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Aircraft

May 4, 2011

A House panel has proposed legislation that would require a competitive engine acquisition strategy for the Air Force's next-generation, long-range strike program, which could open up a new battle between lawmakers and the Pentagon over dueling jet engines.

The proposed acquisition strategy, called for in the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee's mark of the Pentagon's fiscal year 2012 authorization bill, says the new bomber's main propulsion system should be established as a major subprogram.

May 4, 2011

The Defense Department estimates that EADS North America's decision to compete in the Air Force's aerial refueling tanker aircraft program against Boeing, which won the competition in February,  generated unit-cost savings of at least 20 percent, wringing as much as $4 billion from estimated program costs compared to the 2008 tanker contest.

May 3, 2011

A House Armed Services subcommittee today moved to prohibit the Joint Strike Fighter program from spending money to improve the performance of its primary engine unless it also obligates funds for a second engine, potentially keeping the "alternate engine" alive even after it was voted down by the House in February and officially killed by the Defense Department last week.

May 2, 2011

The Air Force plans this month to seek permission from Pentagon acquisition leaders to proceed with the full-rate production phase of the $2.2 billion C-27J program, formerly called the Joint Cargo Aircraft, according to documents submitted to Congress.

The new blueprint for the program calls for the government -- not contractors, as previously planned -- to maintain the aircraft, an adjustment that will add $335 million in life-time sustainment costs.

April 29, 2011
STRATFORD, CT -- The Navy is working on getting the MH-60 helicopter to communicate and operate better with assets that perform similar jobs, such as the P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft and MQ-8B Fire Scout drone, officials told Inside the Navy here at Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation headquarters last week.
April 29, 2011
STRATFORD, CT -- Naval Air Systems Command is focused mainly on flight tests of the troubled Marine Corps short-take-off, vertical-landing variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35B, which appears to be "doing better," Rear Adm. Paul Grosklags, NAVAIR's vice commander, told Inside the Navy at Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation headquarters here last week.
April 26, 2011

Lockheed Martin stands to earn as much as $52.5 million in 2011 if it can meet five key benchmarks associated with the Joint Strike Fighter's development schedule, the company's chief executive officer said today.

Speaking via teleconference about the company's first-quarter earnings report, Robert Stevens, Lockheed Martin's CEO, said the company has been challenged by the F-35 program to achieve five major developmental milestones in 2011 under a new incentive-compensation system.

April 26, 2011

Joint Strike Fighter lead contractor Lockheed Martin has submitted its contract proposal for the fifth production lot of the F-35, the first step in a contracting process likely to last through the summer and into the fall.

Vice Adm. David Venlet, the F-35 program executive officer, told reporters last Thursday that delivery of Lockheed's low-rate initial production lot 5 (LRIP 5) contract proposal was “imminent,” and Mike Ryan, Lockheed's F-35 communications director, confirmed to Inside the Air Force this morning that the bid was submitted on Monday (April 25).

April 25, 2011

Multibillion-dollar efforts to build nuclear ballistic missile submarines, Army vehicles and F-35 Joint Strike Fighters will spearhead a new Defense Department initiative challenging program managers to deliver weapons under budget.

April 25, 2011

The Defense Department has managed to shave more than $3 billion from the estimated cost to develop and acquire the Joint Strike Fighter through 2035 despite recent decisions to add $4.6 billion to development efforts and push the procurement of 246 aircraft decades into the future.

April 22, 2011
ST. LOUIS, MO -- The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet program managers for both the Navy and Boeing said here last week they will examine extending the aircraft beyond 9,000 hours, but cautioned that the program wasn't there yet and declined to identify 12,000 hours as a goal despite fiscal year 2012 budget justification documents suggesting that figure.
April 21, 2011

Rising costs over the last year pushed the estimated life-cycle operating and support price tag for the Joint Strike Fighter program over the $1 trillion threshold, the Pentagon told Congress last week in a report, marking a 9 percent increase over the Defense Department's 2010 calculations and bringing the government's forecast of cradle-to-grave cost for the F-35 program to more than $1.3 trillion.

April 21, 2011

The Defense Department withheld $28 million from Joint Strike Fighter prime contractor Lockheed Martin last year under a program set up to reward contractors for major accomplishments, according to Vice Adm. David Venlet, the F-35's program executive officer. The contractor earned $7 million in bonuses after it met only one of five benchmarks set by the JSF program office.

April 20, 2011

ST. LOUIS, MO -- Several of the nine F-35 Joint Strike Fighter partner nations have reached out to Boeing for information on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Boeing Military Aircraft President Chris Chadwick told reporters here today.

Large cost increases and repeated schedule delays have rattled international partners in their support of the F-35 program. Chadwick said "a number of potential F-35 customers have asked for information so that they can make the best decision going forward should they need to go in a different direction.

April 20, 2011

The Defense Department is redesigning the F-35C's launch bar after discovering last month during a ground test of CF-1 -- the first naval Joint Strike Fighter variant -- that the component did not properly hook up with the aircraft carrier catapult system used to propel fighters into flight, according to a Navy spokesman.

April 15, 2011
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD -- Joint Strike Fighter Program Executive Officer Vice Adm. David Venlet has been on a whirlwind tour of JSF partner nations to reassure them on the progress of the troubled fifth-generation fighter, and will make visits to the United Kingdom and Denmark later this year, he told reporters at a conference here last week.
April 15, 2011
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD -- The Navy and Boeing are engaged in "very active" efforts to sell the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet to a number of countries, and the Navy's recent decision to purchase an additional 41 aircraft helps the program do that, Capt. Mark Darrah, Super Hornet program manager, said here last week at Navy League's annual Sea Air Space conference.
April 15, 2011
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD -- The biggest challenge in aviation is the effort to extend the service lives of legacy F/A-18A-D Hornets to as many as 10,000 hours, top Navy and Marine Corps officials agreed at a conference here last week.
April 14, 2011

The Defense Department will decide later this year whether to launch an independent review of Lockheed Martin's Joint Strike Fighter software development operation, which federal auditors have called for out of concern that F-35 software is behind schedule and facing increasingly complex challenges.

The review is envisioned as similar in scope to far-reaching independent assessments of Lockheed Martin's manufacturing capabilities conducted in 2009 and 2010, which ultimately informed a Pentagon decision to cut back on near-term production plans.

April 8, 2011
The services likely will update their projected initial operational capability time lines for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter later this spring, Vice Adm. David Venlet, JSF program executive officer, told Inside the Navy last week.

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