22 octobre 2019 | International, Aérospatial

The F-35 jet might hit full-rate production more than a year late

By: Valerie Insinna

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Defense Department will not clear the F-35 fighter jet for full-rate production this year, and it may even have to push that milestone as far as January 2021, the Pentagon's acquisition executive said Friday.

The Pentagon had intended to make a full-rate production decision — also known as Milestone C — by the end of 2019. But because the Joint Simulation Environment continues to face delays in its own development, the Defense Department will have to defer that milestone by as many as 13 months, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord told reporters during a news conference.

The Joint Simulation Environment, or JSE, is needed to conduct simulated evaluations of the F-35 in a range of high-threat scenarios.

“We actually had signed out of the JPO [F-35 Joint Program Office] earlier this week a program deviation report that documented expected schedule threshold breach in the Milestone C full-rate production decision of up to 13 months,” Lord said.

It is unclear whether the delay will cause an increase in program costs.

Although the Defense Department already buys the F-35 in large numbers, the full-rate production decision is viewed as a major show of confidence in the program's maturity. During this time, the yearly production rate is set to skyrocket from the 91 jets manufactured by Lockheed Martin in 2018 to upward of 160 by 2023.

But before Lord signs off on the production decision, the F-35 must complete operational testing, the results of which will be validated by Robert Behler, the Pentagon's director of operational test and evaluation.

The F-35's testing community intended to complete initial operational test and evaluation, or IOT&E, by this summer; however, the JSE is not yet complete.

“We are not making as quick progress on the Joint Simulation Environment, integrating the F-35 into it. It is a critical portion of IOT&E. We work closely with Dr. Behler and DOT&E [[the office of the director of operational test and evaluation]. They are making excellent progress out on the range with the F-35, but we need to do the work in the Joint Simulation Environment,” Lord said.

“We have collectively decided that we need the JSE [to be] absolutely correct before we proceed, so I will make some decisions about when that full-rate production decision will be made shortly," she added.

Specifically, the Defense Department and F-35 prime contractor Lockheed Martin are lagging behind in integrating the "'F-35 In-A-Box” — the simulated model of the F-35 and its sensors and weapons — into the JSE, reported Military.com, which broke the news of the testing delay in September.

Even before IO&TE formally started, the F-35 test community had noted the challenge of maintaining the planned schedule.

The F-35 began operational tests in December 2018, three months after the originally scheduled start date in September. The program office maintained that its goal was to see the test phase finished by the summer of 2019. However, F-35 test director Air Force Col. Varun Puri documented concerns in a September 2018 presentation that the test phase could slip until September 2019, which could add budget pressure to the program.

In a statement, Lockheed Martin expressed confidence in its ability to ramp up production over the next few years.

“As Secretary Lord stated earlier today, the F-35 is performing exceptionally well for our customers and we continue to ramp up production, modernize the aircraft and improve sustainment performance,” the company said. “This year our goal is to deliver 131 aircraft and that is on track to grow to over 140 production aircraft deliveries next year. We are confident the full F-35 enterprise is prepared for full rate production and ready to meet growing customer demand.”


Sur le même sujet

  • Northrop Grumman to Support the Australian Defence Force’s Joint Data Network

    8 novembre 2019 | International, Aérospatial

    Northrop Grumman to Support the Australian Defence Force’s Joint Data Network

    CANBERRA, Australia – November 6, 2019 – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has been awarded a contract by the Australian Defence Force Tactical Data Link Authority (ADFTA) to deliver tactical data link (TDL) systems and training as part of the development of the Australian Defence Force's (ADF) Joint Data Network. ADFTA ensures TDL-functionality to achieve single, joint and combined TDL interoperability for the ADF. “Northrop Grumman has extensive experience in networking and tactical data links across multi-domain forces, and a robust capability roadmap that will deliver increasingly enhanced data link technology in the years ahead,” said Chris Deeble, chief executive, Northrop Grumman Australia. “The Northrop Grumman engineers that delivered the F-35 Multifunction Advanced Data Link and communications, navigation and identification technologies will now be developing the ADF's future TDL technology.” The technology at the core of Northrop Grumman's advanced multi-TDL system provides vital connectivity between legacy 4th generation platforms and advanced 5th generation platforms, as well as future data links and networks. This is critical as forces seek to maximize the long term value of existing platforms and systems by making certain that they can interoperate with emergent 5th generation capabilities. As a leading global systems integrator and data link provider, Northrop Grumman's experience includes the software and hardware of individual communication systems; and the architectures, implementation and scalability of TDL systems and services. Awarded earlier this year, the three-year contract advances the long-term relationship between Northrop Grumman and ADFTA. Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in autonomous systems, cyber, C4ISR, space, strike, and logistics and modernization to customers worldwide. Please visit news.northropgrumman.com and follow us on Twitter, @NGCNews, for more information. View source version on Northrop Grumman Corporation: https://news.northropgrumman.com/news/releases/northrop-grumman-to-support-the-australian-defence-forces-joint-data-network

  • Army picks four to build robotic combat vehicle prototypes

    21 septembre 2023 | International, Terrestre

    Army picks four to build robotic combat vehicle prototypes

    The Army will choose a single robotic vehicle from the four companies selected to build prototypes over the next year.

  • House-passed US 2024 defense bill contains $13.5 billion for cyberspace activities

    18 juillet 2023 | International, C4ISR

    House-passed US 2024 defense bill contains $13.5 billion for cyberspace activities

    The just-passed House version of the annual must-pass National Defense Authorization Act contains a host of cybersecurity provisions, including new authorization for Cyber Command to analyze dark web information and work with Taiwan on defensive cybersecurity.

Toutes les nouvelles