A-10 vs. F-35 close-air support ‘fly off’ shrouded in secrecy

By: Victoria Leoni and Kyle Rempfer for Air Force Times

The much-anticipated A-10 vs. F-35 close-air support fly-off has wrapped up before many people even realized the tests were happening, but a government watchdog group claims the tests were rigged in favor the Lightning II, a fifth-generation multirole fighter.

The Project On Government Oversight revealed Tuesday that the tests were underway at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona and Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California. According to a testing schedule POGO reviewed, the one-week fly-off began July 5 and concluded Thursday.

Citing sources “closely associated with the fly-off,” POGO reported that large-scale Army and Marine ground units did not participate in the fly-off. Given those services’ significant stake in receiving effective close-air support, their absence was conspicuous.

“A close-air support test should involve large numbers of ground troops in a highly fluid combat simulation in varied terrain, across many days,” wrote POGO’s Dan Grazier. “It should test the pilot’s ability to spot targets from the air in a chaotic and ever-changing situation. The test should also include a means of testing the program’s ability to fly several sorties a day, because combat doesn’t pause to wait for airplanes to become available.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

U.S. Air Force Is Hiding Its Controversial Flyoff Between the A-10 and F-35

By Joseph Trevithick
July 10, 2018

The U.S. Air Force has, without any apparent public announcement, begun a much-awaited comparative evaluation of the close air support capabilities of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter versus the venerable A-10 Warthog. The event was already controversial before it even began and there is now evidence to suggest the service maybe be manipulating the test parameters to favor the stealthy fifth-generation fighter jet.

The Straus Military Reform Project at the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) was the first to reveal the tests have already started, according to a copy of the schedule that it got a chance to review. The evaluation began on July 5, 2018, and will last just one week, ending on July 12, 2018. Only four of those days involve actual flying. The Air Force had previously said the event would occur sometime in 2018, but did not offer a fixed timeline.

[FULL ARTICLE]

F-35 – new snafu

July 3, 2018

A Senate committee has slammed the Pentagon’s beleaguered F-35 fighter jet program, for claiming that a $661mn spend on bulk-buying parts would help it save some $1.2 billion. The real amount is half that, it has been revealed.

The Senate Appropriations Committee, which has recently greenlighted a boost in spending for the F-35 program, despite it being plagued by delays and cost overruns, raised the issue last week, after the Defense Department’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office report revealed that the Pentagon had greatly exaggerated the economic effect from its attempt to cut the F-35 program costs.

Last year, the program’s office asked for some $661 million to procure, in bulk, material and equipment that had undergone hardware qualification testing for the F-35, claiming the bulk buy would allow it to save some $1.2 billion in costs. The parts to be supplied would be fitted into the aircraft to be purchased in 2019 and 2020. Last month, Lockheed Martin Corp. received the contract with the appropriate adjustments.

The new report, however, argues that the buying strategy is much less cost-efficient than Pentagon officials had initially claimed when they presented their case to Congress.

According to the new report, the measure will generate savings of some $600 million, which is a half of the designated amount.

While the committee did not object in principle to what has turned into the most expensive US weapons program ever, the lawmakers have said they were “dismayed by the inaccuracy of the initial estimates,” the report states, as cited by Bloomberg.

Last year, the program’s office asked for some $661 million to procure, in bulk, material and equipment that had undergone hardware qualification testing for the F-35, claiming the bulk buy would allow it to save some $1.2 billion in costs. The parts to be supplied would be fitted into the aircraft to be purchased in 2019 and 2020. Last month, Lockheed Martin Corp. received the contract with the appropriate adjustments.

The new report, however, argues that the buying strategy is much less cost-efficient than Pentagon officials had initially claimed when they presented their case to Congress.

According to the new report, the measure will generate savings of some $600 million, which is a half of the designated amount.

While the committee did not object in principle to what has turned into the most expensive US weapons program ever, the lawmakers have said they were “dismayed by the inaccuracy of the initial estimates,” the report states, as cited by Bloomberg.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Is the F-35 About to Be Delayed (Again)? — The Motley Fool

By Lou Whiteman
June 10, 2018

The Pentagon could go ahead with a huge F-35 order before all the problems with the plane are resolved. An important government watchdog says that’s a bad idea.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has advised the Pentagon to hold off moving into full-rate production with the F-35 fighter until the plane’s crucial issues are resolved, a potential new delay before lead contractor Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) is able to fully cash in on the long-troubled program.

The GAO, in an annual report on the program, lists 966 open deficiencies in the F-35 as of January, and said that about 20% of them will not be resolved before full-rate production under the Pentagon’s current schedule. The Department of Defense is currently testing the F-35s that have been built, and is scheduled to decide on whether to formally move the program into full production in October 2019.

“In its rush to cross the finish line, the program has made some decisions that are likely to affect aircraft performance and reliability and maintainability for years to come,” the GAO wrote, referring to plans to resolve crucial deficiencies after full-rate production begins. “Resolving these deficiencies outside of the developmental program may contribute to additional concurrency costs, which also carries affordability implications.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

Marine F-35B forced to land over fuel issue

By Shawn Snow
May 4, 2018

An F-35B out the Marine Corps air station at Cherry Point, North Carolina, was forced to make an emergency landing on April 23 when the aircraft fuel light came on.

Officials provided few details of the incident and referred to the event as a “precautionary” and “uneventful landing.”

The pilot landed his F-35B after “receiving a fuel-related warning light from the aircraft” and returned to Fleet Readiness Center East located aboard Cherry Point, John M. Olmstead, a spokesman for FRC East told Marine Corps Times in an emailed statement.

However, Marine Corps Times has learned the F-35 was leaking fuel when it landed, and the engine abruptly shut off before coming to a complete stop because the aircraft was out of fuel.

The F-35B can carry nearly 14,000 pounds of fuel.

The F-35B involved in the incident had “recently undergone airframe modifications,” Olmstead explained.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Marine F-35B forced to land

By Shawn Snow
May 4, 2018

An F-35B out the Marine Corps air station at Cherry Point, North Carolina, was forced to make an emergency landing on April 23 when the aircraft fuel light came on.

Officials provided few details of the incident and referred to the event as a “precautionary” and “uneventful landing.”

The pilot landed his F-35B after “receiving a fuel-related warning light from the aircraft” and returned to Fleet Readiness Center East located aboard Cherry Point, John M. Olmstead, a spokesman for FRC East told Marine Corps Times in an emailed statement.

However, Marine Corps Times has learned the F-35 was leaking fuel when it landed, and the engine abruptly shut off before coming to a complete stop because the aircraft was out of fuel.

The F-35B can carry nearly 14,000 pounds of fuel.

The F-35B involved in the incident had “recently undergone airframe modifications,” Olmstead explained.

[FULL ARTICLE]

GAO.gov: F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: Development Is Nearly Complete, but Deficiencies Found in Testing Need to Be Resolved

June 5, 2018

DOD is getting closer to completing the F-35 program, but DOD’s plan to move into full-rate production without fixing key deficiencies brings into question the reliability and affordability of the aircraft.

DOD has already requested $9.8 billion for 2019 and will ask for about $10.4 billion more per year over the next two decades.

Congress should consider withholding funding from the next increment of F-35 development until DOD provides an independent cost estimate, a technology assessment, and takes other actions. In addition, we recommended that DOD resolve critical aircraft deficiencies before moving to full-rate production.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Defense Department halts F-35 deliveries amid repair bill disagreement with Lockheed

By Valerie Insinna
April 11, 2018

The Pentagon has suspended acceptance of most F-35 deliveries as manufacturer Lockheed Martin and the F-35 program office debate who should be responsible for fixing jets after a production issue last year.

“While all work in our factories remains active, the F-35 Joint Program Office has temporarily suspended accepting aircraft until we reach an agreement on a contractual issue and we expect this to be resolved soon,” a Lockheed spokeswoman confirmed in a statement, adding that the company remains confident that it can meet its delivery target of 91 aircraft for 2018.

News of the delivery pause was first reported by Reuters.

The dispute is rooted in a quality control issue that caused F-35 deliveries to stop from Sept. 21 to Oct. 20. At the time, corrosion was found in fastener holes of F-35As being repaired at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.

[FULL ARTICLE]

F-35 deliveries resume as DoD, Lockheed clear up financial disagreement

By Valerie Insinna
May 7, 2018

The Pentagon is now accepting deliveries of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter again, after resolving a disagreement with Lockheed Martin over who should pay to fix a couple hundred jets, the company confirmed Monday.

However, it’s still unknown who will ultimately be left with the repair bill.

Spokesmen from Lockheed and the F-35 Joint Program Office declined to comment on whether the company or government will be held financially responsible for the production escape. The decision to resume deliveries was first reported by Reuters.

On April 11, the Defense Department confirmed it had stopped accepting some F-35 deliveries beginning March 28. The problem, sources said at the time, is that the department and Lockheed had agreed upon a plan to repair about 200 jets that were impacted by a quality lapse — but not who should pay for it.

The initial quality control issue, which had caused a stoppage in F-35 deliveries from Sept. 21 to Oct. 20, involved corrosion found in fastener holes of F-35As being repaired at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. A Lockheed investigation had found that the company had not applied the corrosion-preventing primer to fastener holes.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Certifying the Nuclear Fleet in a Cyber World

By Amy McCullough
May 1, 2018

The Air Force is already thinking about how it will certify its nuclear systems in a cyber environment. That’s a significant challenge considering the last time it certified such a system—the B-2 in the early 1990s—the internet didn’t exist, at least not as it does today.

“We built a plan on how to execute that because the time to worry about nuclear certification of our systems is not 2020, it’s 2018. You plan for it now,” said Lt. Gen. Jack Weinstein, deputy chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration, during an AFA Mitchell Institute event on Capitol Hill on ​Tuesday. ​

Nuclear certification is the final step before a nuclear weapon system can reach initial operational capability. In 2017, the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board conducted a study on “Nuclear Surety and Certification for Emerging Systems,” in which the board offered several recommendations, including ensuring the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, Air Force Safety Center, and the NWS Program Offices were properly resourced “to support modernization.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

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