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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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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.

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