F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: SDD Contracts & Events 2006
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 F-35 Family of Aircraft
The F-35 Lightning II is not one aircraft; it is several.
The USAF and most allied air forces plan to fly the F-35A CTOL (Conventional Take-Off and Landing) variant, which is considered the “base” F-35. For the most part, it will replace air force F-16s and F/A-18 A-D model Hornets around the world. It is also touted as an A-10 replacement, but many observers are less confident.
The US Marines, British Royal Navy, and nations with small carriers like Italy and Spain will fly the F-35B STOVL (Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing) variant. It adds a vertical lift fan, and makes tradeoffs in a number of other areas. It replaces the Harrier “jump jet” with a supersonic-capable, stealthy alternative that is more stable to land, and doesn’t attract heat-seeking missiles into the aircraft’s center body.
The US Navy is currently the only planned customer of the F-35C, which makes changes to the wing, tail, and landing gear in order to handle the stresses of carrier catapult launches, and the controlled crashes of carrier landings. It will replace the US Navy’s F/A-18 A-D model Hornets.
- See the most current sub-section: “The F-35 Family of Aircraft” for fuller details and graphics covering each F-35 model.
- For full treatment of the controversies regarding the F-35 family’s air-to-air combat capabilities, and the aircraft’s performance, see: “The F-35’s Air-to-Air Capability Controversy.”
- for fuller treatment re: the limits of unarmored fast jets in the close air support role, read “The Major’s Email: British Harrier Support in Afghanistan, Revisited.”
F-35 Program: Production Timelines & Structure
The F-35B STOVL’s forced redesign for weight reasons has led to F-35 AA-1 being a unique airframe used to validate design, manufacturing, assembly and test processes. The first optimized-airframe F-35B STOVL is being assembled by Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and BAE Systems; it is scheduled to fly in February 2008. The first optimized-airframe F-35A will follow in August 2008, and the first F-35C carrier variant is scheduled for flight in January 2009. A total of 23 test aircraft are scheduled to be built for various purposes (15 flight, 7 non-flight, 1 radar signature) – see Flight International article for details re: “Option 9”.
The JSF program is ‘tiered,’ with 4 possible levels of participation based on admission levels and funding commitments for the System Design & Development (SDD) phase. It also includes a large number of defense contractors around the world. Note that all SDD funding totals below are in US dollar equivalents:
- Tier 1 Partners: The USA (majority commitment), Britain ($2 billion)
- Tier 2 Partners: Italy ($1 billion); The Netherlands ($800 million)
- Tier 3 Partners: Australia ($150M), Canada ($150M), Denmark ($125M), Norway ($125M), Turkey ($175M)
- Security Cooperative Participants status: Israel ($35M), Singapore.
Read “F-35 Program: Production Timelines & Structure” for further details.
F-35 Program: Events & Developments
During the FY 2006 period, the JSF program has seen three major developments. The first and most obvious was the formal rollout of the first test plane on July 7, 2006, and the bestowal of its official name.
The other developments may have passed unnoticed unless one was looking. For instance, it was revealed that the F/A-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) also excel in reconnaissance and electronic eavesdropping. The aircrafts’ combination of powerful phased array AESA radars, passive electromagnetic antennas and sensors embedded throughout their frames, powerful onboard computer processing, and secure high-bandwidth communications will give them capabilities once available only to dedicated electronic attack aircraft.
Experiments also discovered that the F-35’s AN/APG-81 AESA radar may also be able to function as a secure, ultra-high bandwidth communications link with other AESA-equipped aircraft (thus far, only American aircraft use AESA radars), allowing much more shared information than Link-16 or other current options could handle.
Other developments related to the overall program and to international partner participation include…
Dec 15/06: Lockheed Martin’s announces F-35 AA-1’s successful first test flight, and provides details. This flight begins a 12,000-hour flight-test program. Defense-Aerospace, meanwhile, quibbles that the flags on the aircraft were mistakenly arrange back-to-front, instead of front-to-back.
Dec 12/06: Britain formally signs the F-35 Production Phase MoU. See UK MoD Release.
Dec 11/06: Anglosphere up. Tier 3 Partner Australia formally signs the production phase MoU, at a Pentagon ceremony that Canada and Britain also attended.
Dec 11/06: Tier 3 partner Canada formally signs the production phase MoU, and estimates up to $7 billion in industrial opportunities. In the Production, Sustainment and Follow-on Development Phase of the F-35 program, Canada’s contribution is expected to exceed C$ 500 million (currently about $435 million) over 44 years. Thus far, 54 Canadian companies, universities and research institutions have won 154 contracts to date valued at approximately C$ 157 million (about $135 million).
While no commitment has been made yet re: replacing the current F-18 fleet with up to 80 F-35As, Canada is using its participation in the F-35 program to help define its future fighter requirements.
Nov 30/06: With Turkey’s Defense Industry Executive Committee convening on December 12, 2006 to discuss the F-35 Lightning II’s looming production MoU milestone (among other issues), Eurofighter officials said that the group has made Turkey an offer of its own for the estimated $10-12 billion fighter program. The consortium is offering Turkey “equal partnership with equal voting rights as other member nations” and a sliding scale of local work share depending on the number of fighters bought. The offer reportedly includes a $9 billion local work share with a 120 fighter buy, $6 billion with 80 aircraft, or $3.2 billion with a 40 aircraft purchase.
Nov 20/06: The GE/ Rolls-Royce F136 fighter engine team held a successful Preliminary Design Review (PDR), a three-month process led by the F-35 Program Office and Lockheed Martin and including Wright Patterson Air Force Base, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, and defense officials representing the F-35 program’s international participants. The PDR assesses the progress to the F136 design and its unique hardware, as well as the strategy to move the engine into a production phase later this decade. The event is a key milestone in the F136’s $2.4 billion System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase, launched in August 2005. The next major milestone is the Critical Design Review in late 2007. Thus far, GE says the F136 program is moving forward on-budget and on-schedule. See GE press release.
Nov 14/06: The Netherlands’ Secretary of Defense Cees Van der Knaap has signed the Production Sustainment & Follow On Development (PSFD) MoU in Washington D.C. together with his American counterpart, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England. See the Ministerie Van Defensie release [Dutch], and the speech given during the signing ceremony [English]. With the help of our readers, DID also expands our coverage to include translations detailing the divergent Dutch political positions around the F-35 as their elections approach.
Nov 13/06: Aviation Week’s Aerospace Daily & Defense Report publishes “Rumsfeld’s Ouster, Dems’ Arrival Could Bring TACAIR Changes.” There are a number of predictions that the changes will involve more F-22As, followed by fewer F-35s and more F/A-18 Super Hornets.
Nov 10/06: Australian Defence Minister Dr. Brendan Nelson announced that the Australian Government has given First Pass approval for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The minister plans to sign the JSF Production Sustainment and Follow-on Development (PSFD) Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in December 2006, once final administrative arrangements are in place. The decision has been strongly criticized in Australia, with concerns centering around its air superiority during the period from 2010 (when its F-111s receive early retirement) to operational capability with the F-35s around 2015-2018.
Nov 6/06: EDO Corporation announces a contract from Lockheed Martin for the fabrication of precision, advanced-composite structures for the F-35 Lightning II. The contract calls for the delivery of components for 14 aircraft, and is valued at $1.8 million with delivery scheduled to be completed by December 2008. In addition to composite structures, EDO is developing pneumatic weapons-release systems and advanced antennas for the F-35s. See EDO press release.
Nov 1/06: AVM Criss: Does Groupthink Power Australia’s JSF? Follow-on to DID’s updated Oct 2/06 article. Retired Australian Air Vice Marshal Peter Criss pens a guest article, and discusses both the JSF decision and what he contends is a larger problem of groupthink within Australia’s DoD.
Oct 31/06: News services in South Korea contend that they may be considering the F-35 Lightning II instead of their Phase 2 purchase of 20 F-15K Strike Eagles. DID looks into the reports, and concludes that the Lightning may fly in South Korean colors one day – but probably not as a 2007-2011 acquisition, given the program’s timelines as noted above and the cost of low-rate initial production F-35s.
Oct 19/06: DID’s article “Elec Tricks II: $9.7M for Further Research” is a follow-on to our earlier piece that cites the potential for the F-35’s AN/APG-81 AESA radar to act as a secure, high-bandwidth communications relay (see section introduction). It seems the concept is being taken seriously, and given additional funding.
Oct 13/06: Pratt & Whitney’s F135 jet engine has achieved Initial Flight Release from the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO). This makes it eligible to power the F-35A flight test program, set to begin in late 2006.
Oct 11/06: The Dutch Court of Audit has issued its report on the F-35 project, covering subjects ranging from the auditing challenges on international programs to program cost and risks, to Dutch industrial participation. Its overall tone can be fairly described as cautionary, and it presents the F-35 as a risky investment. This could be significant given the November 22, 2006 elections, which are currently seen a a very close race for the current center-right coalition.
Oct 2/06: Recently-retired Australian Air Vice Marshal Peter Criss has puclicly broken ranks with Australia’s DoD, and advocates buying the F-22A Raptors for Australia instead of early-production F-35As. DID has the coverage – including a very in-depth submission to a Parliamentary Committee that supports Criss’ view and explains some of the thinking behind it. Follow-on additions include the position of the opposition Labour Party (buy F-22As initially, then consider the F-35 once it’s in full-rate production), and adds links to formal submissions for Australia’s DoD.
Note also our July 12/06 entry in this section; opposition in Australia is fueled in part by the country’s expected buy of early-production aircraft, whose cost could be over $100 million each.
Sept 29/06: The Dutch Council of Ministers will recommend that The Netherlands participate in the F-35’s production phase. Translations of Dutch documents cover expected economic returns, planned procurements, and an interesting side deal with fellow Tier 2 partner Italy.
Sept 8/05: A press release put out by Dutch firm Stork Fokker notes that “More than 70 Dutch companies are now involved in the development of the F-35 Lightning II (JSF). These companies have up to now received total orders with a value of US$ 700 million. The expectation of a total production order value of US$ 8 to 10 billion remains undiminished. Out of the potential turnover for Stork (US$ 4-6 billion), orders worth approximately EUR 1.3 billion may be subcontracted to other Dutch companies.”
Aug 22/06: InsideDefense.com reports that the current draft of the Pentagon’s FY 2008-2013 program objective memorandum (POM) includes changes to the JSF program that reflect an agreement between the Navy and Marines to postpone initial operating capability by 14 months for the Marines’ F-35B STOVL (2011-2012) and the Navy’s F-35C carrier version (2013-2014). Subsequent reports note that the proposed POM would also cut production by 72 planes.
As Inside Defense points out, ‘stretching’ the program this way will raise costs, and could cause trouble with some allies. While most allies will buy the F-35A version, the British are depending heavily on the F-35B and many pointed questions have been asked re: will the plane be ready when the new Queen Elizabeth Class carriers are? Over in the USA, meanwhile, the rising average age of its TacAir fleet is becoming a concern.
Aug 10/06: USAF officials announce that the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin AFB in Florida will train future pilots on all 3 versions of the F-35 Lightning II. The first aircraft should begin to arrive by 2010, and the 33rd will become a joint wing with USAF, Marine aviation, and Navy pilots. The 33rd is currently a combat flying unit and part of 9th Air Force; as it transitions, its F-15C Eagles will be reassigned elsewhere to replace older F-15s. The reassignments will be complete in summer 2010, and the wing will transfer from Air Combat Command to Air Education and Training Command (AETC). The AETC’s wing structure for the F-35 training mission could end up with as many as 2,200 people.
Aug 2/06: Inside Defense reports that technology transfer issues between the US & UK have been resolved by an agreement in principle, with classified annexes to follow by November 2006 defining the terms more specifically. Once a more complete agreement is signed, it will remove one of the biggest issues threatening the international program and is likely to serve as a model for other countries.
July 19/06: BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin sign an agreement that defines how F-35 support services will be provided in the UK through the life of the F-35 Lightning II program. BAE Systems, as a principal team member, will take the lead in providing sustainment activities for the life of the F-35 program there, which is expected to extend through the next 40 years. Team JSF, under BAE’s lead, will now define how the F-35 team will deliver the fixed-cost through-life support capabilities that the UK MoD now looks for as a matter of policy. See BAE release.
July 18/06: Tech Transfer Resolved? Jane’s reports from Farnborough International Air Show 2006, quoting US Rear Admiral Steven L Enewold’s remarks to a public audience that “We have an eye-lock agreement with all the countries on what they need to operate and maintain their fleets in a sovereign manner…” Eneworld reportedly added that the US sees eye-to eye with each JSF partner country on the amount and nature of technology that should be supplied to maintain and upgrade their aircraft when they come off the production line. Enewold’s successor Brig. Gen. Charles Davis reportedly added that partner countries have not asked for changes in the basic JSF model each country will receive, which should improve interoperability considerably.
July 18/06: The F136 alternative engine team of GE and Rolls-Royce signed agreements with Italian firm Avio SpA to supply 11 parts during the System Development and Demonstration Phase (SDD) of the F136 Engine Program. The Purchase Orders (POs) for parts, tooling and Non-Recurring Engineering will be valued approximately at $10 million. Avio will be involved in design engineering and manufacturing efforts, and the agreements also offer opportunities for a follow-on supplier relationship during the LRIP (Low Rate Initial Production phase) as well as a Revenue Sharing Participant Agreement for the FPP (Fixed Price Production) and Sustainment Phases of the F136 Engine Program. Read Rolls Royce’s release.
July 18/06: The F136 alternative engine team of GE and Rolls-Royce signed an agreement with Canada’s NRC (National Research Council) Institute for Aerospace Research. The comprehensive agreement will focus on the performance of specific developmental and certification testing of the F136 engine, utilizing the world-class expertise and capabilities resident at the NRC facilities in Ottawa and Montreal, Canada. Additional collaborative activities being considered involve the application of F-136 specific knowledge-based programs, and the positioning of an NRC researcher on-site at the Rolls-Royce F136 facility in Indianapolis, Indiana. Read Rolls Royce’s release.
July 14/06: The Joint Strike Fighter will henceforth be known as the “F-35 Lightning II,” in the wake of the public rollout of F-35A test aircraft AA-1 and the warplane’s official naming ceremony. Webcasts of the inauguration and naming ceremony are also available for viewing via the TeamJSF.com site’s public areas [Agenda in MS Word | N.B. 30-second buffer: North America East Coast | Central | West | Out Of US]. The official JSF.MIL site adds more photos from the inauguration period, as well as the manufacturing process.
July 12/06: A Defense News article by Michael Fabey [may require subscription] quotes U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Steven Enewold, who directs the Pentagon’s JSF program office, as saying that the cost to build each F-35 will average $150 million through the end of the decade, falling slightly less than $50 million for the F-35A and a bit more than $60 million for the F-35B STOVL. “While we’re still on a learning curve, the airplanes are going to be expensive in then-year dollars…” Note that Low Rate Initial Production is often significantly more expensive than full-rate production costs; as a point of comparison, the full-rate production price for additional F-22A Raptors is approximately $175 million each. These costs matter; aerospace analyst firm The Teal Group was quoted in the article as saying:
“With a $45 million F-35, the U.S. rules the world export market… Without it, the U.S. will be lucky to hang on to 40 percent of the discretionary fighter market.”
July 11/06: The UK’s Parliamentary Defence Committee grills the British Secretary of State for Defence, (the Rt. Hon. Des Browne, MP) on a number of subjects, from Afghanistan & Iaq to Britain’s Defence Industrial Strategy and the technology transfer arrangements re: the F-35. July 2006 had been given as a time frame for a technology transfer agreement, and there isn’t one yet, but Browne and others before the committee believe that one is forthcoming. They also make it clear than an agreement must be in place before a production decision can be taken around the end of 2006, and describe exactly what “full operational sovereignty” means to them:
“…this is not industrial sovereignty, this is our ability to operate the aircraft safely for our pilots and aircrew; to maintain, repair and upgrade and to integrate into the UK operating environment some of the centres of communications so that the enhancements you have to do for each operational deployment and each mission plan can be done, as we would for other aircraft in the Royal Air Force and in the Royal Navy. [But]… I just say to the Committee with some confidence that we are not anticipating we will not be able to resolve this.”
June 24/06: Amidst negative media reports re: the JSF, Australia’s Department of Defence issued a formal reply: “Defence strongly disagrees with media reporting today that the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program is ‘flawed’ and should be abandoned. This reporting, following on from a newspaper article today, misrepresents the true status of the JSF program…” Note that the reply addresses only project-related issues raised in earlier Australian Defence Science & Technology Organization reports.
June 21/06: Israeli Air Force Brigadier-General Ze’ev Snir notes that the IAF plans to buy over 100 F-35s, and doesn’t believe that access to computer source code will be an issue.
June 9/06: Australia’s Parliamentary Library publishes “The F-35 (Joint Strike Fighter) Project: progress and issues for Australia” [PDF]. Overall, Research Note No. 32 is not a favorable report – the author discusses the JSF’s key challenges from an Australian perspective, and seems to conclude that the risk of the JSF ending up as a mistaken purchase is high.
Note esp. the importance attached to Britain’s wavering participation (a topic discussed at DID before), software source code access for future maintainability (ditto), concerns about stealth performance within the threat environment the JSF will face, and steady upgrades being made to potential 3rd and 4th generation competitors like the F-15E, Eurofighter, Rafale, et. al.
On the positive side, note the attractiveness of the F-35B STOVL (Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing) for the growing number of countries with the LHA/LHD flat-deck amphibious assault ships like the ones Australia is buying. That last consideration of of especial interest, as the F-35B is proving to be the largest technical challenge and this is affecting the other variants. Yet the US Marines’ doctrine requires airpower for their fleet of multi-billion LHA/LHD ships, Tier One Partner Britain has chosen the F-35B as the sole version it wants, and a number of export customers may find the F-35B to be a unique and compelling offering that creates incentives to “standardize” by buying other JSF models for Air Force use.
June 2/06: Christopher Bolkcom of the US Congressional Research Service updates the CRS report on the F-35: “F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program: Background, Status, and Issues” [PDF] This may be the best overall document for general background regarding the Joint Strike Fighter program’s goals, issues, and program/ funding challenges with respect to both domestic defense dollars and international export orders. This OpenCRS summary page also has links to past versions of this CRS report, as well as links to related CRS documents.
May 23/06: Saab/BAE partnership Gripen International makes formal offers to JSF consortium members Norway and Denmark re: their JAS-39 Gripen fighter as an alternative. Precise details of those offers are not released, but the corporate release does mention that a JAS-39DK and/or JAS-39N would have longer range and greater payload than existing Gripen models.
May 22/06: GAO Slams F-35 Dual-Engine Program Cancellation. The GAO does not think the decision was based on sound reasoning, and explains why. GE and Rolls Royce’s F136 engine just improved its survival chances, but there are a few steps left before the issue is resolved. DID explains.
May 12/06: David Vandenberghe translates a Dutch Ministerie van Defensie release: “There is no reason to reconsider the preference for the JSF. That is the conclusion of the fourth year report sent to Dutch Parliament (2nd house) by Karien van Gennep (Economic Affairs) and Cees Van der Knaap (MoD). If the parliamentary debate about the replacement is closed this fall an order for one JSF will be placed next year, followed in 2008 with an order for two more JSFs for testing by the airforce and to facilitate integration of the aircraft into service.” They also expect to establish a European JSF maintenance center, which would offer an important role for the Netherlands. The Ministerie van Defensie may eventually order 85 F-35As to replace its 108 F-16s, at an estimated cost of around EUR 4.5 billion. See also defense-aerospace.com translation. The Netherlands is a Tier 2 JSF partner.
May 10/06: Titanium prices have been cited as potential future cost issues for the F-35 and F-22 fighter programs, but a 1973 US law called the Berry Amendment has the effect of restricting supply and raising prices. The Aerospace Industry Association reports they have reached agreement in principle with senior leaders of the Defense Department on changes to the Berry Amendment. See DID report and follow-ups.
May 8/06: The Norwegian Government decides to continue participation in the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter’s System Design & Development program, and will pay the applicable NOK 114 million ($18.75 million at current conversion) in addition to the 429 million kroner that has already been paid. What they do not do is select the fighter that will replace their 70 remaining F-16s with about 40-50 new aircraft. Indeed, the release notes that there are now four potential candidates: Lockheed’s F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, EADS/BAE’s Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab/BAE’s JAS-39 Gripen, and Dassault’s Rafale. See Forsvarsdepartmentet release, and also DID’s in-depth article by Endre Lunde: Norway’s Future Fighter Competition: A Norwegian View.
April 18/06: Jane’s Navy International reports USAF Chief of Staff Moseley’s April 11th warning that a repeat of the 2004 program delay could have effects on F-35B purchases by Britain, Italy, and Spain. Jane’s says:
“The UK already has contingency plans in place to use its carrier-based GR.9 Harriers to compensate for any gap between its new carriers coming into service and the planned F-35B short take-off and landing variant, but how long this could be sustained remains unanswered. Italy and Spain are also looking to the F-35B, but these two countries face similar issues to the UK if they attempt to extend the service of their own carrier-based AV-8B Harriers beyond 30-35 years.”
March 23/06: British JSF Prospects Looking Up. Good news: technology transfer issues may be solvable. Bad news: JSF’s stealth profile will be worse in order to contain costs. This article also contains a complete set of links to DID stories covering the friction between the JSF program’s two Tier 1 partners.
F-35 Program: Development & Production Contracts
Unless otherwise specified,contracts are issued by the US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) in Patuxent River, MD to Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. in Fort Worth, TX.
Dec 16/06: Engine testing isn’t cheap. A USAF article puts some numbers beside the role Arnold Engineering Development Center will play in F-35 engine testing. Jeff Albro, AEDC’s program manager for the Pratt & Whitney F135 turbine engine, has said that:
“We spent about $17 million on facilities upgrades… Most of it was specifically and uniquely required for the JSF engine — things other legacy programs haven’t had to have before.” Engine test program costs here, ranging from facility upgrades that began here in 2001, through Operational Capability Release, are nearly $200 million according to Albro.
July 17/06: United Technologies Corp. subsidiary Pratt and Whitney Military Engines in East Hartford, CT received a $10 million ceiling-priced modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract (N00019-02-C-3003) for preliminary design, program planning, and program management in support of F-135 jet engine gearbox redesign. Work will be performed in East Hartford, CT and is expected to be complete in January 2010. The F135 received Initial Flight Release certification in October 2006, and will power the F-35A’s upcoming test flights.
July 17/06: United Technologies Corp. subsidiary Pratt and Whitney Military Engines in East Hartford, CT received a $12 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract to incorporate revised roll post bay ventilation changes into the F-135 propulsion system for the F-35B STOVL variant. These changes are required to meet revised system development and demonstration flight test roll post leakage requirements that were specified by Lockheed Martin, the F-35 air system prime contractor. Work will be performed in Bristol, England (75%), and East Hartford, CT (25%), and is expected to be complete in September 2008.
July 17/06: Pratt and Whitney Military Engines in East Hartford, CT received a $5.5 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract for the procurement of unique F-135 special test equipment required to perform F-135 engine ram air testing. Work will be performed in West Palm Beach, FL (95%), and East Hartford, CT (5%), and is expected to be complete in March 2007.
July 17/06: BAE announces that preparations for start of low-rate production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) have started there with the award of a contract by the U.S. Department of Defense (see June 27/06 entry) and the company’s JSF programme partner Lockheed Martin. The contract enables BAE Systems to begin procurement of high-demand materials such as titanium (note DID coverage re: titanium supply issues), and covers long-lead items for five F-35A aircraft, which make up the first of seven F-35 JSF Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) batches. BAE is a production partner for the JSF airframe, as well as a number of subsidiary systems including its electronic warfare suite.
Under the current schedule, BAE Systems is expected to secure the full contract for the first production aircraft in the Q1 2007. Manufacturing for the first production aircraft is expected to start at the company’s facility in Samlesbury, North West Enlgand in October 2007, and the first deliveries to partner Lockheed Martin’s final assembly line in Fort Worth would occur in September 2008.
July 17/06: BAE Systems’ describes its unique Thermo-Acoustic Facility (TAF) in Brough, East Yorkshire, UK, which measures the impact of extreme temperature and noise levels generated by the 40,000 pound thrust engine and lift fan of the F-35B Lightning II STOVL variant. BAE Systems simulates and measures the thermal and acoustic effects of aircraft landings on carrier decks using a scale model, full-scale temperatures and pressure from jet nozzles. Tests provide data in two significant areas: (1) how the heat and noise generated by the aircraft will affect carrier ground crew; and (2) the suitability of the materials needed for manufacture, due to heat transfer within the aircraft.
In addition, a full study of the configuration of the jet blast deflectors proposed for the UK’s future Quuen Elizabeth Class carriers will begin toward the end of 2006 and continue into to 2007. This will complete the work of the Thermo-Acoustic Facility for the F-35 aircraft.
June 27/06:A $115.8 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract for integration of the British version of the joint strike fighter (F-35B JSF STOVL) with its CVF future carrier project, under the JSF systems development and demonstration effort. Work will be performed in Warton, United Kingdom (57%), Fort Worth, TX (35%), Orlando, FL (5%), and El Segundo, CA (3%), and is expected to be complete in October 2013.
April 28/06: A $901 million advance acquisition contract for long lead efforts and materials associated with the lot 1 low rate initial production of five F-35A Joint Strike Fighter conventional take-off and landing air systems for the US Air Force. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, TX (60%); El Segundo, CA (25%); and Samlesbury, United Kingdom (15%), and is expected to be complete in January 2010. This contract was not competitively procured (N00019-06-C-0291).
April 28/06: A $52.4 million ceiling-priced modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract (N00019-02-C-3002). It exercises an option to certify the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb for the U. S. Air Force Joint Strike Fighter conventional take off and landing (CTOL) aircraft, and also eliminates the effort to certify the F-35A for wind corrected munitions dispenser (WCMD) GPS-guided cluster bombs, and for external fuel tanks. Work will be performed in Ft. Worth, TX (89%); El Segundo, CA (6%); Orlando, FL (3%); and Wharton, United Kingdom (2%), and is expected to be completed in October 2013.
F-35 Program: Ancillary and Sub-contracts
Nov 16/06: BAE Systems is using a new high-precision machining tool from StarragHeckert of Switzerland at the Company’s F-35 site in Samlesbury, UK. The new 5-axis machine immediately went into production, machining a titanium component that will sit in the F-35’s aft fuselage. A second 5-axis StarragHeckert machine is scheduled for installation by the end of the year. Machining metals like titanium is very difficult, especially at the precision levels required in a plane like the F-35. See also DID’s Nov 17/05 coverage re: titanium machining innovations by Stork NV and their resulting contract from Pratt & Whitney for engine components.
Tom Fillingham, BAE Systems managing director, F-35 Lightning II said: “Although we are still in the System Development & Demonstration (SDD) phase, which will see us deliver 23 aircraft over the next 3 years, we are already working to a schedule that requires a new aircraft to start assembly every 4 weeks – a rate which is more akin to production phases of a programme… As we are increasing the rate at which we start to assemble the aircraft, BAE Systems and the supply chain have to supply more components, hence we need additional capability and capacity.”
July 19/06: Jane’s reports that BAE Systems has signed letters of intent worth around $1 billion relating to low-rate initial production of the F-35 with a series of second-tier suppliers in Denmark ($250 million, Terma for F-35B horizontal tails), Canada ($150 million; Avcorp for F-35C outboard wing work and Magellan for F-35A horizontal tails), and Australia ($600 million; Broens, Marand and Metaltec for rate tooling services and Hawker De Havilland for F-35A vertical fins). See also BAE Release.
June 23/06: This US Air Force article describes testing underway to help define the interface for the HMDS helmet-mounted display. Another key challenge is clearing the heavier HMDS helmets for ejection at high speed, without creating fatigue or safety problems for smaller pilots. The Elbit/ Rockwell-Collins joint venture Vision Systems International, LLC (VSI) will supply the HMDS to all US and international customers.
June 6/06: Lockheed Martin has selected Terma A/S, Grenaa to supply conventional edges for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter family’s high-tech carbon-fiber horizontal stabilizers. Terma won the selection in international competition on a best value basis, and the project represents a potential turnover value of approximately US$ 50 million.
May 12/06: The Dutch firm Stork Aerospace continues to do very well indeed in the JSF’s best-value competitions. Its latest sub-contract for titanium/composite flaperons could be worth up to $170 million, bringing its potential total of JSF-related sub-contracts to over $500 million.
March 3/06: Melbourne-based family company Production Parts won what is potentially Australia’s biggest-ever military aircraft engine parts deal: an agreement to supply high-pressure turbine supports for the JSF’s Pratt & Whitney F135 engine. Production Parts was also chosen in 2004 to produce a titanium bearing housing for the fighter, and the two deals bring the potential value of the overall work to more than $60 million (A$ 80 million) over the life of the JSF project. Australian industry took a different and interesting approach to the subcontractor compeition process…
Feb 21/06: The Elbit/ Rockwell-Collins joint venture Vision Systems International, LLC (VSI) has been selected to supply the JSF Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS) to all domestic and international F-35 customers, replacing conventional heads-up displays mounted in the aircraft. They also received a new $156 million contract that expands the company’s effort to include provision of pilot flight gear, including the oxygen mask and chemical/ biological hazard protection.
Feb 16/06: P&W, Rolls Royce Define Cooperation on F135 Jet Engine. Rolls Royce is a major partner with GE in the F136 alternative engine, which the Pentagon has slated for the chopping block in its 2007 budget request. Britain and Rolls Royce aren’t happy, and it remains to be seen whether the cut will pass.
Feb 9/06: Despite the threat of cancellation, Testing has resumed on the GE/RR F136 engine under the $2.4B System Design and Demonstration contract that was awarded in August of 2005.
Jan 4/06: Will the F-35 program be cut to one engine option, creating a winner-take-all for Pratt & Whitney? See DID – Reports: Cuts on the way to F-35 JSF R&D, Engine Programs, which also discusses positive past experiences with the F-16 and F-15’s choice of F100 and F110 engine options.
Dec 7/05: ManTech International Corporation has been awarded a contract from the U.S. Air Force to provide security services to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. The competitively awarded contract is for one year with four option years, and has a total potential value to ManTech of $27.5 million. See DID coverage.
Nov 18/05: L-3 wins F-35 JSF panoramic cockpit display contract worth up to $200 million.
Nov 17/05: Stork Aerospace N.V. of the Netherlands and U.S. firm Pratt & Whitney announce an agreement for the production development of P&W F135 jet engine componments. This agreement involves new High Performance Machining (HPM) technology for titanium components, and represents a breakthrough in titanium machining as an advanced and efficient production technology for aircraft jet engines.
Sept 30/05: Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. in Fort Worth, TX received a $13.7 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract (N00019-02-C-3002) for procurement of one large capacity fiber placement machine in support of the Joint Strike Fighter program. This modification will include delivery and installation of the fiber placement machine, and training of personnel in the machine’s operation, maintenance and any other associated training. Work will be performed in Foggia, Italy (70%) and Fort Worth, TX (30%) and is expected to be complete in September 2009.
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