Posts

Another Order for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

The Reuters News Agency reports that Belgium has chosen Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth jets over the Eurofighter Typhoon to replace its aging F-16s, a move that would cement the U.S.-made war plane’s position in Europe.

The country has been deliberating for months over a multibillion-dollar purchase of 34 new fighter jets, with a late October deadline looming. Lockheed spokeswoman Carolyn Nelson did not confirm that a purchasing decision has been made, but if so, Belgium will become the 12th country to buy the radar-evading F-35 fighters and could help to strengthen the U.S. aerospace company’s position in potential offers from Switzerland, Finland and Germany.

News of the order comes not long after all F-35 fighter jets were temporarily grounded. The F-35 Joint Program Office said the U.S. and its international partners had suspended flights of the Joint Strike Fighter, also known as the Lightning II, until a fleet-wide inspection of the aircraft’s fuel tubes were completed. Officials ordered the inspection following a nonfatal crash on Sept. 28 in Beaufort, South Carolina. The F-35 Joint Program Office reported earlier this month that the majority of the single-seat, single-engine jets have resumed flight operations.

The most expensive weapons program of its type, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has been under development for decades by the U.S. and its allies and is set to enter a round of testing to determine if the jet is indeed ready for action worldwide. The highly anticipated initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) tests will start in November 2018 and conclude in July 2019. There are collectively more than 240 F-35s among the Marines, Air Force and Navy.

F-35 Getting Ready For Combat

F-35

By Debbie Gregory.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the next generation fighter jet, is getting closer to full service. The program has been running years behind schedule and is billions over budget.

The single-engine F-35 comes in three variants. The A version is flown by the U.S. Air Force, the B version by the Marines, and the C version will become part of the U.S. Navy’s fleet.

Last year, the Air Force claimed the F-35 was “combat ready,” having reached a stage called “initial operating capability.” Recently, a squadron of Air Force F-35A Joint Strike Fighters was deployed to the Baltics as part of the European Reassurance Initiative.

The deployment is meant to send a message, and puts the F-35 as close to the action as it’s ever been, underscoring U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s belief that U.S.-Russian relations were at a “low point.”

The F-35 deployment to Europe comes after the Marine Corps’ deployment of F-35s to Asia to train with the South Korean military.

The F-35’s cost issues were addressed at the end of last year when then-president-elect Donald Trump tweeted about the “tremendous cost and cost overruns of the Lockheed Martin F-35.”

Trump has claimed that he was directly responsible for helping save $700 million on a February order of 90 F-35s, adding that costs will continue to shrink as more planes are delivered.

“Now you know that’s a saving of billions and billions of dollars, many billions of dollars over the course of – it’s between 2,500 and 3,000 planes will be the final order,” Trump said in an interview, projecting additional savings as the aircraft ramps up production.

The $400 billion price tag for the program is double the original budget, prompting Defense Secretary James Mattis to commission a review of the program in an effort to cut costs. But the Pentagon has also worked with Lockheed Martin to bring the costs down.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Air Force General Optimistic Regarding the F-35 Program

F35

By Debbie Gregory.

The F-35 program, the most expensive weapons system ever made, has had a rough couple weeks. In September, a ground fire during training and a supply issue led the Air Force to suspend flight operations for 15 F-35As.

But Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein isn’t worried. He said he was “very confident that we’re going to be getting this fixed.”

The faulty cooling lines affected a total of 57 aircraft. On Sept. 16, 15 of the F-35As were found to have faulty coolant line insulation, which had begun to peel. The additional 42 jets were in various stages of production.

The F-35 joint program office rolled out a retrofit plan for those jets, which involves cutting into the wings and removing the insulation from around the coolant lines and inside the fuel tank.

Then, on September 23rd, an F-35A burst into flames before takeoff during an exercise at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The fire was extinguished and although the jet was damaged, the pilot was unharmed.

The plane’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, has delivered 108 F-35As. The Air Force plans to buy 1,763 of the jets.

Of the 15 grounded aircraft already in the field, 10 had been declared combat ready, one was being used in testing, and the final four were for training, with two of those four training aircraft belonging to the Royal Norwegian Air Force.

The F-35A is the Air Force’s version of the jet. The U.S. Marines and the U.S. Navy will also have their own F-35 variants.

Neither of the Marines’ or Navy’s aircraft were affected.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Military Connection: Pilots Eye Flying Stealth Jet: By Debbie Gregory

F-35CNavy pilots in Virginia got the first glimpse of the F-35C at Naval Air Station Oceana. But when will they get to fly one?

The F-35C multi-role stealth fighter is the most advanced aircraft in production. But considering budget constraints, as well as the F-35 Lightning II’s current price tag (up to $116 million per aircraft) production has been delayed several times. Since the first F-35 was unveiled in 2006, the program has been grounded more than a dozen times for various reasons and issues.

There are five major variations of the F-35:

The F-35A is intended for use primarily by the U.S. Air Force. It is the most well-rounded type, as it is lighter, faster and smaller than the others. Without the additional modifications of the other models, the F-35A is equipped for conventional take-offs and landings on a traditional runway. The U.S. Air Force is slated to buy 1,763 F-35A’s.

The F-35B is modified for vertical takeoffs. This model is similar in size to the F-35A model, but the fuel capacity is about one-third less. The F-35B model is intended for use by the U.S. Marine Corps, who intends to purchase 340 of them.

The F-35C is modified for use onboard aircraft carriers. This model has a wingspan of 43 feet versus 35 on the A and B variants. With larger wings and larger tail control surfaces than the other models, the F-35C is built to take off and land on the short runways of naval carriers.  The wing tips of the F-35C are also designed to fold, leaving more room on a ship’s flight deck. This variant also carries over a thousand more pounds of fuel, allowing for a range of 1,400 nautical miles over the A-type’s 1,200. The U.S. Navy has planned to buy 480 F-35C’s.

The F-35 is the fifth generation of stealth aircraft, but its capabilities are well beyond those from earlier generations. The F-35 has cameras built into the hull, which offer a 360-degree view for pilots. Along with the enhanced view, pilots can target contacts simply by looking at them.

Another feature that the F-35 possesses is the ability to store ordinance in bays built into the wings of the aircraft. Older generations housed ordinance on the wings. The F-35 feature assists with the aircraft’s ability to avoid being detected by radar.

While many politicians, military officials and taxpayers have been troubled by the F-35 program’s rising cost and delays in production, pilots around the U.S. military are salivating at the chance to fly them.

While seven military bases have already begun training programs for pilots, it could be a several years before the F-35 begins its designed purpose of replacing older platforms in the USAF, USMC and USN fleets. And it could be a decade before the aircraft are combat-ready.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Pilots Eye Flying Stealth Jet: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: The “Combat Cloud” By Debbie Gregory

combat cloudThe U.S. military has invested a lot of money into its efforts to maintain dominance in air combat. An F-15 Eagle can cost up to $30 million, a single F-22 Raptor comes with a price tag of $150 million, and an F-35 Lighting ranges from $1.24 million to $1.56 million. But for all that money, there is a deplorable gap in the capability of our aircraft and resources to share data.

An effort is in the works to bring leaders from each of the DOD branches together with pioneers in industry and academia, in order to develop what is being called the “combat cloud,” a means to share data across aircraft, ships and satellites. The concept of the “combat cloud” is based on the idea of commercial clouds, commonly used to access and share data across different devices including smartphones, laptops, DVRs and other devices.

The “combat cloud” is still in the concept stage. The largest obstacle to the development of such a program mainly revolves around defending the system from intrusion. While it would be highly beneficial to have all of our air resources sharing and accessing data, there is the realistic threat that the data could be accessed by unfriendly units, or even worse, misinformation could be uploaded into the “combat cloud” by the enemy.

The ultimate success of implementing a usable “combat cloud” is likely to take a decade or so to be completed. The program is looking for a way to connect fighters, intelligence aircraft, satellites, ships and helicopters to form an overarching network of data that each platform could add to and access, even during missions.

Currently, the Navy is attempting to connect its forces via the Naval Integrated Fire Control Counter Air (Nifca) plan that networks its ships and aircraft to protect assets at sea from attack.

The Air Force’s fleet of aircraft was not designed to interconnect. Cut backs and programmatic delays mean F-22s and F-35s will be fighting alongside fourth-generation F-15’s and F-16’s beyond 2030.  The branch is trying to come up with the most effective way to link its multi-era fleet. The Air Force’s Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom AFB, MA is planning to release a request for information for industry for a gateway between their different era aircraft.

Many in the aviation community believe that a data sharing system of some sort is an easy fix and could be done in a matter of months. But with DOD cutbacks and the scaling down of other major projects, the “combat cloud” could take a back seat to other areas that desperately need funding. For now, Washington isn’t convinced that there are any unfriendly countries that pose a reasonable threat to the U.S. military’s dominance of the air.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: The “Combat Cloud” By Debbie Gregory