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January 26, 2012 | Inside the Pentagon

The Pentagon's decision last year to put the Marine Corps' Joint Strike Fighter variant on probation created a false impression that the F-35B faced impending doom, a perception that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta sought to fix last week by ending the trial period, according to Frank Kendall, the department's acting procurement chief.

January 26, 2012 | Inside the Pentagon

The Pentagon's decision to end the probation that has loomed over the Marine Corps' F-35B Joint Strike Fighter will not necessarily help the U.S. government persuade more countries to join Spain and Italy in buying the aircraft's short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing (STOVL) variant, according to a senior Pentagon official and an industry analyst.

January 26, 2012 | Inside the Pentagon

The Defense Department could need to conduct a major restructuring of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program to meet deficit-reduction targets mandated by Congress, a Navy contract notice warns.

January 25, 2012 | Daily News

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno said today that the Air Force's C-27J cargo aircraft program is likely to be killed, thwarting the Army's plan to use the aircraft to fill its direct support capability needs.

Instead, the Army will rely on Air Force C-130 support, he said today at an Association of the United States Army breakfast in Arlington, VA.

"The C-27 program looks like it probably might not survive," Odierno said. "To be frank, it's something we are a bit concerned about."

January 24, 2012 | Daily News

The Pentagon projects the Joint Strike Fighter program will avoid $1.1 billion in previously estimated production and sustainment costs as a result of investments made by the Navy and Air Force in technologies designed to improve the manufacturing of a handful of components, according to the Navy three-star admiral overseeing the F-35 program.

January 20, 2012 | Daily News

Boeing has finalized plans for configuring the KC-46A tanker aircraft, a milestone that allows the Air Force to move ahead with plans for a preliminary design review of the new aircraft in March.

Jerry Drelling, a Boeing spokesman, said in response to a question from InsideDefense.com that the company in December conducted a firm configuration review of what will be a militarized variant of the commercial 767 airframe, which the Air Force last year selected for its $51.7 billion plan to recapitalize its aging aerial refueling fleet.

January 20, 2012 | Inside the Navy
The EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft continued to show improvement in operational suitability, although the aircraft still doesn't meet the threshold, according to the Department of Operational Test and Evaluation's annual report.
January 20, 2012 | Inside the Navy
The fixes made to the Marine Corps' short-takeoff, vertical-landing variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter actually improved the weight margin on the aircraft by 270 pounds, despite concerns by the Pentagon's acquisition chief last year that it would add to the aircraft's weight, a Lockheed Martin official told reporters Jan. 20.
January 20, 2012 | Inside the Army

The Army has
been directed by acquisition chief Heidi Shyu to transfer all responsibility
for fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft and non-tethered lighter-than-air platforms
to its aviation program executive office by the end of the fiscal year,
according to an Oct. 28 memo.

January 20, 2012 | Daily News

(Editor's Note: This story was updated at 3:30 p.m. to include a statement from the F-35 program office.)

The Marine Corps variant of the Joint Strike Fighter is no longer on probation, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced today.

In a speech to F-35 personnel and other troops at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD, Panetta said that results of developmental testing conducted on the F-35B throughout 2011 prove that the aircraft is making good enough progress in testing to merit a continued commitment from the Defense Department.

January 18, 2012 | Daily News

Turkey this month announced plans to purchase just two Joint Strike Fighters in the program's seventh early production lot, two-thirds less than planned, according to Pentagon sources.

On Jan. 5, Turkey's Defense Industry Executive Committee authorized its under secretary for defense industry to proceed with negotiations to purchase the aircraft, a green light that signals Turkey's commitment to procure the stealthy fighter. The initial order is smaller than the six originally planned for the seventh low-rate initial production (LRIP) lot.

January 13, 2012 | Inside the Navy
Ongoing issues with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter are also causing problems for Navy ship programs, according to the most recent annual report from the Pentagon's top weapons tester, which also knocked the Littoral Combat Ship, LPD-17 amphibious assault ship, MQ-8B Fire Scout and other programs.
January 13, 2012 | Daily News

The Joint Strike Fighter program -- subjected by DOD leaders to a comprehensive technical review and restructured twice in the last two years in a bid to manage cost growth and development challenges -- is unlikely to meet two crucial operational criteria pivotal to future production decisions, according to the Pentagon's top weapons tester.

January 13, 2012 | Daily News

Military leaders are rushing new weapons into operational testing despite signs the systems are not ready, the Pentagon's top tester warns in a new report that spotlights big problems threatening to undermine an array of major programs.

The latest annual report from J. Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department's operational testing chief, counsels the armed services to conduct rigorous developmental testing, aimed at early detection of software and hardware problems, before moving on to trials in an operationally realistic environment.

January 13, 2012 | Daily News

Boeing and the Air Force's military flight test program for the KC-46A next-generation tanker is far too aggressive and should be extended by eight months or more, according to the Defense Department's director of operational test and evaluation.

January 10, 2012 | Daily News

Senior Pentagon officials next week will conduct the first of two Joint Strike Fighter program reviews that are expected to lead to a formal revision of the F-35's cost estimate next month, according to defense officials.

That cost estimate could mushroom beyond the current $382 billion projection if the program is restructured as part of broad spending cuts expected to be part of the Defense Department's fiscal year 2013 budget plan.

January 06, 2012 | Daily News

The F-35 joint program office is girding for a surge of international orders that would boost manufacturing rates for the seventh and eighth Joint Strike Fighter production runs by more than 40 percent above currently planned buys for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, according to Defense Department officials.

On Jan. 4, a government official with knowledge of Pentagon plans for foreign F-35 sales said the Joint Strike Fighter program office expects as many as 44 F-35 aircraft will be purchased by foreign partners in deals that would be funded in fiscal years 2013 and 2014.

January 04, 2012 | Daily News

A Kansas lawmaker is frustrated by Boeing's decision to close a facility in Wichita, KS, and move a portion of work on KC-46 refueling tankers to Puget Sound, WA.

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) said in a Jan. 4 statement that he was notified two weeks ago that KC-46 tanker work would not continue in Wichita.

“Today's statement from Boeing is terrible news,” Pompeo said. “It is a confession that it will not honor its commitment in Kansas.”

January 03, 2012 | Daily News

The Pentagon's acting acquisition chief has assured defense industry executives that last year's negotiations with Lockheed Martin over F-35 purchases, which involved "concurrency" rules that would shift costs for additional work on early production aircraft to the company, are not intended to be precedent-setting for future procurement programs.

December 23, 2011 | Inside the Navy
The fiscal year 2012 defense appropriations bill passed by both the House and Senate restores funding for the Combat Dragon II light attack aircraft demonstration effort for the Navy and Air Force, and U.S. Central Command will get back to work on it right away once the president's signature is on the bill.