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.
Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II
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.
Raytheon is in the final stages of preparing the GBU-53/B Small Diameter Bomb II for a system verification review to be undertaken within the coming weeks in advance of the U.S. government’s Milestone C review. If the review is passed successfully, a decision to enter the low-rate initial production (LRIP) phase is expected.
Nine heavy hitters from the Lockheed Martin F-35 program fronted Tuesday’s media briefing here at Farnborough. But even three senior Pentagon officials, one Air Force general and five industry chiefs could not conjure the actual hardware–although the good news at the show yesterday was that the F-35 was given clearance to fly with “a restricted flight envelope.” The four F-35Bs slated to fly to the UK were have been grounded at NAS Patuxent River after a June 23 engine fire at Eglin AFB in Florida.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 may yet show up here, but the odds were still against it yesterday, as AIN went to press. A senior Pentagon official said Thursday that all F-35 engines had been inspected and no faults found. But the organization responsible for the four F-35B STOVL versions that are supposed to make the transatlantic trip did not lift the grounding.
Transatlantic ferry flights of four Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning IIs, due to make their international debut in the UK, were delayed this week by the engine fire that occurred June 23 at Eglin AFB. As a result, tentative plans to fly one or more of them over the naming ceremony for the UK’s new aircraft carrier were cancelled. HM The Queen will formally christen the big ship named after her, at Rosyth dockyard in Scotland on July 4.
Flight operations of the F-35A Lightning II conducted by the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., were suspended after one of the fighters caught fire on June 23 as it prepared to take off on a training mission. The U.S. military is investigating the incident.
The F-35B V/STOL version of the Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter will not perform vertical landings during its international debut in the UK next month. The maneuver cannot be performed without risk of damage to runway surfaces, unless they have been constructed with high-temperature-resistant concrete. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed last week that three specially built vertical landing pads will be provided at RAF Marham, the planned UK base for the F-35B, at a cost of more than $12 million.
BAE Systems has been awarded a contract extension that will see it continue to support the RAF’s Tornado GR.Mk 4 fleet until the type’s planned retirement in 2019. BAE has been supporting the aircraft through the ATTAC (availability transformation: Tornado aircraft contract) program since 2006, but the initial 10-year period was due to expire in 2016. The new extension adds three years and approximately £125 million ($210 million) to the deal.
Australia will order 58 more Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fighters for $12.4 billion, the government said on April 23. Including jets the country has already ordered, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) will be able to field three squadrons of the fifth-generation fighter.