Root-cause analysis of the F135 engine failure that grounded the F-35 fleet in July will be completed by the end of the month. Meanwhile, the problem is already sufficiently understood for Pratt & Whitney to have devised an interim fix. F-35s are flying again, but with borescope inspections mandated every three flying hours.
Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II
The threat of renewed U.S. government budget sequestration in FY2016 loomed large at this week’s U.S. Air Force Association (AFA) conference and exposition. Nevertheless, Air Force leadership seemed confident that they could protect their top-priority procurements: the F-35 stealth fighter, KC-46 tanker and the long-range strike bomber (LRS-B). This same week, the U.S. Congress passed a continuing resolution to enable uninterrupted spending on operations and procurement from October 1, the start of FY2015. A definitive National Defense Authorization (NDA) for FY2015 is not expected until January.
Modifying the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter is part of what the U.S. Navy wants to discuss with contractors in a series of “technical interchange meetings” before it develops an analysis of alternatives (AoA) for a future carrier-based strike fighter.
Lockheed Martin (LM) staged a ceremonial rollout of the first two F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on July 24 at Fort Worth, Texas.
Lockheed Martin (LM) and BAE Systems reported progress this month on their rival upgrades for F-16 Fighting Falcons. Two aircraft from each company’s launch customer (Taiwan for LM, Korea for BAE) are now in rework, ironically just a few miles from each other in Fort Worth, Texas. Meanwhile, the ferry of Iraq’s first two new Block 52 aircraft in September is looking unlikely.
Britain’s new aircraft carrier is now afloat, but the total forecast cost of £6.1 billion ($10.4 billion) still threatens to sink other defense projects in the UK. To this cost must be added the forecast near-£2.5 billion ($4.28 billion) being contributed by the UK to development and initial test and evaluation of the F-35s that will fly from her decks, plus perhaps another £5 billion ($8.56 billion) for their production. However, the Royal Navy and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) are taking their cue from H.M.
Boeing’s new 777X features an advanced fly-by-wire flight control system that will be powered by BAE Systems electronics. The system is called the Integrated Flight Control Electronics and Air Data Reference Function, and not only controls the 777X’s flight surfaces, but also adds further functionality, such as load alleviation, high lift and folding wingtips.
BAE Systems launched a new version of the Striker integrated display helmet for combat aircraft pilots here at the Farnborough Airshow this week. Mark Bowman, the company’s chief test pilot, demonstrated how BAE has leveraged its work on an alternative helmet-mounted display (HMD) for the Lockheed Martin F-35 to produce Striker 2. The company was tapped to provide the alternative, using night-vision goggles, after serious development problems with the Elbit Systems/Rockwell Collins HMD that is integral to the F-35 cockpit.
F-35 test pilots with the U.S. Air Force’s 461st Flight Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, California, will begin using a third-generation helmet-mounted display system (HMDS) in the next few weeks. The updated HMDS incorporates fixes to the current generation system, which pilots found inadequate and the Pentagon labeled as a technical risk to the F-35 program.
Kongsberg and Raytheon announced a teaming agreement this week to develop and market the Norwegian company’s JSM (joint strike missile) for the air-launched OASuW (offensive anti-surface warfare) mission.
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