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Senate wants assurance that F-35 will cost no more than stated  (Source: Lockheed Martin)
any cost overruns would be paid by contractor

The cost of the F-35 JSF continues to soar and delays continue to mount though the aircraft is now finally in production in some variants. As the aircraft stat to roll of the production assembly line, the Senate is taking steps to control the price of the fighter as the next low-rate initial procurement (LRIP) is set to enter negotiations.

The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee has passed a bill on June 16 that required the LRIP-5 purchase set for 2012 to be at a fixed price. That means that any cost overruns in the development or production of the F-35 purchase will be absorbed totally by suppliers.

An emailed statement from the committee said, "The bill contains a unique requirement that the low-rate initial procurement contract for the FY11 lot of the Joint Strike Fighter (LRIP-5) program must be a fixed-price contract and the contract must require the contractor to absorb 100 percent of costs above the target cost." 

The previous LRIP-4 purchase uses a cost-plus award fee plan.

If the full Senate passes the bill, it will be legally binding. Defense News reports that the bill fully supports the Pentagon budget request for the F-35. The budget allots $3.2 billion to purchase Navy versions of the F-35 and $3.7 billion for the USAF version of the fighter. In total, the Pentagon wants 32 F-35 fighters in 2012 with 19 going to the USAF, seven for the Navy and six for the Marine Corps.

Defense News adds that a Defense Acquisition Board review to establish a new cost baseline for the F-35 has been postponed until this fall. The review has been rescheduled for late May before being reset to mid-June and the rescheduled again.

The effort to control the price of the F-35 program comes in part from the estimate that the F-35 program could cost as much as $1 trillion in operating costs.



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By Mudhen6 on 6/20/2011 4:46:18 PM , Rating: 4
BTW, that covers (albeit in a very simple manner) why the F-35 is fine for BVR combat. Of course, there's WVR combat, and the JSF critics are going to moan about how the F-35's dogfighting performance is "only" as good as an F-16 or F/A-18. Well, the truth about WVR combat is that no matter how amazingly agile your fighter jet is, dogfights should be avoided at all costs if you want to avoid being shot down.

Being more agile is not protective by any means in a "fair" WVR fight. This pretty much applies to all fighters, the F-22 included. In WVR range, if you have the technological advantage, unless you have the overwhelming advantage (say, you're higher and faster than your enemy and/or, but preferably and, you outnumber them), WVR combat should be avoided if possible, because it is the equalizer in air combat. Conversely, if you are up against a technically superior enemy air force, then you would do your best to get the fight WVR. The reason WVR fighting is "equalizing" is because with the advent of high off-boresight missiles (such as those that can hit targets behind the launching fighter jet), a Vietnam-era MiG-21 is about as dangerous as an F-22.

That's a bit hyperbolic, but there is a very real truth behind it: it doesn't matter how high the turn-rate of your fighter jet is, because missiles will always be able to out-turn your best turn. A missile will always be faster and more agile than a fighter jet. And with the advent of heat-seeking missiles guided by pilots simply looking out of the cockpit, all it takes is for an enemy pilot to see you with his eyes and pull the trigger to send a missile your way. And because heat-seeking missiles are fire-and-forget, the enemy pilot can shift his gaze to your wingmen and shoot missiles at each of them as well.

Worse still are big dogfights, sometimes called "furballs." These are bad because it's impossible to keep track of who is who with all the turning and zipping around fighter jets do; it gets impossible to keep track of everything, and the loss of situational awareness will probably result in everyone getting shot down.


By Amiga500 on 6/20/2011 5:34:42 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
That's a bit hyperbolic, but there is a very real truth behind it: it doesn't matter how high the turn-rate of your fighter jet is, because missiles will always be able to out-turn your best turn. A missile will always be faster and more agile than a fighter jet.


A good rule of thumb is that a missile has to be 4 times more maneuverable than a non-cooperative* target it is trying to hit.

*aware of and actively maneuvering to avoid.


By Mudhen6 on 6/20/2011 5:50:10 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
A good rule of thumb is that a missile has to be 4 times more maneuverable than a non-cooperative* target it is trying to hit. *aware of and actively maneuvering to avoid.


That's no longer true. Missile autopilots that incorporate proportional navigation to fly to their targets (read: ALL modern missiles) do not have to pull such high G's intercept maneuvers, which are severely energy depleting (= very bad).

Also, for the record, the max G of HOBS missiles like AIM-9X and Python 5 is something in the region of 60-100Gs, which is at least 6 times greater than the G-limit of any human (which dictates the G-limit of fighter aircraft).


By Amiga500 on 6/20/2011 6:10:54 PM , Rating: 2
4x is true. I could show it mathematically... but I couldn't be bothered.

Proportional navigation has been in use since the 50s! It is not a new approach to the problem!!

I have seen talk of 60 g max for the box-office - I've never seen talk of 100 (not saying its not true; just never seen those numbers).

But, as you know, the maneuvering of a short ranged AAM is not the same as a longer ranged AAM, such as the slammer or adder. Here, we are principally talking about long ranged engagement... which precludes the AIM-9X, Python, Mica-IR, R-77 and their new RVV-whateveritis.


By Bad-Karma on 6/21/2011 4:38:24 AM , Rating: 2
Mudhen6,

You need to point out to the community that the missile requires a much higher G tolerance due to the missiles much higher intercept velocity. Anything going at mach+ speeds can experience significant G loading with course corrections.

The missile not only has to overtake the aircraft (rear-aspect) but then has to compensate for the aircraft's maneuvering while its trying to get close enough for the proximity charge to be effective.

Unlike Hollywood's version, most missiles have a very short boost or thrust phase which is usually measured in seconds not minutes. Once the motor burns out the missile is left only with it's acquired speed to complete the intercept. Every maneuver the missile has to make eats up its' available energy needed to continue the engagement.

Does Mudhen6 = lawn dart driver?


By Mudhen6 on 6/21/2011 5:21:23 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, of course a missile needs to pull more G's than its target to intercept it. I just disagree with Amiga's "4 times" rule. In any case, you have missiles like the AIM-9X, Python 5 and the IRIS-T that are (rumored) to be capable of pulling something stupid, like 100Gs.

Given that the pilot is going for the kill shot and launches the missile within its no-escape envelope, which by its very definition is the part of the missile's employment envelope where it is impossible to run/maneuver the missile out of kinetic energy, I fail to see why energy is a problem.

Furthermore, none of this changes my point - the point that WVR is a technological equalizer and should be avoided whenever possible. An old MiG-21 with one of these next-gen SRAAMs will still be able to look through the canopy, acquire the target visually and launch his missile. At the very least, this first missile forces the target defensive, allowing the MiG pilot (or the MiG's wingmen) to position himself for a kill shot.


By Bad-Karma on 6/21/2011 5:55:05 AM , Rating: 2
I mentioned the loss of energy without the context (it's just after 0500 here)my apologies I should have elaborated.

Most countries that employ FSU equipment are also still on the same doctrine. We're constantly seeing BV max-range shots when they go into engagements and practice.

A lot of the time their fighters will line up on a target and fire as soon as they are close enough for the missile to acquire. wash-rinse-repeat.......

The Iraqis used to do this with their M-25s against our ISR and AWACs assets constantly throughout the 90s. If you get an early enough launch detection even slow moving HVAA can maneuver enough to cause the missile to exceed its flight envelope.

Medium to short range engagements are a different story and there I agree with you completely.


By Mudhen6 on 6/21/2011 6:17:05 AM , Rating: 2
No apologies necessary. And as for your earlier question, no, I'm not a Viper pilot. I didn't miss your question on purpose, I'm actually rather sleep deprived as well.


By Noya on 6/20/2011 6:20:12 PM , Rating: 1
What about IR tracking? Isn't that why all the revamped Russian jets have a HUGE optical sensor mounted to their nose?

I've just always read that it's easier (cheaper) to counter stealth technology than to invest billions to compete with it.


By Noya on 6/20/2011 6:24:18 PM , Rating: 1
And in WVR fighting, don't Migs easily take everything aside from an F22?

I recall a video with Superhornets vs a couple (East) German Mig 29's (from the Cold War no less) doing mock dogfights and the Migs kinetic performance destroys the F-18s.


By Mudhen6 on 6/20/2011 6:44:22 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
And in WVR fighting, don't Migs easily take everything aside from an F22?


No. This is fanboi bs. There is no fighter out there in existence that is superior to its contemporaries in every single portion of the flight envelope. For example, an F-15C may have a better turn rate than a Su-27 at 450 mph, while the Su-27 may have a better turn rate at 350 mph. The key to winning dogfights is "max-performing" your jet while coaxing the enemy to not do the same - e.g. if your fighter jet flies better at slower speeds, try to engage/bait your enemy into a slow speed dogfight.

Furthermore, it gets more complicated with weapons and fuel load. For every second of a sortie, a fighter jet has a different weight which affects its dogfighting performance.

quote:
What about IR tracking? Isn't that why all the revamped Russian jets have a HUGE optical sensor mounted to their nose?


Russian fighters have been sporting IRSTs since the days of the Soviet Union. And fighters like the F-22 and F-35 are designed so that it will be detected by any type of enemy sensor, whether IR, visual or radar, at about the same range.

Stealth features that counter IR may not be as effective as radar-defeating features, but then again, IR sensors have a much shorter range than radar sensors. Furthermore, IR sensors are passive - on their own, they cannot derive ranging information, which is important in optimizing the flight profiles of BVR missiles.

To derive range information from an IRST, you will need a laser-rangefinder (can be detected) or a datalink for target triangulation.


By yxalitis on 6/21/2011 1:03:14 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Russian fighters have been sporting IRSTs since the days of the Soviet Union. And fighters like the F-22 and F-35 are designed so that it will be detected by any type of enemy sensor, whether IR, visual or radar, at about the same range.

On this you are dead wrong, IR sensors are PASSIVE, you cannot tell if an aircraft is tracking you, as there are no emissions to detect.


By Mudhen6 on 6/21/2011 2:18:50 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
On this you are dead wrong, IR sensors are PASSIVE, you cannot tell if an aircraft is tracking you, as there are no emissions to detect.


RTFQ. I said that IRSTs are passive sensors in the next line. Furthermore, the IRST being passive does not make it any less susceptible to IR stealth measures - nothing you said contradicts my statement.

However, IRSTs may have laser-rangefinders, and these are considered active, not passive.


By danjw1 on 6/21/2011 5:53:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Worse still are big dogfights, sometimes called "furballs." These are bad because it's impossible to keep track of who is who with all the turning and zipping around fighter jets do; it gets impossible to keep track of everything, and the loss of situational awareness will probably result in everyone getting shot down.


I have never been a member of an aircrew, but I did work as an Avionics Technician in the U.S Navy. IFF and HUD should prevent friendly fire incidents in a furball, most of the time.


By Mudhen6 on 6/21/2011 7:09:35 PM , Rating: 2
I was under the impression that it's not so much the friendly fire but the loss of situational awareness that makes furballs dangerous.


By danjw1 on 6/21/2011 7:23:35 PM , Rating: 2
That is why today's fighters have Heads Up Displays(HUD). It allows them to see which targets are friendly and which aren't. If they try to target an aircraft the computer matches a friendly or not friendly target based on data from the datalink from the CIC systems that are directing the fight. They also have a display in the cockpit that shows where friendly/not friendly aircraft are. The F-35 will have an even better system, in that HUD is displayed on his helmets visor. So anywhere he looks, he will be able to see the HUD. The new system is refereed to as Helmet-Mounted Display System (HMDS). This should greatly improve situational awareness for the pilots.


By Bad-Karma on 6/22/2011 4:14:52 AM , Rating: 2
For US and coalition aircraft it is SOP to turn off IFF and Mode4 before entering into the combat zone. Anything that emits can be used for targeting against it. And yes the datalinks are available but very few aircraft are equipped with the hardware to use it. And most of the links are only through satellite.

SATCOM is LOS (line of Sight) only. In a "furball" your heavily maneuvering which can cause sat-com receiver antennas to lose sync. Besides if your close enough that your actually dog-fighting an enemy then you're better off keeping your eyes on him, not studying your displays.


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