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F-35 JSF Distributed Aperture System (EO DAS)by airboyd
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Lightning II
JSF is a joint, multinational acquisition program for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and eight cooperative international partners. Expected to be the largest military aircraft procurement ever, the stealth, supersonic F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (F-35) will replace a wide range of aging fighter and strike aircraft for the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and allied defense forces worldwide. The program’s hallmark is affordability achieved through a high degree of aircraft commonality among three variants: conventional takeoff/landing (CTOL), carrier variant (CV) and short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft. Innovative concepts and advanced technologies will significantly reduce weapon system life-cycle costs while meeting the strike weapon system requirements of military customers. Procurement is planned to continue through 2026 and possibly beyond. JSF aircraft may well stay in service until 2060 or longer.
The program began in November 1996 with a 5-year competition between Lockheed Martin and Boeing to determine the most capable and affordable preliminary aircraft design. On 26 October 2001 the Pentagon announced that Lockheed-Martin had won the largest military contract ever, a possible $200 billion competition to build the Joint Strike Fighter. Air Force Secretary Jim Roche said on the basis of strengths, weaknesses and degrees of risk of the program that the Lockheed-Martin team was the winner on a “best- value” basis. He said Lockheed-Martin was a clear winner over the team led by Boeing. Total cost of the contract to enter the systems development and demonstration phase is $19 billion. Pratt and Whitney has a $4 billion contract to design and build propulsion systems for the craft. The British will contribute $2 billion to the program.
Lockheed-Martin teamed with Northrop Grumman and British Aerospace on the project. Pete Aldridge, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, said that both teams “met or exceeded the performance objectives established for the aircraft and have met the established criteria and technical maturity for entering the next phase of the program.”
The Lockheed Martin X-35 was chosen over the competing Boeing X-32 primarily because of Lockheed’s lift-fan STOVL design, which proved superior to the Boeing vectored-thrust approach. The lift fan, which is powered by the aircraft engine via a clutched driveshaft, was technically challenging but DoD concluded that Lockheed has the technology in hand. The lift fan has significant excess power which could be critical given the weight gain that all fighter aircraft experience.
Lockheed Martin Corp. is developing the F-35 at its fighter aircraft plant in Fort Worth, where the new stealth warplane is expected to provide about 9,000 jobs over the next three to four decades. Northrop Grumman Corp. is to build the F-35’s center fuselage in California and BAE Systems the aft body in England.
For much of the free world’s military forces, the F-35 represents the future- a new family of affordable, stealthy combat aircraft designed to meet the twenty-first-century requirements of the US Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, as well as the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. The program is truly international in its scope and participation: Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Denmark, Australia, and Norway recently joined the F-35’s system development and demonstration (SDD) phase. All SDD partners will be active in the F-35’s development process and stand to gain economically from the program.
The JSF aircraft design has three variants: conventional takeoff and landing variant for the Air Force, aircraft carrier-suitable variant for the Navy, and short takeoff and vertical landing variant for the Marine Corps, the United Kingdom, and the Air Force. These aircraft are intended to replace aging fighter and attack aircraft currently in the inventory.
Historically, the 1970s saw development and production of many outstanding aircraft which comprise much of today’s U.S. fighter inventory. The combination of service-life exhaustion and escalating threats will require all three services to slowly retire their current fighter aircraft. The British Royal Air Force Harriers and Royal Navy Sea Harriers – aircraft that first flew more than 30 years ago – are encountering similar problems. The F-35 JSF will affordably replace the aging fleets, while also supporting the existing and expanding roles and requirements of F-35 JSF customers.
The Air Force’s F-35A version of the craft is a conventional takeoff and landing airplane to replace the F- 16 Falcon and A-10 Thunderbolt II. It will partner with the F-22 Raptor. The Marine Corps, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force need and want a short takeoff and vertical landing aircraft, dubbed the F-35B. The Marines want new aircraft to replace their AV-8B Harriers and F/A-18 Hornets. The British want to replace Sea Harriers and GR.7 Tornado fighters. The Navy’s F-35C version of the plane is a carrier-based strike fighter to complement the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. It will replace earlier versions of the F/A-18 as well as the A-6 Intruder, which already has left the inventory.
Gates’ defense spending plan cuts 124 F-35 purchases
Defense Secretary Robert Gates outlined a five-year plan Thursday to reduce defense spending by $78 billion, including a dramatic cut in purchases of the F-35 joint strike fighter.
Gates’ plan would significantly slow production increases at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth factory and likely affect the company’s plans for hiring workers over that time.
Lockheed has been anticipating about 200 foreign orders during that period, but most of those nations are also dealing with budget problems and worried about rising F-35 costs.
At a Pentagon news briefing, Gates expressed serious concern about continued problems with the F-35B, the short-takeoff-vertical-landing model designed for the Marines.
The technically challenging aircraft “is experiencing significant testing problems.” That, Gates said, “may lead to a redesign of the aircraft’s structure and propulsion- changes that could add yet more weight and more cost to an aircraft that has little capacity to absorb more of either.”
The F-35B is “on the equivalent of a two-year probation,” Gates said. “If we cannot fix this variant during this time frame … then I believe it should be canceled.”
The F-35B was slated to be the first of the three versions ready for service but is now last.