The UK formally accepted the first F-35 Lightning II for an international customer on July 19. “Having taken decisions on the final designs of our new aircraft carriers and balanced the MoD’s budget we can now proceed confidently to regenerating our carrier strike capability with these cutting-edge stealth combat aircraft,” said British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond.
F-35 Lightning II
Lockheed Martin executives contend that a new Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) that will provide long-term maintenance support for the F-35 Lightning II is evolving in line with the fighter. The ALIS was cited among F-35 program risks in a recent U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.
Denmark’s Terma is showing off, for the first time here at the show, the multi-mission pod (MMP) it has developed for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The MMP began life as the gun pod for the F-35, which Terma designed and developed on behalf of General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products, but the company has developed it into a more versatile pod that should prove attractive, in particular, to overseas operators of the JSF.
Vision Systems International (VSI), the joint venture company of Rockwell Collins and Elbit Systems of America, is displaying the advanced helmet-mounted display system (HMDS) of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and other helmet display systems at its Farnborough International airshow.
In April, Lockheed Martin celebrated the delivery of its 4,500th F-16 Fighting Falcon, attesting to the longevity of the fourth generation, multirole fighter. Now the company is working to extend that legacy with the U.S. Air Force and to stretch the production of F-16 export versions.
Pratt & Whitney this week signed an agreement with Australia’s Broens Industries for the supply of support equipment that will be used at initial operating bases for the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter in the U.S.
Broens has designed a jack that allows the removal and maneuvering of the gearbox from under the F135 engine. The new contract is worth around $300,000 and follows a prototype award, while follow-on production contracts could reach a value of at least $7 million.
Production of Pratt & Whitney’s F135 engines that power Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter is set to peak this year at 50 units before flattening out in the coming years as the U.S. defers deliveries of the new aircraft.
Controversial from the start, the UK’s new aircraft carrier program has endured many twists and turns. It is now 14 years since the government first defined the need for new carriers and it will be another four years before the first of the two Queen Elizabeth II-class warships is delivered. Beyond that, it will be another four years before the carrier-strike capability becomes fully operational, in 2020.
According to the latest GAO report, the program acquisition unit cost (PAUC) of the F-35 will be $161 million. That figure includes amortization of the development cost across the expected production run. But how much should acquisition officials reckon to pay for their F-35s, going forward? Of course, that will depend what F-35 variant they buy, in what quantity and when.
“We live in a goldfish bowl,” sighed Lockheed Martin F-35 vice president customer engagement Steve O’Bryan. Speaking in London last March, he was referring to the stream of official reports, testimonies and comments that examine the Joint Strike Fighter program. This year alone, five major documents on the F-35 have reached the public domain. In January, a Pentagon operational test and evaluation report surfaced.
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