Author Topic: F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)  (Read 1647871 times)

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Online MarkOttawa

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Re: F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)
« Reply #4400 on: June 10, 2019, 21:40:53 »
Swiss (!) look very likely to beat us to finish line, on their second go-round (how many are we at anyway?):

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Four F-35A Jets Undergoing Evaluation In Payerne To Replace Swiss Air Force F-5 And F/A-18 Aircraft As Part Of “Air 2030”
The 5th gen. jets, belonging to the 34th Fighter Squadron, arrived directly from the US

F-35As belonging to the 34th Fighter Squadron “Rude Rams”, based at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, are participating in the flight and ground evaluation for “Air 2030” in Payerne Air Base from June 6 to 13.

“Air 2030” is the Swiss Air Force’s program aimed to the selection of the future fighter that will replace both the F-5 and F/A-18 jets in service today. The program was announced last year after a referendum rejected the acquisition of the Saab Gripen E back in 2014.

Four F-35As, sent by the US Air Force to support Lockheed Martin, arrived in Payerne after a transatlantic flight from Hill AFB in the late evening of May 31, 2019. The jets involved are serials 13-5077, 13-5079, 13-5081, 13-5083. This event also represents the first time the fifth-generation aircraft lands in Switzerland.

According to SkyNews, the jets “will carry out a total of eight missions with one or two fighter aircraft for four days each. Before the actual test flights, the providers are offered the opportunity to get an idea of ​​the procedures in Swiss airspace with another flight. Each aircraft will also start a night flight.” The systems mainly tested are reported to be the AESA radar, EOTS and DAS.

Other candidates already evaluated are the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Dassault Rafale (which was also carrying the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod). The next and last candidate will be the Saab Gripen E, expected to begin its evaluation from June 25. After the end of the last evaluation the Swiss Air Force will choose a winner; still, Swiss citizens will have a referendum before the fighter jet will be selected.

Noteworthy, among the contenders, the F-35 is the only jet that is not available in two-seater version, hence the Swiss pilots won’t have a chance to actually fly the aircraft.

Interestingly, while on their way to Europe, the four F-35s made an unplanned landing at Burlington International Airport, home base of the Vermont Air National Guard, due to weather and refuelling issues. The participation of the fifth-generation jet in the Swiss evaluation generated also controversy on social medias after what has been defined as an “aggressive advertising campaign” on Twitter and on the F-35’s official website, where Lockheed Martin stated: ”The F-35 meets the requirement of the Swiss Air Force for a fighter aircraft to protect the Swiss airspace for the next 50+ years” and “At Lockheed Martin, we understand how important maintaining military neutrality is to the people of Switzerland. In a turbulent world where threats to national security are constantly evolving, the F-35 offers the best platform for the Swiss military to adapt to and meet those threats – both now and for decades to come.”

    Four #USAF #F35A‘s of the @388fw arrived at #Payerne last week to take part in the #Air2030 competion of the #SwissAirForce. This tuesday 3 of them flew their first mission.
    Other competitors for the new fighter for Switzerland are #Typhoon #FA18_SuperHornet #Rafale & #Gripen. pic.twitter.com/SCRmPxCBPw

    — RonaldO (@RonaldO_4444) June 6, 2019

Meanwhile, F-35A jets from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings are deployed to Aviano Air Base in Italy, as part of a Theater Security Package (TSP).  They will remain in Europe for several weeks and are expected take part in exercises like Astral Knight 2019, held last week at Aviano, FWIT (Fighter Weapons Instructor Training) 2019 at Leeuwarden, Netherlands, and the TLP (Tactical Leadership Programme) at Albacete, Spain.
https://theaviationist.com/2019/06/10/four-f-35a-jets-undergoing-evaluation-in-payerne-to-replace-swiss-air-force-f-5-and-f-a-18-aircraft-as-part-of-air-2030/

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Re: F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)
« Reply #4401 on: June 12, 2019, 11:50:38 »
Long piece, headline bit scrarifying given some of what is said--excerpts:

Quote
The Pentagon is battling the clock to fix serious, unreported F-35 problems

Over the past several years, U.S. Defense Department leaders have gone from citing technical problems as their biggest concern for the F-35 program to bemoaning the expense of buying and sustaining the aircraft.

But the reality may be worse. According to documents exclusively obtained by Defense News, the F-35 continues to be marred by flaws and glitches that, if left unfixed, could create risks to pilot safety and call into question the fighter jet’s ability to accomplish key parts of its mission.

...the majority of these problems have not been publicly disclosed, exposing a lack of transparency about the limitations of the Defense Department’s most expensive and high-profile weapons system.

These problems impact far more operators than the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy customer base. Eleven countries — Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway, Japan, South Korea, Turkey and the United Kingdom — have all selected the aircraft as their future fighter of choice, and nine partner nations have contributed funds to the development of the F-35.

Taken together, these documents provide evidence that the F-35 program is still grappling with serious technical problems, even as it finds itself in a key transitional moment.

And the clock is ticking. By the end of 2019, Defense Department leaders are set to make a critical decision on whether to shut the door on the F-35’s development stage and move forward with full-rate production. During this period, the yearly production rate will skyrocket from the 91 jets manufactured by Lockheed Martin in 2018 to upward of 160 by 2023.

Generally speaking, the department’s policy calls for all deficiencies to be closed before full-rate production starts. This is meant to cut down on expensive retrofits needed to bring existing planes to standard.

The F-35 Joint Program Office appears to be making fast progress, but not all problems will be solved before the full-rate production decision, said Vice Adm. Mat Winter, the Defense Department’s F-35 program executive [emphasis added].



“None of them, right now, are against any of the design, any of the hardware or any of the manufacturing of the aircraft, which is what the full-rate production decision is for,” he told Defense News in an interview. “There are no discrepancies that put at risk a decision of the department to approve us to go into full-rate production.”

Nine out of 13 problems will likely either be corrected or downgraded to category 2 status before the Pentagon determines whether to start full-rate production, and two will be adjudicated in future software builds, Winter said...



Another document obtained by Defense News noted that at least 13 issues would need to be held as category 1 deficiencies going into operational tests in fall 2018.

The 13 deficiencies include:

    The F-35’s logistics system currently has no way for foreign F-35 operators to keep their secret data from being sent to the United States.
    The spare parts inventory shown by the F-35’s logistics system does not always reflect reality, causing occasional mission cancellations.
    Cabin pressure spikes in the cockpit of the F-35 have been known to cause barotrauma, the word given to extreme ear and sinus pain.
    In very cold conditions — defined as at or near minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit — the F-35 will erroneously report that one of its batteries have failed, sometimes prompting missions to be aborted.
    Supersonic flight in excess of Mach 1.2 can cause structural damage and blistering to the stealth coating of the F-35B and F-35C.
    After doing certain maneuvers, F-35B and F-35C pilots are not always able to completely control the aircraft’s pitch, roll and yaw.
    If the F-35A and F-35B blows a tire upon landing, the impact could also take out both hydraulic lines and pose a loss-of-aircraft risk.
    A “green glow” sometimes appears on the helmet-mounted display, washing out the imagery in the helmet and making it difficult to land the F-35C on an aircraft carrier.
    On nights with little starlight, the night vision camera sometimes displays green striations that make it difficult for all variants to see the horizon or to land on ships.
    The sea search mode of the F-35’s radar only illuminates a small slice of the sea’s surface.
    When the F-35B vertically lands on very hot days, older engines may be unable to produce the required thrust to keep the jet airborne, resulting in a hard landing.

The Pentagon has identified four additional category 1 deficiencies since beginning operational tests in December 2018, mostly centered around weapons interfaces, Winter said.

“They are not catastrophic. If they were, they'd have to stop test. There's nothing like that,” he said. “They will be straightforward software fixes. We just need to get to them.”..

...

However, the naval aviator currently in service said the list of deficiencies did not alarm him and that, given that the F-35 is still new to the fleet, such issues are inevitable [emphasis added].

“That document looks like growing pains for an aircraft that we tried to do a whole lot to all at once,” the senior aviator said. “You’re going to see that if you dig back at what Super Hornets looked like for the first few years. Go back in the archives and look at [the F-14] Tomcat — think about that with the variable sweep-wing geometry, the AUG9 radar: There was a lot of new technology incorporated into the aircraft, and there is going to be growing pains.”..

The F-35’s list of ongoing technical problems are unlikely to pose an existential threat to the program given the recent progress in fixing issues, driving down the costs of the airframe and continued support on Capitol Hill for the fighter jet [emphasis added].

"I would put this down to, frankly, growing pains that you’d expect from a sophisticated, modern aircraft program. Nothing really stands out [as particularly troubling], primarily because they seem to be well on the way toward being addressed,” said Mark Gunzinger, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “What has been done to address these have reduced the concerns regarding safety of flight. Doesn’t mean that there isn’t still work to be done. And it doesn’t mean new things won’t be discovered.”..
https://www.defensenews.com/air/2019/06/12/the-pentagon-is-battling-the-clock-to-fix-serious-unreported-f-35-problems/

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Re: F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)
« Reply #4402 on: June 13, 2019, 12:46:29 »
Would the added range added by (non-stealthy) underwing tanks be useful for RCAF's NORAD role?

Quote
Lockheed Martin Proposes 40% Fuel Capacity Upgrade for F-35A

Lockheed Martin has started engineering studies focused on substantially extending the range of the F-35A by increasing the total onboard fuel capacity by 40% and improving the aircraft’s fuel efficiency, Aviation Week has learned.

The studies would resurrect a long-abandoned plan to install external fuel tanks under the wings of the conventional takeoff-and-landing variant. The range-extension study also could benefit from proposed propulsion improvements, such as Pratt & Whitney’s Growth Option upgrade offer for the F135 engine.

“We have had early discussions with various F-35 customers regarding extended-range opportunities,” a Lockheed spokesman says.

Driving the studies are demands from multiple customers, especially Israel, to extend the reach of the F-35A beyond its advertised combat radius of 590 nm and ferry range of 1,200 nm using only fuel carried internally. This news also comes as the U.S. Air Force seeks funding from Congress to order eight Boeing F-15EX fighters, part of a long-term plan to acquire at least 144. The original F-15E boasts a ferry range of 2,085 nm with conformal fuel tanks and wing-mounted tanks [emphasis added].

Most combat aircraft, including Lockheed Martin’s stealthy F-22, are certified to carry external fuel tanks when they enter service, but all three F-35 variants achieved initial operational capability status without such certification.

But that was not always the plan for the F-35. Lockheed performed a multiyear series of wind-tunnel studies in 2004-07 on various external fuel tank designs for the F-35, including one called the C-13 and another optimized to minimize yaw and drag effects. However, program officials dropped the requirement for an external fuel tank some time after 2007 without explanation [emphasis added].

Instead, program officials often highlighted the stealth and drag performance benefits of operating the F-35 without external fuel tanks. The F-35A is designed to carry 18,500 lb. of fuel internally, which is nearly equivalent to the 19,000-lb. maximum takeoff weight of the original Lockheed F-16A.

Not all customers wanted to rely on the range provided by internal fuel capacity alone, though. When the U.S. State Department approved the Israeli export configuration in 2011, the F-35I included external fuel tanks. But the impact on the cost and schedule for the aircraft forced Israeli officials to defer the requirement.

Nonetheless, work continued on the project within Israel’s aircraft industry. In April, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Elbit Systems’ Cyclone subsidiary confirmed that they had completed initial design studies on different fuel tank designs. IAI studied a conformal fuel tank design, while Cyclone examined a design for a 600-gal. external fuel tank. The latter would likely help preserve the F-35I’s stealthy profile on radar.

Lockheed confirms that it is now engaged in a study about the option for a 600-gal. fuel tank and a wing pylon that can be jettisoned. The tank is designed to be integrated on the inboard stations—3 and 9—on each wing, the company says. Although the pilot can restore the F-35A’s stealth signature to radar by jettisoning the tank and pylon, it is not clear how the radar cross-section is affected with the equipment attached to the wing.

Given that the 18,500-lb. internal fuel capacity of the F-35A is equivalent to 3,000 gal., adding two 600-gal. external tanks on an F-35A would raise overall fuel volume onboard to 4,200 gal., or 25,700 lb. That still falls short of the 35,500-lb. capacity for an F-15E configured for a ferry flight but should dramatically increase the single-engine fighter’s endurance.

“While exact ranges depend on mission profiles, our studies show a significant increase in both range and loiter time—or mission persistence,” a Lockheed spokesman says [emphasis added].

So far, the company has completed feasibility studies and conducted initial analysis, as well as early design of the range-extension upgrades. The industry-funded work was done in advance of an approved customer requirement, but Lockheed plans to present the range extension as a candidate upgrade through the Continuous Capability, Development and Delivery framework for the F-35’s follow-on modernization program, also known as Block 4.

 The remaining work required includes detailed design and qualification of the fuel tank and pylon, as well as software integration, flight testing and airworthiness certification, Lockheed says.
https://aviationweek.com/defense/lockheed-martin-proposes-40-fuel-capacity-upgrade-f-35a

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Online Chris Pook

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Re: F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)
« Reply #4403 on: June 13, 2019, 16:52:20 »
Looking for apples to apples comparison data.

F15E in ferry mode with extra tanks - essentially unarmed and unstealthy - has a range of 2,085 nm carrying 35,500 lb of fuel (17 lb/nm - 100%).  That allows it to travel, while out of contact with the enemy, to a field (FUP?) in range of the enemy (about 700 nm on internal fuel with max weapons loadout ?). 

F35A in ferry mode with no extra tanks - essentially unarmed but stealthy - has a range of 1,200 nm carrying 18,500 lb of fuel (15 lb/nm - 90%) .  That allows it to travel, while out of contact with the enemy, to a field (FUP?) in range of the enemy (about 590 nm on internal fuel with max weapons loadout ?).

F35A in ferry mode with 2 extra tanks - essentially unarmed but unstealthy - has a guesswork range of 1,700 nm carrying 25,700 lb of fuel (15 lb/nm - 90%) .  That allows it to travel, while out of contact with the enemy, to a field (FUP?) in range of the enemy (about 590 nm on internal fuel with max weapons loadout ?).

The guesswork assumes no increase in drag or loss of efficiency due to increased mass.

The bigger advantage could be on increasing the combat radius from the FUP? If stealth is not a concern for at least part of the sortie?

Thinking further - I can see this also being useful for Europeans that need a slightly longer ferry capability without having to rely on tankers.   For Canada, having to hop a pond no matter which way they go maybe not so much.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2019, 17:03:06 by Chris Pook »
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Offline Thucydides

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Re: F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)
« Reply #4404 on: June 13, 2019, 19:52:45 »
A better long term solution would be the adoption of the "Adaptive Engine Transition Program", which promises to improve fuel efficiency by 25% and increase thrust by 10%. Increases in engine efficiency can increase range or allow for increased loiter time over the target area, and being able to do so without having to increase fuel tankage would be quite the game changer.

For the RCAF, given that even ferry range is strategic distance for most other air forces, this is certainly something which should be looked at very closely.
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Re: F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)
« Reply #4405 on: June 14, 2019, 13:58:18 »
Several pieces from Defense News here:

Quote
The Hidden Troubles of the F-35
https://www.defensenews.com/smr/hidden-troubles-f35/

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