The first international Joint Strike Fighter, an F-35B for the UK, was rolled out on November 22, one week before a parliamentary report shed more light on the UK’s decision to switch from the STOVL F-35B version to the conventional carrier landing F-35C version.
F-35 Lightning II
The U.S. Air Force will proceed with a service life extension program (SLEP) and avionics upgrade of 300 to 350 F-16 Fighting Falcons to compensate for an expected two-year slip in operational readiness of the F-35A Lightning II, service leaders told the U.S. Congress on November 2.
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.
A slowing of the production rate of the Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft is partly responsible for new job losses in the UK and Italy. BAE Systems is trimming 1,500 workers from its employment rolls at Warton and Samlesbury in the UK. Alenia is cutting 1,200 jobs in Italy. Both companies blame squeezed defense budgets for the cuts.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has gone to sea for the first time. An F-35B short-takeoff vertical landing (STOVL) version landed on the small U.S. aircraft carrier Wasp on October 3 at the start of a two-week trial during which 67 takeoffs and landings are scheduled. Some observers have raised concerns about the potential for damage to carrier decks from the aircraft’s F135 engine. It develops 39,400 pounds of thrust in the hover and 38,100 pounds of thrust in short takeoff.
BAE Systems named Northrop Grumman its manufacturing partner to offer the Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer System (AJTS) for the U.S. Air Force’s T-X jet trainer requirement. Northrop Grumman built the T-38C Talon jets that the T-X will replace.
Civilian and military leaders of the U.S. Air Force outlined priorities they plan to defend against potentially severe budget cuts, citing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, remotely piloted aircraft and a future long-range bomber specifically, among other systems and capabilities.
Japan is apparently proceeding on schedule with the F-X fighter competition, despite the large economic impact of the recent earthquake and tsunami, and a recent government reshuffle. A Ministry of Defense spokeswoman told Bloomberg news agency that a decision is likely by year-end.
Flight tests of the Lockheed Martin F-35 resumed after a two-week grounding. The Joint Program Office (JPO) said that the failure of a control valve had led to the malfunction of the aircraft’s Integrated Power Package (IPP), supplied by Honeywell. But an investigation continues, while a permanent resolution of the problem is being worked, the JPO added.