Australian lawmakers confident in F-35's future

Program progress, politics, orders, and speculation
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quicksilver

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Unread post15 Feb 2022, 04:28

Going back up to the top, the VX-23 jet in the pic is carrying 2 NGJ pods and 2 drop tanks. The jammers are outboard and the tanks inboard.

The jet doing CQ in the other pic is carrying 3 ALQ-99s and two drop tanks. The ALQ-99s are easily distinguished by the props on the nose of each pod.

Dunno what the transparent mock-up is but it’s not NGJ.
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Unread post15 Feb 2022, 06:45

Is that MALD in a cannister?
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Unread post15 Feb 2022, 08:06

spazsinbad wrote:Orphan Photo of NGJ 'see through' MODEL I presume PLUS a Growler over head a CVN.


That is actually DashX drone from Vx Aerospace: https://www.vxaerospace.com/vxaerospaceproducts#dashx

Image

Dash X Inc. is responsible for the design, testing and manufacturing of the Dash X Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). Originally developed and tested in 2017, it is currently in a Phase II design iteration in preparation for Phase III stores and separation testing. A Class II Novel Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, the Dash X touts folding wings which make it easily conform to the dimensions of a 16-inch diameter modified cluster bomb canister, or Tactical Munitions Dispenser (TMD).

With extendable/retractable wings that have a full wingspan of 12 feet and a top speed of approximately 85 knots, the Dash X can fly for up to 5 hours. Because the Dash X can so easily fly on the wing of a tactical aircraft, it can easily be carried beyond the range of a similarly sized UAV before air deployment from the TMD.

Electronic Warfare Programs, most notably featuring the U.S Navy’s EA-18G Growler, may soon have the added advantage of releasing, and engaging one or more Dash X UAVs while in air. Potentially giving the U.S. Navy a leading edge in scouting for radar or jamming enemy sensor networking processes.
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Unread post15 Feb 2022, 08:19

Thanks. The photo of it [DASH X] in a canister (model) is repeated below to make it easy to view them on this page:
download/file.php?id=36882

Amended 'GROWLER overhead CVN' photo & DASH X Model now attached.
Attachments
Photo GROWLER Aug-Sep 2018 over CVN.jpg
Photo DASH X model Transparent Case.jpg
A4G Skyhawk: www.faaaa.asn.au/spazsinbad-a4g/ & youtube.com/channel/UCwqC_s6gcCVvG7NOge3qfAQ/videos
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Unread post15 Feb 2022, 13:51

Wow, much bigger than I thought. We need swarm drones deployable from said canisters to overwhelm troop concentrations. A whole new era of 'cluster' munitions. The Turks and the Chinese are already playing with these things.
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Unread post17 Feb 2022, 22:02

Exercise Talisman Sabre 21 Articles. 8)
https://www.theaustralian.com.au/specia ... accb7a8b66
F-35A fighter trial reveals data sharing is right on target
By Nigel Pittaway October 30, 2021
A Royal Australian Air Force F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter has recently participated in an important demonstration of how information can be shared digitally across the battlespace – in this case, across the Pacific Ocean.
The Australian aircraft was engaged in pre-acceptance flights at Lockheed Martin’s F-35 production facility in Fort Worth, Texas, and successfully demonstrated its ability to share simulated targeting data, in real time, with ground forces during Exercise Talisman Sabre 21 in Queensland.
The trial formed part of a series being undertaken by Lockheed Martin in conjunction with the US Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) aimed at enhancing interoperability between the US and its allies.
The Australian F-35 was used as an airborne sensor during the demonstration, downlinking targeting information to a Virtual Aegis Weapons System (VAWS) on the ground near Fort Worth, using the fighter’s unique Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL) capability.

MADL is a secure means of transferring larger quantities of information than traditional data links and has a much lower probability of detection.
The VAWS then sent the data via a US Battle Management System in Hawaii to RAAF Base Williamtown, north of Sydney and home to Australia’s F-35 fleet. From Williamtown, the information was sent to ground-based units in the exercise area, which successfully engaged the “target”.
This was accomplished in real time and demonstrated the F-35’s ability to participate in what is termed Joint All-Domain Warfare – a vision for future operations, where the platform that initially detects an enemy distributes target-quality data across the battlespace, where it can be acted upon by whichever asset is best placed to deal with the threat.
“The purpose was to show that targeting information from an F-35 can be fed into a fire control system that has the necessary weapons to counter complex threats,” explains Lockheed Martin Australia’s business development director Neale Prescott.
“The weapons assignment is based on who has the greatest chance of conducting the intercept – whether it’s a ship, aircraft or land-based strike asset – and you’re getting that data out in real time.”

While the demonstration of the 5th generation capabilities inherent in the F-35 was a success, the program continues to attract more than its fair share of criticism, both in the US and here in Australia. Recent criticism has focused both on the F-35s unacceptably high sustainment costs and comments by senior US commanders that it was not considered capable in its current form of participating in a desktop exercise involving the defence of Taiwan from Chinese attack.
That the exercise was held in the future, with nominal capabilities (such as a 6th Generation fighter) which don’t exist today, has been overlooked by critics and, publicly at least, all F-35 partners, including Australia, remain committed to the program.
Lockheed Martin has now delivered 700 F-35s, including 41 of Australia’s 72 on order, and the fighter is currently flying with the air forces of 10 countries. The global fleet has amassed more than 430,000 flight hours to date.
On the subject of cost, Lockheed Martin’s director of F-35 international business Steve Over says improvements are being made in both acquisition and sustainment.
“In 2013 or 2014 it’s fair to say that many customers were sceptical, when we had a $US140m airplane, that we were ever going to get the cost down below $80m,” Over says. “But here we sit today and a Lot 14 (current production batch) F-35A airplane is about $77m.”
In addition, Lockheed Martin announced in September that it has concluded a deal with the Pentagon for a 30 per cent reduction in annualised sustainment contracts for the US 2021-2023 financial years.
Over says that this also represents a reduction of more than 44 per cent over the last five years.
“We’ve been working to improve the loss in our supply chain, we continue reliability improvements (and) helping to demonstrate greater manpower efficiencies and product support solutions,” he says.
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Unread post17 Feb 2022, 22:05

PDF magazine Ver released. 8) (Looooooooong. :doh: )
https://online.flipbuilder.com/YaffaMed ... 202021.pdf
F-35A – A CRITICAL NODE IN THE NETWORK
As the Royal Australian Air Force continues its F-35 journey between Initial and Final Operational Capabilities (IOC & FOC) some important experimentation is underway across the wider F-35 program which promises to revolutionise the way battles are fought.
NOVEMBER 2021 | AUSTRALIANDEFENCE.COM.AU | NIGEL PITTAWAY | MELBOURN
DURING the recent Australia-US Talisman Sabre 21 exer-cise, an RAAF F-35A flying an acceptance flight in the US successfully used its Multi-Function Advanced Data Link (MADL) in conjunction with a Virtual Aegis Weapon Sys-tem (VAWS) to share real-time sensor data with ADF ele-ments engaged in the exercise.
The demonstration was designed to highlight the F-35’s capabilities in support of joint all-domain warfare aspira-tions represented in the US Pacific Defence Initiative and improve interoperability between the US forces and allies such as Australia.
Meanwhile, the RAAF now has 41 of its 72 F-35A Light-ning IIs in service at Williamtown, representing the larg-est fleet outside the US at the present time. Despite the restrictions on travel imposed by COVID-19, Defence says the program remains on track to achieve FOC on schedule by the end of 2023.
Already the second of the RAAF’s three operational F-35A fighter squadrons is working up on their new jets and the third - and the only squadron to be based outside Wil-liamtown - will receive its first aircraft at Tindal by the end of the year. In addition, the first Australian F-35 op-erational conversion course was successfully completed in July, representing the completion of the process to migrate F-35 pilot and maintenance personnel from the US.

F-35 ENTERPRISE WRIT LARGE
Looking at the wider F-35 program, Lockheed Martin has recently delivered its 700th production aircraft from its Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facilities in Fort Worth Texas, Cameri in Italy and at Nagoya in Japan.
According to Lockheed Martin data, F-35s are operating from 21 different air bases around the world, in excess of 1,460 pilots and 11,025 maintenance personnel have been trained, and the global fleet has now surpassed 430,000 flight hours. Of the total flying time, the 41 Australian F-35As have contributed around 12,000 flying hours.
The F-35 has also achieved further sales success in re-cent months, with Switzerland selecting the F-35A in June as its next fighter aircraft, with a proposed order for 36 jets to replace its ageing F/A-18A/B Hornets. A little further back in time, the US State Department approved the sale of up to 12 F-35B Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variants to Singapore in January 2020 and Lock-heed Martin has several actives sales campaigns under-way, including in Finland, where Helsinki is expected to make a decision on its own F/A-18C/D Hornet replacement program in the near term.
The F-35 has attracted a great deal of criticism from op-erators for its high unit purchase price and unacceptably high sustainment costs, but Lockheed Martin’s Director of F-35 International Business Development Steve Over says there is good news on both fronts.
Again, according to Lockheed Martin’s data, the pur-chase price of a Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL) F-35A variant, without engine, is a little more than US$77 million. “In 2013 or 2014 it’s fair to say that many customers were sceptical, when we had a $140 mil-lion aircraft, that we were ever going to get the acquisition cost down below $80 million,” Over said. “But here we sit today and a Lot 14 aeroplane (the current production lot) is about $77 million. We’ve been working to improve the loss in our supply chain, we continue reliability improvements, helping to demonstrate greater manpower efficiencies and product support solutions.”
Over also revealed that Lockheed Mar-tin has struck a deal with the Pentagon for a 30 percent reduction per flying hour in F-35A annualised sustainment contracts covering the US 2021-2023 fiscal years, compared with the previous year. He add-ed that this also represents a reduction in sustainment costs in excess of 44 per cent over the last five years. “These are huge wins for our customers and some-thing we’re proud of today,” he stated. “We’re committed to driving cost out of our portion of the sustainment cost in partnership with our customer, the US Air Force and Pratt & Whitney (manufacturer of the F-35’s F135 engine). We’re focussing on what we can do to lower the overall sustainment cost and I’m very pleased to tell you with de-monstrable evidence, we’re doing our part.”
Over said the new contracts also provide a pathway to a longer-term Performance-Based Logistics (PBL) agree-ment across the F-35 program.
    “DESPITE BEING DISTRIBUTED HALFWAY ACROSS THE WORLD, ALL OF THE DATA WAS BEING AGGREGATED INTO A SINGLE SURVEILLANCE PICTURE”
JOINT ALL-DOMAIN WARFARE
The joint all domain warfare experimentation during TS21 involved the RAAF F-35A (with a US Air Force pilot) acting as an airborne sensor platform to provide weapons’ qual-ity targeting data to the VAWS facility in Fort Worth via MADL. The data was then relayed to a US Battle Manage-ment Centre in Oahu, Hawaii, and on to RAAF William-town via a bilateral communications network and finally to an artillery battery on the ground in the exercise area. The data was received at Williamtown inside one of the RAAF’s next-generation deployable facilities that are manufactured by Varley Group at Tomago.
At Williamtown, Lockheed Martin had associated its Surveillance and Operational Awareness and Response (SOAR) software with a passive radar system developed by Daron-mont Technologies and also had a direct feed from RAAF tactical radars. “So, de-spite being distributed halfway across the world, all of the data was being aggregat-ed into a single surveillance picture,” ex-plained Lockheed Martin Australia Busi-ness Development Director Rotary Wing Systems Neale Prescott.
“That’s one of the elements of this Joint All-Domain operation, you need to be able to extend the surveillance horizon and connect air platforms with things like de-stroyers and frigates (which are) carrying specialist weap-ons. No longer are you doing this to some predetermined plan, you’re feeding all of the sensor data into a picture (and) assigning weapons based on who has the greatest chance of performing the intercept and you’re getting the data out in real-time.”
Importantly, the RAAF aircraft was in standard production configuration and was not modified in any way for the trial - which represented the first ever live sharing of F-35 MADL data with a non-US participant.
The perhaps circuitous routing of the data was because it was a proof-of-concept demonstration rather than an evalu-ation under operational conditions, but it isn’t the first time Lockheed Martin and US forces have experimented with MADL’s capability to support Joint All-Domain Operations. “Back in September 2016 an unmodified F-35 partici-pated in what we call an ‘engage on remote’ scenario, in which it provided all sensor cueing via MADL to a ground station. The MADL ground station then provided all that information to an Aegis weapons system at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. That Aegis system then engaged a low-altitude representative target and fired an SM-6 missile utilising only F-35 data, none of its own tar-geting capabilities,” explained F-35 Combat Air, Australia Business Development Lead, Chris Widerstrom.
“A further demonstration oc-curred in December 2019, when two F-35s provided initial cue-ing for the US Army’s Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS), which controlled a PAC-2 Patriot missile battery. Two manoeuvring low-altitude cruise missile surrogates were then launched, detected and tracked by the F-35s.”
Widerstrom said MADL provided a secure, low probabil-ity of detection ‘broadband’ data capability when compared with older data sharing systems such as Link 16, which he compared with ‘dial-up internet’ connection speeds. This means however that a coalition partner does not need an F-35 – or a MADL receiver – to participate in joint all-domain operations.
“There’s a lot of tactics and procedures being developed for that today,” Widerstrom added. “We have Link 16 on F-35 as well and we’ve developed procedures that allow us to have F-35s that remain out of the hostile environment such that they can broker (data) back utilising other wave-forms – link 16 or otherwise.” The demonstration has obvious relevance to Defence’s Air 6500 Joint Air Battle Management System program and perhaps it’s not a coincidence that Lockheed Martin is also one of two short-listed companies (the other being Northrop Grumman) for the project.
    “IMPORTANTLY, THE RAAF AIRCRAFT WAS IN STANDARD PRODUCTION CONFIGURATION AND WAS NOT MODIFIED IN ANY WAY FOR THE TRIAL”
AUSTRALIAN PROGRAM MILESTONES
Since achieving IOC in December 2020, the RAAF’s F-35 program has achieved several significant milestones, as it looks towards the declaration of FOC in a little more than a year’s time.
The first four F-35A pilots to complete their operational conversion course with No.2 OCU at Williamtown gradu-ated in early July, at the conclusion of Exercise Rogue Am-bush 21-1 in Darwin.
Rogue Ambush was held in Darwin between June 15 and July 2 and, besides the F-35As, almost 30 RAAF air-craft and 300 personnel participated - including KC-30A multi-role tanker transports, E-7A Wedgetail airborne ear-ly warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft, Hawk Mk.127 lead-in fighter trainers and F/A-18A/B Hornets. The exer-cise also marked the first time 2 OCU has deployed air-craft domestically since transitioning to the F-35A in 2020.
Prior to Rogue Ambush, Exercise Arnhem Thunder was undertaken in the Northern Territory between 17 May and 15 June, with participants including the F-35As of 3 Sqn, the first operational fighter squadron to transition to the 5th generation aircraft. Arnhem Thunder was the first major domestic deployment of F-35As and also the largest domes-tic air combat exercise for the year. Dur-ing the exercise period, two F-35As took off from Darwin with a full weapons load (internal and external), marking the first time the so-called ‘beast mode’ has been demonstrated in Australia.
“This design feature allows F-35s to be adapted to suit the threat environment and operational requirements,” commented 3 Sqn Commanding Officer, Wing Com-mander Matthew Harper, during the exer-cise. “This mode would most likely be used in less contested environments where rapid employment of ordnance is pri-oritised over maximising the F-35A’s stealth capabilities.”
More than 50 inert GBU-12 laser-guided munitions were reportedly dropped on the Delamere Air Weapons Range and during the exercise period, one jet was de-ployed to Tindal, representing the first visit to the future F-35A operating base.
Most recently 3 Sqn conducted the first ever RAAF F-35A international deployment when it participated in Exercise Red Flag Alaska held at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage in August.
    “THE FIRST FOUR F-35A PILOTS TO COMPLETE THEIR OPERATIONAL CONVERSION COURSE WITH NO.2 OCU AT WILLIAMTOWN GRADUATED IN EARLY JULY”
AUSTRALIAN INDUSTRIAL CAPABILITY
No in-depth analysis of Australia’s F-35 program would be complete without a look at how an Australian Industry Capability (AIC) has grown around the enterprise. Lockheed Martin figures suggest that, at last count, Australian companies have won contracts worth a total of $2.7 billion. In the early days of the program, industry primes like BAE Systems and smaller en-terprises such as Marand Engineering, to-gether with numerous others, were focussed on aircraft production – supplying parts to the assembly line at Fort Worth and thence into Lockheed Martin’s global supply chain.
While this work is still going on – with only 700 of a pro-jected final total of around 3,100 F-35s now completed – the exponentially-increasing global fleet (and flying rate) is now seeing attention turn towards sustainment. “We have a significant role in leading the Australian in-dustry team in sustaining the F-35 both for the RAAF and laying the foundation in Australia for industry to partici-pate in Asia-Pacific regional support,” detailed Lockheed Martin Australia Aeronautics Lead, Andy Doyle. “Another key set of achievements this year has been the establish-ment of an airframe depot at Williamtown, through our subcontractor BAE Systems.”
The first RAAF aircraft was inducted into the BAE Systems facility in February for modifications. In terms of potential work, it is perhaps worth noting that Japan, Singapore and the Republic of Korea have committed to the F-35 and there is also the poten-tial to support US aircraft forward-de-ployed in the region. From a powerplant perspective, TAE Aerospace announced in July that it has achieved Initial Depot Capability (IDC) requirements for the repair of the Pratt & Whiney F135 engine’s fan and power mod-ules. The work is being undertaken at TAE’s F135 Mainte-nance, Repair, Overhaul and Upgrade (MRO&U) facility near Amberley. The MRO&U is the first operational F135 depot in the Asia-Pacific region and had previously achieved qualification from the engine manufacturer to perform fan module repairs in 2020.
Finally, despite the impact of COVID-19, Defence says the F-35 program is on track to achieve the FOC milestone as planned. “The project is delivering to the 2014 govern-ment-approved budget and schedule for the acquisition of 72 F-35A Lightning II aircraft, reaching IOC in December 2020. While the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the complexity of delivery of the F-35A program, a mature ca-pability is expected on schedule by end of 2023,” a Defence spokesperson said. “The F-35A – along with the F/A-18F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler – will ensure Australia maintains its po-tent and lethal air combat edge.”
    SHAPING, DETERRENCE AND RESPONSE: THE CONTRIBUTION OF DISTRIBUTED LETHALITY
    Neale Prescott, Director of Business Development, Lockheed Martin Australia Rotary and Mission Systems
This year’s centenary of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is reason to acknowledge the con-tribution and sacrifice of those who served and the freedoms we enjoy today.
Since 1921 the RAAF has answered the call wherever Australia’s interests and those of our allies needed de-fending by human endeavour, evolving tactics and apply-ing new technology.
Maintaining stability and security in the Indo-Pacific requires “credible deterrence” as detailed in the Strategic Update; a vital contributor is distributed lethality.
A fundamental pillar of Australia’s security posture in the region over the past 70 years has been the ANZUS Alliance, the closeness and success of this deep partnership has sharper focus with the announcement of Australia’s alliance with the US and the UK.
While a foundation stone of that alliance is sharing state-of-the-art defence technologies, the fundamentals of our collective de-fence requirements are reasonably orthodox.
To protect the interests of Australia and our allies, we need to detect, identify and monitor threats at the greatest possible range to maximise decision making and response time.
The contemporary challenge we face, and must surmount, is the rapid reduction in the time to detect and counter advanced threat technologies.
An appropriate and necessary response to address these new technologies are strengthened alliances to integrate Australia’s technologically advanced capabilities and interoperate with our allied forces to the point they are interchangeable.
Deemed “distributed lethality” by the US Navy’s VADM Rowden, RADMs Gumataotao and Fanta, that “by distributing power across a larger number of more geographically spaced units, adversary targeting is complicated and attack density is diluted”.
The strength of Australia’s defence is not size, the Australian De-fence Force (ADF) has consciously structured itself to be first and foremost an integrated joint force with technological superiority.
Australia has developed our air force, army and navy capabili-ties to adapt quickly to threats. Defence industry partners includ-ing Lockheed Martin Australia work alongside the ADF to develop innovative technologies in pursuit of this objective.
Australia has acquired the most advanced individual platforms as demonstrated by its choice of surface vessels, aircraft and satellites – achieving integration of these systems is the logical next step.
With its Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD) Program, the leaders of the RAAF identified that integrating those platforms to be-come a collective rather than a collection would be critical to main-taining their technological superiority in the region.
Australian platforms equipped with advanced sensors, net-worked communications to assure the passage of friendly force, with battlespace awareness are on the cusp achieving distributed lethality.

Nowhere was that more on display than Exercise Tal-isman Sabre 2021 (TS21). TS21 was a training activity between the ADF and United States military, designed to test Combined and Joint Task Force operations, improve combat readiness and interoperability.
During TS21 Lockheed Martin and the ADF demon-strated for the first time outside of the US the ability to exchange real-time F-35 sensor data with the Virtualised Aegis, via the F-35’s multifunction advanced data link.
The ability to exchange real-time F-35 sensor data halfway around the globe – from Fort Worth, Texas, to Honolulu, Hawaii – and on to Australia represents a new benchmark in joint all-domain informa-tion sharing. It confirms the F-35 as the most advanced node in the 21st century warfare network-centric architecture.
Put simply, the best IAMD command and control system, in com-bination with the best aerospace combat system, provides even greater deterrence and distributed lethality.
It should also be acknowledged that this was the first such demonstration by a non-U.S. F-35 operator and reinforces the ADF’s emergence as an interoperable, fifth-generation force.
The final dimension to achieving a sustained, resilient deter-rence in the Indo Pacific is the realisation of allied platform inter-changeability.
Consider that by 2035 there will be more than 300 F-35s oper-ating in the Indo-Pacific from allied land bases, carriers and am-phibious assault ships.
Meanwhile, dozens of Aegis-enabled allied surface vessels will likely be stationed across the region.
These air and maritime capabilities integrated with surveillance satellites, gathering and fusing data provide Australian and allies unprecedented situational awareness.
This is important because, to deal effectively with the complex threats that are emerging, we must be able to rapidly share infor-mation between allied platforms.
Interchangeability is the point at which, in the event a threat is detected, command and control of the response is determined objectively and assigned to the most appropriate element of the force, whether it is Australian or one of our allies’.
The implications for commanders of this degree of all-domain connectivity will represent a gamechanger in their ability to make time critical decisions to apply effects from a distributed force.
As the designer of platforms critical to our allies realising re-gional deterrence, including the F35, Aegis and space-based infra-red systems, Lockheed Martin’s differentiator is our ability to ex-amine new and emerging threats and connect capabilities across all domains to deliver maximum effect.
Lockheed Martin Australia is proud to be the capability partner of choice to the RAAF for over 70 years and supporting Austra-lia’s security environment through the strengthening of sovereign self-reliance and platform interchangeability.

REGIONAL ENGAGEMENT – STRENGTH THROUGH PARTNERSHIPS
The transformation of the RAAF into a ‘fifth generation’ force and the acquisition of those same capabilities by other Indo Pacific nations has given Air Force a unique opportunity to boost capabilities and engage with its partners by enhancing interoperability with like-minded countries.
MIKE YEO | MELBOURNE
    “THE RAAF IS ALSO CONTINUING ENGAGEMENT WITH REGIONAL NATIONS VIA TRAINING ACTIVITIES”
NETWORKING
One of the biggest game-changers in the air domain in recent times has been the proliferation of networked sys-tems. The most widespread of these is the Link 16 da-talink, which is the standardised communications system used by US, NATO, and coalition forces for transmitting and exchanging real time tactical data using links between allied military network participants.
It uses Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) to provide multiple, simultaneous communication paths through different nets. Considered the standard by which other systems are measured for secure, airborne situation-al awareness, Link 16 has increased situational awareness by providing users with an improved tactical picture and reducing the need to exchange information using less reli-able voice communications.
Link 16 improves security, jam resistance, and situ-ational awareness compared to other equivalents, while also increasing data throughput and the capacity of in-formation exchanged. It also provides secure voice capability, relative naviga-tion capability, and precise participant location and identification.
Data is transmitted via Link 16 termi-nals found in a range of platforms, includ-ing aircraft, surface ships, ground vehi-cles, missile defence systems, networked weapons, and command and control net-works. These terminals can operate Link 16 capabilities exclusively or can combine Link 16 func-tions with other advanced military waveforms.
Several regional countries use Link 16 on their air plat-forms, including Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and South Korea. However, to this writer’s knowledge there is yet to be an occasion where these countries have shared infor-mation with RAAF assets or vice versa using Link 16. Depending on who you talk to, this either due to US ex-port regulations or a lack of desire on the part of individual users to share information using Link 16 during exercises. Going forward, the improved networking in the Lock-heed-Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter offers improved networking capability – via its fleet-wide, secure Multifunction Advanced Datalink (MADL). The datalink, which further improves on the security and jam resistance of Link 16, also enables the real-time sharing of targeting data between aircraft in warfare.
It essentially provides yet an-other opportunity for allied and partner nations to take coopera-tion one step further, giving mul-tinational F-35s an opportunity to conduct synchronised operations. It is designed to achieve the much sought-after goal of sharing threat data and helping find and destroy enemy targets from ranges where the F-35 remains undetect-ed, when operated in conjunction with other F-35 sensors.
It will enable global F-35 users to take networked op-erations one step further during future coalition opera-tions given Japan, Singapore and South Korea are also operating – or are due to operate – the F-35 alongside US forces in the region. The ability of their platforms and systems to be net-worked is an opportunity to build closer ties with these nations, particularly that of Japan, which is probably the closest peer fighting force to Australia – and the wariest of China’s rise.
    “IT MUST BE REMEMBERED THAT AUSTRALIA CAN STILL BE SEEN POLITICALLY AS AN OUTSIDER BY SOME IN THE REGION”
COOPERATIVE ENGAGEMENT CAPABILIT
Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) is another potential area where Australia and Japan can potentially work together. CEC is a sensor network with integrated fire control capability that combines data from multiple battle force air search sensors on CEC-equipped units into a single, real-time, composite track picture, enhanc-ing the capability of the fleet. This allows targets detected by one ship, and potentially those detected by aircraft like the F-35, to be identified by another ship and engaged with long-range missiles with-out that vessel having to use its own sensors. This potentially means a shorter sensor-to-shooter loop for the ship doing the shooting, and allows for targets to be engaged from longer ranges and from an unexpected direction (as the shooter will not be emitting with its own sensors).
This enables a whole fleet to intercept threats like high-speed cruise missiles once a single ship has de-tected them. The key improvement of CEC over the Link 11 or Link 16 datalink-based network previously is that it is no longer constrained by the latency inherent in the latter, which has often meant reliable fire control solutions could not be developed when sensor data is shared via datalink.
CEC uses an organic “sensor-agnostic” network which shares raw data, not tracks, and builds a composite track from a number of airborne and surface sensors. Any vessel or aircraft that has a CEC capability is able to become a node in the network, while other platforms with integrat-ed sensors such as the F-35, EA-18G Growler or the MH-60R helicopter can feed their sensor data into the nodes and thus the wider CEC network, but cannot carry the cabinet-style ‘boxes’ required to act as a node themselves.Australia is the first nation outside the US to receive the CEC with the capability fitted onto the Royal Australian Navy’s Hobart-class destroyers. The RAAF’s E-7A Wedget-ail is also set to receive the CEC capability, which turns it into a node that will form a part of the Australian Joint In-tegrated Fires Capability being implemented in the ADF.
There are also plans for CEC to be fitted and integrated with the CEA radars that will go on the RAN’s Hunter-class frigate, and Australia’s land-based sensors being ac-quired under AIR 6500. The installation of CEC will also be a significant step to improve the interoperability of RAAF and RAN with Aus-tralia’s allies and partners. CEC is already in the process of being deployed on US Navy ships, Northrop-Grumman E-2D Hawkeye early warning aircraft and the US Marine Corps’ network systems. This will provide the ships and aircraft of both countries the ability to potentially share targeting data and solutions in the event of a conflict. In addition, Japan is also equipping its own Aegis destroyers and E-2Ds with CEC, potentially further enhancing the efficacy of the system regionally.
There is also the possibility that other airborne assets, for example the P-8A Poseidon, can also become a future CEC node. What this means is that in the event of a conflict, ADF air and naval assets plugged into the CEC, either as a node or a sensor, can feed data into the wider CEC network to work to engage a hostile target, vastly improving interoper-ability with allies and partners.
ADM: How would you envisage an ideal F-35A replacement?

AM HUPFELD: The F-35A—along with the F/A-18F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler—is key to our current air combat capability, and critical to achieving the objectives set out in the Defence Strategic Update 2020 to Shape, Deter and Respond.
We remain satisfied with the next-generation capability provided by the F-35A; and look forward to the aircraft being the cornerstone of our air combat capability for the next 30 or so years.
Beyond that, changing circumstances and technology advancements mean the right choice for future capability may not be more F-35As, nor a fighter jet at all. Rather, the right choice will be what provides the required air combat superiority and strike capability.
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Unread post17 Feb 2022, 22:06

Bombs. 8)
https://defbrief.com/2022/01/18/austral ... 111-bombs/
Australian F-35As employ first locally-manufactured BLU-111 bombs
By Defense Brief Editorial - January 18, 2022
Australia has taken another step towards developing sovereign sustainability with the Royal Australian Air Force’s No. 81 Wing accepting and successfully expending the first Australian manufactured BLU-111 bomb body.
The 500lb high-explosive warhead was delivered to No. 3 Squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown last year, where it was configured by armament technicians as a Paveway II laser guided bomb before being loaded onto the F-35A Lightning II for a training sortie.

The BLU-111(AUS)B/B is designed as a direct replacement for the older-generation Mk82 500lb warheads, delivering comparable performance while improving safety characteristics.
AIR6000 Weapons Project Engineering Manager, Squadron Leader Ryan Kell said once fully introduced into service, the BLU-111(AUS)B/B would be used as the go-to 500lb high-explosive warhead for Air Force during operations and training exercises.

“The BLU-111(AUS)B/B is intended for use in both Paveway II laser guided bombs and the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) family of guided bombs,” Squadron Leader Kell said.
“The development and production of the BLU-111(AUS)B/B has been an ongoing collaboration between the United States government, Defence and Australian industry, specifically the manufacturer, Australian Munitions.”

Sovereign production of the BLU-111(AUS)B/B started after the success of BLU-126(AUS)/B, a 500lb low-collateral bomb which first demonstrated Australian ability to produce reduced sensitivity warheads using locally manufactured ingredients for the explosive fill.
Squadron Leader Kell said a key benefit of sovereign production was the ability to continue improving safety and performance of weapons to best meet Air Force’s needs.

“The design is based on the US manufactured BLU-111B/B, but has been tailored to meet Australian production methods while providing improved safety characteristics,” Squadron Leader Kell said.
“Aircraft bomb warheads have been produced in Australia for a number of decades, but the BLU-111(AUS)B/B warhead represents a generational change in explosives manufacture and safety technologies through use of a polymer-bonded explosive fill and design features which reduce the likelihood of the warhead detonating in the event of a safety incident.”

While initial use of the BLU-111(AUS)B/B is primarily by the F-35A, future use of the BLU-111(AUS)B/B is likely to extend beyond No. 81 Wing to include Hawk 127 lead-in fighter, F/A-18F Super Hornet and future platforms such as the MQ-9B Sky Guardian, which will employ 500lb-class weapons.
Air Force Director Combat Capability, Group Captain Guy Adams said this warhead represents the next step in Australian defence industry supplying sovereign manufactured weapons for use by current and future air combat platforms.

“Having 500lb bombs produced in Australia increases our self-reliance and resilience of our air-combat platforms and the warfighting capability they provide,” Group Captain Adams said.
“As a future line of effort, the ability to act as a second line of supply to allied nations could see Australia providing warheads for use by allies during operations or training, which would greatly enhance international relationships and interoperability.”
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Unread post17 Feb 2022, 22:07

Flight hour has been reduced. :doh: (I'm not sure why. :roll: )
https://adbr.com.au/budget-estimates-up ... shortfall/
Budget Estimates update reveals RAAF F-35A hours shortfall
written by Andrew McLaughlin February 17, 2022
The Commonwealth has released the Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements 2021–22 for Defence, and they show drops in flying hours forecast for most of the ADF’s aviation fleet for the rest of the 2021/22 financial year compared to what had been forecast in the original 2021/22 budget.
One that stood out and which has been the subject of recent criticism in the mainstream media was the RAAF’s growing F-35A Lightning II fighter force which now numbers some 45 aircraft at both RAAF Bases Williamtown and Tindal, and is forecast to have 56 aircraft on strength by the end of the financial year on 30 June.
Despite achieving an initial operational capability (IOC) at the end of 2020, the revised figures show the RAAF’s F-35A fleet is now forecast to fly more than 25 per cent fewer hours in 2021/22 than originally planned, dropping from 11,831 down to 8,773 hours, a variation of 3,058 hours.
And despite all 72 aircraft planned to have been delivered and a full operational capability (FOC) be declared by the end of 2023, forecast flying hours over the forward estimates period have also been reduced by 17 per cent to just 12,000 hours in 2022/23, 14 per cent to 12,500 hours in 2023/24, and 13 per cent to 13,000 hours in 2024/25.

The documents offer little information as to the reasons for the 2021/22 shortfall, saying only that the “…F-35A Revised Estimate reflects fleet availability issues, various roles undertaken by EA-18G, and ramp-up hours curve from introduction to service”, while the reductions over the forward estimates are “…based on maturing understanding of F-35A within Air Combat program.”
In a 15 February release picked up by The Australian, Labor Defence Spokesman Brendan O’Connor described the shortfall in F-35A flying hours as, “…a real concern.” He said this shows the “…Government is continuing to scale back flying hours for the (F-35), admitting this critical platform will underperform Government promises for at least the next four years.”
But in a 15 February statement, Chief of Air Force AIRMSHL Mel Hupfeld rejected the criticism in the article as “completely unfounded”, repeating the explanation in the budget documents that, “The RAAF has revised the expected flying hours based on our maturing understanding of the F-35A capability requirements and our expected build-up of the capability.
“Forward estimate flying hours are based on training and capability requirements, not availability,” he said. “To use the basic singular metric of flying hours, to suggest that the F-35A is not satisfying its operational and training requirements, is misleading and simply false. I can confirm the JSF program has met all of its tasking commitments, such as exercises, verification and validation activities and training requirements.”

https://www.defenceconnect.com.au/strik ... -35-claims
Defence hits back at ‘false and misleading’ F-35 claims
16 FEBRUARY 2022 By: Charbel Kadib
Reports of a forced reduction of the RAAF F-35A fleet’s flight hours have been dismissed by Defence.
Budget estimates documents filed by the Department of Defence have revealed the expected flying hours of the Royal Australian Air Force’s fleet of F-35 Lightning II aircraft have been revised down over the next four years.
Flying hours have been cut by 25 per cent in the 2021-22 financial year (FY22), and are set to be reduced by 17 per cent in FY23, 14 per cent in FY24, and 13 per cent in FY25.
Media reports have suggested the revisions were a response to supposed maintenance issues associated with operating the Joint Strike Fighters (JSFs).
The federal Labor opposition also weighed in, with assistant defence spokesman Pat Conroy calling into question the government’s management of the JSF program.
“The JSF is critical to Australia’s defence and the fact that it is flying thousands of hours less than planned is a real concern,” he told The Australian.

“[Defence Minister] Peter Dutton should explain to the public why this $16.6 billion project continues to be plagued with problems.”
However, Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld has rejected such suggestions, stressing the revisions are not a reflection of the fifth-generation aircraft’s capability.
According to AIRMSHL Hupfeld, the fleet’s flying hours were reduced in line with changing operational requirements.
“The criticisms contained are completely unfounded,” he said.
“The Royal Australian Air Force has revised the expected flying hours based on our maturing understanding of the F-35A capability requirements and our expected build-up of the capability.
“Forward estimate flying hours are based on training and capability requirements, not availability.”

He went on to describe claims the F-35A is not satisfying operational and training requirements as “misleading and simply false”.
“I can confirm the JSF program has met all of its tasking commitments, such as exercises, verification and validation activities and training requirements,” he added.
Thus far, RAAF F-35A aircraft have clocked over 15,000 flight hours.
The JSF program has delivered two operational squadrons, with the third scheduled to enter service later this year.
The Commonwealth government has ordered 72 F-35A aircraft under the $16.6 billion JSF contract with Lockheed Martin.
All 72 jets are expected to be fully operational by 2023, with an option to expand the fleet to a maximum of 100 aircraft.
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Unread post18 Feb 2022, 05:09

I think the notion that the F-35A is 'not available' ventured by the critics was well rebuffed - but not really explained - except in vague terms by HUPFIELD. Fair enuf. My guess is that SIM time is more valuable and we know that FOUR SHIP SIM work is now possible which also hides capability that otherwise would be in 'open' for perusal by the 'bad actors' offshore.
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Unread post18 Feb 2022, 14:03

spazsinbad wrote:I think the notion that the F-35A is 'not available' ventured by the critics was well rebuffed - but not really explained - except in vague terms by HUPFIELD. Fair enuf. My guess is that SIM time is more valuable and we know that FOUR SHIP SIM work is now possible which also hides capability that otherwise would be in 'open' for perusal by the 'bad actors' offshore.


We are flying the F-35 more hours per frame than the Super Hornet. No one is criticising that. The Growlers fly the most hours per frame.

It was a foolish opposition politician trying to score points for the upcoming election. I see no reason not to take the RAAF at their word.

https://news.defence.gov.au/media/on-th ... ghtning-ll

The Royal Australian Air Force has revised the expected flying hours based on our maturing understanding of the F-35A capability requirements and our expected build-up of the capability.

Forward estimate flying hours are based on training and capability requirements, not availability.

To use the basic singular metric of flying hours, to suggest that the F-35A is not satisfying its operational and training requirements, is misleading and simply false.

I can confirm the JSF program has met all of its tasking commitments, such as exercises, verification and validation activities and training requirements.

In total, Australia has flown more than 15,000 hours in the aircraft.

Budget page 42.
https://defence.gov.au/Budget/21-22/202 ... mplete.pdf

Previous years budgets by ASPI so take it for what it's worth
download/file.php?id=35738&mode=view
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Unread post18 Feb 2022, 19:37

Thanks. Page numbered 42 (aka page 54 physical) : https://defence.gov.au/Budget/21-22/202 ... mplete.pdf

THEY DO "MIND THEIR Ps & Qs"
"Table 31: Air Force Deliverables (Flying Hours) - NOTES
a. Fleet sizes represent totals at commencement of 2021-22.
p. F-35A Revised Estimate reflects fleet availability issues, various roles undertaken by EA-18G, and ramp-up hours curve from introduction to service. F-35A Forward Estimates reduction based on maturing understanding of F-35A within Air Combat program.
q. F-35A Forward Estimates figures are based on maturing understanding of F-35A and subject to ongoing review across the Air Combat program."
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Unread post04 Mar 2022, 09:37

This got my interest. No doubt it will work with the F-35. If we are putting tech into the bomber and air combat craft, it's likely going to be in our order book.

https://www.airforcemag.com/details-eme ... -projects/
The new aircraft would not substitute for any of the 120 or so B-21s now contemplated, Kendall said. It would be “additive” to the planned bomber fleet, but he specifically declined to discuss any numbers.

Both projects will rely on the Skyborg program, the DARPA ACE (Air Combat Evolution), and Australia’s Advanced Teaming System as “technology feeders,” Kendall said.

“How exactly those programs will transition hasn’t been sorted out, yet,” he added. “But obviously, they’re part of the overall picture we were looking at when we decided to move in this direction.”
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Unread post02 Apr 2022, 03:59

RETIRED but not RETARDED former RAN FAA (that's FLEET AIR ARM) folk have an association website which produces a quarterly newsletter SLIPSTREAM. Edited transcript (PLUS author comments) from the forum noted earlier video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QIA4bn4Pvc by the "hypohystericalhistory" bloke is in 8 page Part 2 PDF below.

FROM: Slipstream Volume 33 No.1 March 2022: https://issuu.com/slipstream2/docs/slipstream_mar_2022 (13Mb)
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Unread post02 Apr 2022, 05:26

Sounds like a pretty good case for the Canberra/F-35B to me.....
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