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Aircraft

April 7, 2011

The Defense Department believes an independent investigation of Lockheed Martin's Joint Strike Fighter software development "would be prudent" in light of federal auditors' conclusion in a new report that the F-35's software is "significantly behind schedule as it enters its most challenging phase."

April 6, 2011

The Air Force's B-1 bomber fleet is officially no longer capable of carrying nuclear payloads, in compliance with one of the early stages of the follow-on Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty signed with Russia last year, senior service officials told lawmakers today.

April 5, 2011

Air Force officials are considering a draft memorandum that would help ensure changes are not made to the KC-46A next-generation tanker program without high-level review, according to a top service official.

Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said today he is considering the memo but would not provide the details of the document's content. The Pentagon awarded Boeing a $3.5 billion contract for the first phase of the Air Force's $30 billion-plus tanker program on Feb. 24.

April 4, 2011

Richard Lugar (R-IN), the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is pressing the State Department to act on Taiwan's longstanding request to purchase U.S.-built F-16C/D fighter aircraft, "an urgent matter" that, if rejected, could leave Taipei in the next decade with "no credible air-to-air capability."

April 1, 2011
The Marine Corps fleet of EA-6B Prowlers will be made up entirely of the latest "ICAP 3" versions by the end of the calendar year, and will have a full fleet of 32 of the aircraft by 2014, according to a Marine official.
March 31, 2011

In a bid to retire 22 aging C-5 transport planes and avoid nearly $800 million in maintenance costs through fiscal year 2016, the Defense Department is asking Congress to repeal a statutory requirement that keeps 316 strategic airlift planes in the Air Force.

March 30, 2011

The Air Force calculates its contribution to the two-week effort to impose a no-fly zone over Libya is about $50 million, less than a tenth of the $550 million estimate the Office of the Secretary of Defense today disclosed for Operation Odyssey Dawn, according to a senior Air Force official.

March 29, 2011

The price tag for the Pentagon's $1.7 trillion weapon system acquisition portfolio has jumped $135 billion -- 9 percent -- over the last two years, with nearly half of the projected increase attributable to the 10 largest Defense Department programs, including the Joint Strike Fighter, the CVN-21 aircraft carrier and the DDG-51 destroyer program, according to the Government Accountability Office.

March 25, 2011
Three Joint Strike Fighter test aircraft remain grounded after a generator completely failed during a test flight, a problem that, combined with a lack of an initial operational capability target, represent worrisome issues for the program, according to two aviation analysts.
March 25, 2011
The Navy will slash 274 billets and save $211 million over the next five years by consolidating EP-3 (VQ) and special projects patrol (VPU) squadrons as part of Defense Secretary Robert Gates' efficiencies initiative, according to a Navy spokeswoman.
March 18, 2011
Despite ongoing uncertainty in the F-35B program, the Navy does not expect that any future developments will change its plans to have the Marine Corps buy 80 F-35C Joint Strike Fighter carrier variants, according to Vice Adm. Mark Skinner, principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition.
March 18, 2011
The Navy has wrapped up the service life assessment program for the legacy F/A-18A-D Hornets in the fleet, and expects to award a contract for the final phase of the service life extension program this summer, according to testimony service officials provided to the House Armed Services Committee last week.
March 17, 2011

The Pentagon plans to amend a multimillion-dollar international agreement for C-130J upgrades to extend work by Lockheed Martin, more than double the project's cost ceiling and boost participating countries' contributions accordingly.

March 17, 2011

The Pentagon is launching a new cooperative research project with South Korea's defense ministry to boost the performance of military aircraft flying at high angles of attack.

March 15, 2011

An influential federal auditor says the Defense Department's recent efforts to restructure the Joint Strike Fighter program -- including slowing production rates and bolstering the testing regime -- "should lead to more achievable and predictable outcomes" but warns the program is "not out of the woods yet."

March 15, 2011

The generator that failed during a recent flight test of an F-35 "stopped working completely" during flight, Vice Adm. David Venlet, Joint Strike Fighter program executive officer, told reporters following a hearing on Capitol Hill today.

The program suspended test flights on March 10, a day after a dual generator failure and oil leak at Edwards Air Force Base, CA, involving a system development and demonstration aircraft dubbed AF-4 that featured a newer generator.

March 14, 2011

(Editor's Note: This article has been updated to include new information from the Navy and Marine Corps.)

The Marine Corps has signed an agreement with the Navy to buy aircraft-carrier variants of the Joint Strike Fighter, a decision that effectively updates a 2003 commitment by the two services to integrate their tactical air forces and dashes the vision held by some senior Marines of a pure fleet of short-takeoff-and-landing variants of the F-35, service officials announced today.

March 11, 2011
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead said last week that he has been impressed by the performance of the F-35C carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter as the Navy waits for the JSF program to complete a review so that the service can set a new initial operational capability target for the aircraft.
March 9, 2011

The commandant of the Marine Corps said today that he is open to scaling back the requirements of the F-35B, his service's variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, but stressed that the service is not seriously considering that option.

“One of the reasons to have the leadership of the Marine Corps involved is that down the road there may be something that we have to look at and say, 'OK, is this as important as that?'” Gen. James Amos told InsideDefense.com.

March 8, 2011

The Marine Corps will buy carrier variants of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a reversal of the position the service has held for years that it wanted to operate an all jump-jet F-35 fleet off of both amphibious ships and aircraft carriers, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos told the Senate Armed Services Committee today.

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