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F-35B put on 2-year probation   (Source: Lockheed Martin)
The Air Force may finally get a new tanker next month while F-35B is on probation

Any major program to procure new aircraft for the U.S. military is going to be long and the competition between bidders will be fierce since the contracts can be worth billions. One of these important and very costly projects for new aircraft is the F-35 project with versions slated for use in three branches of the military.

The USAF has noted that the initial operational capability (IOC) date for the F-35 is likely to slip beyond current projections. The revelation came from Air Force Secretary Michael Donley at a breakfast with reporters on January 12.

The reason for the delay in the IOC for the F-35 aircraft program came after a detailed Technical Baseline Review by Ashton Carter, the DoD procurement chief, and Joint Strike Fighter program manager Vice Adm. David Venlet. The report concluded that additional time and money was needed to complete the development of the F-35.

Donley said, "I think that's [delays in the IOC] implied with the additional dollars and time required in system development."

The biggest change in the F-35 program to come after the review was that the F-35B vertical landing variant of the aircraft has been put on a two-year probationary period. The F-35B was also decoupled from the carrier and conventional versions of the fighter to avoid delaying the other two versions significantly. The UK armed forces have already decided not to buy the F-35B, and will be ordering the carrier version instead.

Donley said, "The major decision from this TBR has been to decouple the testing of the U.S. Marine short take-off vertical-landing variant from the conventional and carrier variants to ensure we do not slow progress on the conventional and carrier variants."

Another even higher profile project that the Air Force is working on is the long running and problem plagued replacement for the aerial tankers in use. The drama surrounding the bidding process has gone on for years and a winner still hasn’t been selected. 

According to Defense News, EADS has stated that it expects the Air Force to pick a tanker in February. EADS also expects that it will be chosen the winner over rival Boeing.

EADS of North America CEO Sean O'Keefe said, "The contract award, which was announced as part of the request-for-proposal solicitation, was to have been around the middle of November last year. It has moved further toward next month, just as a consequence of due diligence."

The contract was supposed to have been awarded in November of 2010, but was delayed again. The DoD is seeking to make the award "not contestable" to avoid a rehash of what happened with the first contract award.

O'Keefe said, "Every indication would suggest that next month is more likely to be the contract award targeting period."

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It's now official
By sorry dog on 1/13/2011 11:37:12 AM , Rating: 2
jack of all trades...master of none... also applies to fighter aircraft... even if you throw a few billion at it.

RE: It's now official
By rcc on 1/13/2011 1:17:11 PM , Rating: 2
Yup. But at least it's smaller than the F-111, which they tried to get the Navy to use as an interceptor.

RE: It's now official
By vol7ron on 1/13/2011 2:36:25 PM , Rating: 3
Maybe they can make a new Top Gun movie out of this.

RE: It's now official
By MasterBlaster7 on 1/14/2011 2:51:00 AM , Rating: 3
"Jack of all trades...master of none" makes no sense when talking about the f-35. All 3 designs are sound and do not lose much in engineering terms. Actually, they save money because they were designed this way. So the whole "throwing billions at it" doesn't work either.

RE: It's now official
By Amiga500 on 1/14/2011 10:51:32 AM , Rating: 3
Not true. Simply not true.

You obviously aren't an aero engineer.

A massive compromise* in the Mach area rule has been made for the F-35 to house the lift fan.

*By compromise I mean pretty much complete dismissal.

RE: It's now official
By PlasmaBomb on 1/18/2011 8:06:08 AM , Rating: 2
Do you have a link for that?

I know that they reduced the internal fuel and the airframe is rated at 7g rather than 9g due to housing the lift fan, hadn't heard about anything else...

RE: It's now official
By Amiga500 on 1/13/2011 5:42:24 PM , Rating: 3
Well... if they made the damn thing big enough to take the bombs and missiles without have a catastrophic effect on wing loading... it might work.

For instance, the F-15E is great. OK, a -15C will marginally beat it in A2A by dint of being a touch lighter, but you can have your cake and eat most of it if your careful. But, the silly bstards compromised everything by insisting on having STOVL capabilities. Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid.

They would have been safer updating the A-10, making it carrierborne in the process and giving the marines a squadron of A-10 (Ds?) on each Nimitz carrier. Far cheaper & far more effective. The stall speed of an A-10 is similar to a legacy Hornet already.

Its so obvious, but then Lockheed etc wouldn't be able to fleece the DoD by just building the basic and functional A-10s, would they?

RE: It's now official
By Master Kenobi on 1/13/2011 6:20:21 PM , Rating: 4
The A-10 is a beauty. Frankly the F-35 will never replace the A-10. The A-10 is a close air support platform, much like the AC-130 gunships. The F-35 still flies too damn fast to be of any real use in that situation.

RE: It's now official
By sorry dog on 1/16/2011 1:06:29 PM , Rating: 2
I think the A-10 is cool as hell.

But I gather the AF regards it's future as limited because it is increasing vulnerable in hostile areas at low altitude due to increasing availability, portability, and sophistication of anti-aircraft systems to most anyone. So they have to set minimum altitudes better the odds for the greater loss rate of the A-10 compared to other manned planes is unacceptable. The problem is that the A-10 is much less effective at medium altitudes. You could maybe make a less vulnerable CAS aircraft, but anything that goes low and slow will forever more have the odds deck stacked against it. the unmanned platforms start to look better since you can take a higher loss rate.

So no the F-35 won't replace the A-10, but the combination of other systems possibly can... well I guess that's the plan anyway.

RE: It's now official
By a1trips on 1/18/2011 12:06:26 PM , Rating: 2
yeah, the flying tank. sooner or later a variant with swarm control capabilities comes along and ..oh

RE: It's now official
By Jeffk464 on 1/13/2011 7:38:05 PM , Rating: 2
Fleecing the DOD, I don't thinks so. You mean fleecing the american tax payer. No doubt there are plenty of senators getting their pork projects for this. What stinks even more is when senators go on to work for the company after they were sitting on the boards that approved the projects.

RE: It's now official
By yomamafor1 on 1/13/2011 10:03:18 PM , Rating: 2
Here we go with the "Marines are better off with A-10s than F-35Bs" nonsense again.

The answer is simple: A-10 can never perform the role F-35B does, therefore does not satisfy the requirement of Marines.

RE: It's now official
By MasterBlaster7 on 1/14/2011 2:58:10 AM , Rating: 2
Well... if they made the damn thing big enough to take the bombs and missiles without have a catastrophic effect on wing loading... it might work.

Seriously, did you get a torch and pitchfork and chase Frankensteins' monster too?

If you make a vertical lift aircraft "bigger" you run into the "volume x3 increases faster than area x2 problem" The bigger you make it...the harder it is to lift. Lungs and the heart work the same way...thats why you dont have a 100 foot person the heart and lungs would give out at that scale.

RE: It's now official
By Lerianis on 1/14/2011 3:20:06 AM , Rating: 1
Actually, only the heart and lungs as WE know them would give out at that scale.... now, if a 'giant' had REDUNDANT hearts/lungs spread throughout their entire body.... THEN, they would be conceivable.

RE: It's now official
By Amiga500 on 1/14/2011 5:28:32 AM , Rating: 2
The post you quoted did not castrate the STOVL version. A post of mine on down the thread has done so.

Short version: They should never have commissioned the F-35B. It is already a massive ball and chain around the A & C variants, and will remained so even if the B is cancelled.

Well... no surprise here.
By Amiga500 on 1/13/2011 2:13:06 PM , Rating: 1
The F-35 is a turd; too many compromises in design for the STOVL variant has killed the chances of the A and C variants being able to compete with the PAK-FA... and maybe even the uprated Su-35. Best they could do is scrap the program now, keep the work done on avionics and redesign the A & C airframes to have proper high performance.

The USAF still haven't realised Lockheed are taking the piss at this point.

RE: Well... no surprise here.
By marvdmartian on 1/13/2011 2:49:44 PM , Rating: 1
Personally, I believe the reason they had to skip so many numbers between the latest fighter design (F-22), and this one (F-35) is because the F-35 is taking so long to design, develop and build, that they could have easily come up with a dozen workable designs in between the two of them! [/sarcasm]

IMHO, the Boeing design was much uglier, but I seriously wonder if they would have had all the problems that Lockheed has had with this plane?

RE: Well... no surprise here.
By schrodog on 1/13/2011 3:40:26 PM , Rating: 3
One of the reasons that the X-35 design was chosen over the X-32 was because parts on the X-32B had to be added/ removed to properly demonstrate STOVL/Afterburner functions. Boeing did submit a modified design of the X-32 on paper to resolve these issues, but it came too late in the testing process. If the X-32 had been chosen, I think you would have seen a similar issue that we are seeing with the new tanker.

RE: Well... no surprise here.
By schrodog on 1/13/2011 3:33:49 PM , Rating: 2
The F-35 is not designed to directly go up against the PAK-FA (That job would fall to the F-22 in most situations). As for redesigning the aircraft airframes, that would not be practical because you would be wasting a ton of money on R&D and would have to push the deadlines for testing, IOC, etc. much, MUCH, further out. Plus, you would have to modify the avionics to compensate for the new airframe design.

RE: Well... no surprise here.
By Amiga500 on 1/13/2011 4:27:37 PM , Rating: 2
Not really.

The flight algorithms would have to change, but the radar, MAWS, RWR etc etc could remain common.

It doesn't take that long to design the airframe. Software is the killer these days.

RE: Well... no surprise here.
By FITCamaro on 1/13/2011 10:52:40 PM , Rating: 2
And that is where they are having the delays.

RE: Well... no surprise here.
By Amiga500 on 1/14/2011 5:30:10 AM , Rating: 2
Do you want me to speak slower or what?

Hence why I am suggesting they scrap the airframe, build a proper fighter-bomber then put the same electronics in it.

[BTW, they are having other problems aside from software, namely fatigue on certain PSEs and also screech in the engine]

RE: Well... no surprise here.
By MasterBlaster7 on 1/14/2011 3:03:23 AM , Rating: 3
Not a turd...f-35b is fine.

Basically, the F-35 like the F-16 is a bomb truck....the F-35 just happens to be a stealthy bomb truck. Tangling with fighters is secondary...that is what the F-22 is for. And if you say we dont have enough F-22's consider this....any F-22 on average kills 8 "enemy" F-15s every sorty to its 1...if lost at all. A red flag pilot flying an f-22 against f-15s said it was...and im quoting "like clubbing baby seals"

So dont worry about the F-35 only being pretty good in a dog fight..thats all it needs to be.

RE: Well... no surprise here.
By Amiga500 on 1/14/11, Rating: 0
RE: Well... no surprise here.
By Amiga500 on 1/15/2011 5:09:03 PM , Rating: 1
I cannot believe people have voted up a post that calls the F-16 a "bomb truck". The level of ignorance, from what I assume are Americans, regarding one of the most famous American aircraft of all time is astounding.

Go and google "light weight fighter LWF", you "bomb truck"ers out there may be surprised.

RE: Well... no surprise here.
By Totally on 1/16/2011 1:14:15 AM , Rating: 2
His post made no sense whatsoever.

"So dont worry about the F-35 only being pretty good in a dog fight..thats all it needs to be."

Sure,he established that the F-22 was a good in a dogfight but last time I checked, F-22s did not perform the same as the F-35s.

Amazing to think...
By azcoyote on 1/13/2011 4:16:23 PM , Rating: 2
Cost is the biggest problem we have in acquiring new fighters of any type at this point....

China owns a significant portion of our debt...
China is our main competitor in stealth and air superiority...

Talk about a conflict of interests...

RE: Amazing to think...
By croc on 1/13/2011 5:29:38 PM , Rating: 2
China has effectively bought up the US' mortgage... Now they are raising the rates. This is new? Conflict of interest? Your naivete is showing... (Well, raise my rent!)

RE: Amazing to think...
By Solandri on 1/13/2011 8:28:59 PM , Rating: 3
China has no control over the rates. Past debt was sold by the U.S. Treasury at interest rates which are calculated by a formula. There is nothing China can do to alter the rates they're paid on the U.S. treasury securities they own.

Once a treasury security is sold, that's it from the U.S. government's viewpoint. The amount they pay for that debt is fixed and settled the security is sold. The market price of the security may fluctuate after its initial sale, but that only affects the amount of money changing hands between buyers and sellers of securities, not the U.S. government. Like one bank selling your mortgage to another does not change the terms nor rate.

What China can do is raise the interest rate for new debt incurred by the U.S. But the only way they can do that is by not buying any new U.S. debt (in which case decreased demand would push the interest rate higher), or by selling debt they current hold (in which case the increased supply would push the interest rate for new debt higher to make it more attractive to buyers than old debt). But these are normal market forces, not something directly under the control of China.

And I highly doubt they're going to upset the apple cart because over 10% of their economy is based on exports to the U.S. They need the U.S. economy to keep running (hobbling) along to keep it driving a lot of their growth. In fact that's the reason they've been buying our debt in the first place. Because their economic boom is a deliberate bubble manufactured by extending loans to the U.S. and EU (buying their debt), instead of investing the money they're getting from trade imbalances into building new factories and R&D.

RE: Amazing to think...
By a1trips on 1/18/2011 11:57:30 AM , Rating: 2
China wont upset the apple cart because they are already getting what they want.
free pass for North Korea: Act of war goes unpunished, why? eh eh, money money.
Free pass for Pakistan: Plus billions in aid: whose kidding who here: Every MRE that gets sent to Pakistan today will eventually be used by soldiers fighting against American troops,never mind the weapons.. but eh. Tweedledum doo and dumb.
Free Pass for aggression against India: yeah, u may not have heard of it, but they are actively engaging in territory violations.
Someone tell me one time china lost at something last ten years or so? NO?... ill wait

In 2 months...
By DanNeely on 1/13/2011 11:25:09 AM , Rating: 3
... the Boeing(EADS) tanker contract is revoked and the program is sent back to rebid on again as EADS(Boeing) successfully sues to void the prior months award to Boeing(EADS).

RE: In 2 months...
By Solandri on 1/13/2011 8:29:51 PM , Rating: 5
Tune in next month for another exciting episode of Days of our Tanker Contracts.

Here is the important data:
By drycrust3 on 1/13/2011 4:09:06 PM , Rating: 2
The USAF has noted that the initial operational capability (IOC) date for the F-35 is likely to slip beyond current projections.

We reported last week that China is doing taxi trials of its new J-20 stealth fighter. The J-20 is being seen as a competitor for both the Lockheed F-22 Raptor air superiority fighter (which is going out of production after 187 units have been produced), and the more "workhorse" Lockheed F-35 Lightning II.

The maiden flight of the J-20 lasted 18 minutes and was conducted on January 11.

The cost of the F-35 JSF program seems to only get higher

The Navy and Lockheed said it's possible the F-35C JSF will be available starting in late 2016, but that date seems less likely.

RE: Here is the important data:
By Jeffk464 on 1/13/2011 7:43:08 PM , Rating: 2
I will say it again, this money could have been better spent just buying more F22's. Its kind of looking like the role of bomb truck is going to be going to UAV's anyway.

RE: Here is the important data:
By MasterBlaster7 on 1/14/11, Rating: 0
RE: Here is the important data:
By roykahn on 1/14/11, Rating: -1
"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer

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