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    F-35 Development and News Thread:

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    AlfaT8

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    Re: F-35 Development and News Thread:

    Post  AlfaT8 on Fri Apr 15, 2016 2:42 am

    max steel wrote:Air Force Tests F-35 against Russian, Chinese Air Defense Technology

    The U.S. Air Force is using “open air” ranges and computer simulation to practice F-35 combat missions against Chinese and Russian air-defense technologies, officials said.

    The testing is designed to prepare the Lockheed Martin Corp.-made aircraft, known as the Joint Strike Fighter, for current and future threats, according to Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, Director of the F-35 Integration Office.

    Back in 2001, when the JSF program started, the threats were mostly European-centric and took the form of older Russian surface-to-air missile systems, or SAMs, known in NATO reporting as SA-10s or SA-20s, Harrigian said. Now, the threat picture is evolving, he said.

    “They have got these digital SAMs out there that can change frequencies and they are very agile in how they operate,” Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, director of the F-35 Integration Office, told Scout Warrior in an interview. “Being able to replicate that is not easy.”

    I'd say it's damn near impossible without Russia's help. Rolling Eyes
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    max steel

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    Re: F-35 Development and News Thread:

    Post  max steel on Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:48 am

    ASRAAM missile tests for F-35 underway

    U.S. Air Force officials are pressing ahead with testing of the British-built Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles for the F-35 Lightning II.

    Service officials have conducted store separation testing of the AIM-132 Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile, or ASRAAM, at the Arnold Engineering Development Complex at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn.

    "The objective of the test was to investigate the separation characteristics of several armaments, which included the AIM-132 as well as the AIM-9X, AIM-120C, AGM-154 Joint Stand-off Weapon, GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munition and Paveway IV, from internal and external weapons stations of the Short Take-off and Vertical Landing and Carrier Variant versions of the JSF aircraft," according to a service statement.

    Results from the separation tests have supported "internal and external weapons separation characteristic evaluations and structural analyses for various aircraft weapons loadings," on all variants of the F-35, U.S. Air Force officials say.

    Ongoing ASRAAM testing at Arnold Air Force Base, as well as Edwards Air Force Base in California and Naval Air Station Pautuxent River in Maryland, "will eventually lead to live shots against representative targets," service officials say.

    Initial deliveries of the AIM-132 missile from European missile-maker MBDA began in February. Once operational it will be the first British-built missile to be integrated onto the F-35 fighter. The British version of the jet is expected to hit full operational capability by 2018.

    Other F-35 partner nations include Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Turkey, Australia, Norway, Denmark, Israel and Singapore.
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    Militarov

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    Re: F-35 Development and News Thread:

    Post  Militarov on Tue Apr 19, 2016 11:15 am

    "Hadlines haven’t been kind to Lockheed Martin‘s (LMT) F-35. “America’s Most Expensive Fighter Jet is Also Its Worst,” Maxim wrote. “Report: The F-35’s Pilot Eject System Could KILL You And Definitely Will Maim You,” according to the Daily Caller. “The Pentagon’s Official F-35 Bug List is Terrifying,” said ExtremeTech.

    Government reports of the $400 billion program have also been scathing. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain is a major critic, and Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has said he’d consider dropping the program if he gets elected. But a Marine pilot who has been flying the F-35 for nearly four years feels differently, even if some bugs still need to be worked out.

    “I love the airplane, and it’s great to be flying something that’s newer,” Maj. Brendan Walsh told IBD. He previously flew F/A-18C Hornets, which debuted in the 1980s, but he’s now flying a so-called fifth-generation fighter with stealth technology. “Even in today’s battlefield and even with what some people call immaturities on the F-35, I would hands down rather be in an F-35 than an F-18 in just about any situation,” Walsh said.

    Preparing For Deployment

    The Marine Corps declared the F-35B variant combat ready in July, and Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, the “Green Knights,” became the first squadron to become operational with an F-35. Since then, the Marines have been preparing for the F-35’s first deployment to Iwakuni, Japan, next year.

    A short, expeditionary runway comprised of metal sheets was used at a Marine Corps base in Twentynine Palms, Calif., to practice short take-offs and vertical landings (STOVL). “The STOVL is awesome,” said Walsh, who is the operations officer for the Green Knights. “We can deploy fifth-generation platforms in decentralized areas that make it hard for the enemy to target.”

    The F-35 has come a long way since Walsh started flying it four years ago. For example, it now takes Walsh eight minutes to hit the runway for take-off, comparable to the F/A-18, and down from two hours when he first started flying the new jet.

    He is also impressed with the F-35’s stealth, among other features, and is confident that even more advanced capabilities will come later.

    “The radar has performed well, the surveillance systems and electronic surveillance systems have performed very well, even in this configuration of the airplane, and they are only going to get better,” Walsh said.

    The Fight Over Dogfighting

    But while Walsh prefers the F-35 over his old jet, a dogfight in the new aircraft could be problematic. Last year, the military blog War Is Boring reported that an older General Dynamics (GD) F-16 outmaneuvered the F-35 in an air-combat test, setting off a firestorm of criticism.

    But the Pentagon has since said the F-35 wasn’t equipped with its full array of avionics, helmet mounted display or compete stealth coatings. It also is trying to downplay dogfighting, saying that’s not the F-35’s main mission.

    Another fifth-generation stealth fighter, Lockheed’s F-22 Raptor, was designated primarily as an air superiority fighter. But it was canceled less than halfway into its production run as costs soared, leaving the Air Force with only 187 operational planes.

    The F-35, which will have three versions for the Air Force, Navy and Marines, is seen as a multirole fighter, with production expected to hit 2,443 for the U.S. services and more than 900 for international customers. Meanwhile, China has been developing the J-31 fighter, which is believed to be made from stolen F-35 plans, and a new long-range air-to-air missile. Russia also has been expanding its radar and weapons capabilities.

    But given its advanced features, Walsh doesn’t see the F-35 doing much turning and burning against other fighters. “If you’re in a dogfight in this airplane, you did something wrong, because you should have killed everyone way before you got there.”

    Still, he said, there have been “better performances recently” in dogfighting match-ups, based on what he’s heard from operational testers, and those tests are still ongoing.

    More Work To Be Done

    Other issues continue to hang over the F-35 program. Last month, at a House Appropriations Committee hearing, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said that he has “concerns about where the software was” and wanted Lockheed to hurry up with fixes.

    The Pentagon’s chief weapons tester has pointed out glitches in the Autonomic Logistics Information System, which helps manage diagnostics, maintenance and supply-chain issues. Walsh’s squadron tested the troublesome system, considered the “brains” of the F-35, in December, and it set up the complex server in a remote area in Twentynine Palms.

    “I have full confidence that we can deploy the server and go somewhere if we have to,” Walsh said. “I had no issues with it from a pilot’s point of view, getting into the system and signing for the aircraft and screening it as appropriate for flight.”

    An evaluation of the ejection system also found that it’s possible lightweight pilots could break their necks while ejecting. A fix is in the works, and Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work recently said he is confident ejection issues with lightweight pilots will be resolved. Also, until a software upgrade next year, the F-35 can’t fire its 25 mm cannon.

    But the evaluation of one warfighter who would fly the F-35 into combat is clear: “I feel way more survivable and way more lethal in the majority of mission sets in this airplane than with anything the Marine Corps has in the air right now,” Walsh said."



    JohninMK

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    Re: F-35 Development and News Thread:

    Post  JohninMK on Tue Apr 19, 2016 1:02 pm

    Keeping on message like that, Major Brendan Walsh is obviously a man with a bright future in the Marines Laughing

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    Re: F-35 Development and News Thread:

    Post  JohninMK on Sun Apr 24, 2016 12:02 am

    Just reading the latest W-i-B go at the F-35 when I noticed the small set of steps in this photo. Just look at the design and engineering that went into that 'simple' product. With costs like that no wonder the US military is bankrupt.



    https://warisboring.com/f-35-chief-critical-logistics-software-not-really-that-critical-29842814eeba#.yb1et9nk5
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    max steel

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    Re: F-35 Development and News Thread:

    Post  max steel on Sun Apr 24, 2016 1:41 am

    Should avoid War is Boring. Biased FS
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    Militarov

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    Re: F-35 Development and News Thread:

    Post  Militarov on Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:06 am

    JohninMK wrote:Just reading the latest W-i-B go at the F-35 when I noticed the small set of steps in this photo. Just look at the design and engineering that went into that 'simple' product. With costs like that no wonder the US military is bankrupt.



    https://warisboring.com/f-35-chief-critical-logistics-software-not-really-that-critical-29842814eeba#.yb1et9nk5

    My friend in military that serves in Serbian Air Force still told me first hand that back in like 2010. or so, when Serbia said they would accept some preliminary offers for future fighter got documented offer regarding EF2000, where they listed prices including pilot ladders with price tag of 15.000 euros.


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    KoTeMoRe

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    Re: F-35 Development and News Thread:

    Post  KoTeMoRe on Sun Apr 24, 2016 4:57 pm

    20/100 bln additional cost.

    LockMart Strategy on USAF...µ

    http://www.memecenter.com/fun/1434419/let-me-love-you


    JohninMK

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    Re: F-35 Development and News Thread:

    Post  JohninMK on Sun Apr 24, 2016 6:26 pm

    max steel wrote:Should avoid War is Boring. Biased FS
    I hear what you say but as long as you treat it with care it can be quite interesting. Especially on more historical subjects.
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    Grazneyar

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    Re: F-35 Development and News Thread:

    Post  Grazneyar on Sun Apr 24, 2016 7:29 pm

    My friend in military that serves in Serbian Air Force still told me first hand that back in like 2010. or so, when Serbia said they would accept some preliminary offers for future fighter got documented offer regarding EF2000, where they listed prices including pilot ladders with price tag of 15.000 euros.
    As shocking and grotesque as that number is, it comes as no surprise to me.

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    Re: F-35 Development and News Thread:

    Post  JohninMK on Thu Apr 28, 2016 1:03 am

    Another Senate F-35 examination, this time software and CAS, oh and the size of the procurement team

    F-35 chief considers fix for troubling Block 3i software faults 27 April, 2016 By: James Drew Washington DC

    After 15 years of development and billions of dollars of investment, software glitches continue to hamper Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II operations and in one case, just one of six US Air Force F-35As on a mock deployment to Mountain Home AFB in Idaho were able to takeoff during an alert launch exercise.

    “The Air Force attempted two alert launch procedures during the Mountain Home deployment, where multiple F-35A aircraft were preflighted and prepared for a rapid launch, but only one of the six aircraft was able to complete the alert launch sequence and successfully takeoff,” the Pentagon’s top weapons tester disclosed in written testimony to Congress on 26 April. “Problems during startup that required system or aircraft shutdowns and restarts – a symptom of immature systems and software – prevented the other alert launches from being completed.”


    All the gory details at https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/f-35-chief-considers-fix-for-troubling-block-3i-soft-424650/



    Followed by

    Congress to block A-10 retirement pending F-35 combat evaluation 27 April, 2016 By: James Drew Washington DC

    The chairman of the US Senate House Armed Services Committee says lawmakers aren't likely to authorise the retirement of any more legacy warplanes until there is “no doubt” that the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II can adequately fulfil its intended roles.

    The statement by Senator John McCain at a Joint Strike Fighter congressional hearing on 26 April comes as members of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) consider legislation to outlaw retirement of the Fairchild Republic A-10C, at least until the F-35 completes its initial operational evaluation and comparison testing with the “Warthog”. The Air Force wants to start drawing down A-10C squadrons beginning in fiscal 2018 and the final airframe would move to desert storage in 2021.

    The F-35 isn’t expected to begin its operational assesment until late 2017 or perhaps even some time in 2018, but language included in HASC chairman Mac Thornberry’s mark of the fiscal year 2017 defence policy bill would retain 171 A-10Cs until JSF operational testing is complete.


    Again much more at

    https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/congress-to-block-a-10-retirement-pending-f-35-comba-424673/



    Now get your head round this


    F-35 office has 2,590 staff and $70 million annual budget 27 April, 2016 By: James Drew Washington DC

    It takes 2,590 military personnel, government civilians and full-time equivalent contractors and $70 million per year to run the world’s largest and most expensive military aircraft programme, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

    That’s according to the US Defense Department's F-35 chief Lt Gen Christopher Bogdan, who disclosed the staff count and annual budget of the F-35 Joint Programme Office (JPO) at a congressional hearing about the $379 billion fighter procurement this week.

    The numbers include the two F-35 test forces located Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland and Edwards AFB in California.

    Headquartered near the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, the JPO is managing the acquisition of 2,443 aircraft for the US military services as well as hundreds more for the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Australia, Norway, Denmark, Canada, Israel, Japan and South Korea.


    More at https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/f-35-office-has-2590-staff-and-70-million-annual-b-424696/
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    Militarov

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    Re: F-35 Development and News Thread:

    Post  Militarov on Thu May 05, 2016 1:20 am

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    ahmedfire

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    Re: F-35 Development and News Thread:

    Post  ahmedfire on Fri May 06, 2016 3:26 am

    some ignorant defencetalk forum guys always posting this picture What a Face

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    magnumcromagnon

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    Re: F-35 Development and News Thread:

    Post  magnumcromagnon on Fri May 06, 2016 5:21 am

    ahmedfire wrote:some ignorant defencetalk forum guys always posting this picture What a Face


    Laughable infographic, if I wasn't already sleepy I would reply to this succinctly. Maybe GarryB could adequately respond to this?
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    GarryB

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    Re: F-35 Development and News Thread:

    Post  GarryB on Sat May 07, 2016 12:09 pm

    Hahahahaaha... I guess all I need to do is make up another poster with Kh-101 with a range of 5,500km to destroy any airbase the F-35 might be operating from and a picture of a MiG-31BM with a radar range of 400km and an air to air missile that outranges anything the F-35 can carry that is air to air. (R-37M has a range in the domestic model of at least 300km... no doubt when they have perfected scramjet technology with the Zircon system they will no doubt apply the technology to their AAMs too.)

    Of course that would be as dumb as this chart because the range of the so called standoff weapons the F-35 don't matter if they get shot down by the S-400 battery before they can hit anything.

    The pathetic weapons capacity of the F-35 will make it even more one sided... something the USAF has already worked out on its own with BS about a C-130 sizes support drone that flys around with the F-35 carrying extra weapons... of course a C-130 full of weapons will be even easier to take down.

    Of course the amusing thing is that it claims effective range for the S-400 should be shorter because a fighter sized aircraft can manouver... hilarious...

    Even a super manouverable super fighter that is not carrying lots of air to ground weapons can't manouver that much in one second... and impact minus one second an S-400 missile travelling at about 1.5km/s plus will be 1.5km away... one second later it will explode... what sort of turn will take an F-35 outside the warheads radius of effect considering the warhead is 150kgs and is directed at the target on detonation...

    More importantly the S-400 will be part of an air defence network with all sorts of sensors and support systems... over the horizon radar will likely detect F-35s from 6,000km.


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    Militarov

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    Re: F-35 Development and News Thread:

    Post  Militarov on Sat May 07, 2016 1:10 pm

    "Not expected effective ranges for the S400 are probably less than said ranges, since fighters can maneuver"....

    As someone who served in Air defence i will just laugh at this. So silly statement which is less than partially true, and without actual proper explanation means nothing.

    To understand how silly this sounds you need to put both systems in "tactical situation".

    Also how comes he did not mention how half of these warloads from F35 greatly depend in terms of range and effect on altitude and speed from which they are being launched.

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    max steel

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    Re: F-35 Development and News Thread:

    Post  max steel on Thu May 19, 2016 10:18 pm

    Upgrades Keep Navy Air-to-Air Weapons on the Cutting Edge

    One of the missiles is 8 years old, the other is pushing 30. But steady technology upgrades have kept these two Navy air-to-air weapons on the cutting edge.

    The younger one is the AIM-9X Block II. The older is the AIM-120D AMRAAM — advanced medium-range air-to-air missile.

    The 9X Block II was introduced in 2008, but did not go into full rate production until 2015. It’s the latest member of the Sidewinder missile family that dates back to the mid-1970s.

    The 9X Block II can do things its predecessors could hardly have imagined. For example, it is equipped with a 360-degree engagement capability and a data link, said Capt. Jim Stoneman, chief of the Navy’s Air-to-Air Missiles Program Office. That enables a pilot to fire the missile first and then aim it at a target.

    “The pilot can shoot and then pass more information to the missile” via the data link to vector the missile to a target, Stoneman said during a briefing May 16 at the 2016 Sea-Air-Space Exposition. The missile’s 360-degree capability enables it to engage targets — even those behind the aircraft, he said.

    On some planes, such as the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, pilots will be able to aim the missiles using sights built into their helmets.

    Although the Sidewinder was developed as a short-range missile meant for close-in kills, the Block II’s range has been “about doubled,” Stoneman said, making it into a “beyond-visual-range” weapon.

    A Block III version of the 9X is on the drawing board, but for now remains unfunded, Stoneman said.

    The AIM-120D is the latest version of the AMRAAM, which the Navy and Air Force have used since 1987. The D model also features a data link that enables a pilot to fire the missile and then send it targeting information, Stoneman said.

    It has an improved Global Positioning System guidance system and enhanced anti-jamming capabilities to shield in the midst of enemy electronic warfare. After several years of testing, the 120D is now making its way to the fleet, Stoneman said.

    Software upgrades are under way, and those should further increase the capability of the “Delta” model, he said. For now, there are no plans for a follow-on missile, he said.
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    Re: F-35 Development and News Thread:

    Post  GarryB on Fri May 20, 2016 11:50 am

    The 9X Block II can do things its predecessors could hardly have imagined. For example, it is equipped with a 360-degree engagement capability and a data link, said Capt. Jim Stoneman, chief of the Navy’s Air-to-Air Missiles Program Office. That enables a pilot to fire the missile first and then aim it at a target.

    Yeah... the only problem with that of course is that like all rocket powered missiles there is no throttle so the first critical seconds of flight when the missile is accelerating off the rail if it is turning 180 degrees its range and speed will be pathetic compared to if you pulled back on the flight stick and pointed your aircraft at the target before launch and it flew straight off the rail directly at the target.

    Range head on at high altitude against a fast target would be 25-30km... an over the shoulder shot and it is more like 5km... and an aircraft behind you firing up your ass their missile will get to you faster because it does not have to turn 180 degrees...

    This sounds like a sales pitch where fat slob can beat bruce lee because he has guided bullets... I would still put money on bruce...


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    Re: F-35 Development and News Thread:

    Post  max steel on Tue May 24, 2016 5:50 pm

    F-35 Visits the Netherlands



    https://twitter.com/BertdeSmit/status/734435113057013761/photo/1

    The Royal Netherlands Air Force's 2 new F-35 fighter jets will fly from the United States to the Netherlands for the first time on 23 May 2016. Among other things, the 2 F-35s will be carrying out a number of noise-level test flights above the Leeuwarden and Volkel air bases. The aircrafts will stay in the Netherlands for approximately 3 weeks.




    Air Force Open Days

    The Royal Netherlands Air Force Open Days coincide with the 3-week visit of the F-35s. The aircrafts will be on show to the public during this event, which takes place at Leeuwarden Air Base on 10 and 11 June. This makes the Royal Netherlands Air Force the first in Europe to display the aircrafts.

    Residents living in the surrounding area of the Leeuwarden and Volkel air bases wish to compare the noise level of the F-35 with that of the F-16 currently in use. During the noise-level test flights, both aircraft will fly the arrival and departure flight-paths in quick succession. This will allow local residents to familiarise themselves with the aircraft and experience the noise the jet produces in their own living environment. In order to support the noise-level discussion, the National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR) has set up five noise assessment points around each air base. These will measure peak values at places such as residential centres and bicycle paths.
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    Militarov

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    Re: F-35 Development and News Thread:

    Post  Militarov on Tue May 24, 2016 6:58 pm







    First Dutch F-35 lands at Leeuwarden F-001
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    Militarov

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    Re: F-35 Development and News Thread:

    Post  Militarov on Tue May 24, 2016 7:04 pm

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    AlfaT8

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    Re: F-35 Development and News Thread:

    Post  AlfaT8 on Wed May 25, 2016 9:26 pm

    Pentagon Delays F-35 Tests as Software Glitch Shuts Down Jets Mid-Flight

    .....
    Bogdan confirmed that the jets have also faced a series of ongoing software glitches that cause systems to shut down in midair, requiring a complete reboot, but said that the delays were traced to software upgrades and compatibility patches, rather than to defects in the F-35’s computer system.

    http://sputniknews.com/military/20160525/1040252715/pentagon-fighter-jet-f35-obama.html

    Cylons??
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    max steel

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    Re: F-35 Development and News Thread:

    Post  max steel on Wed May 25, 2016 9:29 pm

    Marine Pilots Say Software Rarely a Problem for F-35B

    As the US Air Force prepares to declare its F-35A jets operational in just a few short months, the service is still working through software glitches that cause the jets systems to fail and need to be rebooted — sometimes mid-flight.

    But the Marines, who have been flying their F-35Bs operationally since last summer, say they rarely see such shutdown events.

    The test pilots at Edwards Air Force Base, California, see the systems on their F-35A jets fail even before takeoff about once every three flights. But the Marine Corps jets at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, almost always start up clean, Capt. Jordan Hedges, F-35B pilot and powerline office in charge, told Defense News in a recent interview.

    During a development test flight of an Air Force F-35A at Edwards early this month, the jet’s team was on the ground troubleshooting for nearly two hours before the aircraft finally launched. But for the Marines at Yuma, it usually only take 15 or 20 minutes to ready the plane for takeoff, Hedges said.

    “If we fly a flight, come back, get gas, basically our wheels touch the ground and go back out, sometimes we have issues with the mission systems coming back online after that power cycle,” Hedges said. “But they usually do come back, it just takes them a little while.”

    Occasionally, Hedges sees one of his jets’ systems fail during flight, a recurring problem on all three F-35 variants caused by the software glitch. If Hedges sees one of his systems is degraded, he must re-cycle the power on that particular system — just like an iPhone, the operator turns the power off and then turns it back on.

    But these incidents happen very infrequently, Hedges said. And even when it does happen, he just has to push one button to fix the problem.

    “If you need the radar for the mission and your radar just happens to have a bad day, that would obviously degrade the ability of that mission,” Hedges said. “It just depends, again the frequency of having those is fairly infrequent in my experience.”

    Hedges, who used to fly AV-8 Harriers, said overall he is happy with his experience flying the F-35B.

    “It definitely handles better than a Harrier, I know that’s not saying a ton, but I think it handles really well,” Hedges said. “I have not found it lacking in any way, but obviously we have yet for our envelope to get opened up for us to really see what it can do.”
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    George1

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    Re: F-35 Development and News Thread:

    Post  George1 on Fri Jun 17, 2016 8:58 am

    Lockheed Threatens Economic Harm to Canada for Refusing to Buy F-35

    Read more: http://sputniknews.com/military/20160616/1041478841/lockheed-extorts-canada-purchase-f35.html#ixzz4BokJGxxv


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    Re: F-35 Development and News Thread:

    Post  max steel on Wed Jun 22, 2016 10:01 pm

    Pentagon’s Renewed Vow to Build 2,443 F-35s Depends on Budgets

    The Pentagon still plans a fleet of 2,443 F-35 jets, but the costliest U.S. weapons program may face cuts under the next president if defense dollars continue to be reduced, according to the Defense Department’s No.2 official.

    The Pentagon’s focus “for the foreseeable future is to acquire F-35s at the highest rate affordable” even though the goal for a fleet of 2,443 of the fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp. “was established prior to the last two decades’ force reductions” and before budget caps reduced planned levels of spending through 2021, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work wrote in a letter to congressional defense leaders May 25.

    The Pentagon wants to increase the purchase rate of F-35s for the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps to 92 annually by 2020 from 38 last year. The number jumps to 120 a year when foreign sales are included. For this year, Congress added 11 aircraft to the 57 requested. The Pentagon said in March that the program’s projected cost for development and acquisition dropped by $12.1 billion to $379 billion.

    Per-Plane Cost

    That will help bring down the per-plane cost, Work wrote in an interim report under a requirement in this year’s defense budget for the Pentagon to reevaluate whether the long-standing requirement of 2,443 jets -- including 1,763 for the Air Force -- remained valid.

    With U.S. defense policy putting increasing emphasis on countering a resurgent Russia in Europe and a more assertive Chinese military, Work said it’s “conceivable that we may need more F-35s than the current program” calls for.

    Work’s letter comes as the often-criticized F-35 is enjoying some successes. Three of the four congressional defense committee added aircraft to the fiscal year request of 63. Air Force officials say there are no known technical obstacles to declaring as soon as August that as many as 24 jets have initial combat capability. The Marine Corp version is set to fly next month to the Farnsborough Air Show in the U.K.

    Still, Pentagon officials acknowledged last month that the operational combat testing intended to evaluate whether the aircraft is combat-effective and can be maintained in the field won’t begin until 2018 -- about a year later than planned.

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