Delays of F-35 Production Brings Bad News for South Carolina

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The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was billed to be one of the most high-tech military aircraft. However, it also comes with a hefty price tag, which is something that the budget of the military can hardly afford.

The highly advanced fifth-generational aircraft had been conceived since 1990′s during the post-cold war. The F-35 JFS was envisioned to have evading radar system while having the ability to fly at supersonic speed. It is supposed to serve three branches of the U.S. military namely the Air Force, the Navy and the Marine Corps. Each service also wants its own customized model of the aircraft.

The aircraft was supposed to be built in rush, but production snags and flight-test problems that resulted to years of cost overruns lands the F-35 project to the chopping block of the Pentagon. This issue is vital for South Carolina where the three bases – Lower Richland, Sumter and Beaufort - that was assigned to receive the fighter jets are located. The F-35 will replace the aging aircraft on the bases like the F/A-18 and F-16. When the F-35 arrives in these bases, it will have the most modern aircraft in the service which will guarantee its continued operation and it can generate jobs for the locals. But if the project would not push through, the bases might close down and lead to unemployment.

Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the F-35 JSF program would not be terminated outright. However, his deputy is less optimistic about the future of the fighter jets.


South Korea seems to be favoring F-35

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The South Korean air force rates all of the Western competitors for its F-X Phase 3 fighter program, including the F-35 Lightning, as capable of meeting the in-service date of 2016, an assessment that appears to raise the chances of the F-35 Lockheed Martin aircraft.

The Korean air force said in an unpublished briefing paper that the Eurofighter Typhoon is in service and can therefore meet the schedule. Although it notes that the F-35 and the Boeing F-15SE Silent Eagle are not fully developed, the air force believes they can be ready in time.

That judgment is less important for the F-15SE than for the F-35. But for the Lightning the air force’s assessment seems to sweep aside concerns that, while the stealth fighter is especially well suited to the air-to-ground part of the F-X Phase 3 requirement, its repeatedly delayed development schedule has become uncomfortably tight for South Korea’s needs.

The U.S. Air Force does not expect its F-35As to be operational until 2018. Its definition of initial operational capability is more demanding than South Korea’s, but the U.S. schedule offers little reassurance for potential buyers that would need the aircraft earlier.

Even if the South Korean air force’s assessment is not realistic, the expression of that view at least means that the service is willing to proceed as if the F-35 complies fully with its requirements.


Israel plans 2nd squadron of F-35s

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The Israel Air Force plans to purchase a second squadron of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters during the upcoming IDF multi-year procurement plan that is currently under review within the General Staff.Last October, Israel purchased its first squadron of 20 F-35s in a $2.75 billion deal.

The second contract would likely be of a similar number of aircraft and could mean – depending on when the second deal is signed – that the IAF could have 40 operational aircraft by the end of the decade.

The fifth-generation stealth F-35 is purported to be one of the most advanced fighter jets in the world with the ability to fly undetected in enemy territory. Its uniqueness stems not only from its stealth capabilities but also due to its integrated sensor suite which provides pilots with unprecedented situational awareness and enables the sharing of information between the various aircraft.

The IAF plans to start sending pilots to the US in 2016 to begin training on the F-35 together with American pilots who will by then have received the aircraft. This way, when the planes are delivered to Israel later that year or in the beginning of 2017, the IAF will be able to use them fairly quickly in operations.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

Canadian opposition vows to fight plans on F-35 deal

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F-35A design

Canada’s main opposition Liberal Party condemned yesterday, a multibillion-dollar government plan to buy a fleet of new F35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin Corp.

Liberal industry spokesman Marc Garneau said there was no need to make an announcement now and questioned why the government would offer a sole-source contract.

The Conservative government said in May 2008 that it planned to buy 65 of Lockheed’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. The F-35s would replace Canada’s aging CF-18s, which are scheduled to reach the end of their working lives in 2017-20. In the 1980s, Canada bought 138 CF-18s and has refurbished 80 of them.

“A future Liberal government will put on hold this … contract,” expressed Garneau. “Competition guarantees the best value for Canadians.”

The Joint Strike Fighter program is being funded by the United States, Canada, Turkey, Britain, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Australia and the Netherlands.

F-35B design

“Contrary to Liberal myths, this was a competitive process. Canada participated in an extensive and rigorous competitive process where two bidders developed and compete prototype aircraft,” said a spokesman for Defense Minister Peter MacKay.

“Participation in the JSF program has allowed the Department of National Defense and Canadian industry to be part of a cutting-edge international military program.”

The JSF is set to be the world’s costliest arms acquisition program, priced at more than $300 billion for the United States alone. The United States is scheduled to buy more than 2,400 of the planes.

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