Print 36 comment(s) - last by a1trips.. on Jan 18 at 12:06 PM

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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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.

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