Lockheed Martin selected the Northrop Grumman scalable agile beam radar (SABR) for planned radar upgrades of approximately 445 U.S. and Taiwanese air force F-16s. Northrop Grumman announced the selection on July 31.
Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor
Although the F-35 is in much better shape now than it was a year ago, “we’re not declaring victory yet–it’s still a development program,” said Lockheed Martin v-p of F-35 program integration Steve O’Bryan at the Paris Air Show. But O’Bryan noted that the top U.S. government procurement official had recently expressed cautious optimism and declared that there are no technical showstoppers.
When Serbia shot down U.S. Air Force F-117 during the Kosovo war in 1999, skeptics of stealth claimed vindication. However, that success was due to a combination of poor mission planning, smart air-defense operators exploiting both radar and ELINT sensors, some vulnerability in the first-generation platform–and pure luck. Low-observable technology has moved on, and the F-22, F-35 and the latest UCAVs are stealthier than the F-117.
The Obama administration has proposed a $526.6 billion defense budget for Fiscal Year 2014 that continues funding for developmental priorities, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the KC-46A tanker and a future long-range bomber. The President’s base defense budget does not include funding for overseas contingency operations in Afghanistan and does not reflect budget cuts mandated by sequestration.
China’s under-development J-20 combat aircraft recently demonstrated its missile-launch mechanism, which the Chinese media tout as a simple but “more efficient” design than that of the American F-22.
A senior U.S. Air Force commander has opened the door to joint coalition operations with the stealthy F-22 Raptor fighter. Speaking at the International Fighter Conference organized in London by IQPC, Maj. Gen. Larry Wells, commander of the Ninth Air Force, said “We need our partners to get involved with the F-22 in exercises.”
Imagery emerged on the Internet last weekend showing China’s latest stealth fighter in prototype form. With fifth-generation characteristics, it bears a distinct resemblance to the Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor and F-35A/C Lightning II stealth fighter designs, and appears to be similar in size to the latter. Photos of the twin-engine aircraft on the ground at an unidentified airfield–possibly Xian-Yanliang airbase–were leaked the day before U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta started a three-day visit to Beijing. Could this be mere coincidence?
A seven-month investigation by the U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board into unexplained hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation, incidents experienced by F-22 pilots has not determined the root cause of the problem, the service said March 29. The investigation did produce a number of safety recommendations, and the Air Force continues to study the problem.