Can't turn, Can't climb, Can't run: F35 problems


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The F-35’s Ongoing Cost Challenges
Jul 9, 2018Lee Hudson | Aviation Week & Space Technology

The U.S. Marine Corps is retiring its first F-35B two years after it suffered a fire during a training flight. The fire exposed a flaw that is now being fixed fleet-wide. But the decision to shed the damaged aircraft, which could end up on display at a museum, comes at a time when the program is about to enter a critical round of testing and likely will not reach a long-standing price-reduction goal.

Troubles for the F35B in question, No. BF06, began in October 2016, when a fire broke out in the Lockheed Martin-built fighter’s weapons bay. The pilot landed the aircraft safely at MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina, where it was assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Sqdn. 501. Then-F-35 Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan told reporters in December 2016 that the mishap occurred when a bracket that held electrical wires in the weapons bay came loose, which allowed those wires to come into contact with hydraulic lines.

By May 2018, the Marine Corps had conducted a cost-benefit analysis of keeping it in the fleet and decided it was best to “strike” the aircraft, according to Marine spokesman Capt. Christopher Harrison.

Marines remove first F-35B from inventory

Pentagon operational testers may clear F-35 for full-rate production

F-35 program office and Pentagon analysis differ on cost-saving estimates

The service is still weighing whether the damaged aircraft, delivered in January 2012, will be donated to a museum or used as a trainer for maintenance procedures.

The decision comes as the next step in the massive program’s evolution from development to production. The director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) reports on programs before a full-rate production decision is made.

DOT&E cleared the program for preinitial operational test and evaluation events to take advantage of good weather and ship availability. Beginning testing early allows Lockheed Martin to make corrections and implement fixes sooner, the Pentagon says.

As F-35 international sales continue to climb, the Pentagon has become more creative with its contracting strategy to drive down the price tag for the U.S. and its allies. From 2014 through 2019, the F-35 received more orders from international allies than any combat aircraft—a grand total of 190.

The Joint Program Office (JPO) is executing a block buy contracting construct for F-35 international partners and Foreign Military Sales customers for production Lots 12, 13 and 14. U.S. participation is limited to economic order quantity (EOQ) procurement in fiscal 2019 for Lot 13 and fiscal 2020 for Lot 14 production contracts. Congress is waiting for the aircraft to complete operational testing before authorizing the U.S. services to enter the block buy.

In October 2017, the JPO forecast the total U.S. and international savings from F-35 EOQ was $1.2 billion compared to a traditional contracting strategy. However, the Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) office, in a report viewed by Aviation Week, notes the savings will be roughly $595 million, or about one-half of the figure projected by the JPO.

Lockheed Martin vows to get the price of the F-35A to $80 million by 2020. Credit: Tony Osborne/AW&ST

This discrepancy between two Pentagon offices is raising eyebrows in Congress. “While these savings are still significant, as certified by the Undersecretary of Defense (Acquisition and Sustainment), the Committee is dismayed by the inaccuracy of the initial JPO estimates,” the Senate Appropriations Committee’s mark of the fiscal 2019 spending bill reads.

The CAPE assessment is based on site visits and discussions with each prime contractor and key subvendors. CAPE met with eight different companies from December 2017-February 2018.

“The CAPE forecast is equivalent to a $1.3 million reduction per aircraft (or 1.5%) over the planned procurement of 442 aircraft, with a total contract value of approximately $40 billion in fiscal 2018-20,” the report reads.

CAPE’s analysis concludes anticipated U.S. savings would be about $300 million compared to the JPO’s savings estimate of $638 million. Lockheed Martin aims to get the F-35A price tag to $80 million per aircraft by 2020, while CAPE’s analysis of the cost reduction does not get the F-35A price tag to $80 million by 2020. The most recently negotiated price for F-35As in Lot 10 is $94.6 million. The previous head of the F-35 program for the company, Jeff Babione, says either a block buy or multiyear contract is paramount for achieving the $80 million target.

Despite CAPE’s stinging assessment, the company says it is making “excellent progress” toward achieving an $80 million price for the F-35A, Lockheed Martin spokesman Michael Friedman says.

“A block buy acquisition approach for Lots 12-14, as currently constructed, is [critical to driving] costs down,” Friedman says. “F-35 unit costs have declined by more than 60% since the first production lot, and we continue to reduce costs across production and sustainment.”

Further, the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin are nearing a deal for Lot 11 that includes more than 130 jets, according to several congressional aides.

U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Mat Winter, F-35 joint program executive officer, initially wanted to reach an agreement for the planned low-rate initial production Lot 11 by the end of 2017. Winter said in February he anticipates all F-35 variants will be cheaper compared to Lot 10. He told reporters the government was unhappy with negotiations with Lockheed Martin.

“They could be much more cooperative and more collaborative, and we could seal this deal faster, we could,” he said. “They choose not to, and that’s a negotiating tactic.


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every man and his dog having a crack at stealth fighter now

UK Future Fighter Hinges on Cooperation
Jul 17, 2018 Tony Osborne | ShowNews
Comments 2

UK Defense Minister Gavin Williamson urges international partners join the new fighter program.

One year after France and Germany announced plans to jointly develop a future European fighter, Britain has lifted the veil on its vision for a future combat aircraft.

The Tempest concept, a twin-engine, delta-winged, low-observable fighter – unveiled by ministers on the opening day of the Farnborough Airshow – is a major milestone in Britain’s approach to develop a fighter through international co-operation.

And with aggressive development timelines and a vision to introduce cutting-edge technologies, the UK appears to be hoping to snatch away interest from the project being proposed by its neighbors across the Channel.

The Combat Air Strategy calls for Britain to take a leading role in a multinational program, with a ‘build it and they will come’ approach.

Some £2 billion has been put aside for the development of technologies associated with the aircraft, and 50-60 technology demonstrations are planned over the coming years, some funded entirely by industry, others on a 50/50 basis with government.

“We are entering a dangerous new era of warfare,” said defense minister Gavin Williamson. “It [the strategy] shows our allies that we are open to working together to protect the skies in an increasingly threatening future.”

British industry has already been heavily involved in the concept development work through the Team Tempest industry consortium which was announced by the Royal Air Force Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Steven Hillier. Partners include BAE Systems, engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce, missile manufacturer MBDA, and Leonardo, along with agencies including Defense Equipment & Support [the UK procurement agency] and the RAF’s Rapid Capability Office.

The UK is eager to preserve its combat air capabilities, not only because it sustains thousands of jobs but because it has also generated 80% of the UK’s defense export income over the last decade with sales to Saudi Arabia and Oman.

The UK wants to disrupt the trend of lengthy development programs, with Williamson saying he wants to see a business case for the project delivered by the end of this year, to be followed by initial decisions about how to acquire the capability to come by the end of 2020, before investments decisions emerge by 2025.

The future fighter could be flying alongside F-35s and Typhoons by 2035, the minister suggested.

The Typhoon is due to exit service in around 2040, which means the new platform will likely end up operating alongside British F-35s.

Such a timeline would put the British-led program almost five years ahead of the Franco-German program announced last summer and given the go-ahead in April, it may also be ahead of the U.S. Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance or Penetrating Counter Air programs, although progress could be being made in the black world.

The UK has actually been quietly developing technologies associated with a future combat aircraft since the end of 2015 with research into open architecture avionics and aircraft systems through programs such as Pyramid. BAE has been trialing adaptive payload bays and testing new advanced materials.

New technologies envisioned for the aircraft include a new generation engine to support the new aircraft’s extensive electrical power demands. A third stream will provide bleed air to support the aircraft’s thermal management. The power system will provide electrical power to support directed energy weapons.

It will also make use of new advanced weapons including hypersonic and swarming missiles.

The aircraft’s systems will be rapidly upgradable and cyber resilient.

Air chiefs from around the world were invited at the weekend to take a look at a second mock-up which was shown off at the Royal International Air Tattoo on July 13-15 and briefed on the proposals.

“This hinges on international cooperation, we want new partners,” Williamson said.

“Together we want to design and build ultra-advanced equipment far faster, keeping ahead of technological change… and put it at the disposal of our friends,” he said.

Delegations from Sweden and Japan were in the room as the veil on the aircraft was lifted.

Airbus Responds
Airbus reacted to the news with a statement that read: “Airbus notes the UK’s announcement regarding its plans for the development of a new fighter aircraft and is encouraged to see the government’s financial commitment to the project which supports the goal of sovereign European defense capability.

“A Future Combat Air System is of utmost importance to Europe’s armed forces and therefore we look forward to continuing collaborative discussions in this area with all relevant European players.”

Old Koreelah

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Once again, Australia seems to have gone "all the way with the US of A", so we will be very dependant on the F-35. If they ever sort out the bugs, it might end up being a great system.
Unfortunately, it's secrets may be shared a bit more widely than we were led to believed.
Turkey has ordered mobs of them and is rapidly sliding away from the western alliance into the Russian sphere.


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the UK future fighter just looks like another project that is being rushed into production to save face for the UK, its like the 50's and 60's all over again


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another nose wheel failure

WASHINGTON – After a mid-air emergency forced an F-35A fighter jet to return to Eglin Air Force Base, the plane’s landing nose gear collapsed, leaving the fifth-generation fighter face down on the runway.

The incident happened around 12:50 PM Wednesday. Fire crews responded immediately, and the pilot suffered no injuries, according to the Air Force. The plane is assigned to the 58th Fighter Squadron, and the service has launched an investigation into the incident.

Photos captured by local news outlets show the plane sitting safely on the runway, with its nose down on the ground. What damage may have resulted from the incident, and the costs associated with repairing it, is unclear; the service did not share details on the initial incident which required the plane to return to base early.

It’s not the first time the F-35 has had an issue with its front landing gear. In 2017, Navy pilots using the F-35C model – a different variation of the fighter jet, designed for operations on a carrier – complained the jet would bob up and down on its nose gear when being launched from a catapult.

The issue was bad enough that pilots said they could not read instruments while trying to take flight. A number of pilots also said they experienced pain from the motion. The department worked with Lockheed Martin on a fix for the issue.



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Lockheed working on solution for F-35 nose gear problem
By: Aaron Mehta   March 22, 2017

WASHINGTON — In the next few weeks, Lockheed Martin expects to see a preliminary report on a potential fix for a nose gear problem on the F-35C, with an eye on doing live carrier trials in the fall.

The company has also recently finished doing repairs to 47 jets in various stages of production, following last fall's issue with insulation around a coolant line.

Tests conducted last year on the USS George Washington led to complaints from pilots that the F-35C model would bob up and down on its nose gear when being launched from a catapult. The issue was bad enough that pilots said they could not read instruments while trying to take flight. A number of pilots also said they experienced pain from the motion.

Jeff Babione, Lockheed’s F-35 program head, told reporters Tuesday that tests for two potential fixes just concluded at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, with a report expected in the coming "weeks to months."

The first option involves changing the way the pilots strap into the jet, which Babione said includes looking at "how they get into the seat, how they pull their harnesses and make sure they are in proper position." The second option is looking at having "just a little bit less load holding the airplane back when it launches off the catapult" in order to reduce the stored energy in the nose gear.

"Initial indications are some of those techniques have improved. Whether or not they are good enough for the operator, that has yet to be determined," Babione said, before adding he was "certain" the Navy would want to take the planes out and do live tests on a carrier, likely in late summer or early fall.

While that issue is ongoing, the company has just put to rest another production issue left over from last fall.

Thirteen F-35A models used by the US Air Force, as well as two for the Norwegian Air Force, were grounded in September due a problem with faulty insulation placed around coolant lines. The design of the plane has the coolant lines traveling through where fuel is stored, although only on the outer tip of the wing. The insulation placed around that coolant line to keep it from being affected by the warm fuel was found to be decomposing into the fuel.

While those active jets were repaired by mid-November, another 47 planes in various stages of production, both at Lockheed’s Fort Worth facility and at the final assembly and checkout location in Italy, were found to also have the same issue and had to be repaired, work the company has just now completed

Babione would not say how much money the fixes are costing the company, but he did express relief that a creative solution involving small circular cuts in the wings meant the planes did not need to be totally stripped of their coatings.

It also served as a lesson for the company to double-check its vendors.

"We’ve redoubled our efforts to make sure we’re getting a quality part, to make sure nothing like this happens again," Babione said. "This only impacted 50-something jets. If the production ramp had been much higher, it would have been [more significant]."


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Probably Airbus or the Russians could help them out... oh wait, haven't the Amie's pissed off all of the really sophisticated mobs already? Sounds like the LNP are running US defence.
United States suspends F-35 flying for engine inspections

written by October 12, 2018

A US Marine Corps F-35B crashed last month. (Defence)
The United States Department of Defense has suspended flying its Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets due to the need to inspect fuel tubes within the aircraft’s engines.
“The US services and international partners have temporarily suspended F-35 flight operations while the enterprise conducts a fleet-wide inspection of a fuel tube within the engine on all F-35 aircraft,” the Department said in a statement on Thursday (US time), according to multiple media reports.
“If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced. If known good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status. Inspections are expected to be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours.”
The decision comes after a US Marine Corps F-35B crashed in South Carolina near Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in late September. The pilot ejected safely and there were no injuries.
The Department statement said initial data from the ongoing investigation of that accident had led to the decision to ground the fleet.
The US Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy are all operators of the F-35, as well as allies including Australia, Israel, Japan and the United Kingdom.
About 300 F-35s have now been delivered and are in service around the world.
The UK Ministry of Defence said on Twitter it had paused some F-35 flying as a precautionary measure but not all aircraft had been grounded.
With all of the documentation required when manufacturing and maintaining something as large, complex and expensive as the F35, you'd think they would know what batch the fuel tubes came from on every aircraft and whether these are good ones or not.


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With all of the documentation required when manufacturing and maintaining something as large, complex and expensive as the F35, you'd think they would know what batch the fuel tubes came from on every aircraft and whether these are good ones or not.
Yes, they can usually tell from the documentation, but to be 100% sure they do a physical check. On military aircraft there are a lot of lifed components, they termed "maintenance managed items", but there are a lot of smaller components like pipes and fittings that are not lifed, but "on condition". These are not tracked or "managed". In the Australian defence system, techos are issued a "Special Technical Instruction" in this sort of instance. That document will usually detail what the problem is , what part numbers to look for or identifying features to look out for, the urgency and what rectification procedure is to be applied.