification, friend-or-foe (IFF), secure, jam-resistant and low probability of intercept communications and navigation and landing aids. The F-35 has two primary methods of communication, voice radio and data links. Radios include SINCGARS, HAVEQUICK, GUARD and VMF 220D.

The F-35 s primary data link is the Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL) which provides low probability of intercept communications between F-35s. Each F-35 within a four-ship formation can share data that one aircraft collects within the whole formation. In 2009, Chief of the USAF s Electronic System Center Airborne Networking Division Michael Therrian, explained MADL is a Ku-band data link which transmits a narrow beam between aircraft using a daisy chain system. The first aircraft sends the narrow beam signal to the second aircraft which in turn sends the signal throughout the rest of the formation. MADL trades bandwidth for low observability. Conventional data links like Link 16 have higher bandwidth capacity but broadcast signals which can be located by adversary electronic support measures. The F-35 can communicate with legacy platforms such as the F-15 and F-16 using Link 16 but its use will be subject to the threat environment and techniques, tactics and procedures which will be developed by the services to mitigate the limitations of Link 16.

Weapon Systems

While equipped with six external hard points (not including the centerline gun pod mount for the F-35B and F-35C), the F-35 must carry its weapons internally in two weapon bays to maintain its low observability. For strike missions, the JSF can internally accommodate two Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) -2,000-lb. GBU-31s for the F-35A and C, 1,000-lb. GBU-32s for the F-35B - along with two AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs). The bay can also house the GBU-38 500-lb. JDAM, GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb I (SDB), GBU-12 500-lb. laser-guided bomb (LGBs) and AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW), as well as the U.K.'s AIM-132 Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (ASRAAM) and Brimstone air-to-surface missile. In the air-to-air role, the F-35 can currently accommodate four AIM-120s internally. The U.S. its close allies Australia and the UK use the more advanced AIM-120D with a maximum range of 100 nautical miles. Other operators use the AIM-120C-7 and C-8 (obsolescence modification of the C-7). A pair of AIM-9X Block IIs can be carried on LO pylons. U.S. Navy budget documents suggest the latest variant of the Sidewinder features RAM to reduce its RCS, though its sill expected to degrade the F-35's LO performance.

The F-35A carries a GAU-22/A four-barrel, 25mm cannon internally; the B and C variants have no internal cannon but can carry a reduced RCS missionized gun pod externally. Four 25mm rounds are being developed for the F-35: the ATK PGU-23 training round, Nammo s PGU-47/U armored-piercing explosive (APEX) round for all F-35 variants, Rheinmetall's PGU-48A/B Frangible Armored Piercing round for the F-35A and the General Dynamics/ATK PGU-32 semi-armored piercing high explosive incendiary (SAPHEI-T) round for the F-35B and C. The PGU-48/U and PGU-32 rounds are specialized to defeat targets particular to the respective service. Over 3,400 rounds of PGU-23, PGU-47 and PGU-48 rounds were fired from F-35As against both ground and aerial targets. The DoD Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) reported that it found the accuracy of the gun, as installed on the F-35A, to be unacceptable . Possible remedial actions include re-boresighting and correcting gun alignments. A total of 2,685 PGU-23 and PGU-32 rounds were fired from the missionized gun pod during tests. The DOT&E reports the gun pod meets air-to-ground contract specifications and do not share the accuracy errors of the F-35A.

In March 2018, the USAF awarded Rheinmetall Switzerland a $6.5 million contract for 40,000 rounds of PGU-48A/B rounds. In October 2018, Orbital ATK was awarded a $1.5 billion contract to deliver 332,993 rounds ammunition across multiple types including the PGU-32.

Blocks

To support the concurrent development and early production efforts, the F-35 is being fielded in Blocks. Some blocks incorporate hardware as well as software changes. Blocks 0, 0.1, 0.5, 1A, 1B and 2A supported testing and limited training capability for early LRIP and System Development and Demonstration aircraft. Block 2B began flight testing in February 2014 and provides initial combat capabilities to the F-35 including expanded MADL capability, multi-ship sensor fusion and the carriage of two AIM-120C-7 AMRAAMs and two PGMs (either the GBU-32 JDAM or GBU-12). The USMC declared IOC on the Block 2B software in July 2015 which comprises 87% of the final code and will deliver the initial warfighting capabilities.

The Block 3i configuration forms the stepping stone for full Block 3F warfighting capability. Block 3i rehosts Block 2B software with substantial hardware changes. Block 3i includes new radar, EW and Integrated Core Processor (ICP) modules. The configuration also adds the third generation HMD which corrects the Gen II helmet s poor night vision acuity. The USAF declared IOC with the Block 3i configuration.

Block 3F configuration represents the full warfighting capability configuration for the F-35 including:

  • Full Flight Envelope: 9g maneuvering and top speed of Mach 1.6
  • Full Weapon Capability of: GBU-31 1,000 lbs. JDAM, GBU-32 2,000 lbs. JDAM, GBU-39 SDB I, Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW) C1, AIM-120D, AIM-9X and GAU-22 cannon

According to Lockheed Martin, Block 3F software has more than 8.3 million lines of code which is approximately four the amount of code in the F-22. Block 3F was released on late LRIP 9 aircraft during the Fall of 2017. There were 31 different versions of the Block 3F software by the end of October 2017. In December 2018, the F-35 began the Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) phase using version 30R02 of the Block 3F software. DoD Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) Robert Behler announced that 30R02 improves the F-35 s suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD), electronic attack, air interdiction and offensive counter air capabilities. See upgrades section for additional information about future Block capabilities. Note, upgrades beyond FOC (Block 4) are discussed in the upgrades section of the profile.

Variants

F-35A

The F-35A Conventional Takeoff and Landing (CTOL) variant is the U.S. Air Force (USAF) model powered by the P&W F135-100 turbofan. The aircraft will replace the F-16 and A-10. The variant reached Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in August 2016 and by the 2030s it will constitute the bulk of the service's fighters. The F-35A can be visually distinguished by its boom refueling receptacle port on the top of the airframe and gun blister mounted on the upper port side (left from the perspective of the aircraft when facing forward).

F-35B

The F-35B Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant is the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) model, intended to replace the service's AV-8Bs on amphibious assault vessels and F/A-18s at land bases and on aircraft carriers. The design is most distinguished by its unique lift system. The F135-600 engine has a rear nozzle that can rotate downward 90 deg. for vertical thrust, while also swiveling left and right for yaw control in a hover. The engine also drives a shaft connecting it, via a clutch, to a two-stage lift fan located behind the cockpit and exhausting downward through nozzle vanes that vector the vertical thrust fore and aft. Finally, compressor bleed air is fed to nozzles in the wings to provide vertical lift and roll control. Together, these systems allow the F-35B to take off from short runways or decks and land vertically. The F-35B can be visually distinguished by its shortened canopy as a result of the lift fan. The panel lines as well as associated markings are visible from both the top and bottom of the airframe. The B variant also has two diamond-shaped roll ducts on the underside of each wing.

F-35C

The F-35C carrier variant (CV) is the U.S. Navy (USN) model, intended to provide a stealthy strike platform to complement the F/A-18 in U.S. carrier air wings. It is most distinguished by its larger wings (which include two control surfaces each instead of one on the A & C variants) and horizontal stabilizers, as well as its tailhook and reinforced landing gear. The F-35C is powered by a single F135-400 turbofan engine. USN declared its F-35C's had reached IOC in 2019. The F-35C has a diminished flight envelope with a g-limit of 7.5 when compared to 9.0 for the other variants. Like the F-35B, the F-35C lacks an internally mounted cannon.

F-35I

The IAF version of the JSF is based off the F-35A and is sometimes designated as the F-35I for its unique features and has been dubbed the Adir (Great). Israel has insisted it be allowed to install indigenous technologies on the JSF. After long deliberations, it was decided that the first squadron of F-35s will be delivered to Israel with only unique Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) capabilities developed by Israel Aerospace Industries. The C4I system and the software will facilitate future indigenous weapon and electronic warfare capabilities. In terms of weapons capabilities, Israel has received a license to integrate Rafael s Spice GPS/EO/IIR bomb-guidance systems. Rafael is about to complete the development of a Spice seeker and tail kit that could fit into the JSF s weapons bays. In July 2018, Lockheed Martin and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to market the Smart, Precise Impact and Cost-Effective (SPICE) series of PGMs. Rafael has previously expressed interest in integrating the Python 5 short-range AAM to fit into the F-35 s internal bay, the AIM-9X is currently only certified for external carriage.

Production & Delivery History

As of the time of this writing, the U.S., eight partner nations (including the U.S. as well as Canada - the later has yet to formally order aircraft) and eight FMS customers have collectively committed to field over 3,000 aircraft, though several countries have expressed interest in increasing their fleets. As of December 2021, more than 730 aircraft have been delivered. Lockheed Martin produces all F-35s at Air Force Plant 4 in Fort Worth, Texas. The facility covers over 6 million square feet with a production bay over a mile long. The company also supports two final assembly and check-out lines outside (FACO) of the United States including one in Northern Italy (Cameri) managed by Leonardo and one in Nagoya Japan (Aichi Prefecture) managed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Lockheed Martin is currently producing F-35s under Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) lots as the DoD will not grant a full rate production (FRP) decision until the NAVAIR managed Joint Simulation Environment (JSE) is ready. In April 2021, Lockheed's CFO Kenneth R. Possenriede stated Lot 16 production was expected to be awarded in Q4 of 2021. The $9 billion order is expected to comprise a 50-50 split between U.S. and international orders. The Navy awarded Lockheed a $904 million contract to support long-lead items for 133 Lot 16 aircraft on Dec. 30, 2020.

In May 2020, Lockheed Martin announced it expected to deliver 141 F-35s in 2020, only seven more than 2019, as a result of COVID-19. The pandemic was expected to tapper production for three months by 18-24 aircraft. Lockheed Martin has not commented on which customers would be affected. However, an Australian Parliamentary Committee was briefed by the RAAF that a small number of its jets could be delayed by one or two months as a result of COVID-19. Lockheed ultimately delivered 123 aircraft in 2020, including 74 U.S. and 49 foreign aircraft (31 international partner nation and 18 FMS jets).

In June 2021, Lockheed announced it planned to deliver between 133-139 aircraft in 2021. Delays as a result of COVID-19 are now expected to persist longer than anticipated. The company had previously expected to deliver 169 aircraft in 2022 and approximately 175 aircraft a year thereafter. Lockheed had stated the peak production capacity of the FT. Worth plant was 185 aircraft per year. In September 2021, the JPO and Lockheed reached a "production smoothing" agreement to help Lockheed recover from enduring supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19. Under the framework, Lockheed would deliver 156 aircraft per year for the next several years.

United States

The U.S. DoD estimates the entire domestic program will cost $397.7 billion, including $324.5 for procurement 2,456 aircraft (not including the construction of 18 test aircraft and six static ground test articles) for three services - 1,763 F-35As for USAF, 273 F-35Cs for USN and 353 F-35Bs and 67 F-35Cs for USMC. RTD&E outlays are expected to reach $70.07 billion over the life of the program. The JPO estimates that over their lifetimes these aircraft will require operations and sustainment (O&S) spending of $1.196 trillion. All of these figures are in FY21 dollars.

U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force orders alone represent approximately 50% of projected F-35 deliveries throughout the life of the program. The USAF had plans to replace 281 A-10s and more than 900 F-16s with F-35As. The service had planned to acquire 80 F-35As per year starting in 2022 but the service subsequently revised the maximum procurement rate down to 60 aircraft per year (including 48 in recent years + 12 in the unfunded priority request or UPL until FY22). The lower annual procurement rate would extend Air Force procurement by six years or from 2038 to 2044. Growing concerns over both cost per flight hour (CPFH) and Block 4 retrofit costs resulted in the USAF reducing its FY22 buy to just 48 aircraft with no additional aircraft in the UPL. Going forward, the performance of LM's proposed sustainment strategy and rollout of Block 4 into the mid-2020s is expected to impact the overall POR and forthcoming USAF and Joint Staff future tactical aircraft (TACAIR) study which is expected to be completed by the summer of 2021.

Since at least 2018, the Air Force has become increasingly concerned with the F-35A's high cost per flight hour (CPFH) as well as broader sustainment issues affecting the type such as its mission capable (MC) rates, cost per tail per year, etc. CPFH figures vary widely due to different methodology and the base year from which they were tabulated. The F-35's CPFH figures are often measured in FY12 constant dollars as that is when the program was rebaselined or in then year (TY) dollars when adjusted U.S. DoD operations & maintenance account deflator values. For example, according to CAPE, the F-35A's CPFH of $44,000 in TY2019 compared to the F-16's $22,000. The F-35 lifecycle sustainability plan (LSP) that was approved in January 2019 highlights eight lines of effort that assess cost per flying hour, cost per tail per year and overall ownership cost, according to former F-35 program executive officer Vice Adm. Mat Winter. In Feb. 2021, Air Combat Command's Gen. Mark Kelly expressed skepticism that LM would be able to lower that figure to FY12 $25,000 ($29,036) by 2025 under the proposed performance based logistics contract (PBL). Lockheed Martin reduced the cost per flying hour by 15% from 2015-2019 and another 18% from 2019-2021. However, to achieve the $25,000 flight hour goal, LM, the USAF and P&W would have to make cumulatively reduce costs by more than 30%.

Lockheed s plan for addressing concerns about the F-35A s hourly operating costs includes a major limitation. As the airframe supplier, Lockheed directly controls only 39% of the F-35A s hourly operating cost, a company official said (as shown in the table above). By contrast, the Air Force controls about 47% of the cost. The F135 engine supplier, Pratt & Whitney, is responsible for the last 14%. In absolute terms, that means the Air Force s share of the $33,000 CPFH (FY12) comes out to $15,510. Lockheed s share is $12,870, leaving P&W with $4,620 of the total bill.

By using a variety of tools, including an emerging, supply-based performance-based logistics deal and the opening of repair depots, Lockheed believes it has a solid plan to reduce the airframe portion of the cost per flight hour by 40% by the end of fiscal 2025. Since the company s cost-saving plan only applies to its $12,870 share of the overall hourly cost, a 40% reduction would reduce the F-35A s hourly cost attributable to the airframe by only $5,148, lowering Lockheed s share of the overall total to $7,722 (table above also includes notional FY21 adjusted PBL values).

In absolute terms, Lockheed s plan, if realized, would reduce the cost per flight hour of the F-35A to $27,852, which is still $2,852 higher than the company s commitment. To hit the $25,000 (FY12) target by the end of fiscal 2025, Lockheed needs help from the Air Force and Pratt, which account for $20,130 of the $33,000 hourly cost. Fortunately, neither would be required to match Lockheed s plan to cut its share of the cost by 40% over the next 4.5 years. Instead, the Air Force and Pratt would need to reduce their costs by only 14.2% to match the overall, $25,000 cost goal. In September 2021, Lockheed Martin was awarded F-35 PBL worth up to $6.6 billion. The contract is structured over FY21, FY22 and FY23 in one year option segments. CPFH could drop by 8% over the period to $33,400 in 2023.

The Air Force is evaluating levers to reduce its share of the F-35A s hourly operating cost, Gen. Charles Brown, Air Force chief of staff, said in Congressional testimony in early June. But the Air Force s options are constrained in some cases by enterprise-wide interests. For example, Lockheed has outlined a seemingly straightforward path for the Air Force to achieve a roughly 33% manpower cost reduction for line maintenance: By cross-training maintainers on multiple systems, the Air Force could cut the number assigned to each F-35A to nine from 12. However, that proposal may require the Air Force to bifurcate a common pool of aircraft maintainers, creating separate training and career pipelines for the F-35A and the rest of the fighter fleet.

Another core sustainment metric aside from CPFH is cost per tail per year (CPTPY) - the overall sustainment cost for the whole fleet divided by the number of aircraft in service. CPTPY is an important complementary metric to CPFH because the latter is highly variable with the total number of flight hours. For example, increasing flight hours decreases CPFH but would increase total sustainment costs as reflected by CPTPY. An April 2021 GAO report (above) highlighted the significant discrepancy in actual CPTPY costs above USAF projections in FY12 dollars. Notably, GAO's analysis is somewhat limited by taking current costs and projecting them forward. In practice these metrics (MC, CPFH, CPTPY) all vary with production lot. Subsequent lots have generally shown better reliability (mean time between failure) of components and greater availability including fewer man hours in maintenance.

However, the net effect of these growing sustainment concerns has put significant pressure on the 1,763 POR as the service would not be able to sustain that fleet at current CPFH metrics. Additionally, the service appears to be recalibrating its assessment that only fifth generation fighters could participate in Day 1 actions against near-peer threats. Created in January 2018 as an internal think-tank, the Air Force Warfighting Integrating Capability (AFWIC) office had torn up the long-standing assumption that only stealthy fighters could perform a useful role in the future. By the end of 2018, the AFWIC s team of analyst had adopted a new fighter roadmap which envisioned a great power war. The principal role for each F-35A was to launch two stealthy cruise missiles Lockheed s AGM-158 JASSM from just inside defended airspace. That kick-down-the-door pairing would be combined with mass launches of multiple JASSM each from F-15Es and F-15EXs, the source said. Other missions namely, defensive counter-air and homeland defense could be performed by the F-35, but other aircraft, such as F-15EXs and F-16s, also could be used. Driven by this new appreciation for a portfolio of fighter capabilities, the AFWIC team also reconsidered how many of each type would be needed. AFWIC s fighter roadmap by the end of 2018 had capped F-35A deliveries at about 1,050 jets. If new aircraft orders are maintained at a rate of two to 2.5 squadrons a year between 48 and 60 jets for the foreseeable future, the Air Force is at least 10 years away from hitting the 1,050 cap in AFWIC s fighter roadmap.

In the meantime, the Air Force faces other decisions about whether to invest in more fourth-generation fighters, F-35As or next generation aircraft. The Air Force still operates 232 F-16C/D Block 25 and Block 30 jets, which were delivered in the mid-1980s. Air Force officials have said they expect to make a fleet replacement decision for these so-called pre-block F-16s in four to seven years. When the Air Force established the program of record for buying 1,763 F-35As, the plan assumed replacing all of those pre-block F-16s. As a replacement decision enters the DOD s five-year budgeting horizon, however, Air Force officials have been more flexible. In February 2020, the head of Air Combat Command, who was then Gen. Mike Holmes, said that low-cost, attritable aircraft would be considered for the pre-block F-16 replacement in the 2024-2027 timeframe. Discussions of a FT-7 (modified Boeing T-7A Red Hawk) or new build F-16 Block 70 were also reportedly discussed as options. In February 2021, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Brown announced CAPE would conduct a tactical combat aircraft (TACAIR) study for its future force structure. A "clean sheet" 4.5 generation aircraft would be evaluated as a potential option according to Gen. Brown. In May 2021 as part of its budget rollout, the Air Force revealed plans to replace the 600 "post-Block" F-16s by the prospective multi-role fighter (MR-X) or the F-35 should its sustainment metrics improve.

Even if the Summer 2021 TACAIR study validates the full 1,763 POR, a bow wave of modernization priorities in the mid-2020s into the early 2030s may force the USAF to reduce its buy of F-35s. The USAF's FY22 aircraft procurement budget was $15.7 billion of which $3.76 billion was for the modification of in-service aircraft and $9.74 billion for new build aircraft (remainder on spares, infrastructure, etc.). By mid-decade the USAF aircraft procurement account will be under enormous strain to fund at least five B-21s annually at FRP worth more than $3.4 billion, as well as T-7A FRP, KC-46 FRP, HH-60W FRP, MH-139 FRP and 72 TACAIR platforms per year (F-35 & F-15EX). If trends continue, the USAF would need more than a 30% higher procurement budget for new build aircraft than its FY22 request. The budget outlook becomes even more bleak later in the decade as NGAD RDT&E reaches its apex and transitions to production, MQ-Next enters service around 2031 and KC-Y (KC-46 follow-on) also enters service. Thus, the USAF has a narrow window in the 2020s in which it is able to afford to buy 60 F-35As per year to recap its legacy TACAIR platforms before the wave of next generation platforms enter service. If the USAF buys 60 F-35As per year through 2030, the USAF would reach the 2018 AFWIC figure of 1,050 airframes

The FY22 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) included a number of measures to correct the trajectory of F-35 O&S efforts across the services and re-align procurement. The bill mandates each of the services to generate CPTPY figures by October 1st, 2025 which will come into force by FY2027. If any variant is unable to meet the CPTPY, procurement could be proportionally reduced. Perhaps most significantly, the JPO would transfer all O&S responsibilities to the respective services by FY2028 followed by all acquisition responsibilities by FY2030. The bill also requests an acquisition strategy from the Secretary of the Air Force and Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment to outfit the F-35A with an adaptive cycle engine by FY2027. The NDAA discusses the prospect of B and C model engine upgrades.

Department of the Navy

Cumulatively, the USN and USMC plan to buy 693 F-35s including 353 Bs and 67 Cs for the USMC as well as 273 C models Navy. These aircraft will be procured into the early 2030s to replace the legacy Hornet and AV-8 Harrier. The Navy's slow induction of F-35Cs and expansion of its Super Hornet POR has effectively meant legacy hornets in carrier air wings have already been replaced. The FY22 budget request's UPL adds five F-35Cs for $535 million, increasing C model procurement from 15 to 20 if authorized. The Navy will operationally deploy F-35Cs for the first time in 2021 from the USS Carl Vinson.

As of the time of this writing, the USMC's POR for 353 Bs and 67 Cs remains in flux. U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger may alter the service s POR as a result of an external review following the Force Design 2030 . The wide-reaching for structure plan recommended cutting the number of F-35s per squadron from 16 to 10 while maintaining a requirement for 18 fighter/attack squadrons. The external study will re-evaluate the USMC s existing F-35 POR. The latest Selected Acquisition Report current as of the FY2021 PBR does not alter the USMC s POR.

Australia

Australia has a program of record for 72 F-35As which will be delivered by August 2023. A fourth squadron is being considered which would increase the fleet to 100 aircraft. Australia established the AIR6000 program in 1999 to study the replacement of its Legacy Hornet and F-111 Aardvark fleets. Australia joined the JSF program as a level three partner in 2002.

In December 2021, the Australian Audit Office reported the nation's total F-35 acquisition cost is AU$15.63 billion ($11.1 billion), including payments for RDT&E contributions, aircraft procurement, military construction, weapons and training under the AIR 6000 program. Australian F-35A procurement under the AIR 6000 program is divided into two phases: 14 aircraft under Phase 2A/2B Stage 1 and 58 aircraft under Phase 2A/2B Stage 2. The roll-out of the first two aircraft occurred on July 24, 2014 and the first aircraft took flight on Sep. 29. As of December 2021, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has taken delivery of 44 airframes. The RAAF is the first international customer to receive Block 3F airframes. First arrival in Australia is occurred in December 2018 with an IOC of December 2020 and FOC in December 2023. The RAAF considers the addition of maritime strike capability critical toward the FOC. One of the squadrons will be based at RAAF Tindal, with the remainder at RAAF Williamtown. Canberra will spend AUS$1.5 billion upgrading those bases as part of the F-35 acquisition.

On Dec. 17, 2014, the JPO announced Australia would be one of the countries in the Pacific region to host heavy airframe and engine maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade (MRO&U) work. In February 2015, the Australian Minister of Defence announced BAE Systems Australia and TAE Aerospace will be assigned to support regional depot maintenance for airframes and engines respectively. The U.S. Government assigned depot level work for 65 components in November 2016. BAE Australia, Northrop Grumman Australia, RUAG and GE Aviation Australia will perform maintenance for 64 out of 65 components for the Asia-Pacific. In August 2017, the U.S. announced BAE Systems Australia will provide the Asia-Pacific F-35 Regional Warehouse capability as part of the F-35 Global Support Solution. The warehouse will be located in Williamstown and will manage the organization and provision of spares for multiple F-35 operators in the Asia-Pacific region. Total Australian industry participation in the F-35 program exceeds A$1 billion ($720 million in 2018 U.S. dollars) by the end of 2018 with A$5-9 billion expected over the program ($4.31-6.47 billion).

In December 2018, RAAF Air Marshall Leo Davies said Defence had planned to request the 28-additional aircraft in the early 2020s. Air Marshall Davies suggested Australia may wait longer likely as a result of the major changes expected through the Block 4 follow-on modernization program. Australia s DWP update released in July 2020 outlines plans for additional air combat capability between 2025 and the early 2030s valued at A$4.5-$6.7 billion ($3.1-$4.65 billion). In March 2021 interview with ASPI, Air Marshall Hupfeld was non-comital on a follow-on F-35 order, "We look at all options...What s the sixth generation of airpower going to look like when we decide on the next round of F-35s? Is F-35 still valid if there s a sixth-generation aircraft? Will sixth-generation air combat capability be an aircraft? I don t know the answer to that, but they re the things I keep my eyes open for. The [uncrewed] loyal wingman is an example of what may be part of the solution when we look at the next phase of our air combat capability program. And I d never say never to any of those". As of the time of this writing, Australia remain supportive of Boeing's Air Power Teaming offering but has yet to formally commit toward fielding the aircraft operationally.

Belgium

In October 2018, Belgium officially selected the F-35 as the victor of its international fighter competition. Belgium was the last of the European Participating Air Forces (EPAF) nations to choose the F-35 to replace its F-16 fleet. The Defence Ministry reports the total cost of the acquisition of 34 F-35As as well as training and associated military construction costs total 4 billion ($4.5 billion in 2019 dollars) by 2030. The DSCA notification issued in January 2018 included a $6.53 billion estimated cost for the acquisition of the aircraft, related equipment and support services. The Defence Ministry estimates the total cost of the aircraft throughout its projected 40-year service life will reach 12.4 billion ($14.1 billion in 2019 dollars).

The competition originally included the Dassault Rafale, Saab Jas 39 Gripen, Boeing F/A-18E/F, Eurofighter Typhoon and Lockheed Martin F-35A. In 2017 both Saab and Boeing withdrew from the competition citing requirements which reportedly favored the F-35. Dassault was disqualified by not responding to the Request for Proposals (RFP). Instead, the French Defense Minister sent a letter outlining a broader industrial and diplomatic partnership conditional on the sale of the Rafale. The F-35 and Eurofighter Typhoon were subsequently left as the only qualifying bids.

Canada

Canada first joined the JSF program as a tier three partner in February 2000, contributing $150 million ($222.6 million in 2018 dollars) toward its development. Canada had planned to purchase 65 F-35As to replace its CF-18 Hornet fleet. In September 2015, Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau campaigned that he would withdraw Canada from the F-35 program and hold a competition excluding the F-35. Canada s 2017 Defence Policy Report outlined that an open competition would be held to replace the CF-18 with 88 new fighter aircraft. In October 2016, Ottawa announced its intention to purchase 18 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets as an interim fighter to bridge this gap. However, trade disputes between Boeing and Bombardier effectively canceled the purchase. Canada will now acquire 18 retired RAAF Hornets as an interim fighter, but the aircraft are approximately the same age as Canada s existing CF-18 fleet.

Eligible suppliers for the $11 billion Future Fighter Capability Project (FFCP) submitted bids in 2019. In May 2019, the U.S. Government was in discussions with Canada regarding FFCP bid language which would require all competing firms to guarantee Canadian businesses 100% of the value of the deal in economic benefits. The U.S. Government took issue with the economic offset clause as written as it would exclude the F-35 and violate Canada s prior commitments as a F-35 partner nation. Canada ultimately modified the language of the bid to allow Lockheed Martin to participate. In November 2018, Dassault reportedly withdrew from the competition as a result of information security requirements. France is not part of the Five Eyes intelligence agreement. Dassault s withdrawal leaves the Saab JAS 39 E/F, Boeing F/A-18E/F and Lockheed Martin F-35. Canada is subsequently disqualified Boeing's bid on December 1st, 2021. The country is expected to announce source selection by March of 2022 and deliveries expected to run between 2025 and 2031.

Denmark

Denmark first jointed the JSF program as a tier three partner in 2002. In June 2016, Denmark selected the F-35 as its preferred replacement for its fleet of 44 F-16s which first entered service in in 1980. The Defense Ministry projects a total program cost of 66.1 billion kroners or $10 billion in November 2018 dollars for 27 F-35As. The acquisition cost is reportedly 20 billion Danish Krone or $3 billion in 2019 dollars. In a April 2021 rollout ceremony, Denmark's first F-35A was presented. The first six aircraft will go to Luke AFB, AZ, training. The aircraft will be subsequently based in Denmark between 2022-23 and with the last F-35A to to be delivered by the end of 2024.

On April 14, 2014, Denmark issued request for information to Lockheed for the F-35A but also requested information on the F/A-18F, Typhoon and JAS 39E/F. Responses were due July 21, 2014. That month, Sweden's FXM defense export agency decided not to make a formal offer of the JAS 39E/F, believing the competition was biased toward favor of the F-35A. In a report discussing the Government s reasoning for choosing the F-35, the Danish Ministry of Defence concluded that Lockheed Martin s bid was superior to both Boeing and Eurofighter s bids in terms of strategic, military, economic and industrial aspects. A key finding of the MoD was the F-35 s airframe is built to last 8,000 flight hours when compared to 6,000 for both the Eurofighter Typhoon and F/A-18E/F. Therefore, a smaller number of F-35s could be procured to meet the same mission demands i.e. 28 F-35As compared to 34 Eurofighters and 38 F/A-18E/Fs. The procurement was subsequently curtailed to 27 F-35As.

Finland

On December 10, 2021, Finland announced its intent to acquire 64 F-35A Block 4s upon completing the HX competitive evaluation process. Like Norwegian aircraft, Sweden's F-35s will be fitted with brake-parachutes. Deliveries will get underway in 2025 to support training in the U.S, Finnish F-35s will arrive in-country in 2026 and the type will replace the Finnish Air Force s McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornets between 2028 and 2030. This decision will have a strong impact on the Defense Forces operational capability, said Antti Kaikkonen, Finland s defense minister, announcing the decision alongside Prime Minister Sanna Marin on December 10. The F-35, Kaikkonen said, would define Finnish Air Force s combat capability through into the 2060s. Helsinki s decision comes on the back of Switzerland s selection of the same aircraft in July and means that the F-35 has been successful in virtually every fighter contest it has participated in Europe. We are honored the Government of Finland through its thorough, open competition has selected the F-35, and we look forward to partnering with the Finnish Defense Forces and Finnish defense industry to deliver and sustain the F-35 aircraft, said Bridget Lauderdale, Lockheed Martin s general manager of the F-35 program. Defense officials scored F-35 as the best based on the air, land and sea scenarios posed to the bidders, although no details of the scoring system or what the other bidders achieved was revealed. The F-35 was also deemed to have the highest operational effectiveness and the best development potential.

Helsinki plans to sign the Letter of Offer and Acceptance for the Foreign Military Sale in the first quarter of 2022. Finland had budgeted 10 billion for the procurement, with the Finnish Parliament approving the use of 9.4 billion.
The breakdown of costs includes 4.7 billion for the aircraft, equivalent to 73.4 million ($83 million) for each of the 64 aircraft. Air-to-air missiles package is valued at 754 million, while the maintenance equipment, spare parts, training equipment and initial maintenance for the first five years of operations will cost 2.92 billion. Officials have put aside 777 million for infrastructure construction and project costs, while 823 million is available for additional contracts, and amendments, as well as future buys of weapons. They also note that the operating costs are well within the threshold of 10% - 254 million - of the annual defense budget, with officials noting the type s operation is possible with the resources of the Defense Forces. None of the bids were significantly cheaper in terms of operating and maintenance costs, defense officials said. The Lockheed aircraft scored 4.47/5.0, the next best package scored 3.81 - likely the Boeing F/A-18E/F & EA-18G.

Finland envisages arming its F-35s with the AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, Small Diameter Bombs, Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bomb kits, the Kongsberg Joint Strike Missile and the JASSM-ER cruise missile. Procurement officials say the F-35 s maintenance will be based on a solution modified from F-35's global maintenance system, adding that the proposed system meets domestic security of supply requirements. Finland s non-aligned status means it cannot rely on allies in wartime like other operators of the F-35 can. Lockheed Martin says Finland will be able to rely on the F-35 s Global Support Solution but it will work to enable Finnish industry to undertake the repair of around 100 critical components so that the fleet can be supported if Finland becomes isolated in the event of a conflict. There will also be additional stockpiles of F-35 spares in Finland. Lockheed Martin says it will provide work for Finnish industry which will last up to 20 years. Among the companies to benefit is Patria who will build 400 forward fuselages for the wider program. Kaikkonen said the contest was tough, and there can be only one winner, adding: I would like to stress that all countries involved, are very close and valued partners for Finland, they continue to be so. Our cooperation with all of them is based on long term partnerships, mutual trust and common security interests, Kaikkonen added.

Israel

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) is on contract to receive 50 F-35s. These aircraft are referred to both as F-35As and F-35Is depending upon the source as Israeli aircraft feature unique modifications. Jerusalem purchased a first batch of 19 JSFs for $2.75 billion in 2010. These aircraft are being produced as part of LRIPs 8, 9 and 10. The first two aircraft were delivered in December 2016, the IAF declared IOC a year later in December 2017. In November 2014, the Israeli Defense Minister concluded terms for a $4.4 billion contract for 31 additional F-35s. However, the proposal ran into unexpected resistance in the Israeli cabinet, in which the Intelligence Minister raised concerns about the aircraft's capabilities and the Finance Minister raised concerns about cost. The IAF and Defense Ministry rejected the Intelligence Minster's concerns as "old and irrelevant" and stated the alternatives to additional F-35s would cost more.

On Nov. 30, the cabinet voted to purchase 14 aircraft in the second batch under a $2.8 billion contract that will also cover two additional simulators and spare parts for the fleet of 33. On November 27, 2016, Israel's cabinet approved exercising the option to procure an additional 17 F-35s for a total of 50 aircraft. In February 2018, the DoD announced a $147.96 million contract to deliver Block 3F+ upgrades to the IAF. These upgrades will enable Israeli specific hardware and software modifications.

In December 2018, IAI opened a new production line for outer wing sets which will deliver kits starting in 2019. A total of 700 wing kits will be manufactured during the first phase, IAI is expected to produce 811 pairs of wings by 2034. Israeli industrial participation in the F-35 program is expected to reach $2.5 billion by the 2030s. Israel was originally included within the European MRO&U zone for depot level overhauls, but Israel has insisted that it will field its own local depot level MRO capability for its F-35 fleet.

As part of an offset agreement related to the UAE's potential F-35 acquisition, Israel has expressed interest in an additional squadron of F-35As which would bring its total fleet to 75 aircraft. Furthermore, Israel is reported to have obtained greater access to modify its aircraft as part of the offset deal. The first instrumented F-35I test aircraft arrived in Tel Nof Air Force Base in November 2020.

Italy

On June 24, 2002, Italy joined the JSF as a Level II partner and contributed $1 billion toward the development of the program. Rome currently plans to acquire a total of 60 F-35As and 15 F-35Bs for its air force, the Aeronautica Militare (AM). The Italian Navy will acquire 15 F-35Bs. As of December 2021, 14 F-35As and one F-35B have been delivered to the AM and three F-35Bs has been delivered to the Italian Navy.

Rome originally planned to acquire 131 F-35s (69 F-35As and 60 F-35Bs) to replace its IDS Tornado, AMX light combat aircraft and AV-8B Harriers. In February 2012, Defense Minister Giampaolo Di Paola announced cuts to the F-35 program as part of a broader effort to enact defense spending cuts. The center-left Democratic Party called for further cuts to the F-35 program in 2014 which did not materialize. In 2018, Italian participation in the F-35 program was threatened by the Five Star Movement which campaigned to withdraw from the program entirely. In June 2018, Defense Minister Elisabetta Trenta clarified that the Government would continue the acquisition of 90 F-35s. However, the government would not seek additional aircraft beyond 90 and the procurement of aircraft may be slowed to reduced Italy s financial burden.

Italian industry is the largest contributor to the F-35 program outside of the U.S. and UK. Italian industrial participation in the F-35 program broadly falls within three categories: (1) final assembly of aircraft, (2) manufacture of components for the global supply chain and (3) depot level sustainment responsibility for Europe. Italy maintains one of two Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) lines outside of the U.S. The Cameri plant was built between 2011 and 2013 at a cost of 795.6 million euros ($900 million in 2018 dollars). The facility covers approximately 101 ac

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DEC

Lockheed Martin F-35 (JSF)

Lockheed Martin F-35 (JSF) user+1@localho Tue, 12/14/2021 - 21:17

The F-35 Lightning II / Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is a U.S. fifth-generation, single engine, multirole fighter developed in partnership with eight nations and produced by Lockheed Martin. It is designed in three variants and is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan engine. Each variant features a different derivative of the F135 engine. As of December 2021, more than 730 F-35s have been delivered to the U.S., international JSF partners and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. Production is expected to continue into the 2040s.

Features

Low Observable Technology

All variants of the F-35 use a variety of techniques to reduce their radar cross section (RCS). Some of these techniques were used on previous low observable aircraft while others have been improved or are completely new. As with the F-22, the F-35 uses planform alignment to orient flight surfaces, fuselage facets and gaps to concentrate radar reflections into a minimum number of angles. The canopy is metalized to reduce scattering from the cockpit. Doors and access panels have sawtooth edges. Internal weapons bays allow the aircraft to carry air-to-air weapons and a small number of ground-attack weapons while keeping the ordnance shielded from radar.

The engine exhaust is also designed with low-observability to radar in mind. The nozzle consists of vanes with rear-facing facets that abut into a circular, sawtooth pattern. The outer surfaces of the vanes appear to be covered with RAM. In addition, towards the front of the nozzle, the vanes are covered by skin panels with sawtooth patterns that also adjoin with each other in a sawtooth fashion. These panels are likely radar-absorbent structures whose purpose is to reduce scattering in the gap between the vanes and fuselage around the nozzle.

Low observable technologies significantly matured between the development of the F-22 and the subsequent F-35 as shown by the F-35 s use of Diverterless Supersonic Inlets (DSIs) and improved Radar-Absorbent Material (RAM) coatings. Lockheed Martin began internal research and development on low observable Mach 2 inlets in the early 1990s which informed the X-35 s development. In the Spring of 1997, Lockheed Martin had two competing X-35 design proposals. One featured Caret inlets (used in the F-22 and F/A-18E/F) and the other used DSIs. Lockheed had demonstrated the feasibility of DSIs through flight testing of a modified F-16 in December 1997. Inlet designs of modern fighter aircraft must provide flow compression and boundary layer control such that the engine is fed high pressure, low distortion airflow across multiple flight regimes. The F-22 s 2-D Caret inlets use a boundary layer diverter and bleed system feeding into serpentine ducts to regulate airflow at the cost of manufacturing complexity and weight. Lockheed Martin studies showed incorporating DSIs would lower weight, be easier to manufacture and lower the X-35 s RCS. The F-35 s DSIs have a 3-D bump and forward swept cowl which feed into a bifurcated, serpentine duct eliminating the need for a boundary layer diverter and bleed system.

The F-35 s RAM represents a significant improvement in signature reduction and maintenance needs when compared to the F-22 and B-2. Gaps between parts on the skin of the aircraft generate radar returns, the F-22 and B-2 solve this problem by applying a thick topcoat of RAM on top of the gaps. Lockheed Martin reduced the number of parts on the F-35 s skin and used improved manufacturing technologies (such as precision laser alignment of parts during assembly) to eliminate gaps. Lockheed Martin claims that parts fit so precisely that 99% of maintenance requires no restoration of low-observable surfaces . This new approach reduces the amount of RAM required, greatly lessens the airframe's need for line maintenance (by as much as two orders of magnitude compared to the F-22) and also makes the F-35's low observability features more resilient by mitigating the risk of skin abrasions. The F-35 still receives a RAM topcoat that is applied in thicker layers at high scattering areas, such as the engine inlets. The coating also reduces skin friction and drag, thereby saving fuel and likely reducing the aircraft's IR signature. Beneath the RAM-embedded material is a conductive layer that further reduces RCS by modifying the radio waves before they bounce back out through the RAM.

Avionics


APG-81 Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar
The F-35's radar, the Northrop Grumman APG-81, evolved from the APG-77 featured on the F-22A. Compared to conventional, mechanically-scanned radars, the APG-81's active electronically scanned array (AESA) delivers greater range, 1,000-times faster scanning and the ability to engage many more targets simultaneously. The APG-81 features at least 1,200 transmit receiver modules. Detection range varies with the square root of antenna size and fourth root of transmitted power. However, the APG-81 features better transmit/receive modules and improved processing than the APG-77. In 2000, a senior U.S. Air Force official predicted the JSF radar would have 75% of the detection range of the F-22 s. APG-81 capabilities include: Ground Moving Target Indication (GMTI), Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), high gain Electronic Support Measure (ESM) and Electronic Attack (EA), cruise missile detection and tracking and air-to-air multitarget detection and tracking. The APG-81 can simultaneously operate in air-to-air and air-to-surface modes. A maritime targeting mode will be installed later and is expected to include an inverse SAR mode.

AAQ-37 Distributed Aperture System
In addition to the radar, the JSF bears a unique Distributed Aperture System (DAS) that provides unmatched levels of visual situational awareness. Six mid-wave IR cameras, each weighing 16-17 lb., are situated around the aircraft to enable the DAS to see in all directions: one camera is mounted on each side of the chine line beneath the canopy, one camera is mounted in front of the canopy, one camera is mounted on the dorsal (in front of the boom refueling receptacle for the F-35A) and two cameras are mounted on the underside of the fuselage. Each camera provides a 95 field of regard, combining to form 570 overlapping coverage. The DAS informs the pilot of threats such as surface-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft artillery and other aircraft. When a threat is detected, the system boxes it in the visor projection or draws the pilot s attention to it with alert signals and lines.

Generation III Helmet Mounted Display System
The F-35 does not have a Head-up Display (HUD) like most modern fighter aircraft. Relevant flight reference, navigation and weapons employment functions which are typically displayed on a HUD are instead shown on the F-35 s Generation III (Gen III) Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS). The HMDS supports off boresight AIM-9X shots. The pilot looks at a target through the HMDS and locks onto it. The AIM-9X can maneuver up to 90 from the aircraft s centerline to pursue the target.

The Gen III helmet projects the feed from the DAS onto the pilot's visor, showing the image from the DAS during the day or night in whichever direction the pilot's head is turned, including down and backwards, essentially letting the pilot see through the aircraft. The Gen III helmet also bears an ISIE-11 digital night vision camera which projects its two megapixels of data at 60 hertz onto the HMDS.

AAQ-40 Electro-Optical Targeting System

The Lockheed Martin AAQ-40 Electro-Optical Tracking System (EOTS) is a mid-wave infrared sensor which provides F-35 pilots with long-range IRST, air-to-air targeting forward-looking infrared (TFLIR), high resolution forward-looking infrared (FLIR), laser designation and laser spot tracking capabilities. EOTS provides additional passive detection capability along with the ASQ-239 electronic warfare suite. The APG-81 can cue the AAQ-40 to locate and track airborne targets. The system is housed in a low observable aperture in the lower forward fuselage. Space, power and cooling constraints presented major challenges to the development of EOTS the system occupies approximately four cubic feet and weighs 202 lbs. The EOTS is mounted right below the radio frequency support electronics of the APG-81 and is cooled with polyalphaolefin (PAO) liquid coolant in a similar manner as the APG-81.

ASQ-239 Electronic Warfare Suite
The BAE ASQ-239 Electronic Warfare/Countermeasure System (EW/CM) integrates RF and IR spectrum self-protection and ESM functions. The ASQ-239 supports: emitter geolocation, high gain EW through the APG-81, multi-ship emitter location, radar warning and self-protection countermeasures and jamming. Lockheed Martin claims the F-35 s EW systems are capable of transmitting ten times the radiated power of legacy fourth generation aircraft, enabling the F-35 to provide stand-off jamming capabilities. Pre-Block 4 aircraft have six multi-element antenna array sets covering the Band 3 and Band 4 frequency spectrum (S band for IEEE designation). Two antenna apertures are installed on the leading edge of each wing and one antenna aperture is installed next to the aft wing tip of each wing. The antenna placement for the F-35C is slightly altered to account for the F-35C s longer-folding wing. Band 2 and 5 antennas will be installed as part of the Block 4 modernization program.

ASQ-242 Communications, Navigation and Identification System
The Northrop Grumman ASQ-242 Communications, Navigation and Identification System is an integrated avionics system which combines the following functions: identification, friend-or-foe (IFF), secure, jam-resistant and low probability of intercept communications and navigation and landing aids. The F-35 has two primary methods of communication, voice radio and data links. Radios include SINCGARS, HAVEQUICK, GUARD and VMF 220D.

The F-35 s primary data link is the Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL) which provides low probability of intercept communications between F-35s. Each F-35 within a four-ship formation can share data that one aircraft collects within the whole formation. In 2009, Chief of the USAF s Electronic System Center Airborne Networking Division Michael Therrian, explained MADL is a Ku-band data link which transmits a narrow beam between aircraft using a daisy chain system. The first aircraft sends the narrow beam signal to the second aircraft which in turn sends the signal throughout the rest of the formation. MADL trades bandwidth for low observability. Conventional data links like Link 16 have higher bandwidth capacity but broadcast signals which can be located by adversary electronic support measures. The F-35 can communicate with legacy platforms such as the F-15 and F-16 using Link 16 but its use will be subject to the threat environment and techniques, tactics and procedures which will be developed by the services to mitigate the limitations of Link 16.

Weapon Systems

While equipped with six external hard points (not including the centerline gun pod mount for the F-35B and F-35C), the F-35 must carry its weapons internally in two weapon bays to maintain its low observability. For strike missions, the JSF can internally accommodate two Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) -2,000-lb. GBU-31s for the F-35A and C, 1,000-lb. GBU-32s for the F-35B - along with two AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs). The bay can also house the GBU-38 500-lb. JDAM, GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb I (SDB), GBU-12 500-lb. laser-guided bomb (LGBs) and AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW), as well as the U.K.'s AIM-132 Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (ASRAAM) and Brimstone air-to-surface missile. In the air-to-air role, the F-35 can currently accommodate four AIM-120s internally. The U.S. its close allies Australia and the UK use the more advanced AIM-120D with a maximum range of 100 nautical miles. Other operators use the AIM-120C-7 and C-8 (obsolescence modification of the C-7). A pair of AIM-9X Block IIs can be carried on LO pylons. U.S. Navy budget documents suggest the latest variant of the Sidewinder features RAM to reduce its RCS, though its sill expected to degrade the F-35's LO performance.

The F-35A carries a GAU-22/A four-barrel, 25mm cannon internally; the B and C variants have no internal cannon but can carry a reduced RCS missionized gun pod externally. Four 25mm rounds are being developed for the F-35: the ATK PGU-23 training round, Nammo s PGU-47/U armored-piercing explosive (APEX) round for all F-35 variants, Rheinmetall's PGU-48A/B Frangible Armored Piercing round for the F-35A and the General Dynamics/ATK PGU-32 semi-armored piercing high explosive incendiary (SAPHEI-T) round for the F-35B and C. The PGU-48/U and PGU-32 rounds are specialized to defeat targets particular to the respective service. Over 3,400 rounds of PGU-23, PGU-47 and PGU-48 rounds were fired from F-35As against both ground and aerial targets. The DoD Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) reported that it found the accuracy of the gun, as installed on the F-35A, to be unacceptable . Possible remedial actions include re-boresighting and correcting gun alignments. A total of 2,685 PGU-23 and PGU-32 rounds were fired from the missionized gun pod during tests. The DOT&E reports the gun pod meets air-to-ground contract specifications and do not share the accuracy errors of the F-35A.

In March 2018, the USAF awarded Rheinmetall Switzerland a $6.5 million contract for 40,000 rounds of PGU-48A/B rounds. In October 2018, Orbital ATK was awarded a $1.5 billion contract to deliver 332,993 rounds ammunition across multiple types including the PGU-32.

Blocks

To support the concurrent development and early production efforts, the F-35 is being fielded in Blocks. Some blocks incorporate hardware as well as software changes. Blocks 0, 0.1, 0.5, 1A, 1B and 2A supported testing and limited training capability for early LRIP and System Development and Demonstration aircraft. Block 2B began flight testing in February 2014 and provides initial combat capabilities to the F-35 including expanded MADL capability, multi-ship sensor fusion and the carriage of two AIM-120C-7 AMRAAMs and two PGMs (either the GBU-32 JDAM or GBU-12). The USMC declared IOC on the Block 2B software in July 2015 which comprises 87% of the final code and will deliver the initial warfighting capabilities.

The Block 3i configuration forms the stepping stone for full Block 3F warfighting capability. Block 3i rehosts Block 2B software with substantial hardware changes. Block 3i includes new radar, EW and Integrated Core Processor (ICP) modules. The configuration also adds the third generation HMD which corrects the Gen II helmet s poor night vision acuity. The USAF declared IOC with the Block 3i configuration.

Block 3F configuration represents the full warfighting capability configuration for the F-35 including:

  • Full Flight Envelope: 9g maneuvering and top speed of Mach 1.6
  • Full Weapon Capability of: GBU-31 1,000 lbs. JDAM, GBU-32 2,000 lbs. JDAM, GBU-39 SDB I, Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW) C1, AIM-120D, AIM-9X and GAU-22 cannon

According to Lockheed Martin, Block 3F software has more than 8.3 million lines of code which is approximately four the amount of code in the F-22. Block 3F was released on late LRIP 9 aircraft during the Fall of 2017. There were 31 different versions of the Block 3F software by the end of October 2017. In December 2018, the F-35 began the Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) phase using version 30R02 of the Block 3F software. DoD Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) Robert Behler announced that 30R02 improves the F-35 s suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD), electronic attack, air interdiction and offensive counter air capabilities. See upgrades section for additional information about future Block capabilities. Note, upgrades beyond FOC (Block 4) are discussed in the upgrades section of the profile.

Variants

F-35A

The F-35A Conventional Takeoff and Landing (CTOL) variant is the U.S. Air Force (USAF) model powered by the P&W F135-100 turbofan. The aircraft will replace the F-16 and A-10. The variant reached Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in August 2016 and by the 2030s it will constitute the bulk of the service's fighters. The F-35A can be visually distinguished by its boom refueling receptacle port on the top of the airframe and gun blister mounted on the upper port side (left from the perspective of the aircraft when facing forward).

F-35B

The F-35B Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant is the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) model, intended to replace the service's AV-8Bs on amphibious assault vessels and F/A-18s at land bases and on aircraft carriers. The design is most distinguished by its unique lift system. The F135-600 engine has a rear nozzle that can rotate downward 90 deg. for vertical thrust, while also swiveling left and right for yaw control in a hover. The engine also drives a shaft connecting it, via a clutch, to a two-stage lift fan located behind the cockpit and exhausting downward through nozzle vanes that vector the vertical thrust fore and aft. Finally, compressor bleed air is fed to nozzles in the wings to provide vertical lift and roll control. Together, these systems allow the F-35B to take off from short runways or decks and land vertically. The F-35B can be visually distinguished by its shortened canopy as a result of the lift fan. The panel lines as well as associated markings are visible from both the top and bottom of the airframe. The B variant also has two diamond-shaped roll ducts on the underside of each wing.

F-35C

The F-35C carrier variant (CV) is the U.S. Navy (USN) model, intended to provide a stealthy strike platform to complement the F/A-18 in U.S. carrier air wings. It is most distinguished by its larger wings (which include two control surfaces each instead of one on the A & C variants) and horizontal stabilizers, as well as its tailhook and reinforced landing gear. The F-35C is powered by a single F135-400 turbofan engine. USN declared its F-35C's had reached IOC in 2019. The F-35C has a diminished flight envelope with a g-limit of 7.5 when compared to 9.0 for the other variants. Like the F-35B, the F-35C lacks an internally mounted cannon.

F-35I

The IAF version of the JSF is based off the F-35A and is sometimes designated as the F-35I for its unique features and has been dubbed the Adir (Great). Israel has insisted it be allowed to install indigenous technologies on the JSF. After long deliberations, it was decided that the first squadron of F-35s will be delivered to Israel with only unique Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) capabilities developed by Israel Aerospace Industries. The C4I system and the software will facilitate future indigenous weapon and electronic warfare capabilities. In terms of weapons capabilities, Israel has received a license to integrate Rafael s Spice GPS/EO/IIR bomb-guidance systems. Rafael is about to complete the development of a Spice seeker and tail kit that could fit into the JSF s weapons bays. In July 2018, Lockheed Martin and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to market the Smart, Precise Impact and Cost-Effective (SPICE) series of PGMs. Rafael has previously expressed interest in integrating the Python 5 short-range AAM to fit into the F-35 s internal bay, the AIM-9X is currently only certified for external carriage.

Production & Delivery History

As of the time of this writing, the U.S., eight partner nations (including the U.S. as well as Canada - the later has yet to formally order aircraft) and eight FMS customers have collectively committed to field over 3,000 aircraft, though several countries have expressed interest in increasing their fleets. As of December 2021, more than 730 aircraft have been delivered. Lockheed Martin produces all F-35s at Air Force Plant 4 in Fort Worth, Texas. The facility covers over 6 million square feet with a production bay over a mile long. The company also supports two final assembly and check-out lines outside (FACO) of the United States including one in Northern Italy (Cameri) managed by Leonardo and one in Nagoya Japan (Aichi Prefecture) managed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Lockheed Martin is currently producing F-35s under Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) lots as the DoD will not grant a full rate production (FRP) decision until the NAVAIR managed Joint Simulation Environment (JSE) is ready. In April 2021, Lockheed's CFO Kenneth R. Possenriede stated Lot 16 production was expected to be awarded in Q4 of 2021. The $9 billion order is expected to comprise a 50-50 split between U.S. and international orders. The Navy awarded Lockheed a $904 million contract to support long-lead items for 133 Lot 16 aircraft on Dec. 30, 2020.

In May 2020, Lockheed Martin announced it expected to deliver 141 F-35s in 2020, only seven more than 2019, as a result of COVID-19. The pandemic was expected to tapper production for three months by 18-24 aircraft. Lockheed Martin has not commented on which customers would be affected. However, an Australian Parliamentary Committee was briefed by the RAAF that a small number of its jets could be delayed by one or two months as a result of COVID-19. Lockheed ultimately delivered 123 aircraft in 2020, including 74 U.S. and 49 foreign aircraft (31 international partner nation and 18 FMS jets).

In June 2021, Lockheed announced it planned to deliver between 133-139 aircraft in 2021. Delays as a result of COVID-19 are now expected to persist longer than anticipated. The company had previously expected to deliver 169 aircraft in 2022 and approximately 175 aircraft a year thereafter. Lockheed had stated the peak production capacity of the FT. Worth plant was 185 aircraft per year. In September 2021, the JPO and Lockheed reached a "production smoothing" agreement to help Lockheed recover from enduring supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19. Under the framework, Lockheed would deliver 156 aircraft per year for the next several years.

United States

The U.S. DoD estimates the entire domestic program will cost $397.7 billion, including $324.5 for procurement 2,456 aircraft (not including the construction of 18 test aircraft and six static ground test articles) for three services - 1,763 F-35As for USAF, 273 F-35Cs for USN and 353 F-35Bs and 67 F-35Cs for USMC. RTD&E outlays are expected to reach $70.07 billion over the life of the program. The JPO estimates that over their lifetimes these aircraft will require operations and sustainment (O&S) spending of $1.196 trillion. All of these figures are in FY21 dollars.

U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force orders alone represent approximately 50% of projected F-35 deliveries throughout the life of the program. The USAF had plans to replace 281 A-10s and more than 900 F-16s with F-35As. The service had planned to acquire 80 F-35As per year starting in 2022 but the service subsequently revised the maximum procurement rate down to 60 aircraft per year (including 48 in recent years + 12 in the unfunded priority request or UPL until FY22). The lower annual procurement rate would extend Air Force procurement by six years or from 2038 to 2044. Growing concerns over both cost per flight hour (CPFH) and Block 4 retrofit costs resulted in the USAF reducing its FY22 buy to just 48 aircraft with no additional aircraft in the UPL. Going forward, the performance of LM's proposed sustainment strategy and rollout of Block 4 into the mid-2020s is expected to impact the overall POR and forthcoming USAF and Joint Staff future tactical aircraft (TACAIR) study which is expected to be completed by the summer of 2021.

Since at least 2018, the Air Force has become increasingly concerned with the F-35A's high cost per flight hour (CPFH) as well as broader sustainment issues affecting the type such as its mission capable (MC) rates, cost per tail per year, etc. CPFH figures vary widely due to different methodology and the base year from which they were tabulated. The F-35's CPFH figures are often measured in FY12 constant dollars as that is when the program was rebaselined or in then year (TY) dollars when adjusted U.S. DoD operations & maintenance account deflator values. For example, according to CAPE, the F-35A's CPFH of $44,000 in TY2019 compared to the F-16's $22,000. The F-35 lifecycle sustainability plan (LSP) that was approved in January 2019 highlights eight lines of effort that assess cost per flying hour, cost per tail per year and overall ownership cost, according to former F-35 program executive officer Vice Adm. Mat Winter. In Feb. 2021, Air Combat Command's Gen. Mark Kelly expressed skepticism that LM would be able to lower that figure to FY12 $25,000 ($29,036) by 2025 under the proposed performance based logistics contract (PBL). Lockheed Martin reduced the cost per flying hour by 15% from 2015-2019 and another 18% from 2019-2021. However, to achieve the $25,000 flight hour goal, LM, the USAF and P&W would have to make cumulatively reduce costs by more than 30%.

Lockheed s plan for addressing concerns about the F-35A s hourly operating costs includes a major limitation. As the airframe supplier, Lockheed directly controls only 39% of the F-35A s hourly operating cost, a company official said (as shown in the table above). By contrast, the Air Force controls about 47% of the cost. The F135 engine supplier, Pratt & Whitney, is responsible for the last 14%. In absolute terms, that means the Air Force s share of the $33,000 CPFH (FY12) comes out to $15,510. Lockheed s share is $12,870, leaving P&W with $4,620 of the total bill.

By using a variety of tools, including an emerging, supply-based performance-based logistics deal and the opening of repair depots, Lockheed believes it has a solid plan to reduce the airframe portion of the cost per flight hour by 40% by the end of fiscal 2025. Since the company s cost-saving plan only applies to its $12,870 share of the overall hourly cost, a 40% reduction would reduce the F-35A s hourly cost attributable to the airframe by only $5,148, lowering Lockheed s share of the overall total to $7,722 (table above also includes notional FY21 adjusted PBL values).

In absolute terms, Lockheed s plan, if realized, would reduce the cost per flight hour of the F-35A to $27,852, which is still $2,852 higher than the company s commitment. To hit the $25,000 (FY12) target by the end of fiscal 2025, Lockheed needs help from the Air Force and Pratt, which account for $20,130 of the $33,000 hourly cost. Fortunately, neither would be required to match Lockheed s plan to cut its share of the cost by 40% over the next 4.5 years. Instead, the Air Force and Pratt would need to reduce their costs by only 14.2% to match the overall, $25,000 cost goal. In September 2021, Lockheed Martin was awarded F-35 PBL worth up to $6.6 billion. The contract is structured over FY21, FY22 and FY23 in one year option segments. CPFH could drop by 8% over the period to $33,400 in 2023.

The Air Force is evaluating levers to reduce its share of the F-35A s hourly operating cost, Gen. Charles Brown, Air Force chief of staff, said in Congressional testimony in early June. But the Air Force s options are constrained in some cases by enterprise-wide interests. For example, Lockheed has outlined a seemingly straightforward path for the Air Force to achieve a roughly 33% manpower cost reduction for line maintenance: By cross-training maintainers on multiple systems, the Air Force could cut the number assigned to each F-35A to nine from 12. However, that proposal may require the Air Force to bifurcate a common pool of aircraft maintainers, creating separate training and career pipelines for the F-35A and the rest of the fighter fleet.

Another core sustainment metric aside from CPFH is cost per tail per year (CPTPY) - the overall sustainment cost for the whole fleet divided by the number of aircraft in service. CPTPY is an important complementary metric to CPFH because the latter is highly variable with the total number of flight hours. For example, increasing flight hours decreases CPFH but would increase total sustainment costs as reflected by CPTPY. An April 2021 GAO report (above) highlighted the significant discrepancy in actual CPTPY costs above USAF projections in FY12 dollars. Notably, GAO's analysis is somewhat limited by taking current costs and projecting them forward. In practice these metrics (MC, CPFH, CPTPY) all vary with production lot. Subsequent lots have generally shown better reliability (mean time between failure) of components and greater availability including fewer man hours in maintenance.

However, the net effect of these growing sustainment concerns has put significant pressure on the 1,763 POR as the service would not be able to sustain that fleet at current CPFH metrics. Additionally, the service appears to be recalibrating its assessment that only fifth generation fighters could participate in Day 1 actions against near-peer threats. Created in January 2018 as an internal think-tank, the Air Force Warfighting Integrating Capability (AFWIC) office had torn up the long-standing assumption that only stealthy fighters could perform a useful role in the future. By the end of 2018, the AFWIC s team of analyst had adopted a new fighter roadmap which envisioned a great power war. The principal role for each F-35A was to launch two stealthy cruise missiles Lockheed s AGM-158 JASSM from just inside defended airspace. That kick-down-the-door pairing would be combined with mass launches of multiple JASSM each from F-15Es and F-15EXs, the source said. Other missions namely, defensive counter-air and homeland defense could be performed by the F-35, but other aircraft, such as F-15EXs and F-16s, also could be used. Driven by this new appreciation for a portfolio of fighter capabilities, the AFWIC team also reconsidered how many of each type would be needed. AFWIC s fighter roadmap by the end of 2018 had capped F-35A deliveries at about 1,050 jets. If new aircraft orders are maintained at a rate of two to 2.5 squadrons a year between 48 and 60 jets for the foreseeable future, the Air Force is at least 10 years away from hitting the 1,050 cap in AFWIC s fighter roadmap.

In the meantime, the Air Force faces other decisions about whether to invest in more fourth-generation fighters, F-35As or next generation aircraft. The Air Force still operates 232 F-16C/D Block 25 and Block 30 jets, which were delivered in the mid-1980s. Air Force officials have said they expect to make a fleet replacement decision for these so-called pre-block F-16s in four to seven years. When the Air Force established the program of record for buying 1,763 F-35As, the plan assumed replacing all of those pre-block F-16s. As a replacement decision enters the DOD s five-year budgeting horizon, however, Air Force officials have been more flexible. In February 2020, the head of Air Combat Command, who was then Gen. Mike Holmes, said that low-cost, attritable aircraft would be considered for the pre-block F-16 replacement in the 2024-2027 timeframe. Discussions of a FT-7 (modified Boeing T-7A Red Hawk) or new build F-16 Block 70 were also reportedly discussed as options. In February 2021, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Brown announced CAPE would conduct a tactical combat aircraft (TACAIR) study for its future force structure. A "clean sheet" 4.5 generation aircraft would be evaluated as a potential option according to Gen. Brown. In May 2021 as part of its budget rollout, the Air Force revealed plans to replace the 600 "post-Block" F-16s by the prospective multi-role fighter (MR-X) or the F-35 should its sustainment metrics improve.

Even if the Summer 2021 TACAIR study validates the full 1,763 POR, a bow wave of modernization priorities in the mid-2020s into the early 2030s may force the USAF to reduce its buy of F-35s. The USAF's FY22 aircraft procurement budget was $15.7 billion of which $3.76 billion was for the modification of in-service aircraft and $9.74 billion for new build aircraft (remainder on spares, infrastructure, etc.). By mid-decade the USAF aircraft procurement account will be under enormous strain to fund at least five B-21s annually at FRP worth more than $3.4 billion, as well as T-7A FRP, KC-46 FRP, HH-60W FRP, MH-139 FRP and 72 TACAIR platforms per year (F-35 & F-15EX). If trends continue, the USAF would need more than a 30% higher procurement budget for new build aircraft than its FY22 request. The budget outlook becomes even more bleak later in the decade as NGAD RDT&E reaches its apex and transitions to production, MQ-Next enters service around 2031 and KC-Y (KC-46 follow-on) also enters service. Thus, the USAF has a narrow window in the 2020s in which it is able to afford to buy 60 F-35As per year to recap its legacy TACAIR platforms before the wave of next generation platforms enter service. If the USAF buys 60 F-35As per year through 2030, the USAF would reach the 2018 AFWIC figure of 1,050 airframes

The FY22 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) included a number of measures to correct the trajectory of F-35 O&S efforts across the services and re-align procurement. The bill mandates each of the services to generate CPTPY figures by October 1st, 2025 which will come into force by FY2027. If any variant is unable to meet the CPTPY, procurement could be proportionally reduced. Perhaps most significantly, the JPO would transfer all O&S responsibilities to the respective services by FY2028 followed by all acquisition responsibilities by FY2030. The bill also requests an acquisition strategy from the Secretary of the Air Force and Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment to outfit the F-35A with an adaptive cycle engine by FY2027. The NDAA discusses the prospect of B and C model engine upgrades.

Department of the Navy

Cumulatively, the USN and USMC plan to buy 693 F-35s including 353 Bs and 67 Cs for the USMC as well as 273 C models Navy. These aircraft will be procured into the early 2030s to replace the legacy Hornet and AV-8 Harrier. The Navy's slow induction of F-35Cs and expansion of its Super Hornet POR has effectively meant legacy hornets in carrier air wings have already been replaced. The FY22 budget request's UPL adds five F-35Cs for $535 million, increasing C model procurement from 15 to 20 if authorized. The Navy will operationally deploy F-35Cs for the first time in 2021 from the USS Carl Vinson.

As of the time of this writing, the USMC's POR for 353 Bs and 67 Cs remains in flux. U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger may alter the service s POR as a result of an external review following the Force Design 2030 . The wide-reaching for structure plan recommended cutting the number of F-35s per squadron from 16 to 10 while maintaining a requirement for 18 fighter/attack squadrons. The external study will re-evaluate the USMC s existing F-35 POR. The latest Selected Acquisition Report current as of the FY2021 PBR does not alter the USMC s POR.

Australia

Australia has a program of record for 72 F-35As which will be delivered by August 2023. A fourth squadron is being considered which would increase the fleet to 100 aircraft. Australia established the AIR6000 program in 1999 to study the replacement of its Legacy Hornet and F-111 Aardvark fleets. Australia joined the JSF program as a level three partner in 2002.

In December 2021, the Australian Audit Office reported the nation's total F-35 acquisition cost is AU$15.63 billion ($11.1 billion), including payments for RDT&E contributions, aircraft procurement, military construction, weapons and training under the AIR 6000 program. Australian F-35A procurement under the AIR 6000 program is divided into two phases: 14 aircraft under Phase 2A/2B Stage 1 and 58 aircraft under Phase 2A/2B Stage 2. The roll-out of the first two aircraft occurred on July 24, 2014 and the first aircraft took flight on Sep. 29. As of December 2021, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has taken delivery of 44 airframes. The RAAF is the first international customer to receive Block 3F airframes. First arrival in Australia is occurred in December 2018 with an IOC of December 2020 and FOC in December 2023. The RAAF considers the addition of maritime strike capability critical toward the FOC. One of the squadrons will be based at RAAF Tindal, with the remainder at RAAF Williamtown. Canberra will spend AUS$1.5 billion upgrading those bases as part of the F-35 acquisition.

On Dec. 17, 2014, the JPO announced Australia would be one of the countries in the Pacific region to host heavy airframe and engine maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade (MRO&U) work. In February 2015, the Australian Minister of Defence announced BAE Systems Australia and TAE Aerospace will be assigned to support regional depot maintenance for airframes and engines respectively. The U.S. Government assigned depot level work for 65 components in November 2016. BAE Australia, Northrop Grumman Australia, RUAG and GE Aviation Australia will perform maintenance for 64 out of 65 components for the Asia-Pacific. In August 2017, the U.S. announced BAE Systems Australia will provide the Asia-Pacific F-35 Regional Warehouse capability as part of the F-35 Global Support Solution. The warehouse will be located in Williamstown and will manage the organization and provision of spares for multiple F-35 operators in the Asia-Pacific region. Total Australian industry participation in the F-35 program exceeds A$1 billion ($720 million in 2018 U.S. dollars) by the end of 2018 with A$5-9 billion expected over the program ($4.31-6.47 billion).

In December 2018, RAAF Air Marshall Leo Davies said Defence had planned to request the 28-additional aircraft in the early 2020s. Air Marshall Davies suggested Australia may wait longer likely as a result of the major changes expected through the Block 4 follow-on modernization program. Australia s DWP update released in July 2020 outlines plans for additional air combat capability between 2025 and the early 2030s valued at A$4.5-$6.7 billion ($3.1-$4.65 billion). In March 2021 interview with ASPI, Air Marshall Hupfeld was non-comital on a follow-on F-35 order, "We look at all options...What s the sixth generation of airpower going to look like when we decide on the next round of F-35s? Is F-35 still valid if there s a sixth-generation aircraft? Will sixth-generation air combat capability be an aircraft? I don t know the answer to that, but they re the things I keep my eyes open for. The [uncrewed] loyal wingman is an example of what may be part of the solution when we look at the next phase of our air combat capability program. And I d never say never to any of those". As of the time of this writing, Australia remain supportive of Boeing's Air Power Teaming offering but has yet to formally commit toward fielding the aircraft operationally.

Belgium

In October 2018, Belgium officially selected the F-35 as the victor of its international fighter competition. Belgium was the last of the European Participating Air Forces (EPAF) nations to choose the F-35 to replace its F-16 fleet. The Defence Ministry reports the total cost of the acquisition of 34 F-35As as well as training and associated military construction costs total 4 billion ($4.5 billion in 2019 dollars) by 2030. The DSCA notification issued in January 2018 included a $6.53 billion estimated cost for the acquisition of the aircraft, related equipment and support services. The Defence Ministry estimates the total cost of the aircraft throughout its projected 40-year service life will reach 12.4 billion ($14.1 billion in 2019 dollars).

The competition originally included the Dassault Rafale, Saab Jas 39 Gripen, Boeing F/A-18E/F, Eurofighter Typhoon and Lockheed Martin F-35A. In 2017 both Saab and Boeing withdrew from the competition citing requirements which reportedly favored the F-35. Dassault was disqualified by not responding to the Request for Proposals (RFP). Instead, the French Defense Minister sent a letter outlining a broader industrial and diplomatic partnership conditional on the sale of the Rafale. The F-35 and Eurofighter Typhoon were subsequently left as the only qualifying bids.

Canada

Canada first joined the JSF program as a tier three partner in February 2000, contributing $150 million ($222.6 million in 2018 dollars) toward its development. Canada had planned to purchase 65 F-35As to replace its CF-18 Hornet fleet. In September 2015, Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau campaigned that he would withdraw Canada from the F-35 program and hold a competition excluding the F-35. Canada s 2017 Defence Policy Report outlined that an open competition would be held to replace the CF-18 with 88 new fighter aircraft. In October 2016, Ottawa announced its intention to purchase 18 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets as an interim fighter to bridge this gap. However, trade disputes between Boeing and Bombardier effectively canceled the purchase. Canada will now acquire 18 retired RAAF Hornets as an interim fighter, but the aircraft are approximately the same age as Canada s existing CF-18 fleet.

Eligible suppliers for the $11 billion Future Fighter Capability Project (FFCP) submitted bids in 2019. In May 2019, the U.S. Government was in discussions with Canada regarding FFCP bid language which would require all competing firms to guarantee Canadian businesses 100% of the value of the deal in economic benefits. The U.S. Government took issue with the economic offset clause as written as it would exclude the F-35 and violate Canada s prior commitments as a F-35 partner nation. Canada ultimately modified the language of the bid to allow Lockheed Martin to participate. In November 2018, Dassault reportedly withdrew from the competition as a result of information security requirements. France is not part of the Five Eyes intelligence agreement. Dassault s withdrawal leaves the Saab JAS 39 E/F, Boeing F/A-18E/F and Lockheed Martin F-35. Canada is subsequently disqualified Boeing's bid on December 1st, 2021. The country is expected to announce source selection by March of 2022 and deliveries expected to run between 2025 and 2031.

Denmark

Denmark first jointed the JSF program as a tier three partner in 2002. In June 2016, Denmark selected the F-35 as its preferred replacement for its fleet of 44 F-16s which first entered service in in 1980. The Defense Ministry projects a total program cost of 66.1 billion kroners or $10 billion in November 2018 dollars for 27 F-35As. The acquisition cost is reportedly 20 billion Danish Krone or $3 billion in 2019 dollars. In a April 2021 rollout ceremony, Denmark's first F-35A was presented. The first six aircraft will go to Luke AFB, AZ, training. The aircraft will be subsequently based in Denmark between 2022-23 and with the last F-35A to to be delivered by the end of 2024.

On April 14, 2014, Denmark issued request for information to Lockheed for the F-35A but also requested information on the F/A-18F, Typhoon and JAS 39E/F. Responses were due July 21, 2014. That month, Sweden's FXM defense export agency decided not to make a formal offer of the JAS 39E/F, believing the competition was biased toward favor of the F-35A. In a report discussing the Government s reasoning for choosing the F-35, the Danish Ministry of Defence concluded that Lockheed Martin s bid was superior to both Boeing and Eurofighter s bids in terms of strategic, military, economic and industrial aspects. A key finding of the MoD was the F-35 s airframe is built to last 8,000 flight hours when compared to 6,000 for both the Eurofighter Typhoon and F/A-18E/F. Therefore, a smaller number of F-35s could be procured to meet the same mission demands i.e. 28 F-35As compared to 34 Eurofighters and 38 F/A-18E/Fs. The procurement was subsequently curtailed to 27 F-35As.

Finland

On December 10, 2021, Finland announced its intent to acquire 64 F-35A Block 4s upon completing the HX competitive evaluation process. Like Norwegian aircraft, Sweden's F-35s will be fitted with brake-parachutes. Deliveries will get underway in 2025 to support training in the U.S, Finnish F-35s will arrive in-country in 2026 and the type will replace the Finnish Air Force s McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornets between 2028 and 2030. This decision will have a strong impact on the Defense Forces operational capability, said Antti Kaikkonen, Finland s defense minister, announcing the decision alongside Prime Minister Sanna Marin on December 10. The F-35, Kaikkonen said, would define Finnish Air Force s combat capability through into the 2060s. Helsinki s decision comes on the back of Switzerland s selection of the same aircraft in July and means that the F-35 has been successful in virtually every fighter contest it has participated in Europe. We are honored the Government of Finland through its thorough, open competition has selected the F-35, and we look forward to partnering with the Finnish Defense Forces and Finnish defense industry to deliver and sustain the F-35 aircraft, said Bridget Lauderdale, Lockheed Martin s general manager of the F-35 program. Defense officials scored F-35 as the best based on the air, land and sea scenarios posed to the bidders, although no details of the scoring system or what the other bidders achieved was revealed. The F-35 was also deemed to have the highest operational effectiveness and the best development potential.

Helsinki plans to sign the Letter of Offer and Acceptance for the Foreign Military Sale in the first quarter of 2022. Finland had budgeted 10 billion for the procurement, with the Finnish Parliament approving the use of 9.4 billion.
The breakdown of costs includes 4.7 billion for the aircraft, equivalent to 73.4 million ($83 million) for each of the 64 aircraft. Air-to-air missiles package is valued at 754 million, while the maintenance equipment, spare parts, training equipment and initial maintenance for the first five years of operations will cost 2.92 billion. Officials have put aside 777 million for infrastructure construction and project costs, while 823 million is available for additional contracts, and amendments, as well as future buys of weapons. They also note that the operating costs are well within the threshold of 10% - 254 million - of the annual defense budget, with officials noting the type s operation is possible with the resources of the Defense Forces. None of the bids were significantly cheaper in terms of operating and maintenance costs, defense officials said.

Finland envisages arming its F-35s with the AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, Small Diameter Bombs, Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bomb kits, the Kongsberg Joint Strike Missile and the JASSM-ER cruise missile. Procurement officials say the F-35 s maintenance will be based on a solution modified from F-35's global maintenance system, adding that the proposed system meets domestic security of supply requirements. Finland s non-aligned status means it cannot rely on allies in wartime like other operators of the F-35 can. Lockheed Martin says Finland will be able to rely on the F-35 s Global Support Solution but it will work to enable Finnish industry to undertake the repair of around 100 critical components so that the fleet can be supported if Finland becomes isolated in the event of a conflict. There will also be additional stockpiles of F-35 spares in Finland. Lockheed Martin says it will provide work for Finnish industry which will last up to 20 years. Among the companies to benefit is Patria who will build 400 forward fuselages for the wider program. Kaikkonen said the contest was tough, and there can be only one winner, adding: I would like to stress that all countries involved, are very close and valued partners for Finland, they continue to be so. Our cooperation with all of them is based on long term partnerships, mutual trust and common security interests, Kaikkonen added.

Israel

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) is on contract to receive 50 F-35s. These aircraft are referred to both as F-35As and F-35Is depending upon the source as Israeli aircraft feature unique modifications. Jerusalem purchased a first batch of 19 JSFs for $2.75 billion in 2010. These aircraft are being produced as part of LRIPs 8, 9 and 10. The first two aircraft were delivered in December 2016, the IAF declared IOC a year later in December 2017. In November 2014, the Israeli Defense Minister concluded terms for a $4.4 billion contract for 31 additional F-35s. However, the proposal ran into unexpected resistance in the Israeli cabinet, in which the Intelligence Minister raised concerns about the aircraft's capabilities and the Finance Minister raised concerns about cost. The IAF and Defense Ministry rejected the Intelligence Minster's concerns as "old and irrelevant" and stated the alternatives to additional F-35s would cost more.

On Nov. 30, the cabinet voted to purchase 14 aircraft in the second batch under a $2.8 billion contract that will also cover two additional simulators and spare parts for the fleet of 33. On November 27, 2016, Israel's cabinet approved exercising the option to procure an additional 17 F-35s for a total of 50 aircraft. In February 2018, the DoD announced a $147.96 million contract to deliver Block 3F+ upgrades to the IAF. These upgrades will enable Israeli specific hardware and software modifications.

In December 2018, IAI opened a new production line for outer wing sets which will deliver kits starting in 2019. A total of 700 wing kits will be manufactured during the first phase, IAI is expected to produce 811 pairs of wings by 2034. Israeli industrial participation in the F-35 program is expected to reach $2.5 billion by the 2030s. Israel was originally included within the European MRO&U zone for depot level overhauls, but Israel has insisted that it will field its own local depot level MRO capability for its F-35 fleet.

As part of an offset agreement related to the UAE's potential F-35 acquisition, Israel has expressed interest in an additional squadron of F-35As which would bring its total fleet to 75 aircraft. Furthermore, Israel is reported to have obtained greater access to modify its aircraft as part of the offset deal. The first instrumented F-35I test aircraft arrived in Tel Nof Air Force Base in November 2020.

Italy

On June 24, 2002, Italy joined the JSF as a Level II partner and contributed $1 billion toward the development of the program. Rome currently plans to acquire a total of 60 F-35As and 15 F-35Bs for its air force, the Aeronautica Militare (AM). The Italian Navy will acquire 15 F-35Bs. As of December 2021, 14 F-35As and one F-35B have been delivered to the AM and three F-35Bs has been delivered to the Italian Navy.

Rome originally planned to acquire 131 F-35s (69 F-35As and 60 F-35Bs) to replace its IDS Tornado, AMX light combat aircraft and AV-8B Harriers. In February 2012, Defense Minister Giampaolo Di Paola announced cuts to the F-35 program as part of a broader effort to enact defense spending cuts. The center-left Democratic Party called for further cuts to the F-35 program in 2014 which did not materialize. In 2018, Italian participation in the F-35 program was threatened by the Five Star Movement which campaigned to withdraw from the program entirely. In June 2018, Defense Minister Elisabetta Trenta clarified that the Government would continue the acquisition of 90 F-35s. However, the government would not seek additional aircraft beyond 90 and the procurement of aircraft may be slowed to reduced Italy s financial burden.

Italian industry is the largest contributor to the F-35 program outside of the U.S. and UK. Italian industrial participation in the F-35 program broadly falls within three categories: (1) final assembly of aircraft, (2) manufacture of components for the global supply chain and (3) depot level sustainment responsibility for Europe. Italy maintains one of two Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) lines outside of the U.S. The Cameri plant was built between 2011 and 2013 at a cost of 795.6 million euros ($900 million in 2018 dollars). The facility covers approximately 101 acres (4.4 million square feet) including more than one million square feet of covered workspace, and co

8th
DEC

Airbus A400M

Airbus A400M user+1@localho Wed, 12/08/2021 - 21:17

The Airbus A400M Atlas is a medium lift military cargo aircraft powered by four Europrop International (EPI) TP400-D6 engines. Airbus markets the A400M as a multi-role tanker-transport capable of carrying more than the Lockheed Martin C-130J yet still being able to operate from austere runways as a tactical transport. The aircraft can transport loads up to 37 tons or 81,571 lbs. The Atlas also be quickly reconfigured to act as an aerial refueling aircraft with the addition of two hose and drogue under-wing refueling pods as well as a centerline hose and drum unit. As of November 2021, a total of 103 aircraft were in service across Europe and Asia.

Program History

In 1979, the Air Force leadership of Germany, the UK and France began to discuss the need for a new perspective airlifter to replace the C-130 Hercules and Transall T-160. The Future International Military Airlifter (FIMA) group was created in 1982 for this purpose and comprised A rospatiale, British Aerospace, Lockheed and Messerschmitt-B lkow-Blohm (MBB). In 1987, Alenia Aermacchi and CASA joined the program. However, political disagreements and divergent requirements caused Lockheed to leave the group in 1989. FIMA was subsequently renamed as the Future Large Aircraft Group (Euroflag) in 1991 and was based in Rome. Seven nations signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for a feasibility study regarding the future large aircraft (FLA) in 1993: Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, Belgium and Spain. Studies for the FLA slowly progressed throughout the 1990s as European nations intermittently reassessed their participation in the program. Design requirements focused on creating an aircraft to bridge the gap between tactical transports like the Lockheed C-130 and strategic airlifters like the Boeing C-17.

In September 1994, the participating nations agreed to transfer industrial responsibility from Euroflag to Airbus (first Airbus SAS later Airbus Military). In July 1997, the UK announced its intent to join the program which was followed by the FLA RFP in September. Airbus made its final RFP submission in January 1999. On May 16, 2000, the UK became the first nation to authorize the procurement of the A400M with an initial commitment for 25 aircraft. In December 2001, OCCAR signed the A400M development and procurement contract pending the parliamentary approval of each individual government. A total of seven European nations would proceed with the procurement of the A400M as both Portugal and Italy withdrew from the program.

In May 2003, the development and production contract came into force with 180 A400Ms on order with the following national commitments:

  • UK: 25
  • France: 50
  • Germany: 60
  • Spain: 27
  • Turkey: 10
  • Belgium: 8 (including one aircraft for Luxembourg)

The fixed price development contract was valued at 20 billion at the time or approximately $29 billion in inflation adjusted dollars. Both Malaysia and South Africa joined the program in 2005. However, South Africa opted to leave the program in 2009 due to rising costs but Denel remained a part of the A400M supply chain up until 2019. EPI began assembly of the first engine in 2007 which underwent flight testing on a modified C-130 test bed in 2008. A total of five prototypes were built to support the development program, the first of which took flight on Dec. 11, 2009, from Airbus Seville Spain facility.

Engine Development & Configuration

Among the first major hurdles to the program was the decision to develop an indigenous turboprop. The FLA studies group examined four main propulsion configurations including two turbofans, four turbofans, four turboprops and four propfans (contra-rotating propellers or CRPs). The study found turboprops and propfans offered lower weight, better tactical/austere airstrip performance and lower landing distance as well as take-off distance at the cost of lower MTOW performance and cruising speed (100.9 tons for four turbofans vs. 92.7 tons for four turboprops). Ultimately, turboprops were chosen over propfans due to noise and technological availability concerns. Initially, Airbus evaluated the Turboprop International SNECMA M138 which was based on an M88 core, Pratty & Whitney (P&W) Canada modification of the PW150 and Rolls Royce Deutschland s BR700-TP.

The M138 won in December 2000 and became the TP400, but in February 2002, Airbus reopened the engine competition after deciding the engine did not meet its weight and performance specification. EPI adapted the TP400 to a three-shaft configuration from a two-shaft design with input from Rolls Royce. The new engine was designated as the TP400-D6. P&W reentered the competition with its PW180 12,000 SHP turboprop which Airbus reportedly found to be 20% cheaper than EPI s bid. Airbus ultimately selected EPI in May 2003 and U.S. media at the time alleged P&W lost as a result of French political pressure.

Features and Variants

Airbus A400M relative performance compared to other transports in the light (MTOW from 25,000 to 100,000 lbs.), medium (MTOW 100,000 to 400,000 lbs.) and heavy class (MTOW >400,000 lbs.). All cost figures have been inflated in local currency prior to conversion to U.S. dollars when appropriate.

Credit: Aviation Week

Airframe

Composite materials constitute more than 30% of the A400M s airframe and facilitate weight reductions which improve fuel economy and range. The largest single carbon fiber sheets incorporated into the aircraft are the wingskins, which measure 62 ft. long. Aluminum is also extensively used throughout the airframe to further reduce weight. The A400M Atlas features a payload capacity approximately twice that of the Super Hercules at 81,571 lb. and a maximum takeoff weight of more than 300,000 lb. The cargo bay has an area of 340 m^3 which can accommodate a maximum of 116 troops in a transport configuration enabling the Atlas to accommodate nearly all military vehicles other than main battle tanks. The cargo hold can also accommodate a total of nine standard 463 cargo pallets as well as 54 troops relative to the maximum of eight pallets in the C-130J-30.

The Atlas can land on an unprepared airstrip, with a California Bearing Ratio (CBR) of 6, with a length of just 3,000 ft. while holding a 60,000 lbs. (27.2 ton) payload. For benchmarking purposes, most strategic transports like the C-5 typically require more than 5,000 ft. to land with higher loads and must be operated from paved runways with a higher CBR.

Engines

The A400M s four Europrop International TP400-D6 engines produce more than 11,000 shaft horsepower (SHP) each, which enables the Atlas to achieve a cruising speed and altitude of Mach 0.72 (475 mph) and 37,000 ft. respectively. This compares to the 4,700 SHP on the Rolls Royce AE 2100 powering the C-130J. The TP400-D6 features eight propeller blades with a diameter of 17.5 ft. and each engine weighs 4,189 lbs. (1,900 kg) dry. Workshare amongst EPI consortium members includes: 32.2% Safran, 25% for Rolls Royce, 22.2% MTU and 20.6% for ITP.

The A400M uses a unique contra-rotating propeller (CRP) arrangement. While CRPs have been used for decades to cancel out torque and produce additional power on aircraft such as the Tu-95 Bear, typically CRPs have been mounted over a single piston as a self-contained unit. The A400M was the first aircraft to implement the CRP effect across a pair of engines on each wing, which Airbus calls Down Between Engines (DBE), through the gearbox as opposed to a stack of CRPs over a single piston unit. This increases airflow over the center of the wing, improving fuel efficiency and lift. DBE reduced the effects of prop-wash and torque which enabled designers to reduce the tail area thereby lowering drag.

Refueling System

The A400M has a baseline capacity for 111,995 lbs. (50,800 kg) of fuel, which can be supplemented further with Cargo Hold Tanks (CHT). Note, the 50,800 kg figure is the total fuel capacity of the aircraft not the fuel-offload total i.e., a portion of the fuel must be reserved for the A400M itself. The two hose and drogue underwing refueling pods can provide up to 400 gallons per minute (1,200 kg or 2,645 lbs.) while the centerline unit can sustain 600 gallons per minute. Compared to boom mounted aerial refueling systems, drogue and hose systems offer greater compatibility with the majority of aircraft types (including non-Western platforms) at the cost of a lower fuel transfer rate. In comparison, the A330 MRTT s boom can transfer 1,200 gallons of fuel per minute.

A basic video system is embedded in the rear the aircraft to assist with aerial refueling, but operators can elect to install a more comprehensive aerial refueling kit with three video cameras as well as an associated computer system. Additionally, the aircraft features a nose mounted refueling probe. As part of the tactical series of upgrades, the A400M has been upgraded to be able to refuel helicopters.

Upgrade Programs

Retrofit Programs

Both to address teething problems discovered in operation and to more quickly field the planned series of tactical transport upgrades, A400Ms have been produced in six production batches through 2022 of varying capability and readiness standards. Between 2017-2019, A400M participating nations and Airbus launched the Global Re-baselining Review (GRB) to stabilize the program and implement a pathway to correct concurrency issues through a two-stage retrofit program. The first stage was announced in 2016 and was concluded in December 2020, covering the UK, France and Germany. The second-stage announced was in July 2019 covers the remaining nations through 2023.

Among the most pressing issues which hampered the A400M s initial entry to service include the aircraft s power gearbox (PGB) and aluminum alloy fuselage sections. An assortment of teething problems was also identified with the helicopter aerial refueling system and tactical series of proposed upgrades. As of the time of this writing, Airbus believes it has made significant progress in addressing these issues.

In January 2015, a cracked input pinion plug, a component supplied by Avio Aero as part of the PGB, caused the engine of a UK A400M to shut down in flight. As a result, a series of regular checks were mandated that affected flight operations. EPI fielded an interim solution in 2016 (entered into production with Batch 4 aircraft in 2017) to reduce the frequency of these checks to once every 600 hours. In 2017, Airbus and EPI developed the Pack 2 enhancement which reduced vibration as well as reinforcing the longevity and reliability of the PGP. The EASA certified Mod Pack 2 in March 2018 and all new build engines since January 2019 have received the upgrade and existing aircraft had been retrofitted.

7th
OCT

KAI KF-21 (KF-X)

KAI KF-21 (KF-X) shambo.pfaff@i Thu, 10/07/2021 - 21:12

The Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) KF-21 Boramae (Northern Goshawk) is a multi-role 4.5 generation fighter. The aircraft is powered by two General Electric (GE) F414-400K turbofan engines. The KF-21 will be built in two capability blocks with the first increment storing munitions externally while the second block stores munitions in an internal weapons bay. The aircraft was formerly designated as KF-X until April 2021.

 

Program History

Prelude & Early Ambitions

In the early 1990s, South Korea sought to develop a robust domestic aerospace industry. Under the Peace Bridge II program, Lockheed Martin agreed to open a production line for F-16s in Korea. Hundreds of South Korean engineers were trained in the United States in preparation for domestic F-16 production and Lockheed Martin committed to a series of offset agreements including the development of a new Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) designated as the KTX-2 which would become the T-50. In response to the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997, the Korean government directed the creation of KAI in October 1999 from the three largest aerospace chaebols (Korean conglomerates): Daewoo Heavy Machinery, Hyundai and Samsung Techwin (formerly Samsung Aerospace).

As KAI gained experienced with the KTX-2 program, the Kim Dae-jung Administration began to study proposals to develop an indigenous fighter. In August 2001, Defense Minister Kim Dong-shin announced the government would begin development of an indigenous fighter in 2003 which would enter service in 2015. In 2002, the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) wrote the initial Required Operational Characteristics (ROC) for a medium weight fighter which would be slightly superior to the F-16. The original requirements did not call for low observability (LO) or internal carriage of weapons. During the 197th meeting of the Korean Joint Chiefs in November 2002, initial KF-X ROCs were approved. A medium performance indigenous fighter would be developed to complement the higher-end F-15K which had been selected as the F-X in April 2002. The F-X program began in November 1997 and originally sought to procure 120 fighters by 2020 but was ultimately divided into three distinct phases for 40 (2002), 21 (including one attrition replacement, 2008) and 60 (revised down to 40, 2014) aircraft respectively.

Development work for the medium performance indigenous fighter would be led by the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) which coordinates nationwide defense R&D activities and reports directly to the Ministry of National Defense (formerly the Defense Acquisition Procurement Agency or DAPA until 2014). By 2007, South Korea was looking at developing a 5th generation, LO fighter. The world s first 5th generation fighter, the F-22, had reached initial operational capability (IOC) just two years prior following more than 20 years of development. Ambitious plans to expand domestic industry and discord amongst Korea s defense policy community greatly contributed towards the program s initial delays. Furthermore, differences in defense policy between subsequent administrations greatly affected the progress and funding of the KF-X program.

Feasibility Studies & Evolution of Requirements

Between 2002 and 2014, the government commissioned multiple feasibility studies on KF-X from the Korea Institute of Defense Analysis (KIDA), Korea Development Institute (KDI), Konkuk University and the Korean Institute of Science and Technology Evaluation Assessment (KISTEP). In 2012, the ADD also hired IHS Janes and Strategic Defense Intelligence to examine the KF-X s exportability.

In December 2007, the Korea Development Institute (KDI), an economic policy think tank staffed largely by government employees, found that the program would cost 10 trillion ($10.6 billion in adjusted 2020 dollars) and result in only 3 trillion ($3.2 billion in adjusted 2020 dollars) in economic benefits. KDI s ROCs assumed KF-X would be LO with internal carriage for four air-to-air missiles (AAMs) and performance characteristics in between the F-16 and F-15. In October of that year, four companies had submitted bids for KF-X (now nicknamed Boramae): Saab, Airbus (then EADS), Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Saab submitted two derivatives of its JAS 39 C/D fighter. The P305 was a single engine derivative while the P306 had twin engines, both stored weapons internally. EADS offered the Eurofighter Typhoon as the basis for a cooperative development program. Boeing and Lockheed Martin were operating under stringent U.S. export controls and kept a lower profile during the early stages of KF-X.

2009 marked a series of important milestones for the KF-X in terms of international participation and solidification of requirements. On March 9, 2009, South Korea and Indonesia and signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) for the joint development of KF-X. Indonesia committed to fund 20% of the KF-X development and purchase 50 IF-X (Indonesian derivative KF-X) aircraft. South Korea attempted to solicit Turkish participation in the program but Korea and Turkey were reportedly unable to reach an agreement regarding leadership of a co-development program. KF-X program requirements

In 2009, the government commissioned Konkuk University s Weapons System Concept Development and Application Research Center to study the feasibility of the KF-X program. The study was led by Major General (ret.) Shin Bo Hyun who had previously led the original F-X evaluation team in 2002. Major Gen. Hyun s report found development and production of the KF-X was feasible if the KF-X was effectively downgraded to a 4.5 generation platform. The study concluded 5th generation capabilities were not necessary in a North Korea scenario. Stand-off weapons would allow non-LO aircraft to conduct strikes. The study proposed the following ROCs :

  • Combat Radius: 1.5 times that of the F-16C/D Block 52 (approximately 500 miles or 800 km)
  • Service Life: 1.34 times that of the F-16C/D (approximately 10,700 hours)
  • Empty weight of 10.4 metric tons (22,928 lb.)
  • Reduced radar cross section (RCS), but not true LO
  • One to two engines

A 4.5 generation fighter would cost 6 trillion ($6.1 billion in adjusted 2020 dollars) to develop and approximately 50 billion to build ($51 million in adjusted 2020 dollars). A production run of 250 aircraft would be required to reach sufficient economies of scale. A total of 120 KF-Xs could be built to replace the legacy Boeing F-4 Phantom and Northrop F-5 fleets. An additional 130 could be built to eventually replace the ROKAF s F-16 fleet. The study concluded that South Korean industry possessed 63% of the required technologies for the program. Konkuk University s conclusions were well received and the program ultimately abandoned hopes to produce a fifth generation fighter at least in the short term (Block II and notional Block III).

Ties to F-X

The DAPA under the Myung-bak Lee Administration (Feb. 2008 to Feb. 2013) lowered F-X Phase III ROCs in an effort to make the bid more competitive and emphasize technology transfer for F-X at the cost of platform capability (particularly in terms of LO). The new ROCs enabled Boeing s F-15 Silent Eagle (F-15SE) and Airbus Eurofighter Typhoon to participate alongside Lockheed Martin s F-35. EADS (Airbus) offered to invest $2 billion in the KF-X program as part of its Eurofighter Typhoon bid. In August 2013, the DAPA selected the F-15SE as the only qualified bidder of the F-X Phase III as Lockheed s bid exceeded the specified price restrictions and the Eurofighter Typhoon was disqualified for a bidding irregularity. Later that month, a group of 15 former ROKAF Generals signed a petition against the F-15SE s selection. The Defense Project Promotion Committee chaired by Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin overturned the initial DAPA decision in accordance with new ROCs from the Joint Chiefs favoring LO performance. On March 24, 2014, Seoul announced its intent to purchase 40 F-35As a reduction from 60 for budgetary purposes. On Sep.24, it announced it had completed negotiations with the U.S. government regarding price, offsets and technical details. As part of the 7.34 trillion ($6.5 billion in adjusted 2020 dollars) deal, Korea requested the transfer of 25 technologies to support the KF-X program.

KAI Down Select

In December 2014, the DAPA issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the KF-X program. Two teams participated throughout the competition: KAI-Lockheed Martin and Korean Air Lines (KAL)-Airbus-Boeing. The RFP requires a clean sheet design, but the KAL team reportedly wanted to use a modified F/A-18E/F with Airbus supplying components the U.S. manufacturer could not. However, Boeing ultimately withdrew before bidding which opened in February 2015. The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) selected the KAI-Lockheed Martin team for the Korean Fighter Experimental (KF-X) program a month later. In November 2015, Indonesia agreed to fund 1.7 trillion ($1.54 billion in inflation adjusted 2020 dollars) or approximately 20% of the program s development costs. South Korea followed through by awarding the KF-X development contract to KAI in December.

The Finance Ministry approved 8.69 trillion budget ($7.65 billion in adjusted 2020 dollars) for KF-X s development over a period of 10 years and 6 months. Korean industry and Indonesia will fund 20% of the aircraft s development costs each with South Korean government financing the remaining 60%. The total program is expected to cost 18 trillion ($15.1 billion) for both development and production of 120 aircraft.

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T-7A

T-7A user+1@localho Tue, 09/21/2021 - 21:17

The T-7A Red Hawk is an advanced jet trainer (AJT) built by Boeing in partnership with Saab. The aircraft is powered by a single General Electric F404 turbofan engine. The T-7A will replace the T-38 Talon in U.S. Air Force service with an initial program of record for 351 aircraft. Boeing believes the T-7A s combination of extensive embedded simulation capabilities and low fly-away as well as sustainment cost will make the type an attractive platform for international AJT and light combat aircraft (LCA) operators.

Program History

The USAF originally acquired its T-38 Talon fleet between 1961 and 1972. The type received numerous structural, engine and subsystem overhauls to keep the aircraft serviceable. However, the T-38 has become increasingly unable to replicate the growing avionics complexity and performance of modern fighters. In 2009, the USAF found the T-38 could not meet 12 out of 18 essential tasks to conduct pilot training such as sensor fusion, advanced air-to-air tactics, etc. In December 2013, Boeing and Saab signed a Joint Development Agreement to explore a future advanced jet trainer for the USAF.

By March 2015, the USAF published an initial request for information (RFI) for its T-X requirement. The service issued a draft RFP in July 2016 and the final RFP on Dec. 30, 2016. Key aircraft capabilities included sustaining a threshold of 6.5g, and an objective of 7.5g, at Mach 0.9 and 15,000 ft. over 140 deg. of a 180-deg. maneuver while carrying an 80% fuel load. The service projected the cost of 351 aircraft and 40 simulators at more than $16 billion.

Originally, five teams participated the in competition, but many firms left or reorganized their bids prior to source selection: Lockheed Martin-KAI with the T-50A, Boeing-Saab with the T-X, Raytheon-Leonardo with the T-100, Northrop Grumman-BAE with the Hawk (later a clean sheet design) and Textron Airland with the Scorpion. In January 2017, Raytheon announced it had withdrawn from T-X. Leonardo opted to continue and partnered with its U.S. based subsidiary DRS. Raytheon s departure was followed by Northrop Grumman and Textron Airland in February and March 2017 respectively. Many firms reportedly left as they perceived the competition would favor the lowest-cost, technically compliant bid. On September 27, 2018, the Air Force selected Boeing to build its next generation AJT. In September 2019, the Air Force designated the Boeing T-X as the T-7A Red Hawk in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Features

The Boeing T-7A design draws heavily on the high angle of attack (AoA) performance of Boeing s F/A-18 fighter, with a similar shoulder-mounted trapezoidal wing with leading-edge root extensions, twin fins and all-moving stabilators although the tails are attached to F-15-style booms. The T-7A even has small vortex control fences at the inboard wing leading edges similar to those on the legacy Hornet. The T-7A s F404 engine produces nearly three times the thrust of the T-38 s twin J85 turbojets at more than 17,500 lbf. The T-7 s dimensions closely match the T-50 with a length of 46.93 ft., wingspan of 30.6 ft. and height of 13.55 ft.

The T-7A is equipped with a centerline hardpoint underneath the fuselage and Boeing has said two additional pylons per wing can be equipped as needed. Similarly, Boeing has built provisions for an aerial refueling receptacle which can be added subject to customer requirements. The following companies are involved with the T-7 program:

  • Saab aft fuselage section
  • Elbit Systems of America cockpit displays, embedded training capability, data link
  • General Electric F404 turbofan engine
  • L3Harris Technologies mission systems, including navigation system
  • Collins Aerospace ACES 5 ejection seat, landing gear, NAV-4500 navigation receivers
  • Triumph Group Inc hydraulic pumps, electric generators and auxiliary fuel pumps
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TAI TF-X

TAI TF-X user+1@localho Tue, 09/21/2021 - 21:17

TF-X is a prospective fifth-generation fighter under development for the Turkish air force. The program is led by state-owned Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) with the cooperation of BAE Systems. In Turkish, the program is known as the Milli Muharip U ak (MMU) the National Combat Aircraft. Turkish sources also infrequently refer to the program as F-X, but this document will exclusively use TF-X to avoid confusion with other F-X programs such as F/A-XX, KF-X and Japan s F-X.

 

Program History

Turkey s Role in the F-35 Program

On Dec. 12, 2006, Turkey selected the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lighting II as its New Generation Fighter Jet. It signed a letter of intent with Lockheed Martin to become a partner on the U.S.-led Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program on Feb. 6, 2007, planning to acquire as many as 116 F-35As by 2031 (it later reduced this target to 100). These would replace its aging McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom IIs, F-4E 2020s and F-16C/D Block 30s and Block 40s. Newer F-16C/D Block 50s would remain in service into the 2030s.

 

Turkish industry played a significant role in the program. The country was designated a Level-III partner, representing the lowest tier of partner nations directly involved in the F-35 s system development and demonstration (SDD) phase. In terms of manufacturing workshare, Turkish involvement was more substantive. TAI delivered center fuselages to F-35 final assembly and checkout (FACO) facilities in Cameri, Italy and Fort Worth, Texas. It also produced composite skins, weapon bay doors and fiber placement composite air inlet ducts for the program. Other Turkish F-35 suppliers include Alp Aviation, which manufactured structural components, landing gear components and engine parts (including titanium integrated blade rotors); Ayesas, which made the missile remote interface units and the panoramic cockpit display; Fokker Elmo, which made 40% of the electrical wiring and interconnection system for the F-35 and the F135; Havelsan, which worked on the training system; and Kale Group, which worked with TAI on aerostructures, with Heroux Devtek for landing gear lock up assemblies and with Pratt & Whitney on F135 components.

 

Turkey also envisaged the inclusion of indigenous weapons on its F-35As from the start. This was to include:

  • The Precision Guidance Kit (HGK)
  • The G KDO AN (Peregrine) beyond visual range (BVR) AAM
  • The BOZDO AN (Merlin) short-range air-to-air missile (AAM)
  • The SOM family of air-launched cruise missiles.

 

When Turkey planned to acquire the Russian S-400 surface to air missile system, the U.S. raised concerns about the impact this would have on the F-35. Under the Fiscal 2019 Consolidated Appropriations Act as signed into law in February 2019, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) was prohibited from using funds to transfer F-35As to Turkey if the S-400 acquisition continued. Turkey consistently expressed its intent to move ahead with the S-400 acquisition anyway. On April 1, 2019, the U.S. suspended F-35A deliveries to Turkey. Deliveries of the S-400 began in July 2019.

 

Shortly thereafter, on July 17, 2019, Turkey was officially ejected from the JSF program. Its removal presented immediate and serious transitional issues for the program, which would need to substitute Turkish components used in the fighter. By this time four Turkish F-35As had already been produced. Though Turkey owned the planes, the U.S. has prevented them from leaving the country. At the time the U.S. Department of Defense estimated that 900 Turkish parts would have to be substituted and that the expulsion would result in losses totaling $9 billion to Turkish industry over the life of the program. Notably this total includes 188 parts produced for a Kale Group joint venture with Pratt &Whitney for the P&W F135 turbofan engine aboard the F-35.

 

Following Turkey s ejection from the JSF program, Russia s Rostec publicly offered the Su-35 as a replacement. On Oct. 15, 2019, President Erdogan indicated that Turkey had also received an offer for the Su-57. The Director of Russia s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation Dimitry Shugayev later indicated that the Su-57 was not on offer and was reserved for Russia s air force.

TF-X

The TF-X program was initiated on Dec. 15, 2010 to provide an indigenous replacement for Turkey s fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16s, which are expected to begin leaving service in the 2030s. It also began with a view towards the development of Turkey s aerospace industry, which has extensive experience manufacturing unmanned aerial vehicles and upgrading or remanufacturing combat aircraft, but which has never designed a fighter.

 

On Aug. 23, 2011, a contract was signed between TAI and the Savunma Sanayii M ste arl (SSM) Undersecretariat for Defense Industries to initiate concept design for the new fighter. The concept studies were completed by Sep. 29, 2013. Three planforms were apparently evaluated and were first displayed publicly at the 2013 International Defense Industry Fair in Istanbul. Of the three, two were single engine concepts, one with a conventional arrangement (FX-5) and the other with a large V-tail and close-coupled control canards (FX-6). In this design the V-tail surfaces contribute to pitch, roll and yaw; combined with the canards they yield a highly agile fighter. A 2018 estimate indicated that the FX-5 and FX-6 designs would feature an MTOW between 50,000 lb. (22,680 kg) and 60,000 lb. (27,215 kg). This would make either configuration lighter than the F-35A by over 10,000 lb. (4,535 kg).

 

The third and final design (FX-1) is a twin-engine layout with a planform resembling that of the F-22 and a conventional tail. It appears to be most optimally designed for supercruise capability and to maximize range. This design would have an MTOW between 60,000 lb. (27,215 kg) and 70,000 lb. (31,750 kg), significantly lighter than the F-22. All three feature caret inlets and standard low-observable features such as chined noses, edge alignment and sawtooth interfaces between the fuselage, access panels and the radome.

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SEP

General Atomics MQ-9 "Reaper"

General Atomics MQ-9 "Reaper" user+1@localho Mon, 09/13/2021 - 21:17

The General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) MQ-9 Reaper is a Group 5 UAV originally designed for ISR-Strike missions. The type has since been employed in expanded mission sets such as maritime surveillance, ground moving target indication (GMTI), signals intelligence (SIGINT), anti-submarine warfare, etc. The Reaper is powered by a single Honeywell TPE-331-10 turboprop engine with either a three or four-bladed propeller depending upon the configuration. As of the time of this writing, more than 360 MQ-9s are in operational service worldwide. The USAF currently expects to replace the platform starting in the early 2030s.

Program History

The genesis of the Reaper program can be traced back to the Amber tactical UAV developed by Israeli immigrant Abraham Karem under Leading Systems Inc. The program sought an over the horizon targeting system for Navy anti-ship cruise missiles. Amber was ultimately terminated amidst the reorganization of several UAV programs in the late 1980s. Karem continued to develop Amber into the Gnat 750, and the design was eventually acquired by GA-ASI. The Gnat 750 and first flew in 1989 and by the early 1990s, the Department of Defense (DoD) outlined three capability tiers as the basis of its UAV future acquisition strategy. Two of the three tiers had Amber derivatives in mind.

The CIA funded the Gnat 750 and sponsored its deployment to Bosnia in 1994 following an international sale of the type to Turkey, which used the UAV to surveil Kurdish militants. The Gnat 750 was capable of carrying an electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) payload to an altitude of 20,000 ft. for 40 hours. Tier II in the new DoD framework was expected to yield a derivative of the Gnat 750 with an expanded mission payload of 500 lb. for various sensors which could fly to at least 25,000 ft. GA-ASI developed the RQ-1 Predator for this requirement which won source selection in 1994. By 1997 the Air Force sought to acquire 52 RQ-1 Predators (13 systems of four UAVs each) at a cost of $118 million ($196.4 million in 2021 dollars). The service ran the acquisition program through its 645th Aeronautical Systems Group or Big Safari office, a unit dedicated to rapidly inducting specialized airframes to the Air Force inventory.

Predators were deployed in 1999 to support operations in Kosovo and proposals to arm the RQ-1 were being considered by 2000. The armed Predator (redesignated as the MQ-1 in 2002) was quickly pressed into service following 9/11 but as a result of its rapid introduction limited consideration was given to its reliability, maintainability and survivability. Realizing the limitations of the Predator, GA-ASI began an internal research and development (IRAD) effort to produce a more capable follow-on aircraft dubbed Predator B in 1998. The aircraft (B-001) first flew on Feb. 2, 2001, under an objective for 24 hrs. of endurance and the ability to sustain an operating altitude of 45,000 ft. The 900-shaft horsepower (SHP) turboprop TPE-331-10 represented a significant increase in power over the Predator s 115 SHP piston engine. GA-ASI also explored a Williams International FJ44-2A turbojet powered derivative (B-002) which would have had an endurance of 18 hrs. and ceiling of 60,000 ft. This concept later evolved into the Predator C which first flew in 2007.

GA-ASI s IRAD funding in this early period was further supplemented by NASA which was the first government customer to express interest in the Predator B in 2000. NASA contributed $10 million to develop the Altair earth sciences derivative which was supplemented by an additional $8 million of GA-ASI s own funding (combined $28 million in 2021 dollars). Gen. Jumper of Air Combat Command (ACC) immediately saw the platform s potential as a Predator replacement. The MQ-1 was inherently limited by its lower altitude and limited payload in many ways being better optimized suited for Army ISR requirements. By late 2001, the Air Force requested the development of the Predator B as a Quick Reaction Capability (QRC) using Defense Emergency Response Fund (DERF) allocations. The 2002 budget included $17 million ($25.4 million in 2021 dollars) for the first three MQ-9s which were followed by another six in 2003.

Because of the urgent operational need for persistent, high altitude ISR and strike with the advent of the Global War on Terror, the Air Force took a number of steps to accelerate the program. The first handful of aircraft were acquired without a competition to rapidly field a basic capability. A total of 19 MQ-9As were procured prior to the completion of its system design and demonstration (SDD) phase which began in Fiscal 2004. Additionally, Air Combat Commander Gen. Ronald E. Keys, issued a Predator B early fielding decision in 2006. The program was subsequently structured into two capability standards: Block 1 to provide an initial operational capability and the more advanced Block 5 to follow beginning in Fiscal 2013 (see variants section for additional details). In 2006, the Air Force officially designated the Predator B as the MQ-9 Reaper. The 42nd Attack Squadron became the first operational MQ-9A unit in 2007 and the MQ-9 s combat debut followed a month later in Afghanistan. The MQ-9 transitioned out of the Predator program to its own Major Defense Acquisition Program (MDAP) in 2008 (see production & delivery history for additional details).

Features

The MQ-9 Reaper is a Group 5 UAV with double the altitude capability, double the speed and ten times the payload of the preceding MQ-1 Predator. The MQ-9A Block 5 ER has a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 11,700 lb., wingspan of 66 ft., payload capacity of 850 lb. internally (3,750 lb. externally), endurance of 40 hr. and service ceiling of 50,000 ft. As the MQ-9 has evolved, each succeeding subvariant has expanded the type s endurance, mission packages, reliability and performance.

Airframe

The MQ-9 s airframe is optimized for high-altitude endurance with large high-aspect ratio wings and extensive use of composite materials to reduce weight. The baseline MQ-9 has an empty weight of 4,900 lbs. and fuel capacity of 4,000 lbs. The Reaper has approximately the same external dimensions as the A-10; the MQ-1, by contrast, is about the size of the Cessna 172. Following teething problems with the Predator, GA-ASI worked to improve the reliability of its successor airframe. Control actuators for the MQ-9A were designed with a mean time between failure threshold of 2,000 hr. compared to the MQ-1 s 150 hr. Additionally, the MQ-9A uses a triplex (double redundant) flight control system. The MQ-9 s flight control surfaces consist of a pair of rudders, four ailerons and four elevators.

Avionics

The configuration of the MQ-9s avionics suite varies with each configuration. Aircraft operated by international customers often differ from their U.S. counterparts. For example, the SkyGuardian configuration aircraft offered to Canada carry the export derivative of the Lynx radar or L3 MX-20 EO/IR instead of the Raytheon MTS. GA-ASI has also suggested a number of payloads under development (see upgrades section for additional details).

12th
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Mitsubishi F-X

Mitsubishi F-X user+1@localho Thu, 08/12/2021 - 21:17

The Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Next Fighter ( ), abbreviated as F-X in English, is a prospective fighter which will be developed in partnership with Lockheed Martin (LM). The program was originally referred to as the Future Fighter ( ). The aircraft is expected to feature a large, very low observable airframe optimized for endurance and beyond-visual-range (BVR) air-to-air engagements. It will feature a suite of wide field of regard sensors, advanced power and thermal management capabilities and manned-unmanned teaming. The first F-X is planned to enter operational service in 2035. Approximately 90 fighters will be procured for the Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) at a total program cost of at least 5 trillion ($45 billion).

Program History

The F-X s history can loosely be categorized into three eras: the development of the preceding F-2, early conceptual studies and technology demonstration efforts and contemporary efforts to launch the F-X program.

FS-X (F-2) Program (1982-2011)

Even before production of the F-2 ended in 2011, Japan had begun efforts to develop a successor. Perceived deficiencies in the F-2 program shaped the F-X s ambitions and requirements, with the MoD essentially seeking to avoid a repeat of the F-2. In 1982, the Japanese Government began the Fighter Support Experimental (FS-X) program to replace the indigenously designed Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) F-1 fighter. The U.S. lobbied Japan to develop the FS-X from an existing U.S. design in 1985. This U.S. effort sough to promote greater U.S.-Japan interoperability and mitigate the possibility of an independent Japanese national security policy. A key piece of the U.S. leverage was its engine technology which Japan would have required even under an indigenous development program.

Japan eventually acceded to U.S. demands and selected the F-16C Block 40/42 as the basis of further FS-X development in October 1987. The program was quickly hampered by American reticence to transfer key technologies and disagreement over the scope of Japanese industry participation. Lockheed Martin was awarded $75 million ($123 million in 2020 dollars) to support the development of the F-2 in October 1996. The company would be responsible for 40% of the program s workshare by value including the avionics support equipment, the data entry electronic units and the stores management system.

In the end, the F-2 program produced a fighter featuring novel technologies such as the first fighter mounted active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, but at an unacceptable cost and with no roadmap to keep the type technologically relevant. The F-2 had a flyway cost of $122.6 million in adjusted 2020 dollars and only 98 airframes (including four test articles) were produced between 1996 and 2011.

Japanese sources maintain that the F-2 s intellectual property agreements with the U.S. severely constrained its ability to upgrade the type. In many respects, current configuration F-2s remain less capable than contemporary F-16 Block 70s such as in stores compatibility, avionics, data links, and self-protection equipment. Some Japanese sources have derided the FS-X limited opportunities for Japanese industry and have expressed frustration against the U.S.' technology and export policies. These grievances later influenced Japan s decision to reject LM s F-22/F-35 hybrid proposal.

Genesis of F-X (2005-2018)

According to Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Takayoshi Yamazaki, the genesis of F-X did not begin with a statement of need or requirements process from the MoD or JASDF. Rather, the program began from a 2007 industry assessment which concluded Japanese companies were withdrawing from the aerospace market. A similar study published in 2009 by the MoD ( ) stated the number of aerospace engineers was expected to decline by 70% after F-2 production ended in 2011. To ameliorate further attrition of the industrial base, the MoD s Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI) and MHI began work on the Advanced Technology Demonstrator X (ATD-X) Shinshin (Spirt of the Heart) in 2007. At the time, the MoD remarked, A quick start [of the program] is essential to sustain the domestic military technological base and to obtain bargaining power. The comment followed an unsuccessful campaign to import the Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor.

The resulting ATD-X design has an empty weight of 29,000 lb. and features caret inlets, canted vertical stabilizers and planform alignment to reduce its radar cross-section (RCS). The design is powered by a pair of IHI XF5-1 turbofans producing 11,000 lbf. of thrust and which are fitted with thrust vectoring nozzles. The ATD-X airframe underwent static fatigue life testing in 2013 and was rolled out a year later. It first flew in April 2016 following a year-long delay prompted by unspecified issues with the aircraft s low observable (LO) features. As of November 2017, the ATD-X had flown 34 of the planned 50 test fights and was scheduled to be withdrawn from service in March 2018.

According to program manager Hirofumi Doi, the ATD-X program gave F-2 engineers the opportunity to pass skills to the next generation of Japanese aerospace engineers . The Society of Japanese Engineers found that just 20% of the 270 engineers across the main Japanese primes involved in the F-2 program remained in the workforce as of November 2017. Another critical element of the program was the development of associated test infrastructure which would later be needed in a full scale developmental program such as RCS measurement and ranging equipment. A total of $664 million was spent on the advanced technology demonstrator between 2009 and 2017.

Trade Studies & Concept of Operations

While Japanese industry gained experience in basic LO design and shaping under ATD-X, the MoD began the i3 program which was first disclosed in 2010. The i3 sought to develop technologies not covered under the ATD-X program such as slim engines capable of supercruise, electroconductive canopy materials, metamaterials for controlling radio waves passing through the radome, data integration for counter-stealth applications and cooperative sensor and weapons employment.

TRDI examined scenarios in which Japan would have to combat a larger adversary in a close or distance geographical context. Results from these studies indicated the need for high survivability via LO, deep magazine capability for air-to-air missiles (AAMs) and cooperative engagement capability. Speed was shown to not greatly improve mission performance. More important to aircraft survivability is the range of angles at which the aircraft can paint targets with its radar and guide missiles toward them. TRDI found that increasing a fighter s radar sweep from about 140 deg. (that is, 70 deg. either side of the centerline) to about 220 deg. gave the pilot more time in which to fire missiles and reduced the enemy s opportunity by around 40%. If the range of available guidance command directions is increased from about 200 deg. to 360 deg., the time available for the pilot to fire is almost doubled and the enemy s is almost halved.

TRDI (likely with support from MHI) produced concepts in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 which were successively designated 23DMU, 24DMU, 25DMU and 26DMU. (Note that the number in each designation corresponds to the regnal year of then Emperor Akihito. DMU stands for digital mock-up.)

The series of designs shows a progressively stronger emphasis on LO design illustrated by the flattening of the aircraft, moving the engines outboard and changing from straight intakes with radar blockers to S-shaped ducts. Earlier emphasis on maneuverability and speed gave way to focus on endurance, loiter time and weapons load. A detailed explanation of each concept design follows.

  • 23DMU This concept shared the planform of the ATD-X. Its overall design prioritized maneuverability and incorporated carriage of four BVR air-to-air missiles (AAMs) as well as a pair of within-visual-range (WVR) weapons. TRDI found the 23DMU s deep fuselage contained significant radar-reflecting side area.
  • 24DMU The next design was a refinement of the 23DMU intended to reduce side reflecting area by flattening the aircraft. The engines were moved outboard and fed with straighter ducts, relying on blockers to reduce the RCS. The BVR AAMs were carried in tandem pairs. A V-tail combines both rudder and elevator functions as on the Northrop YF-23. Simulations with the new design found a pilot flying a 24DMU instead of a 23DMU would be able to fire about 10% more missiles and the enemy about a third fewer. The time available for taking shots was shorter for both, but the enemy s firing interval suffered more.
  • 25DMU This design has a greater emphasis on LO when compared to the preceding concepts. In place of the straight, blocked inlets, 25DMU has S-ducted intakes with inboard engines to create a broad space for side-by-side stowage of six BVR AAMs under the ducts, which twist upwards and inwards. The four tail surfaces reappeared but the fins remained highly canted and were kept shorter than those of the 23DMU. Wingspan and aspect ratio increased by almost 20% compared to the 24DMU. These wing changes were expected to increase range through an improved lift to drag ratio and greater fuel volume. TRDI confirmed range increased with the 25DMU, though it gave no figures. Speed and acceleration likely suffered, especially since 25DMU appears at least 10% larger than its predecessors. All of TRDI s published designs show a modest 40-deg leading-edge sweep of the main plane, suggesting none were designed to supercruise, but rather for range and loiter time.
  • 26DMU The final design preserves the concept of long-endurance and moderate flight performance. 26DMU represents the final attempt by the ministry s engineers to evaluate the trade-offs in the performance and acquisition of the new fighter. Implying the formation of more stable program requirements or key performance parameters.

29th
JUN

Yakovlev Yak-130

Yakovlev Yak-130 user+1@localho Tue, 06/29/2021 - 21:17

A Yak-130 in flight.

Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0)

The Yakovlev Yak 130 is a Russian advanced jet trainer and light attack aircraft. It is powered by two Ivchenko-Progress AI-222-25 turbofan engines supplying 5,500 lbf. (2,500 kgf) of thrust each.

Program History

In the early 1990s the Russian air force sought to procure a new advanced jet trainer to replace the Czech Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatros. At the time of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, approximately 1,000 L-39s were in Soviet Air Force service. After the Czech Republic ceased delivering new L-39s and spares, and with the Soviet fleet over a decade into its service life, a replacement would be necessary by the mid-2000s.

L-39 replacement initiatives began even before this need became apparent, however. In June 1990 the Soviet State Military Industrial Commission issued a resolution ordering the development of a new trainer. The requirement was finalized in October of that year. It described a two-engine aircraft with a 170km/h (91.8 kt) landing speed, a 1,350 nmi (2,500 km) ferry range, a 0.6-0.7 thrust-to-weight ratio and an austere runway capability. Deliveries were to commence by 1994.

Preliminary design studies were submitted by Mikoyan-Gurevich, Sukhoi, Yakovlev and Myasishchev, with Mikoyan and Yakovlev selected by the new Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) in January 1992 to proceed with prototype development. The dissolution of the Soviet Union substantially delayed the timetable for the program. While Mikoyan moved ahead with its MiG Advanced Trainer (MiG-AT), Yakovlev started on its Yak-UTS. The MiG-AT first flew in March 1996 and had a low straight wing with engines mounted on either side of the fuselage at the wing root and a mid-mounted, lightly swept tailplane. It was intended to be inexpensive to operate and to offer improved fuel efficiency compared to the L-39.

The Yakovlev proposal was less conventional, incorporating a high delta wing with a conventional tail and composite materials. In 1992, unable to secure enough funding from the Russian government, Yakovlev signed an agreement with Aermacchi to cooperate on designing a trainer. The project was dubbed Yak/AEM-130. Aermacchi had been working for some time on an AT-X jet trainer to market to European air forces, and from 1988 to 1991 had worked with Dornier on studies for such an aircraft. This had resulted in the AT-X12 and then the AT-2000 Mako, a tailed-delta design. Aermacchi s early design work comported well with concepts for the Yak-130, whose configuration was approved by the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) in 1993. The Yak-130D demonstrator first flew in April 1996. Note that Mikoyan also secured foreign cooperation on its proposal, incorporating Turbomeca Larzac 04 engines and Thomson avionics into the MiG-AT design.

In 1994 the first Yak-130 demonstrator was completed and dubbed the Yak-130D. It was airlifted to the Le Bourget airshow in June 1995, where it was put on static display. The demonstrator carried RD-35 engines manufactured by Klimov under a 1994 license agreement with Povazske Strojarne, the Slovak company with the rights to the DV-2 engine the RD-35 was derived from. The Yak-130D first flew in April 1996, a month after the first flight of the MiG-AT. Many of the test flights it conducted in the following years were carried out at Aermacchi facilities in Italy.

The divergent requirements of the Russian and European trainer markets ultimately resulted in the dissolution of the Aermacchi-Yakovlev partnership at the end of 1999. Competing industrial imperatives made the partnership untenable; Russia sought to minimize the presence of foreign components in the design, while Aermacchi could not hope to produce or market an aircraft made predominantly in Russia. When the cooperation agreement ended, the parties agreed that both would have the right to produce their own derivatives of the basic Yak/AEM-130 design, and Yakovlev secured a $77 million ($118 million in 2019 USD) payment from Aermacchi in exchange for providing full documentation of the design. This funding was critical for the continuation of the program. Aermacchi quickly unveiled an aircraft it dubbed the M-346 Master, which is aerodynamically very similar to the Yak-130 and shares its design lineage because of the development partnership.

In April 2002, the Yak-130 was declared the winner of the MoD s trainer competition. The same year the Yak-130D s flight test regime concluded, and the prototype was mothballed in 2004. In April 2004, the first production-standard Yak-130 flew. Flight trials for the production aircraft then took place over the next five years, first at Yakovlev and then with the Russian air force, with three aircraft eventually involved. A contract was signed between Yakovlev and the Russian MoD in May 2005 to procure 12 low-rate initial production (LRIP) aircraft. On July 26, 2006, the third prototype aircraft crashed with no loss of life, and the program was delayed as changes were made to the flight control software. In November 2007 the Yak-130 received a preliminary certificate from the military, and production of the 12 LRIP aircraft began.

Flight tests were completed in December 2009, four years after the 2005 conclusion of static airframe tests. The first few serial production aircraft were manufactured at the Sokol aircraft manufacturing facility in Nizhny Novgorod, but the Irkutsk Aviation Plant became the sole assembler of the Yak-130 after entering the program in 2006. In February 2010 the Yak-130 entered Russian air force service.

Features

Overall Design

The Yak-130 s overall aerodynamic and structural configuration changed somewhat from that of the Yak-130D. It remained a tailed delta aircraft with a stabilator and a swept vertical tail, but its fuselage was shortened by 16 in (41 cm), its wing area was reduced and its midsection was shrunk. This permitted significant weight reductions, increasing the thrust-to-weight ratio while retaining the principal features of the original design. The airframe also is built predominantly of light alloys, with carbon fiber composites extensively used for the control surfaces. To accommodate a radar, the nosecone also was enlarged.

The wing is swept 31-deg. and fitted with leading-edge flaps. On the trailing edge, the wing is fitted with ailerons and fowler flaps. Both the wing and the horizontal stabilizer feature a dogtooth to induce vortices over the wing. This redirects spanwise airflow at high angles of attack, providing lift augmentation.

Because of the Yak-130 s small size and its limited capabilities compared to two-seat derivatives of fighters like the MiG-29UB or Su-27UB, the Yak-130 is a less costly solution for transitioning pilots to combat aircraft. In a similar vein, many other air forces have adopted aircraft such as the Leonardo M-346 or KAI T-50 to fill the niche previously occupied by two-seater variants of their frontline fighter aircraft. To enhance its training capability, the Yak-130 includes an integrated virtual training system that permits live engagements against virtual targets. The system also includes a recording system for after-action reports and analysis.

The two-person crew is seated in a tandem cockpit, with the student pilot in the front. The front and rear seats have 16-deg. and 6-deg. look-down visibility, respectively. For emergency egress, the aircraft is fitted with two K-36L-3,5Ya zero-zero ejection seats. The seats are designed to eject through the canopy, which is fitted with an explosive cord. The seats are rated for ejections at up to 567 kt (1,050 km/h) and at altitudes up to 4,265 ft (1,300 m). Life support is provided by an on-board oxygen-generating system (OBOGS) and an air-conditioning system aft of the cockpit. Because of the OBOGS, the aircraft is not dependent on airfield infrastructure to restore its oxygen supply between flights.

A self-test system is built into the aircraft for ease of maintenance, and it also assists in conducting pre-flight checks to reduce the minimum time required to put the aircraft in the air. Irkut states that a given Yak-130 airframe can remain in operation for up to 30 years, and it offers an integrated logistics support package for its customers. The Yak-130 has a tricycle landing gear with low-pressure tires for high flotation over unpaved runways.

Maneuverability and Flight Controls

Though the Yak-130D had analog flight controls, the Yak-130 features KSU-130 quadruple-redundant fly-by-wire flight controls. These controls feature adjustable flight envelope restrictions allowing the Yak-130 to simulate aircraft with disparate maneuvering characteristics and to operate in a restricted envelope for earlier phases of pilot training. Leading-edge root extensions and leading-edge flaps allow flight at up to a 40-deg. angle of attack. For safety, the aircraft is equipped with an automated spin recovery system and flight envelope protections.

Engines

The Yak-130 is powered by two Ivchenko-Progress AI-222-25 engines producing 5,500 lbf. (2,500 kgf) of thrust each. The engines were produced jointly by Ukraine s Motor Sich and Russia s MMPP Salyut until 2015, when Salyut declared it was now fully capable of independently building the engine. Air intakes are covered by doors during taxiing, takeoff and landing to reduce the risk of foreign object debris (FOD) ingestion from unimproved runways. When operating in this mode, auxiliary intake doors open in the top of the wing root, thereby getting oxygen to the engine with a dramatically lessened risk of FOD ingestion. This is similar to the intake door system designed for the MiG-29.

A TA14-130 auxiliary power unit (APU) supplied by Aerosila is used to start engines and generate AC power. The APU can be activated in-air to restart the engines if necessary, and it exhausts to the starboard side of the aircraft.

Fuel is stored in three internal fuel tanks one in the fuselage aft of the cockpit and one in each wing. Altogether this represents 3,747 lb. (1,700 kg) of fuel capacity, though in normal operation the Yak-130 typically carries around half of this maximum. Two PTB-450 drop tanks can be carried underwing, each with a capacity of 992 lb. (450 kg) of fuel.

Avionics

The Yak-130 features a K-130.01 full glass digital avionics suite. The suite is built around two BTsVM90-604 computers and a three-channel multiplex databus. Data from the system is displayed primarily on three MFTsi-0333M 6x8-in., full-color multifunctional displays for each pilot station. The forward station also includes an ILS-2-02 head-up display (HUD) with a PUI-130 up-front control panel (UFCP). This UFCP also is included in the rear station despite the lack of the HUD.

For navigation, the Yak-130 carries an RPKB/Sagem LINS-100RS-02 inertial navigation system with an A737 global navigation satellite system (GNSS) receiver. The LINS-100RS-02 is designed around a ring laser gyroscope to provide enhanced accuracy over traditional inertial navigation systems (INS). It also carries a VNIIRA RSBN-85 tactical air navigation (TACAN) system, an ARK-40 automatic direction finder and an A-053-06 radio altimeter. For combat purposes, the aircraft carries the SUO-130 weapons management system and the Izdeliye 4280 identification friend or foe (IFF) system.

The Yak-130 can carry a podded variant of the Platan IRST. The Platan also is carried on the Su-34, but in that configuration is integrated directly into the Su-34 s fuselage.

Defensive Countermeasures

For self-protection, the Yak-130 can carry two electronic countermeasures (ECM) pods. It also can carry wingtip-mounted UV-26M 26mm flare dispensers, each of which can carry 32 flares.

Armament

The Yak-130 has six underwing weapons pylons, two wingtip missile/pod rails and one underbelly pylon for a gun pod. It can carry a maximum of 6,614 lb. (3,000 kg) of payload. Possible weapons stores for the Yak-130 include:

  • Four R-73E short-range infrared homing air-to-air missiles (AAMs) capable of attacking targets up to 16.2 nmi (30 km) away maneuvering under load factors up to 12 G.
  • Four Kh-25M air-to-ground missiles with canard controls and a modular seeker system. The KH-25M can be fitted with semi-active laser, television, infrared imaging, active radar, GNSS/INS and antiradiation seekers.
  • S-5 family 57 mm rockets, S-8 family 80 mm rockets, S-13 family 122mm rockets and S-25 family 266mm rockets in UB-32, B-8M1, B-13L or PU-O-25 pods, respectively.
  • 551 lb. (250 kg) or 1,102 lb. (500 kg) FAB-250/500 series bombs.
  • PTB-450 drop tanks on the innermost pylons.
  • An SNPU-130 gun pod carrying a GSh-23L 23mm twin-barrel autocannon with 110 rounds of ammunition carried aboard the centerline hardpoint. The pod also can be replaced with a laser-based simulator for training

The aircraft also supports a helmet-mounted cueing system (HMCS) for carriage of the R-73E.

Variants

Yak-130D

The Yak-130D was the demonstrator built for the early flight-test phase of the Yak-130 program. Besides the previously mentioned differences in aerodynamic configuration from the demonstrator to the production aircraft, the Yak-130D has analog instrumentation with one small MFD in lieu of the glass cockpit used on the final Yak-130 design. It also lacks wingtip missile rails and the OBOGS.

Yak-130

Yak-130 is the designation for the base variant of the aircraft. At the izdeliye level, there are three subvariants of the Yak-130: the Yak-130.01, manufactured at the Sokol facility in Nizhny Novgorod; the Yak-130.11, manufactured at Irkutsk; and the Yak-130.12, the export variant of the aircraft.

Yak-131, Yak-133 and Yak-135 Proposals

The Yak-131, Yak-133 and Yak-135 were a series of modification proposals developed throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s to develop mission-specific Yak-130 variants. Of these variants, the Yak-131 was to incorporate a radar and expanded weapons options, the Yak-133 was to be a single-seat ground-attack aircraft and the Yak-135 was to be a supersonic single-seat light fighter. Derivatives of the Yak-133 design also were considered, namely the Yak-133IB fighter-bomber, the Yak-133R reconnaissance aircraft and the Yak-133P escort jammer. None of these designs ever progressed to concrete prototyping or production work. Yakovlev has instead taken an incremental approach to expanding the capabilities of the Yak-130 platform.

Proryv UAV Family

Yakovlev also considered developing a family of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) out of the Yak-130 airframe. These were to have a maximum takeoff weight of around 22,046 lb. (10,000 kg) and would have included the Proryv-U strike aircraft capable of flying at 594 kt (1,100 km/h) with a 6,614 lb. (3,000 kg) weapons load, the Proryv-R reconnaissance variant and the Proryv-RLD early warning variant. The Proryv-R and Proryv-RLD were to feature high-aspect-ratio, unswept wings.

Yak-130M

This designation is applied to a developmental aircraft integrating upgraded avionics, a strengthened undercarriage, plumbing for a removable in-flight refueling (IFR) probe and the LD-130 laser rangefinder described in the Upgrades section. The IFR probe is designed to meet the MIL-A-87166 standard. MIL-A-87166 is a deprecated standard for aerial refueling systems that was maintained by the U.S. Air Force prior to its cancellation in 1996.

Lightweight Strike Aircraft (LUS)

Called (Logkiy Udarnyi Samolyot) in Russian, the LUS is a concept to develop a dedicated light attack aircraft out of the Yak-130. The LUS would include further avionics upgrades, an OEPrNK electrooptical targeting system and a nose radar. The radar is likely to be either the Phazotron FK-130 Kopyo-50, NIIP Bars-130 or the Leonardo Grifo-200 and the new targeting system will enable the integration of both the Kh-38M air-to-ground missile and Kh-31 antishipping/antiradiation missiles.

Upgrades

LD-130 Laser Rangefinder

At MAKS 2015 Irkutsk unveiled a modified Yak-130 with a nose-mounted LD-130 laser rangefinder and target designator. The LD-130 also integrates an electrooptical system for target acquisition. Because this system is not gimbaled and appears to have a limited frontal field of regard, its utility against ground targets is inferior to those of podded systems such as the Lockheed Martin AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod. It is apparently intended mostly as an aiming aid for the podded cannon.

SM-100 Turbofan Engine

Following the exclusion of Motor Sich from AI-222-25 production for the Yak-130, Salyut has sought to independently develop and build a new engine for the aircraft. It has dubbed the notional engine the SM-100. Aside from achieving industrial independence for the Yak-130 program, Salyut intends to raise the thrust to 6,614 lbf. (3,000 kgf) by incorporating an afterburner.

Talisman-NT Electronic Warfare Suite

The aircraft Irkutsk displayed at MAKS 2015 also carried wingtip-mounted Talisman-NT electronic warfare pods manufactured by the Belarusian company Defense Initiatives. These pods provide self-protection in the frontal and rear arcs against active and semi-active radar homing and infrared homing surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles (SAMs and AAMs). Talisman-NT also is effective against command-guided SAMs, and it appears to integrate with the existing podded chaff/flare dispenser and EW system designed for the Yak-130.

The protection arcs cover 90 deg. horizontally and 60 deg. vertically from the nose and tail. Threat warning is provided by radar warning receivers and a missile approach warning system that display threat information on one of the cockpit MFDs. The system can react to threats autonomously. It is apparently designed to jam threat radar systems, prematurely detonate the radio proximity fuses of approaching missiles and automatically launch flares against incoming IR-guided missiles. Finally, the system can pass target data to antiradiation missiles. The manufacturer claims 10 W of output power (1,400 W input) over the 2.0-18.0 GHz radio band.

Production and Delivery History

Algeria

Algeria placed an order in March 2006 for 16 Yak-130s to be delivered from 2008 to 2009. After three years of delays, the first aircraft were delivered in November 2011 and the remainder arrived in 2012. They have export-standard identification friend-or-foe equipment, and their cockpit instrumentation is scaled in imperial units. All labels on the aircraft are in French. These aircraft also were ordered with UV-26M wingtip flare dispensers. The contract reportedly included a significant option for additional aircraft.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh placed an order for 16 Yak-130s in 2013. It anticipated delivery of the aircraft in 2015 and 2016; by the end of 2015 six had been inducted and the remaining 10 followed in 2016 as expected.

On July 11, 2017, a Bangladeshi Air Force Yak-130 crashed at Lohagora, Chittagong, due to a fault in the flight control system. Another accident followed on Dec. 27, 2017, when two more Yak-130s suffered a midair collision. Accordingly, only 13 remain in service in 2021.

Belarus

In December 2012 the Belarusian MoD ordered four Yak-130s with delivery expected in 2015. The four aircraft were inducted into Belarusian Air Force service on April 27, 2015. In August 2015, Belarus ordered a further four aircraft, which were delivered in 2016. Four more were contracted in 2018 and delivered by July 2019. The 12 aircraft are used primarily for light attack in Belarusian service and are teamed with Su-25s. On May 19, 2021, a Belarusian Yak-130 was lost in a crash.

Iran

From 2016 Iran considered ordering up to 24 Yak-130s from Russia as part of a wider arms deal, but as of June 2020 nothing had materialized to this end.

Laos

A $300 million contract for 10 Yak-130s was signed in August 2017. The first four of these aircraft were delivered in December 2018 by an Il-76. This delivery marked the reintroduction of an aerial combat capability Laos had lost in the 2000s with the retirement of its MiG-21s.

Libya

A contract was signed with Libya in January 2010 for the procurement of six aircraft. The civil conflict that began during the Arab Spring in February 2011 and culminated in the October 2011 downfall of the Gaddafi regime ensured that the contract would never be fulfilled.

Malaysia

Irkutsk has offered the Yak-130 for the Royal Malaysian Air Force s light combat aircraft competition, under which Malaysia hopes to acquire at least 36 aircraft. To meet Malaysia s requirements, Russia is offering the aircraft with the NIIP Tikhomirov Bars-130, a downsized derivative of the Bars-M radar used on Malaysia s Su-30MKM. It also will carry enhanced countermeasures, with UV-26M pods at the wingtips and two underwing ECM pods incorporating infrared and radar warning receivers.

The Yak-130 s commonality in manufacturing and maintenance with the Su-30MKM may make the aircraft more attractive against its competitors, the KAI FA-50, the BAE Hawk, the Sino-Pakistani JF-17 Thunder, the Chinese L-15 Hongdu, the Czech L-39NG, the HAL LCA Tejas and the Leonardo M-346FA. Irkutsk also is offering to provide the aircraft as knockdown and semi-knockdown kits as an industrial offset.

Myanmar

In 2015 Myanmar placed an order for 14 Yak-130s. Six were delivered in 2017 and eight followed in 2019 for a total of 14 in service.

Nicaragua

In April 2015 the head of Nicaragua s armed forces indicated that Nicaragua would acquire six new light attack aircraft in the coming years. He mentioned the EMB-314 Super Tucano, the Yak-130 and the MiG-130. Despite the wide range of capabilities apparently under consideration in June 2017 the Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa reported that the government had selected the Yak-130. It is clear that the government has a preference for the Yak-130 but it is unlikely that a firm agreement has been or can be reached on procurement due to Nicaragua s limited fiscal resources.

Russia

In December 2011 the Russian MoD signed a contract with Irkut Corporation for the procurement of 55 Yak-130s, which were to be delivered by 2015. These aircraft would complement the twelve low-rate initial production (LRIP) aircraft already procured under a May 2005 contract with Sokol. Only the LRIP aircraft were built at the Sokol plant in Nizhny Novgorod. In December 2013, the MoD ordered 12 more aircraft for a new aerobatic display team. The same month, 10 aircraft were ordered for the Russian Navy. Irkut was awarded another contract in 2018 for 30 Yak-130s. Sometime in 2019 the MoD is believed to have ordered an undisclosed number of additional aircraft. Finally, in August 2020 the Russian MoD announced another contract for 25 Yak-130s.

In total, Aviation Week believes 151 aircraft have been ordered. As of May 2021, 111 had been delivered, with five more to follow by the end of the year.

On May 29, 2010, a Yak-130 crashed due to the flight envelope protection system reacting to incorrect maintenance parameters set by the ground crew. The aircraft was grounded while the flight control software was rewritten. Another crash occurred in April 2014, with one pilot killed. Because of these crashes, 109 Yak-130s are in Russian Air Force service in 2021. The four remaining trials aircraft remain with Yakovlev, and the Yak-130D was donated to the Monino Central Air Force Museum.

Syria

In December 2011 Syria signed a contract for the procurement of 36 Yak-130s. For political and financial reasons related to the catastrophic civil war that began that year after the Syrian state responded to Arab Spring protests with force. The contract was never canceled, and efforts were made into 2014 to begin deliveries of the aircraft, but they have not materialized as of May 2021. In June 2019 Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) pilots reportedly were dispatched to Russia to receive training on the Yak-130, but it is not clear whether this was related to the procurement contract or was intended to train Syrian pilots for other aircraft as part of Russian efforts to support the beleaguered Syrian military.

Vietnam

In January 2020 Vietnam signed a $350 million contract to procure 12 Yak-130s to replace its L-39 jet trainers. The new aircraft will join the 915th Training Aviation Regiment of the Vietnam Peoples Air Force.

the 915th Training Aviation Regiment of the Vietnam Peoples Air Force.

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21st
JUN

The UFO Debate: Revenge of the Aliens?

The UFO Debate: Revenge of the Aliens? rupa.haria@avi Mon, 06/21/2021 - 09:01

The 2017 revelation that a secret U.S. Defense Department program has investigated reports of UFOs is hardly a new topic: debate about whether the UFOs existed and the Pentagon was covering up their existence -- was covered extensively in Aviation Week & Space Technology more than 50 years ago. And our reporting had a decidedly anti-extra-terrestrial bent.

Philip J. Klass, Aviation Week s legendary avionics editor, published an in-depth analysis in the summer of 1966 suggesting that some reported sightings of UFOs were actually luminous plasmas of ionized air, a special form of ball lightning generated by electric corona that occurs on high-tension power lines under certain conditions.

Read the full analysis in Aviation Week's archive

Klass noted that a then-popular book about UFO sightings near Exeter, New Hampshire, expresses the belief that top Air Force and government officials know that the UFOs are extra-terrestrial spacecraft but successfully kept this a secret for nearly two decades to prevent national panic. But he was skeptical. A much more plausible scientific explanation emerges when the Exeter sightings are analyzed, he wrote, devoting another four pages to lay out that analysis.

Philip J. Klass' avocation was debunking sightings of UFOs

Klass went on to become a leading skeptic of UFO sightings, traveling extensively to conduct investigations first hand. In 1976, he, astronomer Carl Sagan, science fiction writer Isaac Asimov and other notables founded the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. Klass also wrote six books debunking reports on UFO incidents and published The Skeptics of UFO Newsletter in his spare time.

I had the privilege of knowing Phil early in my career and even co-wrote an article with him on signals intelligence, not UFOs in the late 1990s. But when I went looking for his 2005 obituary in our bound volumes of past issues, the page had been mysteriously torn out.

Revenge of the aliens?

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This commentary was originally published on December 21, 2017.

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9th
JUN

Sikorsky H-60/S-70 Black Hawk

Sikorsky H-60/S-70 Black Hawk user+1@localho Wed, 06/09/2021 - 21:17

The Sikorsky H-60 Black Hawk is a medium weight military transport helicopter in service with the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard, and with dozens of military operators in Europe, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. More than 4,000 Black Hawks have been built since 1974. U.S. and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Black Hawks are designated as H-60s with subvariants, such as the UH-60, MH-60, HH-60, etc., reflecting the primary mission the Black Hawk variant. Generally, Black Hawks sold via Direct Commercial Sale (DCS) are referred to as S-70s though Sikorsky does have internal designations for FMS Black Hawks as well.

Program History

During the Vietnam War, the Huey fleet proved the feasibility and utility of air mobile operations but suffered from a lack of survivability and insufficient cabin volume. The U.S. Army launched the Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System (UTTAS) to replace the Huey in January 1972. The service planned to procure 1,107 helicopters which would be powered by two General Electric T700 engines. Early requirements for UTTAS included stowage within the C-130 and the ability to meet the following performance metrics on a 95 F day at 4,000 ft:

  • accommodate a fully equipped rifle squad of 11 soldiers plus a crew of three
  • cruise at a speed of at least 145 kts. (167 mph)
  • endurance of 2.3 hrs.
  • demonstrate greater crash resistance for crew compartments
  • provide greater survivability against ground fire

Bell, Sikorsky, and Boeing- Vertol responded to the Army s UTTAS request for proposals (RFP). In August 1972, Boeing-Vertol and Sikorsky were selected to build prototypes for a competitive fly off with the YUH-60A and YUH-61A respectively. Each contract was to build three prototypes with $61.9 million for Boeing-Vertol and $91 million awarded to Boeing ($390 and $574 million in 2021 dollars respectively). Sikorsky was particularly deliberate in its bidding strategy. The company had begun work on its UTTAS concept in 1971 following the loss of both the Army's Advanced Aerial Fire Support System (AAFSS) and Heavy Lift Helicopter (HLH) competitions to Lockheed and Boeing-Vertol respectively.

Sikorsky s YUH-60A first took flight on Oct. 17, 1974 and was followed by Boeing-Vertol s design that November. The Army took delivery of contractor prototypes through March 1976 and subsequently began an eight-month evaluation encompassing more than 1400 flight hours. Sikorsky won source selection on December 23, 1976 owing to the type s use of mature technologies and to it meeting or exceeding all UTTAS program requirements. Following Army tradition, the UTTAS program was renamed as the Black Hawk program in honor of the eponymous Sauk war chief. See production & delivery section for more details.

Features & Variants

There are three generations of Black Hawks with successive improvements being made to each: H-60A, H-60L and H-60M. The Seahawk group is inter-related with each generation but is more often considered its own distinct group given its maritime focus.

First Generation

UH-60A

The UH-60A was the first production configuration variant in the H-60 family with an initial empty weight of 10,387 lb. and a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 16,450 lb. The A model could accommodate external sling loads of up to 8,000 lb. As the A-model s mission equipment was expanded, its empty weight gradually increased to 11,284 lb. by the end of production. The UH-60A was initially powered by a pair of 1,600-shaft horsepower (SHP) T700-GE-700 turboshafts.

The UH-60A incorporated a host of new technologies and design features in its rotor arrangement to improve survivability and performance. The four-bladed main rotor uses titanium spars that are swept 20-deg. aft, while the tail rotor is canted 20-deg. upwards generating 400 lb. of supplemental lift. The UH-60A features armored, crash resistant crew seats and its airframe is designed to withstand small arms fire and to provide limited protection against 23 mm cannon fire.

S-70A

Sikorsky has its own designation system independent of the U.S. tri-service system. For decades, each country had its own specific designation within the S-70A series. For example, Australia s aircraft, equivalent to the UH-60A, were designated as the S-70A-9. In contrast, Austrian aircraft were designated as the S-70A-42 but were equivalent to the UH-60L configuration. This system fell out of favor with the advent of the UH-60M-equivalent S-70i which does not receive a country specific identifier.

MH-60A

The MH-60A was the first UH-60 variant developed for U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) featuring SOF related mission systems such as night vision systems, improved countermeasures, and enhanced communications equipment. The aircraft was quickly replaced by the more capable MH-60K.

EH-60B/YEH-60B

In the early 1980s, the Army briefly sought a helicopter to provide long-range, ground moving target indication (GMTI) capability. To this end, it experimented with a single YEH-60B demonstrator fitted with the Stand Off Target Acquisition System (SOTAS) radar starting in 1981. The system was fitted conformally to the bottom of the airframe and was deployed outwards, enabling the antenna to rotate. The Black Hawks inherent limitations in power, weight, and cooling capacity as well as in altitude (for signal propagation/horizon) made the helicopter ill-suited for long-range GMTI. Ultimately, the Army discontinued the program as the Northrop Grumman E-8 J-STARs became available.

EH-60C/D

The EH-60C is an electronic warfare variant of the Black Hawk fitted with the ALQ-151(V)2 Special Purpose Electronic Countermeasure System. The suite is also known as the Quick Fix mission system. The ALQ-151(V)2 consists of four dipole antennas mounted on the tailcone as well as a deployable whip antenna. EH-60Cs were used to support armored cavalry regiments and light divisions by locating and jamming enemy communications. These specialized aircraft were eventually replaced by EH-60Ls fitted with the ALQ-151(V)3.

S-70C

The S-70C is a commercial version of the UH-60A. C-1 and C-1A models were sold the Republic of China (Taiwan) and C-2 to the People s Republic of China. See production & delivery history section for country specific modifications.

VH-60N

The VH-60N is a VIP transport variant operated by the Marine Corps HMX-1 the squadron responsible for the transport of the President and other key government officials. The N features a blend of Seahawk and A-model features. Aside from VIP furnishings, the N-model also features measures to protect the helicopter against electro-magnetic pulses.

UH-60A+ & UH-60FFF

The UH-60A+ features improved T700-GE-701D turboshafts capable of producing 2,000 SHP however, the A-model s gearbox remains unchanged. Surplus U.S. Army A-models were converted for Afghanistan. A portion of these are fitted with an armament package, becoming UH-60 Fixed Forward Firing (UH-60FFF) variants. See Afghanistan under production & delivery history section for additional details.

Second Generation

UH-60L

The second generation UH-60L was conceived to restore performance lost by increases to the A-model s empty weight. New mission equipment such as the Hover IR Suppression System (HIRSS) and provisions for the enhanced stores support system (ESSS) added approximately 900 lb. to the airframe. The L-model restored 1,000 lbs. of performance with the addition of a new 3,400 SHP gearbox derived from the SH-60B, T700-GE-701C engines which each provided 1,800 SHP and a new flight control system. The UH-60L can carry sling loads of 9,000 lb., enabling the helicopter to carry the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV).

CH-60E

The CH-60E was a proposed UH-60L derivative for the USMC to replace the Boeing-Vertol CH-46 Sea Knight. While it was not pursued, the concept eventually evolved into the MH-60S.

HH-60G/MH-60G Pave Hawk

The Pave Hawk was developed for U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). The MH-60G was used for special operations forces (SOF) infiltration and exfiltration while the HH-60G was developed for combat search and rescue (CSAR). To meet SOCOM s requirements, the aircraft recieved a series of modifications including an inflight refueling probe, a nose mounted weather radar, an automatic flight control system and measures to assist in all-weather operations.

UH-60J

The J model is a maritime SAR variant developed for the Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) from the UH-60L. JASDF specific modifications include upswept ESSS mounts, a weather radar, a nose mounted FLIR, a rescue hoist and bubble windows for greater visual awareness during SAR. The J-model uses GE 401C engines which are adapted for maritime conditions. MSDF Black Hawks sport either a yellow-white or distinctive two-tone blue camouflage pattern.

UH-60J+

The UH-60J or UH-60 J (modernized) (often referred to as or kai for modified when abbreviated or as UH-60J+ in English language sources) is a SAR variant fielded by the JASDF as a replacement for the J-model. The UH-60J+ configuration includes J-model features as well as a removable inflight refueling (IFR) probe, SATCOM and a collision avoidance system.

UH-60JA

The UH-60JA is a general transport derivative based upon the UH-60L for the Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF). It features ESSS mounts, a nose mounted weather radar, a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) turret, IR suppressors and license built IHI 401C engines.

MH-60K

The K-model was developed for U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC). The UH-60K features uprated T701D engines as well as additional longerons and strengthened structural components to raise the helicopter s MTOW to 24,500 lb. Mission equipment consisted of the Texas Instruments APG-174 terrain following radar (TFLR), the Raytheon AAQ-16 FLIR turret, and a digital map system. As with the Pave Hawk, the MH-60K featured an in-flight refueling probe and rescue hoist.

AH-60L Harpia

The Harpia is a gunship derivative of the Black Hawk developed by Colombia. Each successive generation of the Harpia added weapons and improved avionics. Early Harpia I models were limited to gun pods with 250 rounds of ammunition. Harpia II introduced stub pylon mounted hardpoints for machine guns and 2.75 in. rockets as well as a weather radar and night vision capability. Colombia partnered with Elbit and Sikorsky in 2002 to develop the Harpia III configuration which features a Toplite II FLIR and targeting system, the Modular Integrated Display and Sight Helmet (MiDASH), an integrated stores management system and an improved armaments package. Harpia IV features the ANVIS/HUD-24, Toplite III EO/IR system and an improved countermeasures suite.

HH-60L

The HH-60L is a medevac UH-60L derivative incorporating many of the preceding HH-60Q features including a glass cockpit, additional electrical power, an oxygen generating system and capacity for six patients.

MH-60L

The MH-60L Defensive Action Penetrator (DAP) which was originally named the Direct Action Penetrator shares the K-model s features but also is fitted with a weapons kit typically consisting of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, M134 7.62 mm miniguns, 2.75-inch rocket pods or M230 30 mm cannons mounted on removable pylons. Despite carrying offensive weaponry comparable to that of an attack helicopter, the DAP lacks the armor protection of dedicated gunships.

UH-60P

The UH-60P is a UH-60L derivative for Korea with a rotor brake, ESSS mounts and T701C turboshaft engines.

HH-60P

The HH-60P is a Korean derivative of the UH-60P designed for CSAR missions. Unlike its USAF equivalent, the HH-60P does not have an IFR probe .

VH-60P

The VH-60P is a South Korean VIP variant derived from the UH-60P.

HH-60Q

The HH-60Q Dustoff was a Medevac demonstrator featuring additional electrical power, an oxygen generating system and capacity for six patients. The Q-model also featured a nose mounted weather radar and FLIR system. Work on the Q-model informed the subsequent HH-60L.

UH-60V

The UH-60V is the latest derivative of the L model and features a digital cockpit similar to that of the UH-60M. The V-model features 2,000 SHP T701D turboshafts but lacks the new rotors and other performance enhancements developed for the M-model. See the production & delivery history section for additional details regarding the program.

Third Generation

UH-60M

As the load of equipment supplied to U.S. Army soldiers increased from 240 lb. to 290 lb., another revitalization of the Black Hawk was necessary to restore performance margins lost in the 1990s to early 2000s. The UH-60M s principal design changes include T701D turboshafts, new wide-chord composite rotor blades (which provide 470 lb. of additional lift), digital avionics, multi-function displays and a machined airframe to reduce vibration and weight. The M model has an empty weight of 12,511 lb. and MTOW of 22,000 lb.

MH-60M

6th
JUL

GSB Gold Standard Banking, Josip Heit and SPREE FLUG in Times of Coronavirus

In the coronavirus pandemic, job cuts, such as those currently at the aircraft manufacturer Airbus, are hitting the Federal Republic of Germany particularly hard. The 5100 jobs that are to be cut are not only slowing down the German economy, but are also burdening the national budget. Worldwide, Airbus plans to cut a full 15,000 jobs due to the corona crisis. In other countries, the company is also making cuts: In France 5000 jobs are... Source: RealWireRead full story.
24th
JUN

KAI KF-X

KAI KF-X shambo.pfaff@i Wed, 06/24/2020 - 21:12

The Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) KF-X is a multi-role 4.5 generation fighter. The KF-X is powered by two General Electric (GE) F414-400K turbofan engines. Image shows final C-109 design with caret inlets, boundary layer diverter and canted twin tails. Munitions stored conformally in the Block I configuration with provisions for an internal weapons bay in the subsequent Block II configuration. Credit: KAI

Program History

Prelude & Early Ambitions

In the early 1990s, South Korea sought to develop a robust domestic aerospace industry. Under the Peace Bridge II program, Lockheed Martin agreed to open a production line for F-16s in Korea. Hundreds of South Korean engineers were trained in the United States in preparation for domestic F-16 production and Lockheed Martin committed to a series of offset agreements including the development of a new Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) designated as the KTX-2 which would become the T-50. In response to the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997, the Korean government directed the creation of KAI in October 1999 from the three largest aerospace chaebols (Korean conglomerates): Daewoo Heavy Machinery, Hyundai and Samsung Techwin (formerely Samsung Aerospace).

As KAI gained experienced with the KTX-2 program, the Kim Dae-jung Administration began to study proposals to develop an indigenous fighter. In August 2001, Defense Minister Kim Dong-shin announced the government would begin development of an indigenous fighter in 2003 which would enter service in 2015. In 2002, the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) wrote the initial Required Operational Characteristics (ROC) for a medium weight fighter which would be slightly superior to the F-16. The original requirements did not call for low observability (LO) or internal carriage of weapons. During the 197th meeting of the Korean Joint Chiefs in November 2002, initial KF-X ROCs were approved. A medium performance indigenous fighter would be developed to complement the higher-end F-15K which had been selected as the F-X in April 2002. The F-X program began in November 1997 and originally sought to procure 120 fighters by 2020 but was ultimately divided into three distinct phases for 40 (2002), 21 (including one attrition replacement, 2008) and 60 (revised down to 40, 2014) aircraft respectively.

Development work for the medium performance indigenous fighter would be led by the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) which coordinates nationwide defense R&D activities and reports directly to the Ministry of National Defense (formerly the Defense Acquisition Procurement Agency or DAPA until 2014). By 2007, South Korea was looking at developing a 5th generation, LO fighter. The world s first 5th generation fighter, the F-22, had reached initial operational capability (IOC) just two years prior following more than 20 years of development. Ambitious plans to expand domestic industry and discord amongst Korea s defense policy community greatly contributed towards the program s initial delays. Furthermore, differences in defense policy between subsequent administrations greatly affected the progress and funding of the KF-X program.

Feasibility Studies & Evolution of Requirements

Between 2002 and 2014, the government commissioned multiple feasibility studies on KF-X from the Korea Institute of Defense Analysis (KIDA), Korea Development Institute (KDI), Konkuk University and the Korean Institute of Science and Technology Evaluation Assessment (KISTEP). In 2012, the ADD also hired IHS Janes and Strategic Defense Intelligence to examine the KF-X s exportability.

In December 2007, the Korea Development Institute (KDI), an economic policy think tank staffed largely by government employees, found that the program would cost 10 trillion ($10.6 billion in adjusted 2020 dollars) and result in only 3 trillion ($3.2 billion in adjusted 2020 dollars) in economic benefits. KDI s ROCs assumed KF-X would be LO with internal carriage for four air-to-air missiles (AAMs) and performance characteristics in between the F-16 and F-15. In October of that year, four companies had submitted bids for KF-X (now nicknamed Boramae): Saab, Airbus (then EADS), Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Saab submitted two derivatives of its JAS 39 C/D fighter. The P305 was a single engine derivative while the P306 had twin engines, both stored weapons internally. EADS offered the Eurofighter Typhoon as the basis for a cooperative development program. Boeing and Lockheed Martin were operating under stringent U.S. export controls and kept a lower profile during the early stages of KF-X.

2009 marked a series of important milestones for the KF-X in terms of international participation and solidification of requirements. On March 9, 2009, South Korea and Indonesia and signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) for the joint development of KF-X. Indonesia committed to fund 20% of the KF-X development and purchase 50 IF-X (Indonesian derivative KF-X) aircraft. South Korea attempted to solicit Turkish participation in the program but Korea and Turkey were reportedly unable to reach an agreement regarding leadership of a co-development program. KF-X program requirements

In 2009, the government commissioned Konkuk University s Weapons System Concept Development and Application Research Center to study the feasibility of the KF-X program. The study was led by Major General (ret.) Shin Bo Hyun who had previously led the original F-X evaluation team in 2002. Major Gen. Hyun s report found development and production of the KF-X was feasible if the KF-X was effectively downgraded to a 4.5 generation platform. The study concluded 5th generation capabilities were not necessary in a North Korea scenario. Stand-off weapons would allow non-LO aircraft to conduct strikes. The study proposed the following ROCs :

  • Combat Radius: 1.5 times that of the F-16C/D Block 52 (approximately 500 miles or 800 km)
  • Service Life: 1.34 times that of the F-16C/D (approximately 10,700 hours)
  • Empty weight of 10.4 metric tons (22,928 lb.)
  • Reduced radar cross section (RCS), but not true LO
  • One to two engines

A 4.5 generation fighter would cost 6 trillion ($6.1 billion in adjusted 2020 dollars) to develop and approximately 50 billion to build ($51 million in adjusted 2020 dollars). A production run of 250 aircraft would be required to reach sufficient economies of scale. A total of 120 KF-Xs could be built to replace the legacy Boeing F-4 Phantom and Northrop F-5 fleets. An additional 130 could be built to eventually replace the ROKAF s F-16 fleet. The study concluded that South Korean industry possessed 63% of the required technologies for the program. Konkuk University s conclusions were well received and the program ultimately abandoned hopes to produce a fifth generation fighter at least in the short term (Block II and notional Block III).

Ties to F-X

The DAPA under the Myung-bak Lee Administration (Feb. 2008 to Feb. 2013) lowered F-X Phase III ROCs in an effort to make the bid more competitive and emphasize technology transfer for F-X at the cost of platform capability (particularly in terms of LO). The new ROCs enabled Boeing s F-15 Silent Eagle (F-15SE) and Airbus Eurofighter Typhoon to participate alongside Lockheed Martin s F-35. EADS (Airbus) offered to invest $2 billion in the KF-X program as part of its Eurofighter Typhoon bid. In August 2013, the DAPA selected the F-15SE as the only qualified bidder of the F-X Phase III as Lockheed s bid exceeded the specified price restrictions and the Eurofighter Typhoon was disqualified for a bidding irregularity. Later that month, a group of 15 former ROKAF Generals signed a petition against the F-15SE s selection. The Defense Project Promotion Committee chaired by Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin overturned the initial DAPA decision in accordance with new ROCs from the Joint Chiefs favoring LO performance. On March 24, 2014, Seoul announced its intent to purchase 40 F-35As a reduction from 60 for budgetary purposes. On Sep.24, it announced it had completed negotiations with the U.S. government regarding price, offsets and technical details. As part of the 7.34 trillion ($6.5 billion in adjusted 2020 dollars) deal, Korea requested the transfer of 25 technologies to support the KF-X program.

KAI Down Select

In December 2014, the DAPA issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the KF-X program. Two teams participated throughout the competition: KAI-Lockheed Martin and Korean Air Lines (KAL)-Airbus-Boeing. The RFP requires a clean sheet design, but the KAL team reportedly wanted to use a modified F/A-18E/F with Airbus supplying components the U.S. manufacturer could not. However, Boeing ultimately withdrew before bidding which opened in February 2015. The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) selected the KAI-Lockheed Martin team for the Korean Fighter Experimental (KF-X) program a month later. In November 2015, Indonesia agreed to fund 1.7 trillion ($1.54 billion in inflation adjusted 2020 dollars) or approximately 20% of the program s development costs. South Korea followed through by awarding the KF-X development contract to KAI in December.

The Finance Ministry approved 8.69 trillion budget ($7.65 billion in adjusted 2020 dollars) for KF-X s development over a period of 10 years and 6 months. Korean industry and Indonesia will fund 20% of the aircraft s development costs each with South Korean government financing the remaining 60%. The total program is expected to cost 18 trillion ($15.1 billion) for both development and production of 120 aircraft.

24th
JAN

New Positions, Promotions, Honors And Elections (Jan. 27, 2020)

New Positions, Promotions, Honors And Elections (Jan. 27, 2020) bridget.horan@ Fri, 01/24/2020 - 09:00

NASA has promoted Robert Pearce to associate administrator for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate. He was acting associate administrator and has held a number of strategic executive and program management positions at NASA. Pearce succeeds Jaiwon Shin, who has retired.

Wizz Air has hired Jourik Hooghe as executive vice president/chief financial officer. Hooghe had been with the Adecco Group. Wizz Air also promoted Iain Wetherall to chief investment officer, a new position; Wetherall was chief financial officer.

The Aerospace Corp. has promoted Todd Nygren to senior vice president of the engineering and technology group, which comprises 1,500 engineers and scientists. Nygren has held multiple leadership positions at the company including general manager and chief engineer for addressing emerging national security threats.

Northrop Grumman has promoted Lesley Kalan to corporate vice president and chief strategy and development officer. Kalan was vice president of government relations since Jan. 1, 2018, and vice president of legislative affairs since 2010.

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) has named Kori Schake a foreign and defense policy studies director and resident scholar. She succeeds Danielle Pletka, who remains an AEI senior fellow focused on the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy. Schake was deputy director general of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

Airbus has created a new communications and corporate affairs office whose leadership comprises: Maggie Bergsma, head of communications for commercial aircraft; Yves Barille, head of communications for helicopters; Dirk Erat, head of communications for defense and space; and Philipp Encz, head of the company s creative content teams and internal and external communications. Guillaume Steuer has been appointed head of external communications, reporting to Encz.

Safe Flight Instrument Corp., a lift--instrumentation and control-systems maker, has promoted Maria Ferrara to vice president of manufacturing, a new position, from director of quality assurance, during which she oversaw Safe Flight s AS9100 certification. Ferrara was BAE Systems lead quality assurance engineer.

Virgin Galactic has hired Michelle Kley as general counsel, secretary and executive vice president of legal. Kley was senior vice president, chief legal/compliance officer and secretary at Maxar Technologies Inc.

Triumph Group has promoted Thomas A. Quigley III to vice president of investor relations and controller, from corporate officer and controller. He succeeds Michael Pici, who has left.

Airlines for America has named Riva Khoshaba Parker vice president of labor and employment/litigation. Parker had worked at the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Army and helped create the Army s first nationwide labor litigation team.

Ulla Lettijeff has been appointed director of Helsinki Airport and a member of Finavia s executive group, effective Feb. 6. Lettijeff has held several managerial positions at Fiskars Group and Nokia.

The DuPage Airport Authority of West Chicago, Illinois, has named Mark Doles executive director. He succeeds David Bird, who has retired. Doles was interim executive director.

RTCA Inc. has made three board appointments: Nathan Boelkins, Michael Ingram and Lorne Cass. Boelkins heads Collins Aerospace commercial avionics; Ingram is vice president/general manager of Honeywell cockpit systems, and Cass is American Airlines operations/industry affairs vice president.

D. Scott Davis has been named independent lead director of the Honeywell board. He succeeds Enesa President/CEO Chico Pardo, who was lead director in January 2016-20.

The Aerospace Corp. has elected three new board members: former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Air Force Gen. (ret.) Paul J. Selva; former Defense Department official Kathleen H. Hicks; and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and former NASA official Dava J. Newman.

Platinum Tools has hired Scott Lipsett as marketing manager, succeeding Jason Chesla, who recently was named national accounts manager. Lipsett was brand manager at Reactor Watch. Before joining Platinum Tools as marketing manager in 2016, Chesla was a sales and marketing consultant at LiveWire Innovation.

Lufthansa has added a board-level position for customer and corporate responsibility, led by Brussels Airlines CEO Christina Foerster. It has also appointed Thorsten Dirks to head the new IT, digital and innovation department and Harry Hohmeister to lead the commercial passenger airlines division. Swiss International Airlines Chief Finanacial Officer Michael Niggemann has joined the board for three years and taken over management of human resources and legal affiars.

FlightSafety International has promoted Matthew De Foe to manager of the Paris Le Bourget learning center. He succeeds Yannick Kerriou, who has left. De Foe was program manager, training director and assistant manager at Tucson, Arizona, and West Palm Beach, Florida.

Hong Kong-based Kadoorie subsidiary Metrojet Ltd. has hired Capt. Kobus Swart as director of flight operations. A former air force pilot, Kobus was chief operating officer and director of operations at TAG Aviation Asia and Hongkong Jet.

HONORS AND ELECTIONS

Makenzie Lystrup vice president/general manager of civil space at Ball Aerospace, has been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in recognition of her distinguished record in the fields of planetary science and infrared astronomy, science policy and advocacy, and aerospace industry leadership.

Brandon (Randy) R. Belote III, a former Northrop Grumman Corp. vice president of strategic communications, has been selected to receive the 2019 Lauren Lyman award for outstanding achievement in aerospace communications.

 
 
 
 

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10th
DEC

Job Cuts Show Textron, Gulfstream ‘Appropriately Cautious’—Analysts

Recent layoffs at Textron Aviation and Gulfstream Aerospace are signs that the manufacturers are being appropriately cautious about their outlook for orders and production, analysts say.

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5th
DEC

Reports: Garuda’s Chief Executive To Be Dismissed

Garuda Indonesia s top executive appears set to lose his job after allegations linking him to the smuggling of motorbike parts on an aircraft delivery flight.

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5th
DEC

Garuda Indonesia Chief Executive To Be Dismissed, Reports Say

Garuda Indonesia s top executive appears set to lose his job after allegations linking him to the smuggling of motorbike parts on an aircraft delivery flight.

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20th
NOV

France Planning 70-Year Career For Rafale

Connectivity, AI and new weaponry are part of the Rafale s development roadmap.

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