Thursday, May 21, 2009

F-35 FIFTH GENERATION FIGHTER


The F-35 Fifth Generation Fighter has a remarkable, unbelievable is a better word, avionics system. Its Electro-Optical Distributed Aperature System is a suite of IR sensors that provide complete spherical coverage around the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft for defensive surveillance and weapons launch and control. Look at the video by clicking on the Northrop-Grumman URL link that follows. Be prepared to be amazed http://www.es.northropgrumman.com/solutions/f35targeting/assets/eodasvideo.html
For all you Old Salts who find talk of fifth generation fighter planes too far out to think about when all you want to do is pine for your youth and those wonderful days in the Fleet, here is a bit of nostalgia for you. Click on IN THE NAVY then sit back and enjoy.

3 comments:

Bob said...

Not so fast! The following is from a recent GAO report to the Congress.

What GAO Found
Highlights of GAO-09-711T, a testimony before the Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces, Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program is the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) most costly acquisition, seeking to simultaneously develop, produce, and field three aircraft variants for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and eight international partners. The total expected U.S. investment is now more than $300 billion to develop and procure 2,456 aircraft over the next 25 years.

JSF development will cost more and take longer to complete than reported to the Congress in April 2008, primarily because of contract cost overruns and extended time needed to complete flight testing. DOD is also significantly increasing annual procurement rates and plans to buy some aircraft sooner than reported last year. Total development costs are projected to increase between $2.4 billion and $7.4 billion and the schedule for completing system development extended from 1 to 3 years.
The department has not asked for funding for the alternate engine program in the budgets since 2007 arguing that an alternate engine is not needed as a hedge against the failure of the main engine program and that the savings from competition would be small. Nonetheless, the Congress has added funding each year since then to sustain its development. Our prior analysis indicates that competitive pressures could yield enough savings to offset the costs of competition over the JSF program’s life. To date, the two contractors have spent over $8 billion on engine development—over $6 billion with the main engine contractor and over $2 billion with the second source contractor.
Manufacturing of development test aircraft is taking more time, money, and effort than planned, but officials believe that they can still deliver the 9 remaining test aircraft by early 2010. The contractor has not yet demonstrated mature manufacturing processes, or an ability to produce at currently planned rates. It has taken steps to improve manufacturing; however, given the manufacturing challenges, DOD’s plan to increase procurement in the near term adds considerable risk and will be difficult to achieve.
DOD is procuring a substantial number of JSF aircraft using cost reimbursement contracts. Cost reimbursement contracts place most of the risk on the buyer—DOD in this case—who is liable to pay more than budgeted should labor, material, or other incurred costs be more than expected when the contract was signed.
JSF flight testing is still in its infancy and continues to experience flight testing delays. Nonetheless, DOD is making substantial investments before flight testing proves that the JSF will perform as expected. DOD may procure 273 aircraft costing an estimated $42 billion before completing flight testing.

Bob said...

What GAO Found
Highlights of GAO-09-711T, a testimony before the Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces, Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program is the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) most costly acquisition, seeking to simultaneously develop, produce, and field three aircraft variants for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and eight international partners. The total expected U.S. investment is now more than $300 billion to develop and procure 2,456 aircraft over the next 25 years.

JSF development will cost more and take longer to complete than reported to the Congress in April 2008, primarily because of contract cost overruns and extended time needed to complete flight testing. DOD is also significantly increasing annual procurement rates and plans to buy some aircraft sooner than reported last year. Total development costs are projected to increase between $2.4 billion and $7.4 billion and the schedule for completing system development extended from 1 to 3 years.
The department has not asked for funding for the alternate engine program in the budgets since 2007 arguing that an alternate engine is not needed as a hedge against the failure of the main engine program and that the savings from competition would be small. Nonetheless, the Congress has added funding each year since then to sustain its development. Our prior analysis indicates that competitive pressures could yield enough savings to offset the costs of competition over the JSF program’s life. To date, the two contractors have spent over $8 billion on engine development—over $6 billion with the main engine contractor and over $2 billion with the second source contractor.
Manufacturing of development test aircraft is taking more time, money, and effort than planned, but officials believe that they can still deliver the 9 remaining test aircraft by early 2010. The contractor has not yet demonstrated mature manufacturing processes, or an ability to produce at currently planned rates. It has taken steps to improve manufacturing; however, given the manufacturing challenges, DOD’s plan to increase procurement in the near term adds considerable risk and will be difficult to achieve.
DOD is procuring a substantial number of JSF aircraft using cost reimbursement contracts. Cost reimbursement contracts place most of the risk on the buyer—DOD in this case—who is liable to pay more than budgeted should labor, material, or other incurred costs be more than expected when the contract was signed.
JSF flight testing is still in its infancy and continues to experience flight testing delays. Nonetheless, DOD is making substantial investments before flight testing proves that the JSF will perform as expected. DOD may procure 273 aircraft costing an estimated $42 billion before completing flight testing.

Salty Sam said...

Thanks Bob, your comments are informative and well put. Compressing JSF prototype development testing in order to accelerate full scale production and system deployment schedules is a dangerous undertaking. In the 1980s, the submarine community compressed its SUBACS (Submarine Advanced Combat System)development testing in order to accelerate full scale development of the new combat suite to conform with aggressive shipbuilding schedules for the new construction SEAWOLF attack submarine. The result was a disaster. The SUBACS program experienced severe development problems that could not be fixed in the time available and was cancelled. A new procurement program had to be organized to replace SUBACS. The restrcturing caused delay in getting a new class of submarine to the Fleet and major added program cost. Let's hope the JSF program fares better than SUBACS and SEAWOLF with compressing development testing before going into production.