2018 F-35 News and Discussion

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India interested in F-35A and asks for a briefing.

In what would be a huge capability jump, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is increasingly interested in procuring the American F-35 Lightning II for its depleting fighter fleet. Business Standard learns the IAF top brass is formally requesting for a classified briefing by the F-35’s prime builder, Lockheed Martin, on the capabilities of the sophisticated, fifth-generation fighter developed under the US Joint Strike Fighter programme.

http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/capability-jump-iaf-looks-to-buy-fifth-generation-f-35-fighter-118021401246_1.html

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ANALYSIS: How F-16I loss will reshape Israel's offensive strategy

A sequence of events that began with the shooting down of an Iranian copy of the Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel stealth unmanned air vehicle led to an Israeli air force Lockheed F-16I being shot down, and a massive aerial attack being launched against at least a dozen targets inside Syria.

Brig Gen Tomer Bar, second in command of the Israeli air force, says the Israeli strike inside Syria was "the biggest and most significant attack the air force has conducted against Syrian air defences" since the 1982 Lebanon War.

...

One consequence of the military action could be to strengthen the air force's calls to acquire more advanced Boeing F-15s and additional Lockheed F-35Is.

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/analysis-how-f-16i-loss-will-reshape-israels-offen-445921/

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News from Belgium

Belgium: Government not obliged to choose between F-35 and Eurofighter to succeed F-16

The Belgian government will, on Wednesday, know “best and final offers” from the suppliers for the American F-35 and the European Eurofighter.
The government must choose the successor to the antiquated Belgian F-16s. The selection panel will not be obliged to simply choose between the two offers. The point was stressed by the MR deputy, Richard Miller, on Bel RTL today.

Mr Miller said, “If either of the two do not meet the criteria for the best value for money, we could still consider other offers such as the Rafale (by the French aircraft manufacturer Dassault), or other aircraft manufacturers such as the Swedish Saab (the Gripen range of fighter aircraft).” He added, “We are not simply obliged to choose between the F-35 and European Eurofighter.”

Today is the deadline for submission of “best and final offers” by the suppliers for the American F-35 and European Eurofighter. France has confirmed that it did not respond to the tender procedure launched last March by the Belgian Minister for Defence for 34 new combat planes, a state-to-state transaction for an initial sum of €3.6 billion. The French government considers that it has more to offer than was explicitly expressed in the tender documents, which it feels were too restricted, and advances the idea of a “deep and structured partnership”, as part of stimulating the European Defence programme.

The candidates are all offering significant economic benefits for Belgium, in the event of the government choosing their given model.

Christopher Vincent
The Brussels Times


http://www.brusselstimes.com/belgium/10329/government-not-obliged-to-choose-between-f-35-and-eurofighter-to-succeed-f-16

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Dassault, Safran and the team of contractor behind the Rafale signed numerous agreement on the last day in various domain to put the Industrial partnership value at around 1b$ per year during the next 20 years (fleet sustainement, parts production, R&D and new technologies).

"They cover a wide range of fields, from the maintenance of the Rafale fighter aircraft, to the training of aeronautical engineers, to participation in drone projects, the automation of production lines, the additive manufacturing, predictive maintenance, simulation, research into advanced materials and Smart City projects ", said Dassault in a statement.

Regarding the more formal RFP, early results are expected before mid-July The Belgian gov then will take the final decision.

SudInfo.be offers a brief summary of all the different Industrial offer (here - in Fr)
The various agreements around the F-35 offer depict a serious level in industrial technologies related to aerospace part manufacturing; a domain where the Belgian industry offer a competitive edge.

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Air Force Completes Round of Cold-weather Tests on 3 Versions of F-35s at Eielson

F-35 finish's up another round of testing up north.

The Air Force has completed another round of cold-weather testing on the F-35A that’s been undergoing a series of tests at Eielson Air Force Base soon after it arrived in October. The testing on three versions of the F-35 was part of preparations for basing two squadrons of the warplane at Eielson beginning in 2020.

...

“Our objective essentially was to take the F-35 up to cold environment – which, that definitely qualified as being a cold environment, probably colder than I’ve ever seen. And we were able to collect as much data as possible,” says Col. Michael Starr, who commands the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center’s 1st Detachment out of Edwards Air Force Base.

Starr said in an interview Tuesday the testing that began in mid-January and wrapped last week mainly involved checking out how the aircraft handled the cold during routine functions.

“The main goal, main objective of the test was to see how the aircraft performed – not just start, taxiing and takeoff,” he said, “but also, once we got to the range, how it’s going to perform in certain mission sets.”

Those mission sets included carrying out simulated combat scenarios. Starr says testing personnel also gained important knowledge by just pulling maintenance on the advanced fighter.

“It (testing) also included a heavy workload by maintenance,” he said. “A lot of folks were out there in the cold weather evaluating what it was like to do things on the aircraft required for normal operation.”

More at the jump

http://fm.kuac.org/post/air-force-completes-another-round-cold-weather-tests-3-versions-f-35s-eielson

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The USAF in the PB19 anticipates IOT&E to wrap up by the end of Q1 FY20 which would be the end of 2019. This as usual (just like how the OSD funded the JPO's SDD through May, 2018 as part of FY18 request) has some margin built in.

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15 Extended Range - AARGM rounds to be procured in FY19 for EMD, Dev. and Operational Test and Evaluation. OE to begin in Q4 2020, while IOT&E in 2022. Low Rate Production set to begin in 2022. JSM, Meteor, Spear3, SOM-J, SDBII, AARGM-ER and SiAW all new weapons waiting in line for F-35 integration in the early-mid 2020s. Majority of these would be developed to be compatible with UAI.

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India interested in F-35A and asks for a briefing.

This has been reported in various places however AFAIK they all point back to the orginial report from Aja Shukla. In an Indian forum people are questioning the vericaty of that report, and suggest it should be independently verified. Aja has a "mixed reputation".

No doubt the IAF would love having the F-35 in the inventory, the question is if the political landscape has changed sufficiently to allow this to become a real opportunity.

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This has been reported in various places however AFAIK they all point back to the orginial report from Aja Shukla.

Shukla is one of the more pro-western ties defense journalists, and therefore gets grief from those who want Russo-India defense ties to continue.

Shiv Aroor hasn't reported anything on this. Regardless of whether or not it's true that they requested a briefing, that a long way from a contract.
Just don't see much chance of this happening: India would have to drop the FGFA, L-M would have to meet India's offset requirements and "Make in India" initiative, US Congress would have to agree (and there could be considerable opposition), this would be a tough sell in India's Parliament too.

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If they ever do seriously consider the F-35.. it should really be the B. it's the only viable mig-29 replacement to take off from their baby carriers.

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Ajai Shukla was denied a backseat flight on Rafale during MMRCA. He is n°1 Rafale baser eversince.

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While one can accuse a journalist from bashing a certain system because he/she was not given access to it, it is an entirely different matter to use that as an excuse for accusing the journalist of risking his/her credibility by attributing interest in a completely different weapon system by fabricating sources especially when there is a similar report out from a different media outlet which does not appear to be connected to this guy. Was that journalist also denied a backseat ride on the Rafale?

@FBW, Regarding the overall prospects of this materializing, I'm not so sure either. All I can say is that the F-35 stands a good chance of still being in production by the time the Indian Air Force places an order (if these reports are to be believed and if these things advance). Current production is expected to go through the mid to late 2030s so plenty of time even for the slowest acquisition bureaucracies out there.

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This has been reported in various places however AFAIK they all point back to the orginial report from Aja Shukla.

Uhh.. no. This was first reported by Saurabh Joshi last month.

IAF mulls F-35 order

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is considering the possibility of an order for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, according to sources in the Ministry of Defence. With deliberations at an early stage, it is understood the IAF will be writing to ask for more information on the fifth generation fighter.

Then Vivek Lall, VP, Lockheed Martin (point person for LM's India campaign) inadvertently let a little something slip while doing a boilerplate interview about their F-16 pitch -

The F-16 Block 70 has been termed as old technology that LM is pushing hard for the IAF — what do you plan to do to take the discussions forward, especially as the IAF, to mitigate the shortfall of fighters, is acquiring the indigenous ‘Tejas’ Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)?

The F-16 Block 70 being offered specifically to India is uniquely the best state-of-the-art fighter. No other advanced fourth-generation platform even comes close to matching the record of real-world combat experience and proven operational effectiveness. The India-specific state-of-the-art fighter on offer and its programme’s size, scope and success enables Indian industry to take advantage of unprecedented manufacturing, upgrade and sustainment opportunities well into the future. As you are aware, the IAF is keen on the F-35 and is also not keen on single-engine aircraft… Many of the systems used on the India-specific platform are derived from key lessons learned and technologies from Lockheed Martin’s F-22 and the F-35, the world’s only operational fifth-generation fighters. It is important to note that all three variants of the F-35 are single-engine aircraft.

And then Ajai Shukla's article was published yesterday -

Capability jump: IAF looks to buy fifth-generation F-35 fighter

In what would be a huge capability jump, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is increasingly interested in procuring the American F-35 Lightning II for its depleting fighter fleet.

Business Standard learns the IAF top brass is formally requesting for a classified briefing by the F-35’s prime builder, Lockheed Martin, on the capabilities of the sophisticated, fifth-generation fighter developed under the US Joint Strike Fighter programme.


For Lockheed Martin, an Indian request for the F-35 would create a dilemma. The US company would rather have the IAF buy the F-16 Block 70, which it has offered to build in India in partnership with Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL).

For Lockheed Martin, that would keep alive the F-16 assembly line, which has long functioned from Fort Worth, Texas, and has now moved temporarily to Greenville, South Carolina, where it is building a $2.8 billion order from Bahrain for 19 F-16V fighters.

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and is also not keen on single-engine aircraft

Given their experience with Russian single-engine fighters, do you blame them :)

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Given their experience with Russian single-engine fighters, do you blame them

To be fair, their Flankers aren't always single-engine fighters.

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Please, lets stick to F-35 related discussions here.

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U.S. Navy To Test F-35 With Aegis At Sea

The USN is preparing another F-35 guided SAM launch.

SINGAPORE—The U.S. Navy hopes to further validate the Lockheed Martin F-35’s performance as an airborne sensor for air and missile defense in an upcoming Aegis sea trial.

Sometime between June and August, the Navy will attempt to use tracking data from an F-35 to shoot down an air-breathing target drone with a Raytheon Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) interceptor fired from an Aegis ship in the Pacific Ocean.

Steve Over, Lockheed’s director of F-35 international business development, says the at-sea demonstration will be a follow-on to a September 2016 test involving a Marine Corps F-35B and the USS Desert Ship at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. In that trial, targeting data from the F-35B was used to successfully intercept an MQM-107 Streaker target drone with an SM-6.

At the time, the government wanted to preserve the MQM-107 for reuse, but the test proved to be so successful that the radar-guided SM-6 destroyed it on impact. The SM-6’s fuse had been replaced with a telemetry kit to measure its final proximity to the target rather than explode, but it struck the MQM-107 target anyway.

“The Navy got very excited when we did this successful test that they’re planning the next test now,” Over said during an interview at the Singapore Airshow here Feb. 4. “They plan to do a live-fire exercise out in the Pacific this summer [Northern Hemisphere].”

The key to these tests is enabling the Aegis Combat System to receive information from the Joint Strike Fighter’s Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL). This data link has a low probability of detection by passing information through a narrow, directional beam that is extremely difficult to intercept.

Over says last November the Navy outfitted one of its San Diego-based Aegis destroyers with a MADL receiver in preparation for the upcoming test. With this modification, the ship can receive targeting information directly from the F-35.

The purpose of this at-sea demonstration is to show how the F-35’s advanced Northrop Grumman-built infrared distributed aperture system (DAS); active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar; and fusion algorithms can support air and missile defense as part of a networked “kill web” architecture.

The F-35’s six-camera electro-optical/infrared Northrop AAQ-37 DAS enables the pilot to look through the skin of the aircraft and see incoming air and missile threats at great distances. DAS’s full capability became apparent in 2010 when an F-35 flying near Washington, D.C., detected a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch at Cape Canaveral almost 800 nm (1,482 km) away.

Two networked DAS systems can be linked together to generate a three-dimensional target track, or it can simply cue the F-35’s Northrop APG-81 AESA fire control radar, if within range, to get an even better track.

This targeting information can then be passed via MADL to any “shooter” capable of intercepting the target through kinetic or electromagnetic means. This could include the U.S.’s Aegis, Patriot or Thaad missile systems.

Flying at 30,000 ft., the F-35 can see farther than any land- or sea-based sensors. In the September 2016 test, the MQM-107 was replicating a subsonic cruise missile flying low behind a mountain range and it could not have been seen without the F-35B.

“Aegis didn’t even have its radar turned on,” Over notes. “It couldn’t have even seen the target drone because of the mountain range.”

Over says the F-35B provided an initial target location as well as midcourse guidance updates to the SM-6. He says SM-6 is an “enormous missile” that could not possibly be carried by a typical fighter aircraft, so linking F-35 and Aegis allows the F-35 to kill a wider variety of targets without even firing a single shot.

“This is a logical evolution of the capability of the airplane,” Over says. “It just requires software and the right communications link.”

John Montgomery, Northrop’s fifth-generation improvements and derivatives program manager, says the distributed aperture system ensures that no airborne missile can sneak up on the F-35. Northrop has been exploring ways to employ DAS for air and missile defense for several years. This capability was successfully demonstrated during a test designated FTX-20 on Oct. 16, 2014.

During that trial in Hawaii, a ground-based DAS and one carried aboard a Gulfstream testbed aircraft were able to establish a three-dimensional target track of a medium-range, surface-to-surface ballistic missile.

“This weapon system is going to evolve to do things legacy fighter airplanes could have never even thought about,” Over says.

http://aviationweek.com/awindefense/us-navy-test-f-35-aegis-sea

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Wondering what is revolutionary in it. Uk use to do that for years with pirate and type 45

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Wondering what is revolutionary in it. Uk use to do that for years with pirate and type 45

No one said it was "revolutionary", neither Spud, neither the text.

Cheers