Pentagon Classifies Study of F-35 Jet’s Challenges in Pacific

By Anthony Capaccio
April 25, 2018

The Pentagon classified an assessment of the major challenges the Marine Corps encountered in deploying the U.S.’s first F-35 jets to the Pacific, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

An unclassified version of the study released on Wednesday suggests the problems with the Lockheed Martin Corp. fighter — which would bolster U.S. capabilities in case of a conflict with North Korea — could be significant, touching on both critical software and supply chain issues.

“While the Marine Corps recognizes the advanced warfighting capabilities the F-35 will bring to the Pacific, it is facing challenges operating in the area,” according to the unclassified version. “In particular, it is uncertain how long the F-35 can effectively operate” if its software-intensive maintenance diagnostic system — critical for keeping the jets flying — “becomes disconnected from the aircraft,” according to the report.

[FULL ARTICLE]

With Older F-35s ‘On Life Support,’ Wing Struggles to Train Pilots

By Oriana Pawlyk
May 7, 2018

One of the busiest F-35 Joint Strike Fighter training units is hoping the U.S. Air Force can help relieve some of the pressures of training student pilots with ineffective resources.

The 33rd Fighter Wing, the leading training wing for F-35 student pilots, hopes it will receive additional F-35A aircraft, along with considerable upgrades to its existing fleet, to keep up with training demands, said Col. Paul Moga, commander of the 33rd Fighter Wing here.

“Right now, production is king. We’ve got to find ways to solve this aircrew crisis, and our contribution to that is getting our students through the training program as quickly as possible,” Moga said, referring to the service’s ongoing pilot shortage.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Airport expansion into neighborhood

By Taylor Young
May 1, 2018

The Queen City is one step closer to building a hotel at the Burlington International Airport.

Monday night city officials approved the BTV Hotel ground lease. Alpha Inn Management is partnering with DEW Properties on the project. In the agreement, the two businesses will lease the property to the city of Burlington for up to two years and give the city a $100,000 deposit.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Pentagon stops accepting F-35 jets from Lockheed over repair cost dispute

By Mike Stone
April 11, 2018

The U.S. Department of Defense has stopped accepting most deliveries of F-35 jets from Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) because of a dispute over who will cover costs for fixing a production error, three people familiar with the matter said.

Lockheed confirmed on Wednesday that the Pentagon had halted deliveries of the jet over a contractual issue, but did not give further details.

Last year, the Pentagon stopped accepting F-35s for 30 days after discovering corrosion where panels were fastened to the airframe, an issue that affected more than 200 of the stealthy jets. Once a fix had been devised, the deliveries resumed, and Lockheed hit its target aircraft delivery numbers for 2017.

But deliveries were paused again over a dispute as to who will pay for what will likely be a complex logistical fix that could require technicians to travel widely to mend aircraft based around the world, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Air Force Risks Losing Third of F-35s If Upkeep Costs Aren’t Cut

By Anthony Capaccio
March 28, 2018

The U.S. Air Force may have to cut its purchases of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 by a third if it can’t find ways to reduce operations and support costs by as much as 38 percent over a decade, according to an internal analysis.

The shortfall would force the service to subtract 590 of the fighter jets from the 1,763 it plans to order, the Air Force office charged with evaluating the F-35’s impact on operations and budgets, in an assessment obtained by Bloomberg News.

While the Defense Department has said it has gained control over costs for developing and producing a fleet of 2,456 F-35s for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps — now projected at $406 billion — the internal analysis underscores the current and looming challenges of maintaining and operating the warplanes.

It may cost as much as $1.1 trillion to keep the F-35s flying and maintained through 2070, according to the current estimate from the Pentagon’s independent cost unit.

[FULL ARTICLE]

F-35: Still No Finish Line in Sight

By: Dan Grazier
March 19, 2018

Jim Roche, then-Secretary of the Air Force, made an announcement on October 26, 2001, that all aviation enthusiasts had been waiting for: a winner had been picked to design and build the Joint Strike Fighter. The American people were assured the new jet would enter service in 2008 and be a high-performance replacement for the military’s aging airframes while only costing between $40 million and $50 million.

The F-35 has now entered an unprecedented seventeenth year of continuing redesign, test deficiencies, fixes, schedule slippages, and cost overruns. And it’s still not at the finish line. Numerous missteps along the way—from the fact that the two competing contractors, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, submitted “flyoff” planes that were crude and undeveloped “technology demonstrators” rather than following the better practice of submitting fully functional prototypes, to concurrent acquisition malpractice that has prevented design flaws from being discovered until after production models were built—have led to where we are now. According to the latest annual report from the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E), 263 “high priority” performance and safety deficiencies remain unresolved and unaddressed, and the developmental tests—essentially, the laboratory tests—are far from complete. If they complete the tests, more deficiencies will surely be found that must be addressed before the plane can safely carry our Airmen and women into combat

[FULL ARTICLE]

Pentagon to move ahead with $3 billion F-35 upgrade program in 2018

By Andrea Shalal
March 23, 2016

The Pentagon expects to award contracts for a $3 billion, six-year effort to upgrade its newest warplane, the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jet, by the end of 2018, the Air Force general who runs the $391 billion program said on Wednesday.

Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan rejected a call by the Government Accountability Office, the research arm of Congress, to make the $3 billion project into a separate weapons program.

Michael Sullivan, director of defense weapons systems acquisition at GAO, told a hearing of the House Armed Services tactical and air land forces subcommittee that it would be difficult for Congress to oversee the upgrade unless it was carved out of the larger F-35 program.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Pentagon ‘Can’t Afford’ F-35’s Trillion Dollar Plus Sustainment Costs

March 3, 2018

“Right now, we can’t afford the sustainment costs we have on the F-35,” Ellen Lord, the new Defense Department undersecretary for defense acquisition and sustainment, told reporters this week. “And we are committed to changing that.”

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the most expensive weapons program in US history and remains the Pentagon’s “most significant” program, according to Lord.

According to the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, “sustainment is a key component of performance. Including sustainment planning ‘up front’ enables the acquisition and requirements communities to provide a weapon system with optimal availability and reliability to the warfighter at value.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

Testing the Impact of Jet Noise on South Burlington School

By Cory Dawson
March 20, 2018

School officials will begin conducting noise pollution tests soon at a South Burlington elementary school that sits about a half mile from Burlington International Airport runways.

For years, teachers, students and staff at Chamberlin School — with 250 students from kindergarten through 5th grade — have endured jet noise from the nearby airport, said South Burlington Superintendent David Young.

“Our teachers often have to just pause for a few minutes, because it’s just difficult to talk over,” Young said. “This is particularly when the F-16s, or prior to that when the F-4s were flying over. It was kind of known as the ‘Chamberlin pause.’”

Young said he has been asking for years to use money from a Federal Aviation Administration grant program that allows for noise insulation for buildings that are affected by high noise levels.

[FULL ARTICLE]

New F-35 modernization plan could come with hefty $16B price tag

By Valerie Insinna
March 9, 2018

Under the F-35 joint program office’s latest plan, follow-on modernization for the Joint Strike Fighter could add up to a total of $16 billion, the Defense Department’s program head confirmed Wednesday.

Responding to questions from lawmakers about the price of implementing the new Continuous Capability Development and Delivery strategy, or C2D2, Vice Adm. Mat Winter acknowledged that U.S. and international customers could pay up to $10.8 billion for development and $5.4 billion for procurement of upgrades to the F-35 between fiscal years 2018 through 2024.

Last September at the Defense News conference, Winter announced that the JPO had re-envisioned the F-35’s follow on-modernization plan, also known as Block 4, as a more iterative process where software updates would be pumped out every six months. New computing systems, sensors and weapons would also be incorporated during the period.

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