Lockheed-DoD Talks on Next JSF Batch To End Soon
defensenewsThe Pentagon and Lockheed Martin should wrap up negotiations for the upcoming batch of 32 early production F-35 Joint Strike Fighters in weeks, U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz told Defense News on Sept. 2.
The tranche of F-35s, known as low-rate-initial production Lot-4 (LRIP-4), is seen as a crucial bellwether to the survival of the program.
LRIP-4 is a fixed-price with incentive so thereby both sides need to define PRECICELY what each F-35 (and all the components, parts, and services) will cost in order for the DoD not to pay too much and for LM not to loose money.
Up until last fall, LRIP-4 was a cost-plus contract and now had to be competently rewritten to be a fixed-price contract. Future fixed-price contracts will be easier since most of the work will be done in LRIP-4.
EODAS tracks a rocket from 800 miles.
BALTIMORE, Sept. 7, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) AN/AAQ-37 Electro-Optical Distributed Aperture System (DAS) for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter successfully detected and tracked a two-stage rocket launch at a distance exceeding 800 miles during a routine flight test conducted aboard the company's BAC 1-11 test bed aircraft.
Photos accompanying this release are available at http://media.globenewswire.com/noc/m...tml?pkgid=7952
"The DAS could fill critical capability gaps in the area of ballistic missile defense (BMD)," said Dave Bouchard, program director for F-35 sensors at Northrop Grumman. "We have only scratched the surface on the number of functions the F-35's DAS is capable of providing. With DAS, we've combined instantaneous 360-degree spherical coverage, high frame refresh rates, high resolution, high sensitivity powerful processors and advanced algorithms into a single system. The number of possibilities is endless."
An operational DAS system is comprised of multiple DAS sensors whose images are fused together to create one seamless picture. DAS successfully detected and tracked the rocket during a nine minute, two-stage, flight period from horizon break until final burnout through multiple sensor fields of regard. Unlike other sensors, DAS picks up targets without assistance from an external cue. Because DAS is passive, an operator does not have to point the sensor in the direction of a target to gain a track.
"The DAS software architecture already includes missile detection and tracking algorithms that can be applied to the BMD mission," Bouchard added. "The results of the flight test were extraordinary. We found that the data gathered during this flight validated our performance predictions. In fact, we knew we could have seen the rocket at a longer distance."
The AN/AAQ-37 DAS is a high resolution omni-directional infrared sensor system that provides advanced spherical situational awareness capability, including missile and aircraft detection, track and warning capabilities for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. DAS also gives a pilot 360 degree spherical day/night vision, with the capability of seeing through the floor of the aircraft. Northrop Grumman is now exploring how the existing DAS technology could assist in several additional mission areas, including Ballistic Missile Defense and irregular warfare operations.
Northrop Grumman's Electronic Systems sector designed and produces the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter AN/AAQ-37 DAS. The DAS F-35 software that includes algorithms for all JSF functions was delivered to Lockheed Martin Corporation earlier this year. Northrop Grumman also designed and produced the AN/APG-81 AESA radar system, and designed and produces the F-35's Communications, Navigation and Identification (CNI) system.
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company whose120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide. Please visit www.northropgrumman.com for more information.
F-35 flight tests continue to push the envelope
- Maj. Matt Hayden and Mr. Alan Dykhoff are part of the team at Edwards who test and verify the Lockheed Martin-built F-35 aircraft performs as advertised.
http://www.f-16.net/news_article4195.htmlAugust 30, 2010 (by Diane Betzler) -
Both men are part of the 461st Flight Test Squadron, the F-35 Integrated Test Force. An integrated team of military, government, civilian, contractor and international partners, working together to test the newest 5th generation platform, the Joint Strike Fighter.
DOD official shows fresh optimism on F-35 cost
By Stephen Trimble
A senior Department of Defense (DOD) official says Lockheed Martin is now on track to reduce the cost of each F-35 by as much as 6.25% only four months after the programme confirmed a major cost breach.
The remarks by Frank Kendall, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, represent a massive turnaround by DOD leadership since reporting a Nunn-McCurdy cost overrun in June and restructuring the programme last February.
Instead, Kendall, addressing the Common Defense (ComDef) 2010 conference on 8 September, cited the F-35 as a key example of what Secretary of Gates Robert Gates means about making the defence industry produce more with less.
"If we can only afford 80 F-35s every year now," Kendall asked, "can we afford 85?"
It is not clear if Kendall was refering to a specific future order or if he was speaking generically, but the US Air Force currently plans to buy 80 F-35As per year at peak rates.
"I don't think that's an unrealistic example," Kendall added. "I think we are on the path to do exactly that."
Kendall's fresh dose of optimism on F-35 costs comes as DOD and Lockheed officials continue protracted negotiations over the fourth yearly contract for low rate production. Lockheed has agreed to convert contract terms from "cost-plus" to fixed-price-incentive fee structure two years earlier than scheduled, but the details have delayed contract signing by at least three months.
In late May, the DOD reported that internal cost projections have soared since 2002, with the average cost of each jet rising from $50 million to $92.4 million over that period. The cost overrun was blamed on several factors, including the US Navy's decision in 2002 to slash orders by 409 jets, inflation and unexpected labor and manufacturing cost increases.
At the time, a senior DOD official told reporters that "we're going to scrub every column of cost in this programme and try to restore it as a close as possible to what a decade ago the department said it was going to cost".
Lockheed officials have consistently maintained that DOD cost projections for the F-35 programme were inaccurate, with internal estimates as much as 20% lower.
Part of the DOD's restructuring plan last April called for Lockheed to adopt a buy-to-budget strategy. In particular, the DOD slashed five of the 48 jets in next year's budget, but Lockheed could still deliver all 48 for the same price as 43.
F-35 test program exceeds expectations
By: Tina Forde, Reporter, Tehachapi News
Posted by admin Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - 13:52
Viewed 927 times
The stout, smoky gray little aircraft — resembling slightly its X-15 ancestor — set down gently on a runway at Edwards Air Force Base shortly after noon Aug. 27, making its first media appearance since its arrival for testing last May.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — called Lightning — is exceeding developmental test expectations and causing a ripple of satisfaction throughout the JSF Integrated Test Force and 461st Flight Test Squadron at Edwards.
“We've accomplished three times what was expected,” said Maj. Gen. David J. Eichhorn, commander, Air Force Flight Test Center.
Calling the F-35 “a major awesome weapons system,” Eichhorn said that the original plan called for the two aircraft at Edwards to complete 15 to 20 flight test sorties by now.
“Col. [Hank] Griffiths just landed flight number 60. That's an unprecedented level of flight testing activity.”
He said the test team has the ability to move “as fast as the system under testing allows us to do.”
Eichhorn said the test team is looking for credible, objective data to provide to the government in Washington, D.C. , information that is “beyond the sales brochure.”
“You see here the future of the international air force,” said Lockheed Martin's Doug Pearson, vice president, F-35 JSF Integrated Test Force.
The 5th generation fighter is being developed as a cooperative project of nine countries by Lockheed Martin for the Air Force, Navy and Marines.
It is expected to be operational for 40 years.
The developmental testing — followed by operational testing — will go on for four or five years (and really never ends), bringing high-level professionals to the area, many choosing to live in the Tehachapi area.
“We are at 500 people and are going to 750,” said Fred Madenwald, F-35 Integrated Test Force Site and Flight Test Director for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics and a resident of Bear Valley Springs.
“I moved here four years ago to support this program,” he said.
Madenwald said that in the testing process, there are “discoveries that have surprised us.”
The F-35s are built in Fort Worth and come in three versions, all sharing a common frame and systems: conventional take-off and landing, the vertical take-off and landing and the carrier model.
The aircraft, made of highly composite, modern materials, and designed for stealth agility and affordability, is a whole new product.
“The 5th generation cannot be scabbed onto a legacy platform [older aircraft],” Eichhorn said.
The testing program has been expedited by the delivery of aircraft that were prepared and ready to go, he said.
The test pilots flying the single-seat F-35 sing its praises.
“It's a really well-performing airplane,” said Integrated Test Force pilot Griffiths. “I'm an F-16 guy. I flew 150 hours in sims (simulators) before flying the F-35. It flies just like the sim. That's the true test.
“There's a lot of power behind the jet, a big motor… it's a dream for a pilot to fly.”
The aircraft feels solid and safe, said Lockheed test pilot Bill Gigliotti.
“It doesn't have a dainty feel,” he said. “You want to feel protected. It accelerates and rolls like an F-16. It's the easiest airplane to land.”
He said the approach speed is relatively low.
Gigliotti said the system incorporates all the best features of the F-14, 15, 16 and 18 fourth generation fighters.
Lockheed CEO: F-35B 'Rephasing' Possible
Full story:http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?topicName=Check6&id=news/awst/2010/09/13/AW_09_13_2010_Sep 13, 2010
By Amy Butler
The likelihood that ongoing delays of short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing (Stovl) F-35 testing will force slippage in the 2012 in-service date for the U.S. Marine Corps is growing as Lockheed Martin continues to struggle with some parts reliability issues affecting the Harrier replacement.
By year-end, 251 Stovl flights are expected. At the end of August, 122 were executed of 153 that should have been conducted by that time, says Tom Burbage, Lockheed Martin executive vice president for F-35 program integration. “Where we are short is in some specific testing, mostly in Stovl vertical landing unique test points.”
The bottleneck prompted Lockheed Martin CEO Robert Stevens to acknowledge a potential “re-phasing” for the Stovl flight-test plan, during a teleconference this month with investors. Acknowledging the restructuring to the program announced this year, Stevens adds that “the early corrective actions . . . are showing some beneficial outcomes [but] my sense is that it is not going to be enough.” The multinational Joint Strike Fighter will eventually comprise the lion’s share of the company’s profits.
Contractor: F-35 LRIP 4 Deal Days Away From Closing
The company submitted its most recent offer for the 32-aircraft lot about three weeks ago, Burbage tells Aviation Week. Another offer was submitted in July before the Farnborough Air Show, and negotiations started in October. Burbage says he thinks the talks are days from concluding. “We keep thinking we are very close to having this thing closed.”
These are the most protracted low-rate initial production (LRIP) negotiations for F-35s to date because of a shift from the cost-plus, award-fee plan to a fixed-price, incentive-fee deal, he says.
Though both Lockheed and the Pentagon are eager to sign the LRIP 4 contract, the Air Force (which is leading the negotiations) will not be rushed into unfavorable terms even with the fiscal year closing at the end of this month. “It just needs to be done when the time is right,” says Lt. Gen. Mark Shackelford, military deputy to the Air Force’s acquisition office. “Negotiating the right thing is more important than meeting some timeline.”
Marines Could Fly CTOL JSF
The US Marine Corps could declare initial operational capability with the Air Force's F-35A variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, as delays and a major review cast more doubt on the feasibility of meeting a late-2012 IOC date with the F-35B short take-off, vertical landing variant.
The change is one of the options emerging from an in-depth review of the JSF program, covering the path from now until initial operating capability and full production, Lockheed Martin F-35 general manager Tom Burbage said Monday at the Air Force Association convention at National Harbor, Maryland. This is the review that underlies recent discussions about "rephasing" the F-35 program.