Lockheed’s Next F-35 Tied to Testing Progress, U.S. Says

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spazsinbad

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Unread post09 May 2012, 01:51

Lockheed’s Next F-35 Tied to Testing Progress, U.S. Says y Tony Capaccio - May 9, 2012

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-0 ... -says.html

"The next contracts for Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT)’s F-35 jet, the U.S.’s costliest weapons program, will be tied more closely than previous ones to testing, assembly and software progress, the Pentagon’s program manager for the fighter said today.

Six of the 31 aircraft in the next round won’t be awarded until Lockheed Martin, the world’s biggest defense contractor, meets at least five criteria, including successful review this year of the latest software release, Vice Admiral David Venlet told the Senate Armed Services Committee’s airpower panel, according to a prepared statement.

The steps are the latest efforts to control costs for the $395.7 billion acquisition program. The first four contracts for 63 jets are exceeding their combined target cost by $1 billion, according to congressional auditors.

“The development program is taking longer and costing more to overcome technical issues,” Venlet said in prepared testimony. “The strategy continues the department’s rigorous management control.”

“It is important that Lockheed Martin dependably perform and establish confidence that the F-35 is a stable and capable platform,” Venlet said....

...Passing Criteria
To receive funding for six of the 31 aircraft, Lockheed Martin will need to meet at least five criteria, Venlet said.

Among them are a successful review for Block 3 software, the most advanced; progress at improving the speed at which retrofits are made to assembled aircraft after testing deficiencies are uncovered; and progress in meeting 2012 flight test and durability test goals...."

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stereospace

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Unread post09 May 2012, 04:04

...progress at improving the speed at which retrofits are made to assembled aircraft...

Does anyone know the status of the Alcoa bulkhead stress cracking issues? Have they been redesigned yet? Are they being tested? Are the new bulkheads being installed in current production? If not, anyone know what the plan is? If there's one serious retrofit issue, that's it.
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Unread post09 May 2012, 05:18

Good move, enough of these parallel bs, no more new ordering, just let LM test on the existing air frames until every promise on their proposal has been met.
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Unread post09 May 2012, 14:52

stereospace wrote:...progress at improving the speed at which retrofits are made to assembled aircraft...

Does anyone know the status of the Alcoa bulkhead stress cracking issues? Have they been redesigned yet? Are they being tested? Are the new bulkheads being installed in current production? If not, anyone know what the plan is? If there's one serious retrofit issue, that's it.


Its been corrected, but it required using heavier materials putting the B on a pretty much a knife's edge weight wise. Plus the LM suggestion that to save both the airframe and component parts, it engage the lift fan as little as possible and operate conventionally on line.
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Unread post09 May 2012, 16:34

Too bad that CNRP came along too late for wide spread use in the F-35.

http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articl ... es-357223/
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Unread post09 May 2012, 16:40

batu731,

The serial approach you recommend is significantly more expenssive than the parallel (concurancy) approach being used (history shows this and is the reason parallel is used). Did they go overboard on the F-35, yes, but they have corrected that to the constant ~30 per year level of production that they are currntly capped at.

brj1028,

Source? I can't remember reading an LM suggestion to not engage the lift fan. Especially with regard to the bulkhead crack.

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Unread post09 May 2012, 21:57

'sufaviper' asked for source from 'bjr1028' about this claim above: "Its been corrected, but it required using heavier materials putting the B on a pretty much a knife's edge weight wise. Plus the LM suggestion that to save both the airframe and component parts, it engage the lift fan as little as possible and operate conventionally on line." I ask for a reference for this claim also. Thanks.
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Unread post10 May 2012, 00:56

sufaviper wrote:batu731,

The serial approach you recommend is significantly more expenssive than the parallel (concurancy) approach being used (history shows this and is the reason parallel is used). Did they go overboard on the F-35, yes, but they have corrected that to the constant ~30 per year level of production that they are currntly capped at.

brj1028,

Source? I can't remember reading an LM suggestion to not engage the lift fan. Especially with regard to the bulkhead crack.

Sufa Viper


Please elaborate on how history shows the 'parallel' method is cheaper when it was never used.

The truth is, how many times the F-35 program had to regress due to newly found issues here and there in the testing for the last few years? and each fix requires additional time and cost to develop and test. I'd imagine there would also be internal contention of resources between testing and production departments that serves to further delay the testing progress.

I don't have expertise in making airlines, but my IT experience tell me what LM is doing is analogous to pushing out production code while its still at alpha stage, in a hope to finish the project quicker, in the end, 99% of time the project would have to delay, the cost would overrun, if it didn't fail due to over budget outright. Heck, I'd be fired in a second if I uploaded test code to production server farm.

I'd bet money if DOD only award testing funds going forward, the jet would enter ioc quicker (and cheaper)
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Unread post10 May 2012, 14:22

batu731-

F-16 is a prime example of parallel and it worked beautifully. Production aircraft were rolling off the line while testing continued. I believe the F-16 is one of the earliest examples of parallel testing and production, but I'm pretty sure the F-18 and F-22 were also parallel production.

Resources are not really split (although with the strike they will be), Testing and Production are typically two completely different departments. Also at this point the testing is all happening at Edwards, Pax and Test labs (durability testing), not the production line.

Finally your arguement for a quicker IOC by only funding testing until it is completed (around 2016) is most likely wrong (we can't know for sure since we won't actually see it). If you don't fund the next LRIP you will have roughly enough aircraft for Eglin and maybe USAF/USMC specific training base, all training aircraft. That is not enough aircraft for an operational squadron which is required for IOC. So then in 2016, or maybe you are right and they do finish a year early in 2015 you start funding long lead for the next batch. I believe the time from initial long lead funding to DD250 is at least 4 years right now, so you are looking at an IOC of 2019-2020 by time you have a squadron. Cost is another matter altogether on the IOC thing, but I would say it is probably more costly to close and then reopen the line.

Sufa Viper

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