Pentagon postpones F-35 full-rate production by a year
Initially anticipated for December 2019, the decision to approve the full-rate production of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter will be delayed by at least a year.
The Joint Strike Fighter program entered its formal operational test phase in December 2018. However, it seems to have hit a new bump, this time with the integration of the Joint Simulation Environment (JSE) due to test the jet in situations impossible to reproduce on the range, as well as simulate complex threats for training.
As the Pentagon needs the JSE in order to complete the initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) of the aircraft, it could postpone the approval for full-rate production by “up to 13 months”, Ellen Lord, Undersecretary of defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (A&S) told reporters, which would mean December 2020 or even January 2021. The testing phase was originally scheduled to end in September 2019.
“We are not making as quick progress on the joint simulation environment, integrating the F-35 into it,” Lord said. As it appears, integrating the virtual model of the F-35 along with all its systems inside the simulation is proving more difficult than expected.
Already last year, the United States Congress had shown skepticism with the initial deadline of October 2019 to take a decision on full-rate production, as 180 of the 966 “open deficiencies” reported during tests, mainly concerning avionics software, would not be fixed by that time.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) had issued a report where it criticized the decision of the Defense Department to give its answer on full-rate production before the 180 of the 966 “open deficiencies” reported during tests, mainly concerning avionics software, are duly addressed.
Lockheed Martin plans to deliver 131 aircraft in 2019 and ramp up the output to 140 next year. However, keeping up with its objective without the capacity of full rate production could cause more financial strain for the program.
On top of that, the manufacturer will soon have to select the companies that will take over Turkey’s participation in the program in March 2020. “Turkey still makes 900 parts for the F-35,” said Lord. The loss of Turkey’s participation was estimated to cost $9 billion over the life of the program.
As for the hundred F-35A fighter jets ordered by the Turkish Air Force, they have yet to find a new operator. On October 15, 2019, President Tayyip Erdogan said he received multiple offers to replace the F-35. A day after the country was officially removed from the Joint Strike Fighter program, the Russian government through the Rostec state corporation had offered its Sukhoi Su-35 as an alternative.
End of her majesty: is this the end of the Boeing 747 production?
While the coronavirus has troubled every aspect of the aviation industry, could the outbreak force Boeing to cancel the...
Snowbird pilot injured by ejection due to seat malfunction
Investigators of the Canadian Department of National Defense determined that the crash of the CT-114 Tutor belonging to...
Embraer E190-E2 makes record length delivery flight
On July 2, 2020, Embraer flew a brand new E190-E2 from a manufacturing site in Brazil to Zurich, Switzerland. On its way...
Next Step - The Warp Drive?
Normally, most people wouldn't know where Wuhan is. Under the current circumstances, it's possible that most people are...
United Airlines Boeing 787 u-turns three times in two days
In a bizarre turn of events, a United Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner turned back to Tokyo Narita International Airport (...