The deputy program officer of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program office said Tuesday that predictions over escalating costs of the next-generation multi-role fighter will be proven wrong because of built-in reliability and maintainability aspects. With the program facing renewed scrutiny by the U.S. Congress and Department of Defense (DOD), Air Force Maj. Gen. C.D.
F/A-18E/F Super Hornet
Lockheed Martin’s F-35 is the Pentagon’s largest cooperative program. Eight partner countries are collectively contributing $4.9 billion to the system design and development phase (SDD). They have projected a total buy of 597 aircraft as follows: Australia, 100; Canada, 65; Denmark, 30; Italy, 131; The Netherlands, 85; Norway, 48; Turkey, 100; and the UK, 138.
U.S. defense contractors eliminated from the $10 billion competition to provide India’s medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) cite several other international programs and competitions as opportunities for their respective platforms. But the start of Japan's F-X contest in April and fighter requirements in countries including Denmark, Malaysia and Brazil did nothing to mask the clear disappointment expressed by U.S.
President Obama outlined ambitious new goals for U.S. deficit reduction, including a call for growth in security spending to be held below inflation over the next 12 years. This amounts to a $400 billion cut over current plans. Fiscal hardliners have called for even greater cuts in defense spending–up to $1 trillion. While the Congress would probably not implement such drastic surgery, the outlook for defense spending in the U.S.
In a ceremony held at RAAF Amberley, Queensland, the Royal Australian Air Force retired its General Dynamics F-111 fleet on December 2. Affectionately known as the “Pig,” the F-111 served the RAAF from 1973 in the long-range attack and reconnaissance roles. It has been replaced by the Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet, although the new fleet is not yet operational.
The U.S. National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform drafted a recommendation for large reductions in U.S. military spending in an effort to save $200 billion. The document suggests ending procurement of the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor and slashing the planned buy of Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.
Japan is examining the possibility of continuing production of the Mitsubishi F-2 to bolster its fighter fleet in the face of growing Chinese capability, adding some 20 aircraft to the 94 (plus four prototypes) currently procured. The Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) is looking for a new fighter and has stated a desire for the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, but U.S. export restrictions have ruled that out.
Boeing announced here yesterday a set of potential enhancements to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet that it will market to export prospects. They include an enclosed weapons pod that is intended to lower the aircraft’s radar cross section. The countries currently evaluating or expressing interest in the Super Hornet include Brazil, Denmark, India, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, and Qatar.
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.
Continued tensions in the Far East and southern Asia are ensuring that the region remains a major sales battleground for the world’s fighter houses. At stake is the sale of several hundred new combat aircraft in the coming years as air arms seek to modernize their forces or, in the case of countries such as Japan and Singapore, stay ahead of the regional threat.