WASHINGTON: The entire F-35 fleet has been cleared to resume flying only one week after being grounded for the second time this year. In vintage Pentagonese, this is how the return to flight was announced today to Capitol Hill:
“Upon completion and compliance with the immediate action Time Compliant Technical Directive (TCTD) issued this week to borescope inspect the LPT stage 3 turbine blades, F-35 LRIP aircraft are returned to flight status. Additionally, a 25 Effective Flight Hour (EFH) reporting cycle of creep damage will now be implemented to monitor and limit turbine creep exposure.” Keep reading →
UPDATED: Adds NAVAIR Letter And JSF JPO, Lockheed Statements
AFA Winter, Orlando: What happens when all the top brass of the Air Force are attending a top conference on a Friday afternoon? Their biggest program, the Joint Strike Fighter, gets its entire fleet grounded because of a crack in a turbine blade. Details began trickling out just as most Air Force brass were headed to the airport after the Air Force Association’s annual conference here ended. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: Just when United Technologies’s Pratt & Whitney subsidiary seemed to have put the troubles with its F135 engine for the Joint Strike fighter behind it, there comes news that the company violated the so-called Tianamen sanctions and illegally sold engine control software to China for use in an attack helicopter.
Perhaps worse than the sales themselves, the company “made false and belated disclosures to the U.S. government about these illegal exports,” the Justice Department said in its press release announcing a plea agreement reached between UTC and the government. Keep reading →
PENTAGON: Lockheed Martin scrambled today to explain the latest increases in the Joint Strike Fighter’s costs, arguing that the three versions of the aircraft “will be comparable to or lower than that of the seven” older airplanes it will replace. Overall, the F-35 will cost an appreciably impressive $1.5 trillion over the 55 years it is expected to be flying, up from an estimated $1 trillion.
The latest numbers were released this afternoon as part of the Pentagon’s authoritative Selected Acquisition Report. The overall value of the program comes from a Lockheed Martin statement. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: One of the most entertaining, compelling and raucous battles ever to rock the Pentagon and Capitol Hill is officially over. General Electric and Rolls Royce today formally declared dead the F-136 engine program for the Joint Strike Fighter.
Those who supported the “alternate” or “second” engine will never shy sway from pledging their troth, as Rep. Buck McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, made clear today with this statement. “I am disappointed that the uncertainty regarding the future of our military budget, and the Joint Strike Fighter program in particular, have forced GE and Rolls Royce to discontinue self-funded development for a competitive engine for the F-35. This development is a blow to common-sense acquisition reform at the Department of Defense,” he said. Keep reading →
CORRECTED Indianapolis: One day after the Marines successfully landed a Joint Strike Fighter on a ship for the first time, Rolls-Royce executives showed off a new factory built to produce the complex lift fan system that is key to the F-35B STOVL variant.
The new plant, near the Indianapolis airport, is a large, antiseptically clean installation. But the $13 million facility also was nearly empty, with one completed lift fan on the inspection station and a handful of workers in a plant that was designed to produce seven of the powerful devices that allow the F-35B model to take off in a few hundred feet and land vertically, like a helicopter, each month. Keep reading →
Washington: The defense industry has clearly decided looming budget cuts pose such a grave threat to its future that it must abandon its usual quiet, behind-the-scenes efforts to influence the American public and go national, using social media as well as its usual combination of education and money.
Today, the Aerospace Industries Association unveiled its new effort, Second to None, designed to convince lawmakers and voters that cutting funding to the Pentagon would hurt an already weakened industrial base, throw tens of thousands of Americans out of work in an already weakened economy and raise serious questions about the country’s military strength. Keep reading →
Washington: The head of the Pentagon’s Joint Strike Fighter blasted new cost increases in the program today, calling them “an extreme and problematic burden to the US Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.”
Echoing recent comments by the head of Pentagon acquisition, Ash Carter, Vice Adm. David Venlet said in a prepared statement that, “Costs must come down significantly to make this aircraft one we can afford.” Keep reading →