Japan’s defense budget for Fiscal Year 2008 includes only Y7 billion ($66 million) for the Mitsubishi ATD-X Shin-shin (Spirit) new-technology fighter demonstrator. The amount is considerably less than the Y49.9 billion ($462 million) requested by the organization overseeing the program, the Technical Research and Development Institute.
It’s a stealthy, mass-produced warplane for 12 air arms in 10 countries, including Singapore. Can the F-35 Lightning II really fulfill its promise, at an affordable price? With crucial negotiations on production prices and quantities now under way, here’s how Lockheed Martin and partners are putting together the Joint Strike Fighter.
The Pentagon’s aging aircraft concerns won’t go away. About 60 percent of the U.S. Air Force’s 440 F-15A/B/C/D interceptors have been cleared to resume flying after inspections for structural fatigue of the forward fuselage longerons. But cracks have been found in some airplanes, and the remaining 40 percent of the fleet could need repairs.
U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle fighters are flying again, following a grounding after the November 2 loss of an F-15C interceptor version in the U.S. That crash followed an apparent midair break-up and nixed U.S. plans to fly an F-15E in the Dubai Air Show. The older F-15C fleet remains grounded. USAF officials said that the incident underscored their desire to boost the F-22 Raptor fleet beyond the 190 that Congress has approved.
The first Lockheed Martin (LM) F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) has now been grounded for more than six months. But program officials hope to get the world’s largest combat aircraft program airborne again by the end of this month. “We have a very aggressive flight test schedule to get everything done by October 2012,” Bill Coutts, LM’s F-35 site director, told AIN at Fort Worth recently.
Three military aerobatic teams from Europe will appear in the daily flying display here, interspersed with a dozen solo acts. The Spanish air force Patrulla Aguila (Eagle Patrol) is making its Dubai debut, flying seven CASA 101 jet trainers. The Patrouille de France and the UK Royal Air Force Red Arrows are making return appearances. Among the solo performers, the MiG-29 OVT will likely attract the most attention.
According to Lockheed Martin, only fighter aircraft belonging to the fifth generation “can survive and defeat the threats of tomorrow.” There are only two such aircraft, says the U.S. defense group–the F-22 Raptor and the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, now christened the Lightning II. And Lockheed Martin builds them both.
Pratt & Whitney is preparing five more ground-test engines to support seven units already participating in the F135 engine development and demonstration program for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). Two of the five will be used to qualify propulsion-system configuration ahead of planned delivery of the first-flight engine to Lockheed Martin by year’s end.
In the era of “smart weapons” a lot can still go wrong, not the least at the interface between the combat aircraft and the missile or bomb. Here at the Paris Air Show, the EDO Corporation is displaying new “solutions” in the specialized and surprisingly complex business of weapons carriage and release.
U.S. and Indian Air Force (USAF/IAF) units are back at the Kalaikunda Air Station (KAS) in India for the third series of Cope India exercises between the two services. Both sides have benefitted from the exchange which pits the IAF–outfitted mostly with Russian and French-made fighters–against frontline U.S.-made aircraft.