On November 19, Lockheed Martin received a $3.5 billion contract modification to build 31 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters for the fourth low-rate initial production (LRIP) batch. Together with earlier long-lead funding, this brings the contract value for LRIP-4 to $3.9 billion. The batch comprises 10 F-35A CTOL aircraft for the U.S.
The U.S. National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform drafted a recommendation for large reductions in U.S. military spending in an effort to save $200 billion. The document suggests ending procurement of the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor and slashing the planned buy of Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.
France and the UK signed a wide-ranging defense pact with far-reaching consequences for operational and industrial policy. The two countries will create an integrated carrier strike group and coordinate refits to ensure that one British or French aircraft carrier is always operational.
The UK is to cut its planned acquisition of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) by up to two-thirds, switch versions and delay introduction of the aircraft.
Lockheed Martin has begun flight testing a new sensor for the F-35's targeting system, developed by the company's missiles and fire-control division. The test aircraft is a highly modified Boeing 737 operated by BAE Systems and is known as the CATBird (cooperative avionics testbed).
Boeing announced here yesterday a set of potential enhancements to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet that it will market to export prospects. They include an enclosed weapons pod that is intended to lower the aircraft’s radar cross section. The countries currently evaluating or expressing interest in the Super Hornet include Brazil, Denmark, India, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, and Qatar.
Lockheed Martin may be focusing a large proportion of its promotional efforts on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, but the company insists there is still a lot of life left in the F-16 and that production could continue alongside that of the F-35 for some years. Meanwhile, the company has outlined a sustainment and supportability plan that projects to at least 2040.
Canada has selected the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as its next combat aircraft, Peter MacKay, the country’s defense minister, announced last Friday. The $9 billion commitment covers 65 JSFs. The first is due for delivery in 2016 to begin replacement of the CF-18 Hornet fleet. The commitment does not include ongoing training and support, which is estimated at a further $7 billion.
Recent orders for the Mikoyan MiG-29K may pave the way for further successes for the sea-going version of the “Fulcrum,” according to RSK MiG. A first batch of MiG-29Ks and KUB trainers for the Indian navy was followed by a second order this March for 29 aircraft. Meanwhile, the Russian navy has decided to buy 26 MiG-29K/KUBs to replace its Sukhoi Su-33s.
After a bad start to 2010, U.S. officials are at Farnborough to persuade their eight international partners that the original ambitions for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter are still intact. Escalating cost estimates and flight-test delays have cast a shadow over the airplane billed by Lockheed Martin as the only exportable fifth-generation fighter.