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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 Amiga500 on 6/20/2011 5:32:53 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
This is because a stealthy aircraft, no matter how unstealthy, will still be able to detect a completely unstealthy enemy first


Arggh.

Detection and localisation is/will always be done by active offboard or passive onboard sensors - unless you want to effectively hold out a big sign saying "shoot me - shoot me!"

You do know GCI can and will enable both sides to detect and localise each other using off-board sensors, this will occur beyond their respective engagement envelopes. Then both sides will seek to maneuver to their advantage (for a long range missile engagement). The F-35's poor performance will badly count against it here. Even the Su-35 will be able to run around the F-35 at a distance, then able to instigate the attack at its choosing (unless big brother F-22 is around).

quote:
b) it's impossible for fighter aircraft to remain high and fast for any sustained amount of time, unless you are sitting in an F-22 specifically designed to supercruise at Mach 1.7 and 60 000ft.


You mean like the F-22, PAK-FA... and probably the J-20 (which I still maintain is more an interdiction bomber than an A2A fighter)? Oh, and the F-22 goes a helluva lot quicker than Mach 1.7 in supercruise. ;-)

Don't forget, compare the F-35 to its contemporaries.

quote:
No matter which way you look at it, until someone else designs a fighter both stealthier and faster than the F-35


Nah - there is a trade-off. It (the other plane) doesn't have to be both, if its 90% the RCS [or rather, 110% the RCS :-)] and 120% the kinematic performance, then you'd pick the other plane.


By Mudhen6 on 6/20/2011 5:45:17 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Arggh. Detection and localisation is/will always be done by active offboard or passive onboard sensors - unless you want to effectively hold out a big sign saying "shoot me - shoot me!" You do know GCI can and will enable both sides to detect and localise each other using off-board sensors, this will occur beyond their respective engagement envelopes. Then both sides will seek to maneuver to their advantage (for a long range missile engagement). The F-35's poor performance will badly count against it here. Even the Su-35 will be able to run around the F-35 at a distance, then able to instigate the attack at its choosing (unless big brother F-22 is around).


GCI, AWACS, and other EWR/SIGINT assets would be the very first things hit by F-22s. Clearly, I've simplified things by not considering these elements you mentioned, but the simple fact is if AWACS/GCI/etc. is present, it will likely be in support of the F-35.

quote:
You mean like the F-22, PAK-FA... and probably the J-20 (which I still maintain is more an interdiction bomber than an A2A fighter)? Oh, and the F-22 goes a helluva lot quicker than Mach 1.7 in supercruise. ;-)

Don't forget, compare the F-35 to its contemporaries.


What contemporaries? The PAK-FA is nothing but a paper tiger at the moment, and little is known about the J-20, but if you extrapolate from the previously terrible avionics, missiles, build quality, mediocre flight envelope and non-existent stealth of previous Chinese aircraft, I'm pretty the F-35 will be able to hold its own.

quote:
Nah - there is a trade-off. It (the other plane) doesn't have to be both, if its 90% the RCS [or rather, 110% the RCS :-)] and 120% the kinematic performance, then you'd pick the other plane.


The point being is that it's not enough to be energetically superior to the F-35, as the Flanker derivatives are. You need both stealth and energy, and currently there is no aircraft in the world that is comparable to the F-35 when both are considered (save the F-22, which destroys the F-35 in every respect).


By Amiga500 on 6/20/2011 6:17:14 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
GCI, AWACS, and other EWR/SIGINT assets would be the very first things hit by F-22s.


You think the OpFor are gonna line up waiting to be hit? Especially if they can detect/localise the F-22s? (Admittedly, a much harder target to kill than the F-35 - but mission kills are more than possible - especially given the limited numbers that can be committed to any deployment.)

quote:
What contemporaries? The PAK-FA is nothing but a paper tiger at the moment


Paper tiger? Its been flying for over a year now.

Strictly speaking, it is every bit as operational as the F-35...

quote:
little is known about the J-20, but if you extrapolate from the previously terrible avionics, missiles, build quality, mediocre flight envelope and non-existent stealth of previous Chinese aircraft, I'm pretty the F-35 will be able to hold its own.


I cannot disagree with that. As I said, I don't even believe it is primarily an A2A fighter.

quote:
You need both stealth and energy


Fundamentally disagree. VLO is a means to an end. You do not need VLO to achieve the same end-objective. Always be aware of that.


By Mudhen6 on 6/20/2011 6:34:55 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You think the OpFor are gonna line up waiting to be hit? Especially if they can detect/localise the F-22s?


What can possibly stop an F-22 four-ship from taking out an AWACs? Or any other target? These targets would be actively emitting, and would be easy prey for a long-range volley of AIM-120C/Ds.

I mean, are you kidding? Not even an opposing force of F-22s will be able to reliably stop a flight of F-22s supercruising at almost Mach 2 towards a target AWACS/EWR site/etc.

quote:
Paper tiger? Its been flying for over a year now. Strictly speaking, it is every bit as operational as the F-35...


Yes, but given the track record of the Russian military, how many PAK-FAs do you expect would be flying by their anticipated IOC of 2015? Just compare the IOCs of their Su-27SM and KA-50 programs with the (roughly) equivalent American programs, the F-15C MSIP and AH-64D.

The Russians have dozens of prototypes, but scarcely any actual next-generation equipment.

quote:
Fundamentally disagree. VLO is a means to an end. You do not need VLO to achieve the same end-objective. Always be aware of that.


Of course you don't "need" it. It (VLO) just makes everything infinitely easier. You don't have to fly as fast, or climb as fast, because you are stealthy and you're enemy is not.


By Reclaimer77 on 6/20/2011 7:00:28 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What can possibly stop an F-22 four-ship from taking out an AWACs? Or any other target?


A close ranged air-burst nuclear weapon. Other than that...not a damned thing.


By Amiga500 on 6/21/2011 4:41:54 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I mean, are you kidding? Not even an opposing force of F-22s will be able to reliably stop a flight of F-22s supercruising at almost Mach 2 towards a target AWACS/EWR site/etc.


Oh come on. Your brighter than that.

If an F-22 flight has to ingress through an S-300PMU/S-400 SAM belt, which is at the same time protected by opposing fighters with long ranged AAMs - they have no guarantee of being able to reach their target. The -120 D has a range of what... 80 km? Some of the S-300's missiles have a range nearly treble that!

It'll be the usual regression to using cruise missiles to hit everything hard - then following up with air attacks - which begs the question - if loadouts are so limited to maintain signature, why bother? The JSF can put 2 2Klb JDAMs or 8 SDBs on the ground during a flight... the F-15E can put 6 2Klb JDAMs or 10-20 SDBS (dep on station wiring upgrades).

-More generally-

With money always being finite - everything reduces to cost benefit. I simply don't see the F-35 as being worth while. They should have told the marines to forget about VTOL and just built an upgraded F-22 instead. You can keep most of the kinematic performance, most of the VLO performance, you have a larger frame for hanging stuff on while maintaining signature, 2 slightly detuned engines for reliability and reduced cost (albeit still a bit more expensive than 1 engine), commonality of parts, commonality of mechanic training, a cheaper development program and a means to get airframes in the field now (or rather, then), with incremental software upgrades coming later.

Alot of pluses there... not too many negatives (VTOL being the only big one really)


By Bad-Karma on 6/21/2011 5:25:12 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
They should have told the marines to forget about VTOL and just built an upgraded F-22 instead.


The corp is always sucking hind tit when it comes to equipment, resources and technology. They could never field more than a unit or two of F-22s, let alone keep up with the ops and MX costs. Even the Navy is parking a lot of their birds stateside to help pay for parts and MX for the wars. Stateside Navy pilots aren't getting a lot of hours lately.

The Marines are really in a bind with the F-35 Acquisition. What they really need and want is the CAS ability of an A-10 in a VTOL/VSTOL package for use with their Amphib Assault Ships. The 18 has served them well but of course those are limited to full size carriers, which of course belong to the Navy. And the Navy doesn't always have the big carriers where the Marines need to be. This is why they have so much at stake in the F-35, even if it isn't a perfect fit.


By 91TTZ on 6/21/2011 10:53:07 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
They should have told the marines to forget about VTOL and just built an upgraded F-22 instead. .... Alot of pluses there... not too many negatives (VTOL being the only big one really)


The problem with that reasoning is that the STOL capability was a very important factor for them. The Marines use the F-18 on full sized aircraft carriers and Harriers on the smaller helicopter carriers that they operate. These aircraft are going to be replaced, so the F-35C is going to replace the F-18 and the F-35B is going to replace the Harrier. A (carrier variant) F-22, F-18, or F-35C will not work as a replacement for the Harrier because they can't take off or land from a helicopter carrier.


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