Lockheed Martin has described progress in the F-35 development program, and solutions to some of the problems that have recently been identified. Having exceeded the planned flight-test sorties and test points in 2011 by 15 percent, the company is hoping for similar gains this year. Of the 59,585 test points scheduled for the development phase through 2016, just over one-fifth had been flown by the end of December.
Pratt & Whitney’s engines power a wide range of military aircraft in operation around the world, but 2011’s developments in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Lightning II program made the company’s year–especially as its F135 became the sole powerplant for all three Lockheed Martin JSF variants: the conventional F-35A, STOVL F-35B and carrier-based (CV) F-35C.
Sikorsky Aircraft has named 35 suppliers participating in an industry-funded effort to build two prototype S-97 Raider helicopters for evaluation by the U.S. military.The Raider is a follow-on to the company’sX2 technology demonstratorwith coaxial contra-rotating main rotors and a pusher propeller.
Sikorsky said it will invest about 75 percent of the Raider program’s expected cost, with suppliers investing 25 percent. Last June, Sikorsky and General Electric signed an agreement under which GE Aviation will provide its CT7-8 engine for the Raider.
Sikorsky has selected GE Aviation (Booth No. 1217) to provide the GE YT706-GE-700R engines and engineering support for Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider program. The Raider is the military version of the experimental X2, a single-engine rotorcraft with coaxial counter-rotating main rotors and a pusher propeller. The Fadec-controlled GE engine offers 2,500 to 3,000 shp and is based on the GE700/CT7 family. GE said it developed the GE3000 for medium-lift applications and this engine could be incorporated into the Raider in the future.
There was good news for the F-35 program when U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta ended the two-year “probation” for the STOVL version a year early. Lockheed Martin F-35B executive v-p Larry Lawson said that “critical engineering challenges” had been solved.
Sikorsky Aircraft named 35 suppliers participating in an industry-funded effort to build two prototype S-97 Raider helicopters for evaluation by the U.S. military. The Raider is a follow-on to the company’s X2 technology demonstrator with coaxial contra-rotating main rotors and a pusher propeller.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program faces fresh challenges as the new year begins. First, a long-awaited “should cost” review from the U.S. Defense Acquisition Board might clarify whether Lockheed Martin’s continued optimism on the average procurement unit costs (APUC) is justified. In addition, big cuts to the U.S. defense budget seem unlikely to spare the F-35, which is the Pentagon’s highest profile acquisition, and might undermine the basis for the APUC calculations.
The first international Joint Strike Fighter, an F-35B for the UK, was rolled out on November 22, one week before a parliamentary report shed more light on the UK’s decision to switch from the STOVL F-35B version to the conventional carrier landing F-35C version.
Critics may say that Boeing’s argument is self-serving, but McCrary and colleagues believe that the upgrades already made or pending on the F-15 and F-18 prove their point.
The U.S. Air Force will proceed with a service life extension program (SLEP) and avionics upgrade of 300 to 350 F-16 Fighting Falcons to compensate for an expected two-year slip in operational readiness of the F-35A Lightning II, service leaders told the U.S. Congress on November 2.