The U.S. House of Representatives on May 28 voted to retain funding for the F136 engine General Electric and Rolls-Royce are developing for the F-35 as an alternative to the Pratt & Whitney F135. The FY11 Defense Authorization Bill contains $485 million for continuation of the engine, which is around 70 percent through its development program.
The U.S. Department of Defense's undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics on May 14 certified to Congress that the proposed third Super Hornet/Growler multiyear procurement (MYP) met statutory requirements, including substantial savings. With this certification in place, the contract should proceed to cover the purchase of 124 aircraft over Fiscal Year 2010 through 2013.
The average unit production cost (APUC) for the F-35 is now predicted to be as high as $112 million in current dollars, according to a Pentagon review of the program conducted later last year, which led to a restructuring of the program. The APUC estimate does not amortize the cost of system design and development (SDD). That cost has now risen by $3.2 billion, to $53.2 billion.
Northrop Grumman and Raytheon are going head-to-head with active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar programs to update F-16 fighters and other fighters around the world. Northrop Grumman announced yesterday that it now has U.S. State Department licenses to talk to a number of export customers at DSP-5 level, a status that Raytheon announced for its proposals in November.
If Lockheed Martin is to be believed, there’s not much wrong with the F-35 program. In a briefing here yesterday, vice president F-35 business development Steve O’Bryan stuck doggedly to the company mantra that development is moving right along, with plenty of accomplishments despite the slow pace of flight testing.
Confirmation of the serious problems in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter development came yesterday when U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates dramatically fired the Marine general running the program. Maj. Gen. David Heinz, the program executive officer, took the blame for the delays and cost increases that have mounted in recent months. Gates also withheld $614 million in performance fees from prime contractor Lockheed Martin.
Years of speculation were brought to an end last Friday with the long-anticipated public debut of Russia’s new Sukhoi T-50 fighter, on the occasion of its first flight. Test pilot Sergey Bogdan took the prototype aircraft aloft for a successful 47-minute maiden voyage from Dzemgi airfield at Komsomolsk-na-Amur, followed by the public release of still and video imagery.
The B-52 design may be 58 years old, but the “Buff” is keeping pace with modern technology. On January 17 Boeing flew the latest upgrade of its mighty bomber for the first time in a three-hour sortie from Edwards AFB. The B-52H was outfitted with the combat network communications technology (CONECT) modification, which allows the B-52 to receive and send digital information in real time during missions.
The design maybe 40 years old, but there is plenty of life left in the F-15 Eagle fighter. Boeing’s St. Louis factory is producing F-15Ks for South Korea and F-15SGs for Singapore, and current orders mean that the Eagle will be in production into 2012. Meanwhile, Boeing Defense, Space and Security (DSS) is maintaining the technology insertion program that has seen the F-15 remain a viable option in today’s tactical aircraft marketplace.