F-35 Block 4

Cockpit, radar, helmet-mounted display, and other avionics
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neptune

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Unread post03 Jun 2015, 17:21

Sensor upgrades top USAF wish list for F-35 Block 4
By: James Drew

Improving two of the Lockheed Martin F-35’s key sensors should be priorities for a future operational standard called Block 4, says a top US Air Force general.

Upgrading the Lockheed electro-optical targeting system and adding a wide-area high-resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR) mode – dubbed “– Big SAR” to the Northrop Grumman APG-81 active electronically scanned array (AESA) are must-haves, says Gen Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, chief of Air Combat Command.

“I think as we look to the future, the Big SAR and advanced EOTS are the things we have to have on the sensor side,” ... “The Big SAR radar can’t afford to move, and we’ve got to get to that advanced capability on the EOTS. Those are two that are kind of in the lurch right now. I’ll tell you, the advanced capability on the EOTS is one we’re working hard on.”

In 2007, Flight International magazine reported that the Big SAR capability was originally approved to be introduced in Block 3, which enters service next year. But that capability was delayed to at least Block 4.

The Pentagon is deciding what new weapons and capabilities will be integrated with the fifth-generation aircraft beyond those planned for the Block 3F configuration, which represents the “full warfighting capability.”

Those improved capabilities will be rolled out in Block 4, which will be delivered in cycles through the early 2020s.

The air force is also keeping an eye on software issues discovered during testing, namely the fusion of information from the aircraft’s sensor suite. “It’s one of the things we’re working hard on a making some progress, but we’ve got a ways to go,” ..

For weapons, he places a premium on the integration of Raytheon’s Small Diameter Bomb II and delivery of more advanced air-to-air combat weapon systems beyond the AIM-120C Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile being integrated in earlier configurations.

.. improved air-to-air capabilities are vitally important since the air force did not buy enough F-22 Raptor air superiority jets. The air force currently has 180 Raptors, significantly fewer than the original plan calling for buying 750. ..

Source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articl ... -4-413070/


:-)
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Unread post03 Jun 2015, 17:29

The audio of the entire breakfast session- http://www.afa.org/Events/AFAAFBreakfas ... usPrograms
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Unread post03 Jun 2015, 23:08

Advanced EOTS will include video-downlink and IR pointer, i would guess. As well as probably efforts to improve resolution / range.
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Dragon029

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Unread post04 Jun 2015, 00:03

I'm not sure about resolution / range - they could use microscanning / software upgrades to improve image quality, but I'm not entirely sure any hardware upgrades are on the books; just software upgrades to support the current existing, but under-utilised hardware.
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Unread post04 Jun 2015, 07:02

Dragon029 wrote:I'm not sure about resolution / range - they could use microscanning / software upgrades to improve image quality, but I'm not entirely sure any hardware upgrades are on the books; just software upgrades to support the current existing, but under-utilised hardware.


I doubt also as the image quality and resolution seems to be very good. Software is definitely the one that needs to be improved and added to allow fully utilizing the hardware. I think most of the hardware improvements will be on the processing systems and other improvements will be mostly software.
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Unread post04 Jun 2015, 15:59

Wasn't that 750 number the original number decided in the early 90s at the end of the ATF dem/eval competition? I thought the USAF agreed to a more "agreeable" or manageable 250-350 F-22s before politics and congress neutered the number to 187. :bang:
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Unread post07 Jun 2015, 20:43

Opinion: Time To Define The F-35 Upgrade Plan
F-35 upgrades need more clarity
Jun 5, 2015 Bill Sweetman | Aviation Week & Space Technology


Two years ago, the Pentagon set initial operational capability (IOC) dates for all three versions of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). Those dates may be adhered to, but some capabilities may be missing. Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, director of the Air Force’s F-35 integration office, said in late May that there are hardware and software items—all unspecified and some classified—that are running late, so the IOC requirement may have to be amended.

This is not a disaster, but it is not good news at a point where the JSF team is trying to chivvy international partners into a multiyear, multinational block buy starting in 2018. It highlights concerns with the future of the F-35’s through-life upgrade program.

The first post-IOC upgrade, Block 4, has changed shape twice in less than two years. The original plan was to roll out numbered block upgrades at two-year intervals. Early in 2014, Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, director of the JSF program office, disclosed that Block 4 would be split into Block 4A and 4B, the latter reaching IOC in 2024—so that anything post-Block 4 would have to wait until 2026.

Apparently, some customers had a problem with this. A new plan was unveiled this spring, dividing Block 4 into four segments, 4.1 through 4.4. Block 4.1, mostly software, arrives in late 2019, two years earlier than 4A would have done—but it seems likely that it will include overspill from Block 3F. Block 4.4 is due for IOC in mid-2025.

The idea is to “accelerate incremental capabilities,” according to a program document. The Pentagon and its partners have many requirements and desires between now and 2027, and a process has been put in place to prioritize them. Common items take precedence over customer-unique upgrades unless the program’s Joint Executive Steering Board decrees otherwise. Priorities include anti-surface warfare, with the AGM-154C-1 net-enabled version of the Joint Standoff Weapon, and moving-target attack with the laser-guided version of the Joint Direct Attack Munition. Block 4 also includes the B61-12 nuclear bomb.

There is a long list of other new weapons: cruise missiles from Norway and Turkey, and Britain’s three-phase Selective Precision Effects At Range (Spear) project. The U.K. wants two new MBDA air-to-air missiles (AAM): Meteor and a new version of the Advanced Short-Range AAM.

But the presentation warns that “weapon integration requests are likely to exceed capacity,” even though budget documents show that the Pentagon plans to spend around $700 million annually on JSF research and development as the original development phase winds down. That does not include follow-on development funds from international partners. That makes Block 4 a $5 billion-plus program, which ought to be enough to cover most upgrade needs.

Air Force acquisition chief Bill LaPlante also appears to think the upgrade money could be spent more smartly. He has floated the idea of moving toward open architecture in Block 4, with a view to opening Block 5 to competition. Boeing’s defense boss Chris Chadwick doubts whether that will work. Any incumbent, he believes, should have enough of an advantage to beat challengers in a fair competition.

Consider, too, the history of the F-35’s sibling, the F-22 Raptor. A decade ago, when the F-22 was approaching IOC, the contractor and customer expected that the jet would be modernized quickly. By 2012, the Block 40 Global Strike Enabler was to be in service, with added radar side arrays, powerful electronic attack capabilities and two-way satcoms.

But even with $5 billion in R&D over the last decade, none of this has been done. Operational F-22s still cannot communicate, other than by voice radio, with anything except another F-22, and they are only just moving beyond the obsolescent AIM-9M Sidewinder AAM. Early production F-22s are not due to be brought up to fully operational standards until the 2020s.

The F-22 and F-35 have some strong similarities when it comes to upgrades. Both are stealthy, which makes it more difficult to add or replace a radio-frequency or electro-optical aperture. Both have a systems architecture that leans heavily on a central integrated processor, with the subsystems as peripherals. That has its advantages but means a dedicated development program for each sensor upgrade rather than just porting technology from another aircraft. Above all, both have shown a big appetite for regression testing—the process of making sure that a change or fix to one system has not resulted in a failure in another—which has been the biggest drag on F-22 upgrade efforts.

The F-35 program office is busy with the path to IOC. But it is vitally important, after a year of changed definitions and some confusion, to define an efficient plan for post-IOC development.



Quite different compared to his earlier work on the subject. I think he may be softening his stance on the program :?: :?:
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Unread post07 Jun 2015, 20:57

Well, well, well.

There's some prescient insight for us -- OT-1 is a success, AT&L starts making noises about a block buy, USAF starts talking about follow-on development, and Bill says, 'yeah, (me too) what's next?'
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Unread post18 Sep 2015, 18:25

InsideDefense has a report online saying that the review of what to include in Block IV will now report in the summer of 2016, not this winter as was expected, as further cost evaluation is required. I'm not a subscriber though, can't read the details (if there are any).
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Unread post19 Sep 2015, 01:39

Inside the Air Force - 09/18/2015

Advanced EOTS is high priority

F-35 Block 4 Follow-On Capability Review Delayed Until Next Summer

Posted: September 17, 2015 Twitter Facebook

A decision on which capabilities to include in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter's follow-on Block 4 has been delayed from this December to summer of 2016 as the joint program office works to complete a life-cycle cost estimate for the effort.

Service spokesman Maj. Kelley Jeter told Inside the Air Force Sept. 16 that the service had expected those cost estimates would be completed in time to seek approval from the Joint Requirements Oversight Council in December, but the process has proven more time intensive than expected.

Air Combat Command serves as the lead for establishing the F-35 Block 4 capability development document (CDD), and is working closely with the Navy and Marine Corps on the effort. The Air Force Requirements Oversight Council approved a draft document last August that did not include the life-cycle cost estimate. According to Jeter, the service expected a new estimate would be completed sooner.

The service now expects to have a finalized CDD to take before the AFROC next spring. The JROC review will follow AFROC approval.

"Once the life-cycle cost estimate for Block 4 is complete and included in the CDD, the Air Force will begin immediately staffing the CDD in preparation for an AFROC review and approval," Jeter said.

She continued: "ACC, in coordination with their joint counterparts, continues to staff the rest of the CDD while awaiting on the life-cycle cost estimate results from the F-35 program office. The Air Force also intends to include our sister services as part of the AFROC review process in order to shorten staffing timelines."

As the JPO works to finalize those estimates, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, director of the Air Force's JSF integration office, said this week that he is concerned a long-term continuing resolution could impact that process.

The program plans to transition from the Block 3i configuration -- which is what the Air Force will use to enter initial operational capability next year -- to full warfighting capability with Block 3F. Block 4 will be delivered in four, two-year increments, beginning in 2019.

"As we start to lay out what we would be able to get in that first drop, that would be specifically when we would see some impact into the numbers of new capabilities and how much money we are able to drive into that follow-on development," Harrigian said Sept. 14 at the Air Force Association's annual conference in National Harbor, MD.

As part of its process for estimating Block 4 costs, the program office is receiving estimates from suppliers about the cost of proposed capabilities over time and what infrastructure would be required to support testing. Harrigian said the program has developed a "generic lay down" of the capabilities that will be included in each increment of Block 4, but will use those cost estimates to refine its plans. That information will be fed into a CDD.

Prioritizing Block 4 requirements is a challenge both because of cost constraints and competing priorities among program partners, Harrigian noted.

"As those numbers come forward, the services and the partners are all going to have to take a look at that and then work through a list of capabilities that are on there and then what we can actually afford," he said.

One capability the Air Force has expressed interest in, and which Harrigian noted this week as a top priority for Block 4, is an advanced electro-optical targeting system (EOTS). Lockheed Martin, also the prime contractor for F-35, developed the EOTS system featured in all currently fielded aircraft and has developed an advanced version that improves on the baseline capabilities.

Don Bolling, Lockheed's director of business development for advanced targeting systems, told Inside the Air Force Sept. 16 that Lockheed has submitted its estimates to the JPO and is optimistic it will be fielded in the first Block 4 increment, 4.1.

"We're told by the services that it is very high on the Block 4 candidate list," Bolling said. "There are a number of candidates competing for a finite list based on what capability you bring to bear and what's the cost."

Bolling said the company plans to use existing hardware for advanced EOTS and is using existing technology for the upgrade to help keep costs minimal. If the JPO opts to integrate the capability on all three variants, the production rates should help control costs as well. Both the Air Force and Marine Corps are very interested in the capability, Bolling said. The Navy has been less enthusiastic, which Bolling expects is because the service's F-35B variant will be the last to achieve initial operational capability.

"The only reason I think is because they're the last for IOC," he said. "I think they're under the assumption that if the Marines want it and the Air Force wants it, they're going to get it as well."

Bolling noted that should one of the services opt to retain its baseline EOTS, Lockheed would have to keep both production lines open, which could impact cost.

"If we're having to do a separate EOTS production line and a separate Advanced EOTS line, we're not producing at the same rate, I would think you would see a cost impact to both," he said.

Lockheed has not pitched the capability to any international F-35 partners, Bolling said, noting that the decision lies ultimately with the JPO. -- Courtney Albon

Related News | Aircraft |

Inside the Air Force - 09/18/2015 , Vol. 26, No. 37
172156


http://insidedefense.com/node/172156
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Unread post19 Sep 2015, 01:57

At the end is the interesting bit (apart from all the domestic folderol above) from the above EOTS Advanced article:
"...Bolling said the company plans to use existing hardware for advanced EOTS and is using existing technology for the upgrade to help keep costs minimal. If the JPO opts to integrate the capability on all three variants, the production rates should help control costs as well. Both the Air Force and Marine Corps are very interested in the capability, Bolling said. The Navy has been less enthusiastic, which Bolling expects is because the service's F-35B [means F-35C] variant will be the last to achieve initial operational capability.

"The only reason I think is because they're the last for IOC," he said. "I think they're under the assumption that if the Marines want it and the Air Force wants it, they're going to get it as well." [smart move USN - geez they are sneaky] :mrgreen:

Bolling noted that should one of the services opt to retain its baseline EOTS, Lockheed would have to keep both production lines open, which could impact cost.

"If we're having to do a separate EOTS production line and a separate Advanced EOTS line, we're not producing at the same rate, I would think you would see a cost impact to both," he said.

Lockheed has not pitched the capability to any international F-35 partners, Bolling said, noting that the decision lies ultimately with the JPO." [Get to it JPO - Oz wants it and we want it NOW!] :mrgreen:
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Unread post19 Sep 2015, 02:42

charlielima223 wrote:Wasn't that 750 number the original number decided in the early 90s at the end of the ATF dem/eval competition? I thought the USAF agreed to a more "agreeable" or manageable 250-350 F-22s before politics and congress neutered the number to 187. :bang:

339
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Unread post19 Sep 2015, 08:18

spazsinbad wrote:At the end is the interesting bit (apart from all the domestic folderol above) from the above EOTS Advanced article:
"...Bolling said the company plans to use existing hardware for advanced EOTS and is using existing technology for the upgrade to help keep costs minimal. If the JPO opts to integrate the capability on all three variants, the production rates should help control costs as well. Both the Air Force and Marine Corps are very interested in the capability, Bolling said. The Navy has been less enthusiastic, which Bolling expects is because the service's F-35B [means F-35C] variant will be the last to achieve initial operational capability.

"The only reason I think is because they're the last for IOC," he said. "I think they're under the assumption that if the Marines want it and the Air Force wants it, they're going to get it as well." [smart move USN - geez they are sneaky] :mrgreen:

Bolling noted that should one of the services opt to retain its baseline EOTS, Lockheed would have to keep both production lines open, which could impact cost.

"If we're having to do a separate EOTS production line and a separate Advanced EOTS line, we're not producing at the same rate, I would think you would see a cost impact to both," he said.

Lockheed has not pitched the capability to any international F-35 partners, Bolling said, noting that the decision lies ultimately with the JPO." [Get to it JPO - Oz wants it and we want it NOW!] :mrgreen:



OHh Gawd No. Then we will never hear the end of it if the basement dwellers feel like allied F-35s are not in the same configuration! They will start calling it the export model again /wrists.
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Unread post22 Oct 2015, 20:38

Block Four on the boil and it will probably get ugly with lots of arm twisting - you name it... Seems like it will go well....

A long post best read at source.
Billions In F-35 Mods Debated; Canada Election Fallout
22 Oct 2015 Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

"CAPITOL HILL: While Congress and the media focus on immediate issues with the F-35’s ejection seat, the program has begun working on a long-range modernization plan to upgrade the Joint Strike Fighter’s combat power.

This modernization package, with the so-called Block 4 software upgrade at its core, is essential to the aircraft reaching its “full warfighting capability,” Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, the Air Force’s F-35 integration director, told Congress yesterday. The Air Force F-35A model will reach Initial Operating Capability (IOC) in December 2016, but it won’t have all the advertised features — i.e. full capability — at that time. The modernization effort will cost $2.6 billion in R&D through 2020 alone.

“We will improve electronic attack [e.g. jamming]. We will improve electronic warfare [in general]. We will improve the radar,” said Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, head of the F-35 Joint Program Office, speaking to reporters after the House air-land forces subcommittee hearing. “We will add many weapons in Block 4, many unique weapons that the [foreign] partners need and use.” Those first two improvements are particularly important because the Air Force has said the F-35 won’t need the help of dedicated jamming aircraft like the Navy’s EA-18G Growler.

But there’s a problem, Bogdan freely admitted. With wish-lists coming from three US armed services and foreign partners — seven if Canada drops out (more on that below) — the upgrade package has swollen beyond what’s feasible or affordable, Bogdan said. The next six to eight months will be crucial as the program office, US services, and foreign partners wrestle over those requirements. If they can’t whittle them down, then the F-35 modernization effort may suffer the same cost overruns and schedule slips as many programs in the past, including the original F-35 program itself.

“I know that these further upgrades are essential, but I think it’s important for us to try to get a handle on this before it gets out of whack as we’ve seen [on] this project from the very beginning,” longtime F-35 skeptic Loretta Sanchez, the top Democrat on the committee, told Bogdan. “So,” she asked pointedly, “does the F-35 program have a prioritized list [of requirements]?”..."

Source: http://breakingdefense.com/2015/10/bill ... n-fallout/
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Unread post23 Oct 2015, 16:12

It took between 4-5 years from first flight of prototype to entering service for fighters like F-16 and F-15 with their weapons integrated.
F-35 is already 9 years past it first flight and still can't shoot it's gun or fire Aim-9 block II or carry armament similar do F-16. With weapon integration being pushed from block IV to block V it seems that it may take them 20 year to integrate weapons F-16 (or similar fighters of NATO countries) are already carrying.
F-35 will be a capable fighter in 10 years time. I just don't get it why it takes them so long. It seems ridiculous that in a USA which is ruling in software development in the world, with probably a million programmers they can't put few hundred people to fix software issues with aircraft and ALIS. With more than hundred aircraft already flying they can't integrate weapons.
At the same time the same company Lockheed has it's hand full in LRSB.
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