The F-35 Lightning II is a major multinational program which is intended to produce an “affordably stealthy” multi-role strike fighter that will have three variants: the F-35A conventional version for the US Air Force et. al.; the F-35B Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing for the US Marines, British Royal Navy, et. al.; and the F-35C conventional carrier-launched version for the US Navy. The aircraft is named after Lockheed’s famous WW2 P-38 Lightning, and the Mach 2, stacked-engine English Electric (now BAE)Lightning jet.
This article covers the $300 billion international program’s events, main contracts, and ancillary programs during FY/CY 2006, while the most recent developments are tracked here.
The UK is a Tier 1 partner alongside the USA in the F-35 Lightning II program, with an investment to date of about $2 billion and plans to equip its future carrier force with up to 150 F-35B STOVL (Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing) aircraft. UK Minister of State for Defence Procurement, Lord Drayson, in a December 12 release:
“After an excellent meeting with Gordon England, I am delighted to be able to sign this MoU which will take the UK into the next phase of the JSF programme. I have always been clear that the UK would only sign if we were satisfied that we would have operational sovereignty over our aircraft. I have today received the necessary assurances from the US on technology transfer to allow me to sign the MoU.
X-35B and Harrier
…The MoU sets out the framework for purchasing JSF and supporting and upgrading it through life. It also provides for the pooling of the partner nations’ collective buying power in a common support solution, and of their resources and technology in follow-on development. It does not, however, formally commit the UK to buying any aircraft.” [DID: that would require a specific production contract setting out type, numbers, price, contractors, other services, et. al.].
In a December 11, 2006 ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, Canada’s Department of National Defence formalized their continued partnership in the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program. Canada was the second of eight partner nations to sign the MoU for the Production, Sustainment and Follow-on Development phase. The Department of Industry also signed MoUs with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, Pratt & Whitney and the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team.
Canada has been an active Tier 3 partner in the JSF program, participating in both the Concept Demonstration Phase ($10 million) and the System Development and Demonstration Phase ($150 million). This USD $160 million has included funding from both the Department of National Defence, and from Technology Partnerships Canada (TPC). In the Production, Sustainment and Follow-on Development Phase of the F-35 program, it is estimated that Canada’s contribution will exceed C$ 500 million (currently about $435 million) over 44 years.
The Canadian Department of National Defense had this to say regarding the F-35’s status as the follow-on to its current CF-18 (F/A-18A) fighter fleet:
Back on March 5/05, DID described the AAFARS forward refueling system for helicopters, and covered order #9 in a $100 million contract for 372 total AAFARS systems. BAE Systems recently received order #14, a $31.6 million order from the U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command for 119 portable combat helicopter refueling systems. Work is performed in Ontario, CA. The production run that now totals 362 units, bringing the total contract value to date to $94.3 million. See BAE release.
The Phelps/Kiewit Joint Venture in Chantilly, VA received an initial $23.1 million increment as part of a $286 million firm-fixed-price contract for the design and construction of a multi-story regional security operations center at Fort Gordon, WI. Work is expected to be complete by June 29, 2010. There were 8 bids solicited on Feb. 14, 2006, and 3 bids were received by the U.S. Army Engineer District in Savannah, GA (W912HN-07-C-0006).