Canada has selected the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as its next combat aircraft, Peter MacKay, the country’s defense minister, announced last Friday. The $9 billion commitment covers 65 JSFs. The first is due for delivery in 2016 to begin replacement of the CF-18 Hornet fleet. The commitment does not include ongoing training and support, which is estimated at a further $7 billion.
Sikorsky Aircraft announced the X2 project just over five years ago at the 2005 Paris Air Show. Now the one and only example of what the helicopter maker calls a “technology demonstrator” is poised to break the record as the world’s fastest rotorcraft as it works its way toward a target speed of 250 knots and further proof of concept.
After a bad start to 2010, U.S. officials are at Farnborough to persuade their eight international partners that the original ambitions for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter are still intact. Escalating cost estimates and flight-test delays have cast a shadow over the airplane billed by Lockheed Martin as the only exportable fifth-generation fighter.
Pratt & Whitney’s F135 engine has achieved a first for the Lockheed Martin F-35 program by accelerating the F-35B STOVL version through the sound barrier last month. The test aircraf–BF-2–climbed to 30,000 feet and accelerated to Mach 1.07 at the off-shore test track near NAS Patuxent River in Maryland on June 14. The F-35 has supercruise capability and does not require the use of engine afterburner to achieve supersonic flight.
The U.S. Department of Defense's undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics on May 14 certified to Congress that the proposed third Super Hornet/Growler multiyear procurement (MYP) met statutory requirements, including substantial savings. With this certification in place, the contract should proceed to cover the purchase of 124 aircraft over Fiscal Year 2010 through 2013.
Sikorsky Aircraft’s X2 technology demonstrator achieved a forward speed of 181 knots on a test flight today at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. The contra-rotating coaxial rotor prototype is designed to demonstrate that a helicopter can cruise at up to 250 knots while retaining excellent low-speed handling and efficient hovering characteristics, as well as a seamless and simple transition to high speed.
The U.S. House armed services seapower and air-land forces subcommittees this week included $485 million in continued funding for the GE/Rolls-Royce F136, an alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), in H.R.5136, the National Defense Authorization Bill for Fiscal Year 2011.
The average unit production cost (APUC) for the F-35 is now predicted to be as high as $112 million in current dollars, according to a Pentagon review of the program conducted later last year, which led to a restructuring of the program. The APUC estimate does not amortize the cost of system design and development (SDD). That cost has now risen by $3.2 billion, to $53.2 billion.
If Lockheed Martin is to be believed, there’s not much wrong with the F-35 program. In a briefing here yesterday, vice president F-35 business development Steve O’Bryan stuck doggedly to the company mantra that development is moving right along, with plenty of accomplishments despite the slow pace of flight testing.