F-35 program updates

Program progress, politics, orders, and speculation
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hornetfinn

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Unread post21 Aug 2015, 09:32

popcorn wrote:So many possible combinatIons of external ordnance, each with it's unique impact on overall RCS. So lots of tests.


Very true. Maybe there is a way to reduce the problem in some ways to fewer tests. Maybe it's possible to do tests only to most common/important loadouts and use simulations with others. If simulations and real world tests give similar results with those, then this could be done.
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Unread post21 Aug 2015, 15:09

hornetfinn wrote:
popcorn wrote:So many possible combinatIons of external ordnance, each with it's unique impact on overall RCS. So lots of tests.


Very true. Maybe there is a way to reduce the problem in some ways to fewer tests. Maybe it's possible to do tests only to most common/important loadouts and use simulations with others. If simulations and real world tests give similar results with those, then this could be done.


We (General Dynamics) did that on the F-111 almost fifty years ago and F-16 almost forty years ago. I'm sure others did the same thing. USAF does that to clear new stores for carriage and separation.
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Unread post21 Aug 2015, 16:07

hornetfinn wrote:
popcorn wrote:So many possible combinatIons of external ordnance, each with it's unique impact on overall RCS. So lots of tests.


Very true. Maybe there is a way to reduce the problem in some ways to fewer tests. Maybe it's possible to do tests only to most common/important loadouts and use simulations with others. If simulations and real world tests give similar results with those, then this could be done.



Some of this stuff with over-testing vs 'intelligent testing' is covered in this talk -

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Unread post21 Aug 2015, 16:08

AFOTEC: Collaboration Key Among JSF Testing Community


As the F-35 moves through developmental testing, the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center is working closely with teams to both provide resources and to glean any information that might better inform and improve operational testing.

AFOTEC Commander Maj. Gen. Matthew Malloy told Inside the Air Force this week that although the F-35's first initial operational test and evaluation event will be weapons validation in mid-2016 -- and the majority of operational testing will not be completed until 2018 -- the operational test (OT) community is closely involved in ongoing developmental testing, providing pilots and sometimes working with test squadrons to lend OT resources to the effort.

Malloy told ITAF Aug. 20 that the relationship between the developmental and operational test communities goes a long way toward helping his team prepare for future testing. His evaluators are closely watching the data that comes from developmental test (DT) and sometimes his pilots have the opportunity to fly DT sorties and familiarize themselves with new flight software prior to their test events.

"What we really want to do is leverage commonality in test," Malloy said.

Because the Joint Strike Fighter program has such a large international buy-in -- nine countries, including the United States, have committed to investing in the platform -- Malloy noted that another focus for AFOTEC is to balance international testing priorities in its OT plan. Different countries require different testing variables, including the environment the aircraft needs to be tested in and the types of weapons it will carry.

AFOTEC then takes those demands and prioritizes them to make sure testers are giving weight to more than just the U.S. testing plan.

"It's hard work," Malloy said. "It's new work. It's new ground."

Because these partners have all invested in the program at some level and have been involved in decision-making, Malloy said there is a mutual understanding of the resource constraints and the capabilities that are being prioritized on the aircraft. That buy-in also means partners expect a certain level of access to information, and Malloy said part of his job is to keep track of what information can be released without exposing vulnerabilities or sharing protected data.

"We are dealing with limited assets right now, so the hard part is expectation management," he said. "They're wanting access to data . . . and they've partnered into this, so there's an understanding that information will be exchanged. But now we have to do it and all of a sudden it's hard."

The key, Malloy said, is communication.

"You don't do anything in silos," he said. "Everybody has to be at the table." -- Courtney Albon

Related News | Aircraft |

Inside the Air Force - 08/21/2015 , Vol. 26, No. 33
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Unread post22 Aug 2015, 13:00

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Unread post22 Aug 2015, 14:10

The F-35 Joint Program Office intends to issue an order under Basic Ordering Agreement N00019-14-G-0020 on a sole source basis to Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, Fort Worth, TX to deliver a report which determines the design impacts of a proposed change on the overall F-35 weapon system, to include Mission Planning, Training and Reprograming capabilities. The proposed order is anticipated to be awarded no later than 30 September 2015.
This effort will be awarded on a sole source basis to Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company under authority FAR 6.302-1, and in accordance with Class Justification and Approval, dated 14 October 2014.


https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity ... e&_cview=0
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Unread post22 Aug 2015, 20:52

There was only one issues with the vid.

At the end they mention the same unit doing "2B to 3B" upgrades this fall.

There is no "3B" block and they are likely talking about 3i.

This is actually more impressive as it includes Tech Refresh 2 where the "1B to 2B" upgrade was primarily software.
"The early bird gets the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese."
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Unread post03 Sep 2015, 05:54

F-35 Block 3F Funds Awarded
03 Sep 2015 Marc V. Schanz

"Lockheed Martin received a $311.4 million contract for the F-35 program’s Block 3F upgrade—the planned all-up configuration—which will be performed on Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, and British variants of the Joint Strike Fighter, according to a Sept. 1 contract announcement. The “undefinitized delivery order,” made against another ordering agreement for the four customers, is to purchase “retrofit modification hardware” needed for Block 3F upgrades, and engineering support for kit installations at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas, facility and at a facility in Baltimore, Md. Naval Air Systems Command at NAS Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting authority. Work on the modifications is expected to last until September 2021. The contract is a combination purchase for the four customers, with the largest portions going to USAF (approximately $142.7 million of the contract) and the Marine Corps (approximately $86.2 million). Earlier this year, a senior USAF official noted some capabilities planned for the Block 3F full configuration of the fighter will move to the Block 4 update, which will be fielded between 2019 and 2025. The Marine Corps declared initial operational capability for its F-35B variant in early August with the 2B software configuration, which provides initial combat capability. The Air Force will declare IOC with the 3i software in 2016, which provides the same capabilities as the Marine Corps' Block 2B, but includes an upgraded processor and the "gen 3" helmet, F-35 Executive Vice President Lorraine Martin said in June."

Source: http://www.airforcemag.com/DRArchive/Pa ... arded.aspx
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Original: http://www.defense.gov/News/Contracts/C ... cle/615582
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Unread post12 Sep 2015, 15:19

USAF Set For Operational Tests Of F-35 Service Software

Operational testing of the first F-35A software load for initial U.S. Air Force service is expected to begin in October as development testing for follow-on full warfighting software picks up speed.

The imminent transition of Block 3I software from development to operational test aircraft marks a key milestone in the F-35 System Design and Demonstration (SDD) phase, now 70% complete after its beginning in 2010. “The main focus is to make sure we get Block 3I right, and we have it to Operational Test on time. That’s the big hitter right now, as well as making sure we are staying on time line for the Air Force IOC [initial operational capability],” says Maj. Hans “Money” Buckwalter, Acting Director of Operations for the 461st Flight Test Sqdn., which conducts developmental testing here for the F-35.

First to fly with the 3I software will be the Nellis AFB, Nevada-based 422nd Test and Evaluation Sqdn., which is developing the F-35A tactics manual for air-to-air and air-to-surface combat. The aircraft first arrived at Nellis, home of the Air Force’s Warfare Center, in January and this summer performed close air support missions during the Green Flag West exercise. The Edwards-based 31st Test and Evaluation Sqdn. is meanwhile continuing operational tests with Block 2B, the interim software standard used to enable the U.S. Marine Corps to declare initial operations at the end of July.

The 3I test effort is tracking to plan, says Buckwalter, partly because software issues have been tackled and resolved during development testing, and because of the approach taken to evaluate software in parallel with operational tests (OT). That approach has helped counter the impact on the schedule of the numerous software issues which have dogged the fighter program. “Right now we have version 3IR6 testing and we are close to wrapping that up for IOC in 2016. And we are concurrently testing Block 3F for IOC with the Navy in 2018,” he says.

Software development is 98% complete for the 3F package, which adds key combat capabilities including data- link imagery and the full complement of weapons carried both internally and externally. It is slated for inclusion on the low-rate initial-production (LRIP) 9 aircraft, and is expected to be ready for delivery at the end of the development program in October 2017.

“It is almost unprecedented how quickly OT is getting software after we are done with it,” says Lockheed Martin F-35 site lead test pilot David “Doc” Nelson. “The advantage of that is the OT guys assess and say, ‘Yes, it is effective in combat,’ or they say, ‘We want you to change this.’ So the earlier that happens, the less impact it has down the road.” Transition of operational standard software to OT also represents an inflection point for the entire program, he says. “There’s been a feeling that maybe SDD would last forever, but the feeling I get is we are coming around the last corner and about to get on the home stretch. There is an end in sight and we [can] wrap up SDD in October 2017.”

Development testers are confident of handing over a working software load on time, after conducting mission effectiveness flights involving four aircraft earlier this summer, with two each from the demonstration and operational test units. “We work hand-in-hand with those pilots,” says Buckwalter, who adds that a Marine Corps F-35B pilot also participated. “We flew operationally representative scenarios to make sure 3I is ready to go to OT.” Tests simulated offensive counter-air missions as well as suppression and destruction of enemy air defenses.

“Some of the operational test flights are just going to build time on the software. With Block 3I, if we were to verify all the fixes and fly the number of hours statistically required to verify, with a certain level of confidence, that we had fixed everything, we would delay the software and keep it in DT. But with handoff and coordination between the two versions at test we can make sure it is safe and ready to fly, and they can develop the actual hours on the software and statistically verify that,” says Buckwalter. Testing of the software identified “numerous deficiencies, but these have been identified and fixed,” he adds.

The unit also says recently completed “jitter” and infrared (IR) tests of the Gen-3 helmet-mounted display system have shown a “tremendous improvement” over the earlier Gen-2, which had problems ranging from latency and alignment to symbology jitter, night-vision acuity and insufficient display contrast, or “green glow.” “We conducted extensive testing in day and night conditions, identified some fixes and moved on with those,” says Buckwalter.

The testing focused primarily on nighttime evaluations of the Gen-3’s improved ISIE-11 night vision camera system, and associated improvements to acuity, as well as interaction with the Distributed Aperture System, which streams real-time imagery to the helmet from six aircraft-mounted IR cameras. “We did not do a lot of high-g or high-alpha work; the bulk of what we flew in the most recent round was at night,” he says.

The helmet adds a light-emitting diode (LED) and camera to the front of the helmet (and back of the forward cockpit camera), to augment head-tracking and automate the calibration of display alignment. It also includes an inertial measurement unit to dampen symbology and mitigate jitter caused by aircraft buffet. “It is not perfect, but it is readable throughout the flight envelope,” says Nelson, who adds that jitter was not specifically tested on Gen-3, “because it was overcome already. What Gen-3 brings to the table is a much bigger night camera, and that makes a huge difference. The other is [overcoming] green glow.”

Upcoming weapons evaluations include the first deployment of a GBU-39 (250 lb.) small-diameter bomb, scheduled to begin testing in October. “We are also in the buildup phase for testing the AIM-9X,” says Nelson.

The live weapons testing, which since early June has also included the aircraft’s GAU-22/A 25mm gun, means that some of the DT fleet will temporarily retain the baseline Block 3I package. “Then we will switch them over. We are on the third version of 3I now and soon we will get the fourth. So as that matures we’ll have a pretty full-up airplane with a gunsight, AIM-9 reference and helmet and geo-location enhancements.”

A Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A multirole tanker transport meanwhile will shortly arrive at Edwards AFB to conduct aerial refueling tests with a U.S. Air Force F-35A, following the completion of identical tests involving an Italian air force Boeing KC-767A. The Italian aircraft, similar in overall configuration to the 767-200/2C-based KC-46A tanker currently in development for the U.S. Air Force, is the first international tanker to be certified to refuel a U.S. military aircraft.

Italian and U.S. flight crews say clearance of the full air refueling envelope was completed without incident, auguring well for the eventual introduction of the KC-46A. “We are really satisfied with the behavior of the tanker,” says Italian air force test pilot Maj. Fabio de Michele, who leads the KC-767/F-35 test and certification campaign. “The receiver pilots were surprised by how well they could keep station behind the tanker, and particularly liked the lighting system. There was no wake turbulence or any difficulties, even when tanking at night.”

The first of more than 45 test flights was conducted on July 29 when the KC-767, one of four Italian air force tankers from the 8th Sqdn. of the 14th Wing based at Pratica di Mare AB, near Rome, offloaded more than 16,000 lb. of fuel. Each subsequent test flight included 5-77 contacts and involved the transfer of an average of 25,000 lb. of fuel.

The forthcoming Australian tests will begin later this month and extend into October.

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Unread post16 Sep 2015, 17:30

F-35 Joint Program Office To Start Testing New 3i Software Next Week Insidedefense.com September, 10/15

The F-35 joint program office expects to begin flight tests with the latest -- and nearly final -- version of Block 3i software next week and is on track to deliver the completed software load in January in support of Air Force initial operational capability.

F-35 director of engineering Gregg Costabile told Inside the Air Force in a Sept. 10 interview that the program is wrapping up lab and airworthiness testing of the software load and he expects flight tests to begin Sept. 18. He said testing should wrap up pretty quickly and will be followed by one more software modification that incorporates fixes to the fuel system.

"I don't expect that testing to take very long," Costabile said. "Once we get 30, 40, 50 hours on it, we'll have a very good idea about the stability of that system."

The software should be ready to deliver to the Air Force by the end of January. The JPO confirmed after the interview that developmental flight test is expected to be completed this month, while noting that there may still be additional tests based on initial findings.

The JPO has already been testing 3i in flight, but this next load incorporates mission effectiveness fixes that should improve stability. Costabile said that while the capability differences between the most recent software deliver, Block 2B, and 3i are not significant, the transition was a little more challenging than expected because the two software blocks run on different processors with different hardware architectures. As a result, pilots noticed problems with stability in some subsystems.

Costabile said the root cause of the problem did not take long to identify, which made it easier to develop a fix.

"We knew what we needed to do to fix it," Brown said. "We expect the first flight test next Friday to prove out the mission effectiveness things we've done and then show also that the stability of the system has been improved."

Meanwhile, the program is also designing a fix to mitigate risk to the aircraft's fuel tank. During earlier testing, the program found that in certain conditions -- namely when a pilot is flying in a scenario in which there is high gravitational force and increasing pressure -- the aircraft's fuel tanks were at risk of a rupture.

The service is working now to design a modification to address that risk, Costabile said, and is currently building the associated hardware and has already purchased long-lead parts. The service will test the software fix before the end of the year, he said, and it should be delivered with the full 3i load in January.

Costabile said the fuel-fix testing is the biggest remaining risk to 3i delivery, but he is fairly confident in the program's ability to deliver the software on time. "We're in good shape for Air Force IOC for 3i," he said.

After 3i is delivered, the program will shift its focus to the next software block, Block 3F, which it has already begun to test. He said the transition from 3i to 3F will be more challenging than the 2B to 3i transition, largely because the difference in capability is so much greater.

"That's a whole different animal," Costabile said. -- Courtney Albon
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Unread post20 Sep 2015, 08:27

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Unread post03 Oct 2015, 01:37

AARGM Block IV - Hughes, Robin. Jane's Missiles & Rockets Vol. 19, 11



F-35 JPO expected to issue a sole source contract to Lockheed Martin to assist Block 4 integration efforts of an extended range AARGM variant into Lightning II....





In the interim, the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office (JPO) is expected to award Lockheed Martin a sole source contract in October 2015 to complete a study to assist the NAVAIR Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons (PMA-242) in Block 4 integration efforts for an extended range (ER) variant of AARGM for internal carriage on the F-35A/C aircraft.

PMA-242 in February 2015 issued a request for information (RfI) to industry for proposals "to support future acquisition planning to increase [the] range of the AGM-88E AARGM. PMA-242 said that while the RfI was primarily aimed at information regarding a range increase for the AGM-88E AARGM, the solution could be applied to other members of the AGM-88 family of missiles.

Based on earlier NAVAIR and other government analyses, PMA-242 is focused on a solid rocket motor (SRM) solution - the AGM-88E currently uses the Thiokol dual-thrust SRM - with increased delivered impulse to be incorporated into the AARGM missile, although non-SRM-based solutions that improve range performance will also be considered. Industry solutions are expected to deliver designs and concepts that leverage existing AARGM hardware and software but minimise changes to the aerodynamic profiles and mass properties to within 10% growth. However, PMA-242 accepts that range improvement may also require changes to the AGM-88E missile subsystems, including the guidance and control hardware, software, fuzing, radome, and the missile battery. The solution should also be compatible with existing LAU-118, BRU-68A, and LAU-147 launchers, or should deliver recommendations for a compliant, form-fit replacement if a launcher with greater performance and/or capacity is needed for the proposed solution.

No capability improvements to the AARGM seeker and WAU-7/B warhead performance are currently required, with PMA-242 noting that "any modifications to the seeker or warhead to support range improvement that adversely affect those two subsystems are to be avoided".

Funding for the AGM-88E AARGM ER programme is included in the FY 2016 President's Budget. Funding for the winning extended-range solution is expected to start in FY 2016 to meet a fielding requirement objective for 2021, but no later than 2022.
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Unread post04 Oct 2015, 07:43

A Message from Lorraine Martin
11 Sep 2015 LM PR

"...Switching over to the flight test world, we are more than 75 percent complete with SDD baseline testing....

...Much like the maturation of the flight test program, our entire F-35A fleet is maturing, and it recently surpassed 20,000 flight hours. Collectively, the three variants have exceeded 39,000 hours....

Source: https://www.f35.com/assets/uploads/docu ... _15_v2.pdf (0.3Mb)
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Unread post09 Oct 2015, 22:24

Pentagon Cleared To Shift $3.9B Between Accounts, Boost Modernization By $350M - Inside Defense Posted: October 09, 2015



Congress has granted the Defense Department a modicum of budget relief, granting permission to shift $3.9 billion between accounts as part of a reallocation of previously appropriated funds, injecting more than $350 million in additional spending into weapons modernization accounts and giving the Pentagon a green light to launch three new-start projects.
On Oct. 9, the office of the Pentagon's comptroller published the final version of the pair of fiscal year 2015 omnibus reprogramming requests sent to lawmakers in late June. The budget actions, which grant permission to shift funds appropriated in fiscal years 2015, 2014 and 2013 to higher-priority programs in FY-15, were recently approved.
Originally, the Pentagon sought to shift a total of $4.8 billion in two omnibus reprogramming actions; one 77-page document sought to move $4.5 billion between accounts; another shorter document dealing with military intelligence programs sought to move $294 million.
Lawmakers rejected or partially denied more than a dozen proposed reprogramming moves that, when combined, effectively blocked more than $900 million the Pentagon sought to shift between accounts, denying the Defense Department nearly 20 percent of its total request. In total, lawmakers approved a $3.65 billion omnibus request along with $254 million shifted between military intelligence programs.
The House Appropriations Committee denied the Air Force's request to shift $100 million to add a launch to the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program manifest to support a 2017 mission to carry the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program payload into orbit. 
The approved finalized omnibus allows the Army to shift $250 billion to buy 13 additional, Boeing-built Apache helicopters and grants the Air Force an additional $127 million -- of $149 million requested -- to buy additional long-lead items to support a planned buy of 44 Joint Strike Fighters in FY-16, an increase of 14 more than requested in FY-15.
Lawmakers partially denied a Navy request to shift $76 million to cover new costs associated with developing the DDG-1000 destroyer, allowing a transfer of only $30 million for the destroyer program.
The Pentagon is now authorized to launch three new-start programs: a $9.8 million Army project to beef up its Stryker combat vehicle with a cannon and a $3.6 million Army project to modify the Longbow Hellfire missile with a software enhancement to increase seeker capability to acquire and attack a wider variety of targets.
In addition, the reprogramming authorizes a $1.2 million down payment on an estimated $5 million Navy effort to support the rapid development and fielding of a prototype distributed and netted undersea sensor system, a project that leverages investments by the service and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Conversely, lawmakers denied reprogramming requests designed to authorize four other new-start programs: a $17 million Air Force gambit to add automatic takeoff and land capability to the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial system; and a $5 million Army project to begin work on an "advanced networked munition initiative to replace" an aging land mine with an "air-delivered, anti-personnel and anti-vehicular man-in-the-loop system," according to the budget action.
Congress also denied the Office of the Secretary of Defense's request for $1.2 million to support formation of the new Electronic Warfare executive committee.
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