F-35 program updates

Program progress, politics, orders, and speculation
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SpudmanWP

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Unread post28 Mar 2018, 20:23

The "source" is likely the CBO and they are famous for producing "the sky is falling" reports based on worst case scenarios.

As I have said before, the latest SAR puts the CPFH of the F-35 at 14% above the F-16. So, why do they think that there might have to be 500+ less F-35s if they are only 14% more expensive to operate?

This is before any consideration about the lower cost to prosecute a mission thanks to being self-escorting, less ISR needed, Less IFR needed, etc.
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wrightwing

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Unread post28 Mar 2018, 20:41

Without knowing the assumptions being made, it makes it difficult to make such forecasts. They very likely just plugged in F-35 costs into 4th generation strike packages, assuming all else remains the same. If we compare cost per mission, F-35s are a bargain compared to 4th generation aircraft. This is why when you compare lifetime ownership costs to 2070, legacy aircraft are up around $4 trillion vs $1.1 trillion.
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Unread post29 Mar 2018, 19:21

SpudmanWP wrote:The "source" is likely the CBO and they are famous for producing "the sky is falling" reports based on worst case scenarios.

As I have said before, the latest SAR puts the CPFH of the F-35 at 14% above the F-16. So, why do they think that there might have to be 500+ less F-35s if they are only 14% more expensive to operate?

Many, many years ago I recall LM telling Norwegian media that F-35 would have substantially lower operating costs than the F-16. I don't recall exactly how much; perhaps 15% below?

Let's take one step back and think about this:

1. For many years, the USAF have been clear about how many F-35 they would buy; the number has not changed.
However, behind numbers, there has to be a budget. And behind a budget, there have to be assumptions. Now, where would those assumptions come from? Initially, presumably LM.Would a big company like LM communicate one thing to Norway (an F-35 partner) and something else to USAF? Highly unlikely. From that, I deduct that since LM communicated 15% (?)lower operating costs of F-35 than F-16 to Norway, they would communicate the same to the USAF.

2. The Operating costs numbers from LM would be used to support the F-35 budget estimates for the USAF. When the USAF look at how many a/c they can operate, they need to look at both the operational needs, as well as the budget it takes to support those.

3. On the basis of assumptions of operational needs as well as budgetary constraints, the USAF has until now stuck to the same number of F-35. However, imagine what would happen if the LM estimates of F-35 operating costs being 15% below F-16 operating costs being wrong; imagine those costs instead being 15% above operating costs of F-16. What would this mean? It would mean that either the budget estimates for operating the F-35 must be increased by 30%, or the number of F-35 must be reduced.

This is before any consideration about the lower cost to prosecute a mission thanks to being self-escorting, less ISR needed, Less IFR needed, etc.

Irrelevant for this discussion: The basic assumptions were: a) the number of F-35A; and b) operating cost of those F-35A.
Last edited by loke on 29 Mar 2018, 19:33, edited 2 times in total.
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Unread post29 Mar 2018, 19:25

wrightwing wrote:Without knowing the assumptions being made, it makes it difficult to make such forecasts. They very likely just plugged in F-35 costs into 4th generation strike packages, assuming all else remains the same. If we compare cost per mission, F-35s are a bargain compared to 4th generation aircraft. This is why when you compare lifetime ownership costs to 2070, legacy aircraft are up around $4 trillion vs $1.1 trillion.

Well, they have to come up with reasonable cost estimates pretty quickly since this will determine how many F-35 they can purchase.

No they did not just plug F-35 costs into 4th gen strike package. It does not help this discussion that the F-35 is a "bargain"; the number of F-35A for the USAF has been discussed and agreed upon a long time ago. The question is: are the assumptions regarding operational costs for supporting all those F-35 correct, or not? If not, then either the budget must be increased or the number of F-35 must be dropped. A third alternative would be to somehow lower the operational costs.
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Unread post30 Mar 2018, 02:04

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element1loop

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Unread post30 Mar 2018, 03:45

loke wrote:A third alternative would be to somehow lower the operational costs.


Which is why this does matter and is relevant:

"This is before any consideration about the lower cost to prosecute a mission thanks to being self-escorting, less ISR needed, Less IFR needed, etc."


Not to mention larger tanks and better range means less reliance on tanker numbers, plus older and costlier twin aircraft, and their logistics and manning and facilities going away, and/or consolidated.

Then there's the MUCH higher weapon payload and deliverable precision weapons numbers over time. Why does that matter to operating cost, you ask?

Because it requires fewer missions to accrue same effects. And fewer missions means fewer expensive support aircraft are needed to cover and operate, for less time, so fewer of those can be procured and operated, as well.

Plus much cheaper to operate drones are replacing expensive to operate older manned support aircraft, for far better coverage, so operating costs are falling as recap occurs.

Plus F-35 ENABLES and FORCE MULTIPLIES the entire joint network like F-16 etal can not. FAR more bang for the buck over F-16, and all other teens, combined.

The effect of operating F-35, and its spectrum of cost, can not be assessed in a meaningful (or even honest) way, in isolation to the cost-synergy of operating it, instead of any legacy option.

Is it any different for your country if you think that through for the other operating cost reductions?
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Unread post03 Apr 2018, 16:12

https://www.defense.gov/News/Contracts/ ... e/1482549/
http://www.janes.com/article/78975/jpo- ... k-4-effort

The US Joint Program Office (JPO) has begun the process for rolling out Block 4 (full combat) capabilities onto the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

A USD211.3 million contract for “pre-modernization efforts” related to a Block 4.1 software drop was awarded to the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) on 2 April, with work to be completed by the end of July 2019.

Now known as Continuous Capability Development and Delivery (C2D2), Block 4 will enable the F-35 to employ its full panoply of sensors and munitions. With the wider Block 4 capability to be rolled out in four increments (Block 4.1, 4.2, 4.3 and 4.4), Block 4.1 is primarily software based, although it does also introduce some new capabilities as well as correcting deficiencies to older ones carried over from the system design and development (SDD) phase of the programme, which is shortly due to conclude.
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Unread post03 Apr 2018, 22:11

Pentagon formulating plan to move F-35 management from central office to services
03 Apr 2018 Valerie Insinna and Aaron Mehta

"WASHINGTON — The Defense Department plans to dissolve the F-35 joint program office and revert to a more traditional management structure where the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps all run their own program offices – eventually. In a March 27 letter to Congress, the Pentagon’s top acquisition official acknowledged that splitting up the F-35 management into smaller offices is likely the way to go for the future of the Pentagon’s largest acquisition program.

But exactly when such a transformation will occur was not defined in the letter written by Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, and the expectation in the Pentagon is that it could happen within the next several years....

... Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Patrick Evans told Defense News.... that the transition will occur in three phases:
• “A measured restructure of the existing F-35 management structure, which begins immediately.”
• A hybrid structure, where separate service-run F-35 program offices report to a Joint Program Executive Officer, a position currently held by JPO head Vice Adm. Mat Winter.
• The full transition, where the services will have separate program offices and program executives that will report to the military department’s acquisition head. “The full transition dates will be determined through a conditions-based detailed implementation plan with risk-informed criteria,” he said....

...While the changes could make it easier for the services to have oversight over their respective F-35 variants, the eventual dissolution of the JPO could make it more difficult for international customers to interface with the program.

The JPO currently functions as a one-stop shop for foreign buyers — some of which, like Japan, are considering buying more than one variant of the aircraft. The office also oversees the work done by final assembly lines in Japan and Italy, as well as at sustainment hubs around the world.

Evans said that the department will continue to work closely with F-35 international partners, but acknowledged that “in the longer-term, current international agreements will need to be updated and transition to service-based agreements. The phased implementation approach allows time to work through these changes in close coordination with our international partners in a way that maintains our strong commitment to them & our partnership.”..." [thrown under bus]

Source: https://www.defensenews.com/air/2018/04 ... -services/
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archeman

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Unread post04 Apr 2018, 20:02

What I found interesting the JPO breakup is the Pentagon plans to cut billets (jobs).
I can only suppose that these are positions that the services feel are duplication of their own positions OR are unneeded tasks begin conducted???
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SpudmanWP

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Unread post04 Apr 2018, 20:08

archeman wrote:What I found interesting the JPO breakup is the Pentagon plans to cut billets (jobs).
I can only suppose that these are positions that the services feel are duplication of their own positions OR are unneeded tasks begin conducted???


They are going from a development to a sustainment footprint so the manpower needed will change, especially if it becomes more service-centric.
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Unread post06 Apr 2018, 04:26

Another view and thank goodness a form of JPO will be around probably to help the poor old FURRINERS! Bloody 'Ell! :doh:
F-35 Restructure Not Imminent
05 Apr 2018 John A. Tirpak

"The Defense Department, in accordance with a mandatory report sent to Congress this week, will eventually devolve management of the joint-service F-35 to the individual branches flying the jet, but not soon, according to Pentagon and Capitol Hill officials.

Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, sent to Congress a report required under the Fiscal 2017 defense authorization bill to explain how the F-35’s management would be improved and possibly restructured. The report said that steps will be taken to put each service in charge of its own F-35 variant, rather than have a single Joint Program Office, as has been the case for the last 18 years.

Even though she said moves will be made “immediately” to improve F-35 management and the services will be given “more direct ownership” of the program as it pertains to them, “the Department will evaluate the right time to begin this transition,” according to the letter. No time certain for such a transition has been set....

...Those shifts will happen when the services are ready for them to happen, and won’t be calendar-based, Pentagon officials said. The Air Force and Navy already have their own F-35 integration offices.

The reason why the services have not led their own F-35 efforts thus far was to ensure that maximum commonality among the services and foreign partners was maintained through the end of the System Design and Development phase. Now that SDD is wrapping up, the services can more reasonably manage their own improvement programs and do the internal horse trading to fund various parts of their own fighter/attack portfolios.

One official involved with the F-35 said the JPO is “still essential as we transition to a deployed system and a normalized support apparatus,” and that some form of the JPO will still be necessary even after the services take on “the day-to-day management of their own variants” so the US can deal effectively with partner nations and FMS customers....

...The services are to start developing plans for the transition and creation of their own SPOs in the near-term. These will be evaluated by Lord’s office in an effort to make sure the change doesn’t cause the number of manpower positions devoted to F-35 management to soar due to duplication.

Asked for comment, the F-35 JPO said it “supports this initiative to ensure the Defense Department, US services, and our international partners have the most effective management structure to deliver warfighting capability. We are implementing improvements to increase transparency, and we'll continue to assess and evaluate the most efficient ways to support and manage this vital national defense program."​"

Source: http://www.airforcemag.com/Features/Pag ... inent.aspx
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Unread post11 Apr 2018, 06:22

JPO to hand F-35 management to services
10 Apr 2018 Garrett Reim

"...The Joint Programme Office confirmed the restructuring in an email. “We are implementing improvements to increase transparency, and we'll continue to assess and evaluate the most efficient ways to support and manage this vital national defence program,” the Joint Program Office said. “It is important to highlight that there is no immediate timeline for this.”

International sales of the aircraft will be managed by the respective service offices: The US Air Force office will handle F-35A variant, and the US Navy and Marine Corps office will manage the F-35B and F-35C variants.

Source: https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... es-447540/
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Unread post11 Apr 2018, 23:24

VADM Winter repeats what we know:
F-35 program head supportive of future transition to service-led offices 11 Apr 2018 Valerie Insinna
https://www.defensenews.com/digital-sho ... d-offices/

Photo: https://www.armytimes.com/resizer/RD_ci ... uality(100)/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-mco.s3.amazonaws.com/public/45DAPGDAANC25CNFAT5MOSUFQY.jpg
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Unread post11 Apr 2018, 23:37

F-35 Aims to Finish System Development and Demonstration Flights This Week
12 Apr 2018 Brian Everstine

"The F-35 program expects to hit a major milestone in its development this week, conducting the final flight in its system development demonstration test—wrapping up flights in a test program that included 70,000 test points and 9,000 flight hours.

Joint Program Office Executive Vice Adm. Mat Winter, speaking at the Navy League’s Sea Air Space expo in National Harbor, Md., said the milestone comes at a time when the program is moving forward on negotiations for the next production lot contracts and as the contractors on the program are working to dramatically reduce production and sustainment costs. ​“This is real, folks,” Winter said. “There are 280 aircraft out there operational, and ready to go to war. We own the fight.”

The program office is “getting close” to closing out the deal for low-rate initial production Lot 11. It has also fielded proposals from Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney on Lots 12, 13, and 14. The JPO is going into these negotiations with a focus on driving the “cost out of production,” Winter said. Under the previous contract award, the Air Force’s F-35A variant fell below $100 million per airplane. By Lots 14 and 15, all three variants will be under the $100 million mark...."

[Other already known details at the jump]

Source: http://www.airforcemag.com/Features/Pag ... -Week.aspx
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Unread post11 Apr 2018, 23:59

Winter: F-35 Test Flight This Week Will Wrap Up SDD Flight Tests
11 Apr 2018 RICHARD R. BURGESS

"...Speaking April 11 to an audience at the Sea-Air-Space Exposition, Vice Adm. Mat Winter said, “the last SDD test flight event will occur this week, maybe even today.”

Winter said the SDD program has accrued 9,000 flight hours and 67,000 test points. So far, 82 percent of the specification verification has been completed, with 100 percent completion scheduled by the end of the year.

Winter also said the program has “started some of the pre-IOT&E [initial operational test and evaluation],” with formal operational test scheduled for the fall.

Full-rate production, scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2019, will formally mark the end of SDD.

So far, the program has delivered 280 F-35s of all types out of a planned total of 3,220 aircraft for all nations involved in the program. All aircraft rolling off the line now are equipped with the Block 3F software, which brings all combat capability developed in the SDD program. The first post-3F software will be delivered in June, Winter said.

The Navy eventually will procure 353 F-35Cs and the Marine Corps will procure 273 F-35Bs and 67 F-35Cs.

The Marine Corps F-35B deployed with a detachment of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121 on board the USS Wasp last month, and the USS Essex will take on board a detachment from VMFA-211 this summer for deployment. VMFA-211’s F-35Bs will mark the first deployment of the 3F software. The USS America and the USS Makin Island will be the next amphibious assault ships to operate the F-35B.

The Navy’s first operational fleet squadron, Strike Fighter Squadron 147 (VFA-147) is in F-35C training and is scheduled to become safe for flight in October, the same month it will conduct its carrier qualifications. The squadron is scheduled to deploy on board USS Carl Vinson.

The USS Abraham Lincoln will be the second carrier to deploy with the F-35C. This ship also will host the F-35C’s at-sea IOT&E in August with Carrier Air Wing Seven.

By the end of 2024, the F-35 is scheduled to be operational on eight amphibious assault ships and four aircraft carriers...."

Source: http://seapowermagazine.org/stories/20180411-F35.html
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