New coating & look for F-35s coming later this year

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Dragon029

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Unread post18 Apr 2017, 02:07

I was alerted to a post on a DCS forum where a guy who claims to work for Lockheed has shared some news from the LM intranet - based on the text and graphics, it looks legitimate to me:

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There is a new look coming to the F-35 later in the year! With a sleeker, more uniform coating system, F-35s are saving time in Aircraft Final Finishes (AFF) and saving dollars. The design and new look didn’t happen overnight, but rather was the effort of many people over the last five years.

In 2012, James Thistle came to Fort Worth from F-22 in Marietta as the Production Operations Senior Manager in AFF. He quickly recognized the need for improving the throughput of AFF, which at the time was operating at almost double the scheduled span and cost budgeted for the area. After pitching a potentially significant opportunity to his then-director, Tom Carrubba, now vice president of Aeronautics Quality Transformation and Enterprise Integration, he was able to gain the initial support for changing the engineering design, coatings material and the application process used in AFF.

“What resulted in the end was several days of span time saved in AFF and one of the most positively impactful affordability projects on the F-35 to date. It saves significant hours per unit, defects and rework and improves the aircraft sustainability in the field. It also changes the exterior look of the aircraft to a more uniform coating,” said Carrubba.

“The Aircraft Finishes configuration required the preparation and applications of various materials, which aesthetically appear as jig saw panes of various shades of gray across doors, panels and control surface edges. The manufacturing process to yield a complying product are extremely labor intensive and requires unique skill sets and more so concentrated attention to detail, which meant more labor and processing span in AFF," said Thistle. "Despite the immense efforts amongst the F-35 Finishes organizations, the process often yielded escapes and as a result contributed towards the organizations number one driver for quality defects."

The idea to optimize the process by eliminating multiple masking operations and the need to manually hand spray various top coats by using robotic application during the final top coat application; or “Z13” overcoat as it is more commonly known, was conceived. The project will reduce the cost of an F-35A by $16,000 per aircraft and will save $49 million in the total life of the program.

Chad Wemyss, Delivery Operations Manufacturing Engineering (ME) manager, has been working on the project since picking it up as AFF ME Lead in 2012. “This has been one of the most intense collaboration efforts I’ve taken part in. It has involved several years of testing by the Signature Integration and Materials and Processes (M&P) teams, as well as close teamwork with Production Operations, Finishes Engineering, Sustainment, the Affordability team, the F-35 Program Office and the customer, Joint Program Office (JPO). There have been a lot of stakeholders with different aspects of project inputs and requirements and keeping the whole thing moving forward has been challenging, but also extremely rewarding,” he said. The team kept with it and the results were evident when AF-104, the test aircraft for this project, finished its final coatings in AFF. Implementation of the change is expected in the 2nd quarter of 2017.
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Corsair1963

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Unread post18 Apr 2017, 02:46

Does the New Coating lower the RCS of the F-35. Over the existing aircraft???
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Dragon029

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Unread post18 Apr 2017, 03:27

Unknown; seems to primarily be a sustainment + manufacturing efficiency improvement, but it's been in the works for 5 years. It should at least make it easier to maintain a low RCS when deployed.
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Corsair1963

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Unread post18 Apr 2017, 06:03

Dragon029 wrote:Unknown; seems to primarily be a sustainment + manufacturing efficiency improvement, but it's been in the works for 5 years. It should at least make it easier to maintain a low RCS when deployed.



Sound good in either case. As long as RCS doesn't increase......
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neptune

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Unread post18 Apr 2017, 06:43

Corsair1963 wrote:
Dragon029 wrote:Unknown; seems to primarily be a sustainment + manufacturing efficiency improvement, but it's been in the works for 5 years. It should at least make it easier to maintain a low RCS when deployed.



Sound good in either case. As long as RCS doesn't increase......


The nemesis to stealth manufacturing is fit and finish. Most ot these production rejects are failures of fit and finish affecting the RCS. This looks to be a superior job of F&F, kudos to these patriots and to L&M.
:)
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gtg947h

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Unread post18 Apr 2017, 12:48

Thread is worthless without pics :devil:
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Dragon029

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Unread post18 Apr 2017, 13:31

There's a picture at the top - that light, somewhat monotone grey jet is what they're going to look like.
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mixelflick

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Unread post18 Apr 2017, 15:47

I like the new look. It appears slimmer/not as "stubby" IMO. Although it'll never look "mean" so to speak, it is growing on me when looked at from certain angles.

These days though, it's more about what's under the hood. And on that score, the F-35 has no rivals. Not even the F-22! It's absolutely amazing, the amount of fuel, weapons and sensors they've packed into this little jet. I must say, 18,000lbs is an incredible amount of internal fuel, and when your realize it uses only one engine - the legs on it is really phenomenal.

If the reports from pilots are correct, it has quite the range advantage vs. today's F-15 and 16's. That'll be important, particularly in the South China Sea scenario...
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gtg947h

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Unread post18 Apr 2017, 17:43

Dragon029 wrote:There's a picture at the top - that light, somewhat monotone grey jet is what they're going to look like.

Ah.

Work firewall is blocking it, then...
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krorvik

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Unread post18 Apr 2017, 17:49

Gah. And I just spent two nights masking a model, using all variants of Tamiya tape... Oh well, need to get another ;)
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BELA

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Unread post18 Apr 2017, 18:57

Perhaps the detail remains the same but the lighter tape color is just now matching the darker base? cant imaging the panel lines and screws changing. monotone is definitely the word that comes to mind now.
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krorvik

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Unread post18 Apr 2017, 19:40

That grey on the top one looks more like the FS36270 on the current RNoAF vipers, possibly a tad darker...?
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archeman

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Unread post18 Apr 2017, 19:48

krorvik wrote:Gah. And I just spent two nights masking a model, using all variants of Tamiya tape... Oh well, need to get another ;)


But now you'll have a (soon to be) rare F-35 'Classic' Paint Scheme
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BELA

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Unread post18 Apr 2017, 20:05

mixelflick wrote:I like the new look. It appears slimmer/not as "stubby" IMO. Although it'll never look "mean" so to speak, it is growing on me when looked at from certain angles.

.



I think it actually does look mean. from the front and back it looks like a muscular pit bull that has really short cropped ears. compared to the more elegant look of the raptor.
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krorvik

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Unread post18 Apr 2017, 21:31

archeman wrote:But now you'll have a (soon to be) rare F-35 'Classic' Paint Scheme


Troo dat :) Besides, I like the zigzags. Wasn't easy finding the right mix of acrylics though.

Anyway, kudos to the team for wringing out saved $ - and simpler maintenance. Bird still looks beastly. And I mean that in a good way.
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