Italy remains committed in buying 90 F-35s

Sources in Rome and the U.S. told Reuters that the Italian government is committed to buying 90 F-35 fighters despite pressure for more cuts. “The right number (of jets) for Italy to have the industrial role it wants is 90,” the source said. “Respecting the contract is in line with the various parliamentary resolutions and […]


A top US Navy officer thinks that one of the F-35’s most hyped capabilities is ‘overrated’


Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert outlined in a speech last week what the Navy would hope to see in a next-generation strike aircraft. Tellingly, Greenert’s ideal bears little resemblance to the trillion-dollar F-35, as David Larter reports for the Navy Times.  

For instance, the most senior naval officer in the US Navy said that “stealth may be overrated,” a statement that could interpreted as a swipe at the troubled F-35.

“What does that next strike fighter look like?” Greenert said during the speech in Washington. “I’m not sure it’s manned, don’t know that it is. You can only go so fast, and you know that stealth may be overrated … Let’s face it, if something moves fast through the air, disrupts molecules and puts out heat — I don’t care how cool the engine can be, it’s going to be detectable. You get my point.”

Greenert’s has a long-standing skepticism of stealth, which he believes will not be able to keep up with advances in radar technology. In 2012, Greenert wrote that “[i]t is time to consider shifting our focus from platforms that rely solely on stealth to also include concepts for operating farther from adversaries using standoff weapons and unmanned systems — or employing electronic-warfare payloads to confuse or jam threat sensors rather than trying to hide from them.”

Greenert’s position on the questionable utility of stealth meshes with what certain figures in the US defense industry are saying, with Boeing taking the view that electro-magnetic warfare and the use of jamming technology is fundamentally more important than stealth. Boeing and Lockheed Martin, the company that produces the F-35, often compete for similar military contracts.  

“Today is kind of a paradigm shift, not unlike the shift in the early part of the 20th century when they were unsure of the need to control the skies,” Mike Gibbons, the vice president for Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler programs, told Business Insider. “Today, the need to control the EM [electro-magnetic] spectrum is much the same.”

“Stealth technology was never by itself sufficient to protect any of our own forces,” Gibbons said.

Boeing’s EA-18G Growler specializes in disrupting enemy sensors, interrupting command and control systems, and jamming weapons’ homing systems.

Boeing believes that its Growlers compliment Lockheed’s F-35. Ultimately, the Navy remains lukewarm about the acquisition of the F-35. For 2015, the Navy ordered only two F-35s, which which lawmakers increased to four. The Marines requested six and the Air Force ordered 26 of the planes for the coming year. 

The US plans to purchase 1,763 F-35s by 2037, according to Reuters.

SEE ALSO: The US Air Force’s biggest research program is also one of its most mysterious

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Lockheed Delivers 36 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters in 2014

Lockheed Martin Corp., the world’s largest defense contractor, delivered three dozen F-35 stealth fighter jets to the Defense Department in 2014.

That was its production goal for the year and brings the total number of Joint Strike Fighters delivered to the U.S. and allies to 109 aircraft.

“Meeting U.S. and international aircraft delivery goals is a stepping stone,” Air Force Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, who manages the program for the Pentagon, said in a statement released by the contractor.

Lorraine Martin, general manager of the program at Lockheed, said the achievement “is a clear demonstration of our growing stability and ability to ramp up production,” according to the release.

The year, however, wasn’t without hiccups for the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons acquisition program.

The aircraft missed its international debut in the United Kingdom over the summer after the Pentagon grounded the fleet following a June 23 engine fire that heavily damaged an F-35A aircraft during takeoff at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. The fire was traced to “excessive rubbing” in the fan section of the F135 engine made by United Technologies Corp.‘s Pratt & Whitney unit.

Officials have previously said they expected the company to have a fix in place by the end of the year, though it’s not clear if that has occurred or how much the engine-maker has spent to address the problem — which it pledged to do.

Issues with the aircraft’s helmet, carrier hook and lightning protection “are all past problems,” Bogdan has said. Current areas of concern include the engine, the Autonomic Logistics Information System, or ALIS (pronounced “Alice”) — which determines whether the plane is safe to fly — mission data files and simulators.

While the general warned of the potential harm automatic budget cuts known as sequestration, funding doesn’t appear to be an issue for the program. Lawmakers this month approved about $8.8 billion for 38 F-35s — four more of the fifth-generation stealth fighters than the Pentagon requested.

The overall acquisition effort is estimated to cost a total of $398.6 billion for a total of 2,457 aircraft. That breaks down to an overall per-plane cost of $162 million, including research and development. Sustaining the aircraft over the next half a century is estimated to cost another $1 trillion.

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First Australian F-35 has arrived for training at Luke Air Force Base


Lieutenant General Davis on the USMC and the F-35: Preparing for 2015


UK orders first operational F-35 combat aircraft

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has signed for its first four operational Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft as part of the Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP 8) production lot, it was announced on 21 November.
The order marks an initial buy from the MoD’s Main

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New F-35 Prices: A: $95M; B: $102M; C: $116M


WASHINGTON: Lockheed and the government made it official today, signing the $4.7 billion eighth Low Rate Initial Production contract for the F-35. Here’s the full price and the official language: “Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $4,123,746,486 modification to a previously awarded fixed-price-incentive firm-target contract (N00019-13-C-0008) for

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F-35 Ahoy! Navy Version Of JSF Faces Nimitz’s Tests

F-35C with wings up

WASHINGTON: The next two weeks will be enormously important for the Navy’s carrier-based version of the Joint Strike Fighter as two F-35Cs undergo extensive testing operating from the USS Nimitz. The Navy has been the least committed of the three services buying versions of the Joint Strike Fighter, so if the two planes being tested

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A-10’s Delayed Retirement Threatens to Push Back F-35 Program

Program officials warned the Air Force’s and Marine Corps’s F-35 variants could have their timeline pushed back by weeks.

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Pentagon, Pratt Cut Deal for F-35 Engines, Modifications

The F-35 joint program office (JPO) announced Tuesday evening that it has reached an agreement with engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney on two key milestones – identifying the root cause of an engine issue that caused a fire in June, and on a contract for