COVID Delays F-35 FRP as Pentagon Debates 6th-Gen Capability

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Unread post21 Aug 2020, 09:10

COVID Delays F-35 Full-Rate Production as Pentagon Debates 6th-Gen Capability
20 Aug 2020 John A. Tirpak

"The end of F-35 operational testing and declaration of full-rate production will likely come in March 2021—three months past the extension Pentagon acquisition and logistics czar Ellen M. Lord gave the program last year.

Lord extended operational testing of the F-35 last October from December 2019 to January 2021, in order to incorporate the fighter into the Joint Simulation Environment, which virtually pits various combinations of U.S. capabilities against foreign militaries. The system is designed to find the optimum numbers of various systems to acquire and deploy.

“I am confident that we are going to meet the March date,” Lord told reporters on Aug. 20. “We have the entire government/industry team focused on that.” However, she acknowledged there “have been setbacks within the JSE from COVID,” because it requires “a very close working environment.”

[...]

Source: https://www.airforcemag.com/covid-delay ... apability/
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Unread post16 Sep 2020, 21:06

AFA 2020: Lockheed Martin projects fewer F-35 deliveries in 2020 due to Covid-19
15 Sep 2020 Pat Host

"Lockheed Martin is lowering delivery expectations in 2020 for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) to roughly 121 from 141 due to Covid-19 impacting suppliers, according to a company executive.

Greg Ulmer, Lockheed Martin F-35 vice-president and general manager, told Janes on 14 September during the Air Force Association’s (AFA’s) annual conference that aircraft unit prices will not be impacted if there are fewer aircraft delivered in 2020 than expected. Unit prices generally rise as aircraft procurement quantities decline. Lockheed Martin spokesman Brett Ashworth said on 15 September that those 121 deliveries estimated for 2020 would be for all aircraft variants: F-35A, F-35B, and F-35C. The company so far has delivered more than 555 F-35s.

Ulmer also said Lockheed Martin in late June offered slightly fewer aircraft to the Pentagon for Lots 15-17. The company on 29 October 2019 contracted for 478 aircraft for Lots 12-14 as part of a USD34 billion deal that delivered Lot 14 unit prices at USD77.9 million for the F-35A, USD101.3 million for the F-35B, and USD94.4 million for the F-35C. He said that the company will watch to see if there is concern among all the customers about their budgets due to Covid-19.

Source: https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news ... o-covid-19
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Unread post17 Sep 2020, 12:54

You can't ask for better unit cost figures. Can't even get a 4+++ gen western fighter for less than 100 million, let alone a 5th gen. F-35's are selling well despite the worldwide pandemic.

Can only imagine how many they'd be selling if COVID never happened..
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Unread post07 Oct 2020, 21:53

AFA's vASC 2020: Sponsored Interview - Greg Ulmer of Lockheed Martin [duration 15.5 minutes]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vewz5_JKH80

02 Oct 2020: "Watch Greg Ulmer, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 executive vice president and general manager, discuss mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on Joint Strike Fighter production, F-35 cost performance, and more during a sponsored interview with Air Force Magazine Editor-in-Chief Tobias Naegele from the Air Force Association’s virtual Air, Space & Cyber Conference." https://www.airforcemag.com/watch-an-in ... vasc-2020/

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Unread post27 Oct 2020, 03:59

F-35 to move into full-rate production later than expected
26 Oct 2020 Valerie Insinna

"WASHINGTON — The Pentagon will have to put off moving the F-35 program to full-rate production due to another delay in starting critical simulation tests. Before the Defense Department’s top weapons buyer, Ellen Lord, can clear the F-35 for full-rate production, the jet must undergo a series of tests in the Joint Simulation Environment, which emulates advanced threats that cannot be replicated in live flight tests.

However, testing in the JSE has been postponed from December 2020 to sometime in 2021, Lord’s spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell said in a statement. News of the schedule delay was first reported by Bloomberg. The Milestone C (or full-rate production) decision — which was already pushed from December 2019 to as late as March 2021 — could also be held up until later next year.

Although Maxwell did not elaborate on a new timeline for Milestone C, she noted that the simulation tests will inform the statutory report that is a requirement for the full-rate production decision review. Even if JSE tests occur early in 2021, it will take time to validate the results and compile the report, leaving it unlikely that the decision is made by March 2021.

In the meantime, “production of the F-35 will continue in [low-rate initial production] in accordance with Congressional authorization and appropriation,” Maxwell said.

It’s unclear why the JSE test schedule has slipped again. In a Jan. 30 report, Robert Behler, the Pentagon’s independent weapons tester, said the program “appeared to be on a path to provide” a simulator for testing this summer. However, it’s possible JSE development work was disrupted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. [duh - been mentioned already]

The full-rate production decision is largely a symbolic one. The Pentagon is already buying the F-35 in numbers that would qualify as full-rate production for most aircraft procurement programs, with 134 F-35s delivered to U.S. and international customers in 2019...."

Source: https://www.defensenews.com/air/2020/10 ... -expected/
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Unread post05 Jan 2021, 12:54

DOD Extends F-35 Full-Rate Production Decision Due to Pandemic
04 Jan 2021 John A. Tirpak

"The F-35 will get yet another extension to complete development and be declared ready for full-rate production, Pentagon acquisition and sustainment czar Ellen M. Lord has directed.

Blaming technical challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic for the process continuing past the March deadline, Lord is also bringing in an independent technical review entity to help set a new schedule.

According to a Dec. 18 Acquisition Decision Memorandum signed by Lord, the Milestone C decision—which certifies the F-35 as having successfully completed initial operational test and evaluation and clears it for full-rate production—will be extended, though she did not set a new target date.

“Delays in maturing the Joint Simulation Environment—caused by technical challenges and the impact of COVID-19—will prevent the completion of F-35 Block 3F Milestone C,” Lord said in the memo.

It will be up to the F-35 Joint Program Office to set a new schedule for both benchmarks “based on an independent technical review and measured progress at JSE,” she said.

In October 2019, Lord extended the IOT&E completion and full rate decision from December 2019 to January 2020, and then to March 2020. She granted another extension in August to March 2021, saying she had “high confidence” of meeting that date because “we have the entire government/industry team focused on that.”

The obstacle, she said, was integrating the F-35 into the JSE, which is a virtual/synthetic wargaming capability that can assess the relative strengths of adding or subtracting certain kinds of capabilities from the overall U.S. military’s assets. The JSE is used to determine the optimum mix of ships, aircraft, missiles, and other platforms in the joint force....

...The Joint Program Office could not immediately explain who will conduct the independent review, or what the new timeline for completing IOT&E and approving full-rate production will be."

Source: https://www.airforcemag.com/dod-extends ... -pandemic/
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Unread post09 Jan 2021, 14:37

F-35 Readiness for Full-Rate Production Lies With Independent Academic Team
08 Jan 2021 John A. Tirpak

"An independent academic team will assess how ready the F-35 is for full-rate production, and its findings will be integrated into a new program timeline, the Joint Program Office reported. Jan. 7. The academic team is comprised of subject matter experts from Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute, and Georgia Tech Research Institute, a JPO spokeswoman told Air Force Magazine.

The group is “assessing current … readiness” of the program’s integration into the Pentagon’s Joint Simulation Environment; a digital platform that evaluates the value of adding more or fewer of various systems, such as submarines, surface ships, vehicles, aircraft, etc., to the joint force. Pending its assessment, the JPO will create a new schedule for the program.

The assessment will not be ready until after the Biden administration comes into office, leaving it to the incoming defense leadership to judge whether and how the F-35 program will proceed.

Pentagon acquisition and sustainment chief Ellen M. Lord, in a December memo, decided to extend the F-35 Operational Test and Evaluation phase past her most recent deadline of March 2021, giving the Joint Program Office until Feb. 28 to come up with a “new acquisition program baseline,” or timetable. That timetable is to be determined in part by an “independent review” entity, or the academic team, the JPO said.

Lord said delays integrating the F-35 in the JSE had to do with the challenges of getting software coders together in secure facilities under pandemic conditions...."

Source: https://www.airforcemag.com/f-35-readin ... emic-team/
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Unread post14 Jan 2021, 15:38

Related articles ? :roll:
https://www.aviationpros.com/aircraft/d ... its-for-pw
Defense Bill has Big Benefits for P&W
Zachary Vasile Journal Inquirer, Manchester, Conn. (TNS) Jan 5th, 2021
Jan. 1—The massive $740 billion defense spending bill vetoed by President Donald Trump last week —and now being used as a bargaining chip in negotiations over a COVID-19 relief plan— could prove a vital lifeline for East Hartford-based Pratt & Whitney after months of once-unthinkable losses.
As currently written, the National Defense Authorization Act, which sets the U.S. Defense Department's budget at the start of each fiscal year, would channel about $9.1 billion to the F-35 program, of which Pratt is an irreplaceable part. The company is the sole manufacturer of the combat jet's engine, a complex and closely-guarded power plant estimated to run between $13 million and $18 million per unit.
The fresh round of funding would allow the U.S. government to purchase 93 F-35s from lead contractor Lockheed Martin, 14 more than what the Pentagon had originally requested.
By comparison, the government paid for 60 F-35 fighters over the course of fiscal year 2020.
Such a significant boost in orders could provide a silver lining this year for Pratt and its parent company, Waltham, Massachusetts-based Raytheon Technologies Corp. Raytheon lost close to $4 billion during the second quarter of 2020 as a result of a more than 90% plunge in global air traffic volume. With passenger planes mothballed for months, commercial engine repair and maintenance orders dried up, cutting off what had been one of the conglomerate's most important revenue streams.
In response, Raytheon Technologies made plans to eliminate thousands of positions worldwide, and in October the firm began laying off salaried employees in Connecticut, most of whom were based at Pratt's central hub near downtown East Hartford. At the time, East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc said a representative from Pratt told her that a total of 454 workers in Connecticut would lose their jobs.
Between its campus in East Hartford and a plant in Middletown, Pratt & Whitney has about 13,000 employees in the state.

Money for further testing
Aside from direct procurement, the latest iteration of the NDAA sets aside money to study why some F-35 test crews have experienced symptoms consistent with oxygen deprivation while piloting the jet.
The bill also formally expels Turkey from the F-35 buying consortium, under which allied nations take part in building components for the stealth jet and received priority on finished craft. The removal is widely seen as retaliation for Turkey's purchase and deployment of the Russian-made S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile system.
Logistical bottlenecks, budget overruns, and unsatisfactory mission capability marks have delayed Lockheed's planned ramp up to "full production" on the F-35 project —estimated at around 160 fighters per year— since 2017, and Bloomberg reported Thursday that disruptions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic will likely move that milestone even further into the future.
A spokeswoman for Ellen Lord, the Defense Department's acquisition and sustainment chief, told the news agency that federal approval of full-rate production is on "indefinite hold" because the virus outbreak hampered work on a critical combat testing facility, where the multi-role jet will have to prove its mettle against simulations of Chinese and Russian air defense systems. Defense officials have said they cannot sign off on a quickened production schedule before knowing the results of those tests.
The pandemic struck just as the Pentagon and Lockheed were preparing to declare victory in the years-long struggle to push the F-35 program across the finish line. By late 2019, the plane's per-unit price had fallen from over $90 million to around $77 million, and engineers were rolling out fixes to some of the aircraft's most glaring flaws, including severely deficient aircraft control software, helmets that tended to register frequent false alarms, and guns that couldn't fire accurately and cracked due to misaligned muzzles.
As recently as January, before COVID-19 had spread far beyond mainland China, a vice president at Lockheed told analysts and investors that the company was on track to produce 140 F-35s in 2020 and about 160 F-35s in 2021.
Legislators in the House and Senate passed versions of the NDAA in July and November, respectively, and sent a reconciled plan to the White House this month. Trump, who had openly contemplated vetoing the package over certain segments he objects to, made good on his threats last week.
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Unread post14 Jan 2021, 15:42

Another 8)
This image in the article is in the pdf posted by marauder2048.
viewtopic.php?f=22&t=19021&p=397179&hilit=Two+great+presentations+on+JSE+at+NDIA%27s+2018+Test.&sid=832ee14d98116ad551727461689a39be#p397179
https://ndiastorage.blob.core.usgovclou ... /Smith.pdf
Full Rate F-35 Production Delayed Again
By ALBERT L January 6, 2021
A deadline for deciding on whether to embark on full rate production of the F-35 by the end of March has been scrapped due to continued delays with the Joint Simulation Environment, according to a memo by Ellen Lord, the Department of Defense’s undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment.
In response to inquiries by Bloomberg regarding a December 18, memo by Lord, Lord’s spokeswoman, Jessica Maxwell, attributed the JSE delays to “technical challenges and the impact of Covid-19”. She said that a new deadline for deciding whether to begin full rate production would be “based on an independent technical review”.
Robert Behler, Director, Operational Test and Evaluation at the Department of Defense, has tied the Milestone C decision to begin full rate production of the F-35 with verification, validation and accreditation of the JSE, which is intended to provide a high fidelity simulation of air combat with the F-35 and other land, sea and air platforms implemented in the simulation.

The Joint Simulation Environment has been developed by Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) at NAS Patuxent River in Maryland since 2015, after the F-35 Joint Program Office decided against expanding Lockheed Martin’s VSIM (Verification Simulation) to provide the functionality JSE is designed to provide. Lockheed Martin representatives have since stated to Air Force Magazine that it has completed its part of integration work for JSE, saying that “this work has been accomplished and we continue to assist the U.S. government in their integration efforts”.
The JSE is intended to operate on a significantly larger scale than other simulations that came before it, operating on a theater-wide scale with thousands of simulated entities instead of having strategists extrapolate from simulated few-against-few scenarios. With such complexity, perhaps it is not so surprising that development timelines have not reacted well to the stresses brought on by the pandemic.
NAVAIR noted in a 2018 presentation that “A significant percentage of the (F-35’s) operational test points are not executable on the open air ranges”, adding that the requirements that drive JSE development are not unique to the F-35, opening up the possibility that the F-35 is merely the first of many aircraft to leverage the JSE for testing in the future.

Despite the continued delays to the full rate production decision, the F-35 is still being procured by multiple users around the world and of great interest to several prospective customers (indeed, it’s still the most produced 5th generation aircraft of 2020 by some distance with 123 aircraft delivered to operators), with Australia declaring initial operational capability for its F-35As just last month and the UK declaring initial maritime operating capacity on January 5.
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