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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 danjw1 on 6/21/2011 5:53:12 PM , Rating: 2
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.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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