The Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program faces fresh challenges as the new year begins. First, a long-awaited “should cost” review from the U.S. Defense Acquisition Board might clarify whether Lockheed Martin’s continued optimism on the average procurement unit costs (APUC) is justified. In addition, big cuts to the U.S. defense budget seem unlikely to spare the F-35, which is the Pentagon’s highest profile acquisition, and might undermine the basis for the APUC calculations.
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia-based Alsalam Aircraft was at the Dubai Air Show in November featuring a growing capacity for high-end cabin completion work on larger business jets, from the Airbus ACJ series through the Boeing 747 series.
The company has already done a number of interiors for Saudi Royal Flight, and in December announced a partnership with MAZ Aviation, also of Riyadh, for new-aircraft design work.
Lockheed Martin announced that the troubled, tri-national, medium extended air defense system (MEADS) underwent its first flight test, at the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) on November 17.
Ongoing major requirements and a growing defense budget in the Republic of Korea prompted a big showing by major aerospace companies from Europe and Israel, as well as the U.S., at the Seoul Air Show in mid-October. Show organizers claimed that nearly two-thirds of the 313 exhibitors were from 30 foreign countries.
Lockheed Martin and Kaman Helicopters announced that the K-Max unmanned helicopter has been selected for deployment to Afghanistan. The optionally piloted machine was evaluated with the Boeing A-160 Hummingbird for a U.S. Marine Corps requirement.
Boeing gained a $135 million contract to add the Lockheed Martin infrared search and track (IRST) system to the U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fleet by 2015. According to Lockheed Martin, the long-wave system can detect airborne threats with 40 times more accuracy than radar at maximum detection ranges, while offering a comparable scan volume.
The flight of the Lockheed Martin high-altitude long endurance-demonstrator (HALE-D) airship ended after less than three hours last week in a forced landing. Two days later, much of it was destroyed by a ground fire during recovery operations. The HALE-D was the first of three lighter-than-air vehicles due to fly this year with Pentagon funding, as the U.S.
Lockheed Martin ferried to Morocco the first four of 24 F-16C/D Block 52s being supplied to the Royal Moroccan Air Force from its Fort Worth, Texas, plant under a 2008 foreign military sale. With those deliveries under way, the company said its F-16 backlog stands at 58 aircraft, sustaining production until mid-2013.
All 20 Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters now flying were grounded August 3, following the failure of the integrated power pack (IPP) on an F-35A during a ground run at Edwards AFB.
The Joint Program Office in the Pentagon said that the move was precautionary, until the root causes of the problem were understood. Lockheed Martin said it is working hard to resolve the issue. Honeywell supplies the IPP.
Lockheed Martin flew a K-Max helicopter to NAS Patuxent River to start an evaluation that will result in an unmanned airborne cargo delivery system being deployed to Afghanistan. The K-Max is competing against the Boeing A160 Hummingbird for a U.S. Marine Corps requirement.