First operational F-35B squadron on track to meet deployment

Production milestones, roll-outs, test flights, service introduction and other milestones.
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Unread post15 Sep 2014, 15:48

First operational F-35B squadron on track to meet deployment standards

http://www.janes.com/article/43079/firs ... -standards

Key Points
Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 at MCAS Yuma has begun training to IOC-specific standards.
The USMC plans to become the first of the three US military services to declare F-35 IOC in July 2015.
Pilots at Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, the US Marine Corps' (USMC's) first operational squadron of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters began training in early September to the standards required for the jump-jet version of the aircraft's initial operational capability (IOC) declaration, according to the squadron's pilots and leaders.

"We shifted into IOC training last week," Lieutenant Colonel Steve Gillette, the squadron's commanding officer, told IHS Jane's on 12 September. He explained that the skills checklist the pilots are training to now features more specific and rigorous standards than it did when they first began flying the F-35 in 2012.

After taking over command of the squadron in 2013, Lieut. Col. Gillette began overseeing the move to the more detailed IOC-specific training and readiness standards. "The big difference between what we were doing then and what we're doing now is the rigidity of the standards we're holding people to in order to call a [training] event complete," he explained. Eight pilots in the squadron must master the entire training package in time for the planned July 2015 IOC declaration, he added.

In addition to refining pilot skills, there are several hardware standards that must be met for the milestone. "We need to get our aircraft into [IOC] configuration," he explained. That configuration entails incorporation of 2B software on 10 of the squadron's 16 aircraft, as well as any final aircraft modifications mandated by the Joint Program Office (JPO).

In July programme officials said the 2B flight sciences flight testing was about 95% complete. Lieut. Col. Gillette said delivery of 2B software into his required aircraft is scheduled for March 2015.

One challenge currently affecting training is the engine inspection regimen and limited flight envelope the JPO instituted following discovery of a design problem on the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine following a 23 June fire aboard a US Air Force F-35A at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. "It's certainly impacted our ability to generate flight hours on any given day," Lieut. Col. Gillette said of the inspection procedure.

Any time an aircraft flies for three hours, it must undergo an engine inspection. While the inspection itself only takes 30-45 minutes, the USMC requires maintainers to wait until the engine has cooled to conduct the procedure for safety reasons. The reduced operating envelope instituted to avoid additional such mishaps has also caused the squadron to delay executing certain training elements, the squadron commander said. Still, pilots continue to meet flight metrics allowed by JPO, he added.

Meanwhile, Yuma's F-35B maintenance teams have been working to improve their processes. For example, F35B Interoperating Service (IOS)-the time it takes to complete routine maintenance between completion of one flight and another takeoff-has been reduced to about two hours from 4.5. "We knew that [4.5 hours] was way too long," said Lieut. Col. Gillette.

Because Yuma is the only F-35 site that already conducts nearly all its maintenance organically, its crews were able to streamline procedures and reduce IOS by over two hours within the first few months of 2014. "The goal is to get it down to about an hour," the squadron commander added. "And I think that's achievable."

Lieut. Col. Gillette also noted that the latest iteration of the F-35 Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), the digital system that enables operators to plan maintenance and sustainment, has been improved markedly from Lockheed Martin's earliest release of the system. "Early releases of ALIS, quite frankly, were frustrating," he said.

Physically ALIS is a roomful of servers, and there are many distinct applications within the system. In early ALIS versions, those applications were extremely slow, according to Lieut. Col. Gillette. Since then, Yuma has received a new version of the system that has been far more user-friendly, he said. "The early headaches that we had with ALIS have mostly been resolved," he said. "The contractor [Lockheed Martin] continues to make improvements as needed by maintainers."

COMMENT
IOC is considered a significant milestone in a weapon system's development because it generally means that the military service using it considers it suitable for deployment.

Specifically, F-35 IOC has slipped multiple times for each of its three variants - the US Air Force's (USAF's) conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) A model; the USMC's short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) B model; and the US Navy's (USN's) carrier variant C model. So now that one of the three is finally approaching the milestone, all eyes are on the USMC.

In 2013 the Pentagon released the latest F-35 IOC dates, as well as the first details on the benchmarks required by the USAF and the USMC.

The USMC plans to declare IOC with Block 2B software installed on its first operational squadron of 10-16 aircraft. The aircraft must be ready to conduct close air support (CAS), offensive and defensive counter-air missions, air interdiction, assault support escort, and armed reconnaissance in co-operation with Marine Air Ground Task Force resources, the Pentagon said in 2013.

The USAF at the time planned to declare IOC between August and December of 2016, when the service expects its first operational squadron to be equipped with 12-24 aircraft. At that time, the air force expects the squadron to be trained, manned, and equipped to conduct the following missions: CAS, interdiction, and limited suppression, and destruction of enemy air defences. The decision to set a 2016 IOC date means that the USAF would reach that milestone before the most sophisticated F-35 software, Block 3F, is available.

Finally, the navy is expected to wait for the Block 3F software release, pushing their IOC date to sometime between August 2018 and February 2019. IOC will occur when the USN's first operational squadron is equipped with 10 aircraft, and USN personnel can perform all the assigned missions they are asked to do with the jet.
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Unread post16 Oct 2014, 04:53

Top U.S. Marine says F-35s July due date still 'doable'
15 Oct 2014 Andrea Shalal

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Marine Corps said on Wednesday it is sticking to a July 2015 target to declare an initial squadron of 10 new Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets ready for combat use, but said it would not be devastated if the date slipped to August....

...The Marine Corps has set July 2015 as the date by which it wants to be able to use the stealthy new jets in combat, followed by the Air Force in 2016 and the Navy in 2018 or 2019....

...F-35 program officials and Lockheed say they are working hard to complete development of the Block 2B software needed to meet that date, and finish a series of required retrofits.

Amos cited a "medium risk" that the 2B software would not be ready in time, and said the Marines would also defer some modifications that were not needed immediately.

The Marines are slated to receive the Block 2B software for use in pilot simulators in the spring, but the actual jets were unlikely to get the software until July or August, he said.

That would still allow the service to declare the jets ready for combat, he said, since the pilots would have been able to train with the expanded capabilities the software includes.


Amos said the program's ups and downs were typical of other military aircraft developments. "It's still in developmental testing, ladies and gentlemen. Take a deep breath. That's why they call it development testing. Cause you discover things."...

...Amos said the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force were also studying the possible cost savings of doing some repairs for the jets at an intermediate location, rather than shipping them back to the respective service maintenance depots."

Source: https://in.news.yahoo.com/top-u-marine- ... nance.html
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Unread post25 Mar 2015, 00:43

US Marines stick to F-35B dates despite new problems
By: STEPHEN TRIMBLE | MONTREAL | FlightGlobal

"The US Marine Corps has decided to stand-up the first operational F-35B squadron in July with known software, structural and logistical deficiencies that must be fixed later, says Lt Gen Chris Bogdan, executive officer of the joint programme office.

That decision means the first F-35B unit will achieve its initial operational capability milestone on time in the fourth quarter of Fiscal 2015, but with some operational restrictions, maintenance workarounds and the possibility of an internal redesign of a critical bulkhead, Bogdan says...."

"That lesser software version – dubbed Block 2B – will be incomplete at the time of IOC. The software performs the basic flight control functions well, Bogdan says, but is unable to handle the most extreme challenge for the F-35’s vaunted “sensor fusion” capability...."

"The F-35B’s pilots have learned to use various work-arounds, he says. For example, four-aircraft formations can be broken down into groups of two aircraft, where the sensor fusion algorithms have proven more reliable, he says.

A completed version of the Block 2B software that fixes the problem should be available by October, Bogdan says..."

"Meanwhile, Bogdan also says he is worried about the integrity of the F-35B’s aluminium 496 bulkhead, which bears critical structural loads where the trailing edge of the wing attaches to the aft fuselage. In 2004, programme officials reduced the weight of the F-35B by about 1,360kg (3,000lb). Those changes included switching the bulkhead material from titanium to lighter-weight aluminium.

The lighter bulkhead has since proved susceptible to structural cracking, requiring a series of “patches” all over the 496 bulkhead. There are now so many patches that programme officials are concerned it may be necessary to redesign the bulkhead for production aircraft, Bogdan says.

Finally, Lockheed’s autonomic logistics information system (ALIS) is not ready to support a growing fleet of operational and test aircraft, Bogdan says. It will take a few years to resolve the ALIS deficiencies, and until then F-35B maintainers must use workarounds to inspect and repair the aircraft."

http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articl ... ms-410518/
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Unread post25 Mar 2015, 02:47

Yes we know 'maus92' your news is always important though posted earlier here by 'neptune' - it must be repeated by you:

viewtopic.php?f=61&t=26629&p=287845&hilit=Trimble#p287845
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Unread post14 Jul 2015, 16:24

F-35B Begins New ‘Operational Readiness Inspection’ This Week Before IOC Decision

PENTAGON – The Marine Corps added one final test before deciding whether to declare initial operational capability for the Lockheed Martin F-35B Joint Strike Fighter (JSF): a first-ever Operational Readiness Inspection.

The ORI for the first F-35B squadron, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121, is scheduled to begin today and will last four or five days. An inspection team – with members from Headquarters Marine Corps, the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) school and the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron (VMFA-T) 501 – will “assess them from a maintenance perspective, a sustainment perspective and an operations perspective,” deputy commandant for aviation Lt. Gen. Jon Davis told USNI News on July 8.

“We have a team of about 12 people going out to assess everything from maintenance to NATOPS (Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization) knowledge,” he said.
“There’s 10 items on a Commander of Naval Air Forces inspection, maintenance inspection; we’re going to go out and out of those 10 say, give us these five. And then we’ll look and if there’s problems with those five we’ll go deeper.”

In addition to that maintenance test, the ORI will also include assessments of five areas of flight operations with live ordnance at up to a division-level context. The last day will be a “surge day,” during which every person in the squadron will be involved in a mission set either on actual planes or in a simulator.

At the end of the week, Davis will meet with the assessment team.

“we’ll assess, we’ll take a look, we’ll look for the goods and the others,” he said.
“And then what I’ll do is I’ll look in the aggregate about the requirements for this squadron being able to go to war with an F-35 and sustain operations from a deployed base, and I’ll make a recommendation to [Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Joseph] Dunford based on what I see out there, and he’ll either declare IOC or he won’t.”

Davis admitted his key concern is spare parts.

“Do we have the depth in supply to support a combat deployment?” he said.
“If there’s any one area I’m worried about, it’s that.”

When Davis became deputy commandant for aviation last year, he said he had a chart with the status of 14 different areas, color-coded green, yellow or red based on their readiness levels.

“When I got here a year ago … there was not a lot of green, a lot of yellow, some red. That chart right now is pretty much all green. Still a little bit of yellow in spares, we’re going to assess that. But for the most part we’re in good shape.”

http://news.usni.org/2015/07/13/f-35b-b ... c-decision
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Unread post14 Jul 2015, 17:19

'neptune' posted the same article yesterday: viewtopic.php?f=59&t=27557&p=295457&hilit=MAWTS#p295457
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Unread post14 Jul 2015, 23:23

Figures. :doh:
The one thread I didn't read.

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