F-35As at Nellis.

CAPITOL HILL: While Congress and the media focus on immediate issues with the F-35’s ejection seat, the program has begun working on a long-range modernization plan to upgrade the Joint Strike Fighter’s combat power. This modernization package, with the so-called Block 4 software upgrade at its core, is essential to the aircraft reaching its “full warfighting capability,” Maj. Gen.… Keep reading →

Gerald R. Ford (CVN78) Photo by Chris Oxley

UPDATE with Forbes statement WASHINGTON: At $4.7 billion over budget, Ford-class aircraft carriers have taken a beating in Congress. This morning, though, the House Seapower subcommittee chairman will roll out a report from the conservative Hudson Institute that’s a ringing defense of the carrier — but which also contains a stinging indictment of the aircraft that fly… Keep reading →

F-35 fires Joint Strike Missile

WASHINGTON: Do dogfights matter in the age of tactical stealth? If an F-16 can outmaneuver an F-35 in a dogfight, does it matter? Does it matter if the earliest generation F-35 can’t outmaneuver an advanced model of the F-16 in an early test? So many questions. We’ll try to answer them because the folks at… Keep reading →

Small Diamater Bomb 2

PARIS AIR SHOW: Most coverage of the Small Diameter Bomb II has focused on when the F-35 will be able to use it — not ’till 2022 — instead of on the bomb program itself, which is moving ahead much more briskly. Frank Kendall signed the crucial Milestone C Acquisition Decision Memorandum putting the program… Keep reading →

November 23, 2011 F-35 assembly area bi-monthly photo shoot for

PARIS AIR SHOW: Critics of the F-35 have long wondered why friends and allies have stuck with the program. It can’t be, they argue, because of the aircraft’s capabilities. It is, they say, years behind schedule, billions over budget and won’t be able to deliver all its weapons for years. Ah, grasshopper, but there are… Keep reading →

Kai Boyce makes a repair in the APU compartment on the aft right side of an F/A-18 hornet at Cecil Commerce Center.

CAPITOL HILL: Marines pride themselves on being ready for anything. But as of today, 19 percent of their air fleet is out of action “long-term” awaiting repairs and spares, the deputy commandant for aviation said today. “It’s 158 — actually, today, 159 aircraft — that the taxpayer paid $8.4 billion dollars for,” said Lt. Gen.… Keep reading →

Selected plus-ups in the HASC draft of the National Defense Authorization Act

WASHINGTON: If anyone at the White House had hoped the new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee would be more compliant than his predecessor, the defense bill out today should end their illusions. Sure, Rep. Mac Thornberry has consulted closely with the Pentagon and his ranking member on issues like acquisition reform. But Thornberry’s draft… Keep reading →

F-35A head on

PENTAGON: The F-35‘s highly sensitive sensors suffer a basic problem right now: They often aren’t sure what they are detecting. That results in a high rate of false alarms. The key to fixing this lies in building highly complex data files — what we can colloquially call the threat library — and integrating them with the Joint Strike… Keep reading →

The Navy's new EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft during sea trials.

CAPITOL HILL: Pentagon leaders are pushing hard to keep up the momentum of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Many in the Navy, though, still look longingly back at the Boeing-built F-18 Hornet, whose St. Louis production line faces closure in 2017. There are two independent trends that together could save the St. Louis line and the Navy’s favorite plane. The first… Keep reading →

EA-18G Growler

CAPITOL HILL: The Pentagon has launched a wide-ranging study of electronic warfare, looking across the services at major platforms such as the EA-18G Growler and the F-35’s three versions. “We are doing right now in the Department of Defense a study that looks at all electronic attack[:] what is the situation in electromagnetic warfare across… Keep reading →

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