Wednesday, June 20, 2018

F-35 mistake jets to be built till 2023...early buyers are guaranteeing expensive upgrades to achieve basic combat capability...

via Defense Aerospace.
Three-quarters of all the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters delivered to foreign customers until 2023 are obsolete and will require major retrofits before they can deliver their promised performance.

An analysis of F-35 contracts awarded to date shows that fully 343 – or 74% -- of the 460 export F-35s that Lockheed is to deliver until end 2024 will be in the current, obsolete Low-Rate Initial Production configuration.

These 343 aircraft are limited both in terms of operational capabilities and of the weapons they can use. They are, and will remain, obsolete because their software is incomplete and because their sensors – designed over 20 years ago – have been overtaken by several generations electronics progress.

Lockheed and the F-35 Joint Program Office have quietly decided that all of the planned sensor and avionics upgrades needed to bring the F-35 to full capability will be deferred until 2023, when the first Full-Rate Production (FRP) aircraft (Lot 15) will begin to roll off the production lines.

All this, however, is a best-case scenario, and assumes that the F-35 will pass its Initial Operational Test & Evaluation (IOT&E). Due to be completed in 2019 or 2020, IOT&E will allow the Pentagon to take the (Milestone C) decision to launch Full-Rate Production (FRP).

If it doesn’t – and the GAO reported on June 5 that “As of January 2018, the F-35 program had 966 open deficiencies, of which 111 category 1 (critical)” – then all bets are off, and the program will have to undergo a major restructuring. 
If the above isn't bad enough then put down your beverage.  I'm trying to save you a monitor...
 These new sensors are crucial for the F-35 to achieve the capabilities it was designed to deliver, but which are still not available today, after 17 years of development. Lockheed says, for example, that the new DAS will have five times the reliability and twice the performance of the current system, despite being 45% cheaper to buy and 50% cheaper to operate.

However, Lot 15 deliveries will only begin in early 2023 and, meanwhile, deliveries will continue with the current electronics and sensors. 

The implications are clear.

It's obvious that the avionics package that delivers the "sparkling" sensor fusion that is NOW the lynchpin of the F-35's combat performance is obsolete across the board.

What wasn't said is that even with the upgrades after 2023 the F-35 is playing a dangerous game of catchup.  Everytime they gain capabilities that put them on par with what's in pods under the wings of jets flying today they're still behind because upgrades to those systems will not wait for the F-35.

It still gets worse though.

Ever wonder why Singapore is waiting?  The USN?  There are sound economic reasons for it. 

The upgrades will be costly.

Who's gonna take big hits?  Check out the chart below....

Australia is gonna get gut punched.  Denmark slammed.  Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, S. Korea (in a big way) and the UK are all taking donkey punches to the nutts!

I wonder about Japan, and Israel because they do so much work on their own and will be using their own "gear" to a large extent in the airplane.

Especially on the part of the Israeli Air Force we could actually be seeing a kind of hybrid airplane that has the form of the F-35 but is internally very different.

But what about the USMC?

I fear for the Corps.  We're trying to get beyond the trainwreck but this will ensure continuing funding problems with the F-35 gobbling up the budget for at least another generation.

They got the plane across the finish line but at what price to Marine Aviation?

The funny thing is that they're gonna bring balance by destroying what they sought to make supreme.  By their incompetence we're headed back to a balanced air ground combat task force because of necessity, not planning.

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