F-35B On Probation, New Bomber To Go Forward

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neptune

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Unread post06 Jan 2011, 22:43

F-35B On Probation, New Bomber To Go Forward
Posted by Bill Sweetman@Aviationweek at 1/6/2011 1:37 PM CST

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has "put the F-35B on probation", he tells media in his Pentagon press conference, now under way. Formerly at the head of the test program, the F-35B short take-off, vertical landing version will now trail the F-35A and F-35C versions, and if it cannot be "fixed or gotten back on track" in two years "I believe it should be cancelled".

At the same time, Gates announced a go-ahead for a follow-on bomber program. It will be nuclear-capable and optionally piloted, and will use "proven technology" that will allow it to enter service in time to replace current bombers.

Gates left no doubt that the problems that have repeatedly delayed the testing of the JSF STOVL version - which so far has performed fewer than a dozen vertical landings - have been underreported. The aircraft, he says, has experienced "significant testing problems. These issues may lead to a redesign of the aircraft’s structure and propulsion – changes that could add yet more weight and more cost to an aircraft that has little capacity to absorb more of either." In that case, the aircraft will be canceled.

Meanwhile, Gates has decided to keep FY2012 (Lot 5) low-rate production of the F-35 to 32 aircraft, the same level as 2011, versus the planned 42 aircraft, although progress of the F-35A and F-35C has been "satisfactory".

More F/A-18E/F Super Hornets will be acquired, alongside life-extended F/A-18C/Ds, to fill Marine and Navy squadrons as a hedge against late JSF deliveries.

The bomber program could well follow the lines set out in the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) report issued in September. It is very likely to draw on next-generation stealth research carried out in the classified world in the past decade, and represents a major success for bomber advocates, who have been pessimistic about their chances of overcoming high-level preference for smaller aircraft and missiles. Background here.

Added comment: Gates and Pentagon leadership have apparently settled a number of controversial issues about the bomber - manned versus unmanned, nuclear-capable or not, and penetrating versus standoff-missile carrier.

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/de ... d=blogDest
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Unread post06 Jan 2011, 23:28

At the same time, Gates announced a go-ahead for a follow-on bomber program. It will be nuclear-capable and optionally piloted, and will use "proven technology" that will allow it to enter service in time to replace current bombers.


Do we really need a NEW bomber? The USAF is already working on upgrades for the B-1B and the B-52H, I don't think we need a B-3, B-4, or whatever. I say add some of the latest technology from the F-22 and F-35 to the B-1B like EO/RF DAS, AESA radars, DIRCM, F119 or F110 engines and MP3 player.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has "put the F-35B on probation", he tells media in his Pentagon press conference, now under way. Formerly at the head of the test program, the F-35B short take-off, vertical landing version will now trail the F-35A and F-35C versions, and if it cannot be "fixed or gotten back on track" in two years "I believe it should be cancelled".



I would agree with canceling the F-35B. That's not a plane I think is supportable in a forest clearing, dirt strip, highway, or in some forward deployed location of that sort. It seems like it would be pretty maintenance intensive. USMC should operate the F-35C and use expeditionary airfields equipped with catapults and arresting gear.


More F/A-18E/F Super Hornets will be acquired, alongside life-extended F/A-18C/Ds, to fill Marine and Navy squadrons as a hedge against late JSF deliveries.



I'd go along with more Super Hornets, but want more information on what upgrades the Legacy Hornet fleet would receive and if it will cover A/B models as well. I say they need AESA radars (APG-79 or RACR), structure/airframe upgrades (no brainer), and a means to increase range and thrust. It might be better to just replace the Legacy birds with Super Hornets.
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Unread post07 Jan 2011, 00:09

Rewritten - more up to date? - Bill Sweetman:

F-35B Put On Probation; New Bomber To Go Forward Jan 6, 2011 By Bill Sweetman william_sweetman@aviationweek.com
WASHINGTON

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/ ... line=F-35B Put On Probation; New Bomber To Go Forward

"Defense Secretary Robert Gates has put the U.S. Marine Corps’ troubled F-35B short-takeoff-and-vertical landing (Stovl) Joint Strike Fighter on “probation,” while endorsing the U.S. Air Force’s long-coveted new bomber program.

The F-35A and F-35C models emerged unscathed from Gates’ review. However, the F-35B “is experiencing significant testing problems,” Gates said at the Pentagon Jan. 6.

Implying that problems are more serious than previously reported, he adds that “these issues may lead to a redesign of the aircraft’s structure and propulsion — changes that could add yet more weight and more cost to an aircraft that has little capacity to absorb more of either.”

The JSF test program will be restructured so that testing of the F-35A and F-35C runs ahead of the B model, rather than the other way around. If the B model cannot be “fixed or gotten back on track” in two years, “I believe it should be canceled,” Gates says.

Gates’ comments came during a press conference announcing a series of budget efficiencies designed to cut or redirect more than $150 billion from current Defense Department spending over the next five years.

Delays to F-35B testing so far — fewer than a dozen vertical landings have been logged since March 2010 — have been publicly attributed to a problem with the auxiliary engine inlet door, and individually minor issues with components such as cooling fans.

More details of changes to the JSF program also emerged, including another delay in the completion of systems development and demonstration (SDD) and a cut-down production ramp. SDD is now delayed to early 2016, versus mid-2015 as planned in the restructuring of the program early last year. SDD finishes with the conclusion of development testing and precedes initial operational testing and evaluation, so the move likely will push initial operational capability (IOC) into 2017. (The individual services are assessing their IOC dates.) This will cost an additional $4.6 billion to the program.

The Fiscal 2012 JSF buy — low-rate initial production (LRIP) Lot V — will be held at 32 aircraft, both to reduce concurrency and because “the final assembly process at Fort Worth is still maturing,” Gates says. Deliveries at this point are late by multiple months.

In Fiscal 2013 and later, deliveries will ramp up by a factor of roughly 1.5 per year, for a total of 325 aircraft through LRIP IX (on contract in 2016 and delivered by 2018) versus 449 in the previous plan.

The LRIP IV contract, just signed, will be changed to eliminate all but three Stovl aircraft. The U.S. will buy only six STOVL aircraft in each of the next two LRIP Lots (V and VI), regarded as the minimum needed to sustain the supplier base and unique skills.

Gates indicated in response to questions that a last-ditch appeal by Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos and his predecessor may have saved the B-model from outright cancellation. Gates said the commandants made a convincing argument for more time to fix the program.

The Navy also plans to acquire more Super Hornets and extend the structural life of 150 “classic” Hornets as a hedge against late JSF deliveries. The service will buy 41 more F/A-18s in Fiscal 2012-14.

Meanwhile, in a major breakthrough for advocates of long-distance airpower, Gates strongly endorsed a program for “a new long-range, nuclear-capable penetrating bomber.” The Air Force has been struggling to get this program reinstated since Gates deferred development of the so-called “2018 bomber” in 2009, against the opposition of some senior Pentagon leaders who argued that smaller unmanned aircraft, plus cruise and ballistic missiles, could adequately supplement existing bombers in the foreseeable future.

Gates also announced decisions on a number of controversial aspects of the new aircraft. It will be nuclear-capable — some had argued for this, on the grounds that radiation-hardening is relatively inexpensive at the design stage and costly to retrofit, while others had opposed it because it brings the bomber within the scope of arms-control discussions. Gates also says that it would be “optionally” piloted rather than unmanned, and that it would make use of existing technologies to speed development."
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Unread post07 Jan 2011, 00:32

discofishing wrote:Do we really need a NEW bomber? The USAF is already working on upgrades for the B-1B and the B-52H, I don't think we need a B-3, B-4, or whatever. I say add some of the latest technology from the F-22 and F-35 to the B-1B like EO/RF DAS, AESA radars, DIRCM, F119 or F110 engines and MP3 player.


Against high-end threats with lots of anti-access weaponry (like China is projected to have), a new bomber could be very useful. Airbases are not always available, and China's new anti-ship ballistic missiles may even complicate operations for our once untouchable carriers. Relying entirely on short-ranged fighters is risky, and America's bomber force has been badly neglected for decades already. We have less than 200 bombers, compared to thousands of fighters.

Of those bombers, only 20 are top of the line B-2s, with low mission readiness rates, with basing that forces them to fly around the world. The rest are ancient B-52s, and more modern but still not stealthy B-1s, neither of which will be survivable against modern and future air defenses.

The USAF has gotten a lot of mileage out of its bombers, and plans on using them for decades to come. But do you really want to wait until half the bomber fleet is 60 or 70 years old (no exaggeration) to start on a new design?
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Unread post07 Jan 2011, 01:06

At this point one can't help but wonder whether the A and C would have been designed differently if the B didn't exist.
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Unread post07 Jan 2011, 01:32

munny said: "At this point one can't help but wonder whether the A and C would have been designed differently if the B didn't exist." Who knows. However why do some want to continue whining about how the F-35 started and how it was designed? What can be done about it now? What is the point of the whining?
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Unread post07 Jan 2011, 02:54

jimraynor wrote:
discofishing wrote:Do we really need a NEW bomber? The USAF is already working on upgrades for the B-1B and the B-52H, I don't think we need a B-3, B-4, or whatever. I say add some of the latest technology from the F-22 and F-35 to the B-1B like EO/RF DAS, AESA radars, DIRCM, F119 or F110 engines and MP3 player.


Against high-end threats with lots of anti-access weaponry (like China is projected to have), a new bomber could be very useful. Airbases are not always available, and China's new anti-ship ballistic missiles may even complicate operations for our once untouchable carriers. Relying entirely on short-ranged fighters is risky, and America's bomber force has been badly neglected for decades already. We have less than 200 bombers, compared to thousands of fighters.

Of those bombers, only 20 are top of the line B-2s, with low mission readiness rates, with basing that forces them to fly around the world. The rest are ancient B-52s, and more modern but still not stealthy B-1s, neither of which will be survivable against modern and future air defenses.

The USAF has gotten a lot of mileage out of its bombers, and plans on using them for decades to come. But do you really want to wait until half the bomber fleet is 60 or 70 years old (no exaggeration) to start on a new design?



And how many of these NEW bombers do you think the USAF can afford? Would we really buy them in numbers to even make a difference or that are affordable? Remember, the USAF goes all out when it wants new toys. The brass will want "game changing" technology and that comes at a HUGE price. I'd be for this new strategic/global strike platform if the USAF wanted to retire the B-52H or the B-1B, or both, but it seems as though they still want to keep them around. Additionally, if the cost of an individual B-2 is $2 billion, how much do you think a B-3 would be? We DO NOT need this new bomber right now. In the future yes, but I think it's best to wait a while. As an interim solution I'd say we should pull more B-52Hs and B-1Bs out of the boneyard and upgrade the crap out of them. I imagine the B-1B can be made more LO than it is. At least to some degree.
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Unread post07 Jan 2011, 03:02

US military unveils possible F-35B redesign in sweeping budget reforms By Stephen Trimble DATE:06/01/11 SOURCE:Flight International

http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/20 ... udget.html

"Lockheed Martin may need to redesign the airframe structure and propulsion system of the F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL), says US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

The changes would raise the weight and cost of the variant ordered by the US Marine Corps, Gates says. As a result, the F-35B will be placed on the equivalent of a two-year probation, with termination possible if the programme fails to recover, he says.

"The Marine Corps made a compelling case that they need some time to get things right with the STOVL and we will give them that opportunity," Gates says.

Meanwhile, the STOVL variant will be moved to the end of Lockheed's production system, Gates says. The US Navy will buy more Boeing F/A-18s in the interim, he adds. The Department of Defense also plans to cap F-35 orders this year at 32 aircraft, or only one more aircraft than ordered in Fiscal 2010 under the fourth lot of low-rate initial production.

The F-35 restructuring was unveiled as part of a package of budget proposals unveiled by Gates on 6 January aimed at reinvesting $100 billion taken from "unneeded programmes" over the next five years into new priorities.

Gates also announced that the Air Force will relaunch a next-generation bomber in the Fiscal 2012 budget request to the US Congress. The follow-on bomber is a "high priority for future investment given the anti-access challenges the department faces", Gates says.

The US Navy also plans to accelerate development and production of a next generation jammer (NGJ) to replace ALQ-99 pods flown on the EA-6B and EA-18G escort jammers.

In addition to buying more F/A-18E/F Super Hornets in place of F-35Bs in the near-term, the navy also will extend the life of 150 F/A-18's currently in service, Gates says.

The bulk of the budget proposals in the aerospace sector, however, fell on the F-35 programme. Gates estimated that the changes, which include a more realistic "repricing" plan and production schedule, will generate $4 billion in savings.

"We recognize that long-term confidence in the program must be earned over time by executing and meeting commitments," Lockheed says in a statement. The new plan unveiled by Gates represents "an essential foundational requirement to ensure future success".

Gates noted that the F-35A conventional take off and landing (CTOL) variant ordered by the Air Force and the F-35C variant ordered by the Navy are proceeding "satisfactorily".

"By comparison, the Marine Corps variant has experienced significant testing problems," Gates says.

In November, Lockheed revealed that the F-35B ground test aircraft had suffered fatigue cracks in the 496 bulkhead, an aluminium structure manufactured by Alcoa. The cracking issue was under investigation as Gates' staff reviewed the overall programme's cost and schedule."
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Unread post07 Jan 2011, 03:53

I'd go along with more Super Hornets, but want more information on what upgrades the Legacy Hornet fleet would receive and if it will cover A/B models as well. I say they need AESA radars (APG-79 or RACR), structure/airframe upgrades (no brainer), and a means to increase range and thrust. It might be better to just replace the Legacy birds with Super Hornets.


I would agree that it would be better to simply replace the Legacy Bugs with Rhinos as well. Especially if the Legacy fleet needed new engines as suggested above.
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Unread post07 Jan 2011, 05:45

[quote="neptune"]F-35B On Probation, New Bomber To Go Forward
Posted by Bill Sweetman@Aviationweek at 1/6/2011 1:37 PM CST

...
Meanwhile, Gates has decided to keep FY2012 (Lot 5) low-rate production of the F-35 to 32 aircraft, the same level as 2011, versus the planned 42 aircraft, although progress of the F-35A and F-35C has been "satisfactory"....

On LRIP 5 to be ordered 2011 and delivered 2013. The original order was 47; 6@ F-35C (USN), 24@ F-35A (USAF), 4@ F-35A (Aussies), 13@ F-35B (USMC). If they cull the "Bees" :!: ; have the Aussies cut back to only 2 "A" models? :?:
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Unread post07 Jan 2011, 09:50

The new bomber may possibly be unmanned so maybe the AF should start calling it a UCAV to silence critics. Everyone loves UAVs.
Seriously, using existing tech should help result in a cheaper aircraft that's delivered on time. There was talk of a $1B price for a 2018/NGB some time ago.. who knows, maybe if they build enough of them, they may be surprised that they coume out cheaper. No way it costs anywhere near what a B-2 cost.
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Unread post07 Jan 2011, 09:51

[quote="discofishing"][quote]

MP3 player.
:lol:
[quote]
expeditionary airfields equipped with catapults and arresting gear.
You have blown my mind. What a brilliant idea.
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Unread post07 Jan 2011, 10:11

During Vietnam War USMC operated A-4 Skyhawks from SATS airfields with a jet engined powered catapult with an arrested landing. Used to be a 'history' website about this now not available but there must be other info websites out there. I'll look. This was where they were - maybe they'll come back? http://sats-eaf.org/History.htm

It is a miracle.... :shock: They are here now: http://sats-eaf.com/
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Unread post07 Jan 2011, 12:27

Trap by Mirimar Recovery Unit Video Clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzqpoFAsm9Y
&
F18 Arrestment In Iraq: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tZBX56GATI&NR=1

Current as at 2007 EAF pic: https://sites.google.com/a/sats-eaf.inf ... edirects=0

Image

Oldie but a Goldie (Short Field Arrest) Hook Down: https://sites.google.com/a/sats-eaf.inf ... edirects=0

Image
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Unread post07 Jan 2011, 13:15

neptune asked about Oz F-35As. Here is a part answer with perhaps more to follow:

Australia welcomes JSF restructure 07 Jan 2011

http://www.minister.defence.gov.au/Clar ... ntId=11264

"The Australian Government approved the acquisition of the first 14 aircraft in November 2009. The first two aircraft will be delivered in 2014. The first 10 aircraft will initially remain in the United States for pilot and maintainer training. The remaining four aircraft are planned to arrive in Australia in 2017 for operational test and evaluation activities with other ADF equipment to achieve an initial operational capability in Australia from 2018."

I believe the first two are LRIP 7 aircraft via a Tom Burbage quote last year.
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