U.K. Audit on JSF: Concerns But No Calamities

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Unread post07 Jul 2011, 01:34

U.K. Audit on JSF: Concerns But No Calamities by Robert Wall at July/6/2011


"The U.K.’s National Audit Office paints a mixed picture for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in the U.K.

The auditors write that “the decision to buy the carrier variant of the JSF will deliver an aircraft with greater range, payload and the ability to stay over a target area for longer when compared to the STOVL variant” and also that it covers a requirements gap created when the Deep and Persistent Offensive Capability effort was scrapped last year to achieve ?1 billion in savings.

But the outlook is not all rosy. The NAO also highlights concerns that remain about the F-35 purchase and integration of the fighter into U.K. inventory. The six risk areas are spelled out here (click to view larger version):

Beyond the F-35, the NAO also raises questions about technology risks linked with the anticipated move to the electromagnetic aircraft launch system, in part because of risks in the overall U.S. program, and because the U.K. version would differ with a two-rail rather than a four rail system."
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Unread post07 Jul 2011, 02:05

As concerns go, no biggies here IMO. The possibility of buddy refueling is worth taking a closer look at for the reason cited.
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Unread post07 Jul 2011, 02:28

http://www.cobham.com/about-cobham/miss ... pment.aspx

"...The pods, self-powered by a Ram Air Turbine, feature a hose-and-drogue refueling system and an integral fuel boost pump which provides a fuel transfer capability up to 450 GPM (1703 L/min) at 45 to 55 PSI (310 to 379 kPa).
Buddy Stores
Cobham is the world leader in buddy-store technology. The buddy store is a combination external fuel tank and hose reel mounted on tactical aircraft. The 31-301 buddy store is used extensively by the U.S. Navy, converting the S-3 and F/A-18E/F into tactical tankers. The 31-301 is also being considered for a similar role on the Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft."

http://www.cobham.com/media/65609/ADV10599.pdf (300Kb)
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Unread post07 Jul 2011, 03:47

U.K. Carrier Effort Could Be In for More Changes By ANDREW CHUTER : 6 Jul 2011

http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i= ... =SEA&s=TOP

"LONDON - The Royal Navy's aircraft carrier program could fall victim to further changes if the Ministry of Defence fails to balance its books in the near term, according to a new report by the National Audit Office (NAO).

"We are worried that the continuing difficulties the MoD is facing in balancing its budget leave carrier strike vulnerable to further changes in strategic direction as a result of broader corporate decisions taken to address this generic problem," the government financial watchdog said in a report to be released July 7.

The MoD is concluding a three-month review aimed at balancing military capabilities against priorities. The review, which follows last year's strategic defense and security review, is expected to lead to announcements of new cuts.

The carrier project has been subject to numerous reviews, first by the Labour and now the coalition government, which has added time and cost to a project first mooted by the strategic defense review of 1998.

In last year's review, the government looked at canceling the carrier program, the NAO report said. Canceling both vessels would have saved 1.2 billion pounds ($1.9 billion) even after it had paid out 2.4 billion pounds to shipbuilder BAE Systems under business agreements signed by the previous Labour administration.

Yet canceling the program without replacing it with other work would have triggered the collapse of the British warship building industry.

Although the "Department considered cancellation, which was feasible and offered significant medium-term savings, it concluded that this would be unaffordable in the short-term," the report said.

One option looked at by the National Security Council, the high-level body which made the final decisions on the defense review, was to provide BAE with alternative work by building two additional Type 45 destroyers, the report shows.

Instead, the government decided to continue building both carriers. But only one will be fitted with the catapults and arrestor wires required to launch the F-35C version of the Joint Strike Fighter. The British were previously on track to buy the F-35 B STOVL version.

Redesign work and complicated new gear will add up to 1.2 billion pounds to the cost of the operational carrier, which is now estimated at 6.2 billion pounds. In 2007, total cost per carrier was estimated at 3.65 billion pounds.

'Secondary Priority'
The carrier program was reckoned by military chiefs to be a "secondary priority" to retaining amphibious capabilities or making significant further inroads in destroyer and frigate numbers, said the report.

All three naval capabilities suffered cutbacks as the government opted for a 7.5 percent cut in defense spending over four years, as well as moving to address a 38 billion-pound black hole in unfunded liabilities over the next decade left by the previous Labour administration.

The NAO said that equates to about a 20 percent reduction in defense spending in the period to March 2015. If funding is not increased in real terms after 2015, as government ministers have said is their intention, the "department will have to make difficult judgments about which capabilities it will need to scale back or forgo completely," the report said.

The carrier's susceptibility to the MoD's deep budgetary problems was just one of the risks highlighted by the NAO report into whether the warship program is value for money.

In particular, the report said it was "deeply concerned" that changes to the program as a result of the government's strategic defense and security review had introduced more technical, cost and schedule uncertainty.

Previously, the Queen Elizabeth-class warship program had been a relatively mature project with understood risks and funded mitigation plans, said the NAO.

The report went on to raise doubts about the way the British intend to operate the 65,000-ton aircraft carrier and said there are "major risks" in reconstituting capabilities around 2020 because naval air strike operations were axed as part of the defense review.

Michael Whitehouse, the NAO's chief operating officer, said the defense review had radically changed the Royal Navy's carrier strike concept.

"It generated 3.4 billion pounds in savings but introduced significant levels of operational, technical, cost and schedule uncertainty. It will take two years for the MoD to reach a mature understanding of the consequences of the decision," he said.

Those savings include ditching the Harrier and the associated Invincible-class carrier force, which will save 999 million pounds over four years; changes to the timing of F-35C aircraft will save a further 624 million pounds in the same period.

"The risks to the delivery of the new carriers are compounded by more generic problems with defense acquisition - notably the MoD's continuing difficulties in balancing its budgets," said Whitehouse.

What happens to the other carrier will be decided after the next defense review in 2015.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox defended the decision to put one warship into extended readiness and operate the other.

"We inherited a massive defense deficit, which included a carrier project that was already 1.6 billion pounds over budget. The defense review put this program back on track and delivered 3.4 billion pounds of overall savings to carrier strike," Fox said. "The NAO has noted that our decision to build the second new aircraft carrier makes financial sense, supports U.K. industry and the significant cost and capability advantages of the aircraft we now plan to fly from it."

Other key points revealed by the NAO report include:

? Switching to the F-35C will allow the government to use the aircraft to fill the gap left by a July 2010 decision to delete 1 billion pounds in funding from its program to provide a deep and persistent offensive capability in the post Tornado era.

? Only 12 F-35Cs will be deployed initially, reducing the daily sortie rate to 20 compared with the original requirement for 36 aircraft to generate 72 sorties.

? Having only one carrier will reduce time at sea to five years in seven, or about 150 to 200 days compared with 435 days with two carriers.

? The carrier strike capability will not be operational until late 2020. The first of class, which will not be equipped with the equipment to launch and recover aircraft, could be used to derisk technology.

? Britain has opted to investigate the U.S. electromagnetic aircraft launch system rather than steam and will make a final investment decision next year.

? Construction by a BAE-led alliance is progressing well and achieved 48 of 53 milestones in 2010-11 on time.

? The F-35C was consistently the more capable and cheaper to operate aircraft. The STOVL variant was selected for wider political, military and industrial reasons.

? MoD is planning to use the carrier to deploy aircraft and a broad range of operations, including a Royal Marine Commando Group or Special Forces squadron in what it calls Carrier Enabled Power Projection. The NAO says the carrier doesn't have the full range of capabilities to do this without assistance from other vessels."

"A conceptualization of the Queen Elizabeth-class carrier. (U.K. Ministry of Defence)"

http://www.defensenews.com/pgf/stories1 ... pt_315.JPG

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Unread post07 Jul 2011, 03:53

I sure hope the C really turns out to be the better choice for UK's sake. I dont think their politicians realized how deeply the STOVL roots were embeded in their F-35's and carriers. This article reveals the risks they introduced now.
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Unread post08 Jul 2011, 09:59

Not one single mention of source codes then. Just goes to show how the issue was completely overblown (probably by the usual suspects) in the first place.
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Unread post08 Jul 2011, 10:10

UK ‘confident’ over JSF software — 09 December 2009

http://www.defencemanagement.com/news_s ... p?id=11566

“The Ministry of Defence has said it is confident it will receive software code that controls the Joint Strike Fighter, despite US assertions that they will not deliver the source code to any of the programme's international partners.

An MoD spokesman said: “The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is progressing well and the UK currently has the JSF data needed at this stage of the programme, and is confident that in future we will continue to receive the data needed to ensure that our requirements for operational sovereignty will be met.”

“This remains the basis of the agreements reached with the US in 2006.”

Jon Schreiber, who heads the JSF programme's international affairs, told Reuters in November that no partner country will be getting the F-35 source code. “That includes everybody,” he said.

Although withholding the estimated 8 million lines of onboard software code needed to operate the F-35, the US is setting up a ‘reprogramming facility’ at Elgin Air Force base in Florida. The facility will be responsible for “electronic warfare mission data creation and rapid reprogramming for US military and foreign military (Coalition) partners.”

“New operational flight programmes will be disseminated out to everybody who’s flying the jet,” said Schreiber.

“Nobody's happy with it completely,” he said, but “everybody's satisfied and understands.”

In 2006, Lord Drayson had threatened British withdrawal from the JSF programme if the US did not provide the software.

Later that year, Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George Bush announced that Britain would be able to “successfully operate, upgrade, employ and maintain the Joint Strike Fighter such that the UK retains operational sovereignty of the aircraft.”
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