Wednesday, March 13, 2019

More clues about the F-35 in the USAF budget...research on Next Generation Air Dominance Fighter balloons from 490 million to 1 Billion dollars...

via Defense News.
Instead of boosting F-35 procurement, the service appears to have expanded research and development funding for the program, hiking its investment in the Block 4 modernization program from $504 million in FY19 to $794 million in FY20.

The Air Force also heavily invested in the development of its future aircraft. Funding for Next Generation Air Dominance — a portfolio of systems that likely includes a new air superiority fighter — skyrocketed from $430 million to $1 billion.
Story here. 

First things first.

DEFENSE NEWS IS CRUSHING THIS BUDGET STUFF!!!!  It doesn't mean a thing from a small operation like this but I much appreciate their efforts and you should too.

Give them a visit and turn off your ad blockers.  This is journalism we all should support.

Now about those clues.

I highlighted what caught my eye (your mileage might vary) but they're really putting money into Block 4.  I would think we're pretty far down the road for them to need to add almost 300 million dollars to that modernization program.

Wonder what's lagging.  Remember they awarded LM a contract for 180 million dollars for software updates just in NOV of last year.  Oh and remember this?  Valarie reported for Defense News Oct 2018....
The first Block 4 capabilities are set to be delivered in April, Winter said, but about 22 modifications will require the F-35 to undergo a set of computing system upgrades called Tech Refresh 3. Those “TR 3” modifications include a new integrated core processor, memory system and panoramic cockpit display.

The Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps currently plan to upgrade all of their F-35s to TR3 in the 2020s, although that could change due to operational or fiscal constraints, Winter noted.

It is still unknown whether all operational F-35s will be converted to the Block 4 version, but that decision could also affect the cost of the follow-on modernization program.
At a glance it appears that the DoD is stuck between a rock and hard place. The F-35 needs software upgrades that are gonna cost more than expected, take longer than desired, might not be placed into planes already in service...or planes that are purchased now.

The next thing is that the F-35 is being sold to any and all as ruling the skies for the next 50 years but we're also seeing work on the Next Generation Air Dominance Fighter seemingly being sped up.

Is this quiet acknowledgement that it won't live up to that billing?

We have clues but no answers.  More to come I'm sure.

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