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Aircraft

March 8, 2011

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos told a Senate committee today that in a few weeks he will give Defense Secretary Robert Gates a set of metrics that, if followed, may get the Joint Strike Fighter's vertical lift version off probation earlier than the two-year mark set by Gates in January.

Amos told the committee the program is on "a good glide slope" regarding the aircraft's weight, an issue that has plagued the F-35B's development. "I'm optimistic," about the program's future, he said.

March 4, 2011

The Pentagon's top lawyer asserts the Defense Department's legislative affairs shop did not break the law last month when it provided undated, unsigned "information" papers about the Joint Strike Fighter alternate engine to new House members in advance of a key vote on whether to end funding for the program.

March 4, 2011

Characterizing the winning bid as a "low-ball" bid, EADS officials will not protest the Pentagon's decision to award Boeing a $3.5 billion contract for the first phase of the Air Force's $30 billion-plus KC-X next-generation tanker program.

March 3, 2011

Rep. Jo Bonner (R-AL), a member of the powerful House Appropriations defense subcommittee, is pressing the Pentagon to provide assurances that Boeing will be required to deliver a new fleet of aerial refueling aircraft for the low price that last week knocked EADS North America from the $35 billion competition, denying hundreds of potential new jobs for Bonner's Alabama district.

March 3, 2011

Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter has directed the Air Force to fully fund the multibillion-dollar KC-X tanker program in the fiscal year 2013 budget process and prepare key plans concerning the program's cost, testing and systems engineering.

March 1, 2011

The unit cost of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will rise by as much as $5 million in the coming years due to the Pentagon's decision to delay the purchase of some aircraft as well as the likelihood that foreign military sales partners will follow suit, according to Air Force Maj. Gen. C.D. Moore, JSF deputy program executive officer.

“We're expecting some ramp refinements,” Moore said today at a Credit Suisse conference in Arlington, VA. “They [FMS partners] may be looking for an adjustment of possibly pushing planes right.

March 1, 2011

The carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter will be the first Navy version of the F-35 to achieve initial operational capability, a service official said today.

February 25, 2011
The Navy will lose about $1.3 billion in Joint Strike Fighter funding over the future years defense plan due to the Defense Department's decision to defer buying 124 aircraft, according to a Navy spokeswoman, despite the Pentagon's assertion earlier this year that the money would go back to the services.
February 25, 2011
The Navy has its eye on extending the service lives of F/A-18E/F Super Hornets all the way out to 12,000 hours, far beyond the 9,000 hours the service is currently working toward, according to fiscal year 2012 budget justification documents.
February 24, 2011

The Pentagon is killing a program that sought to create a vehicle for special operations capable of both flying through the air and submerging underwater.

February 18, 2011
The two-year "probation" period for the F-35B variant of the Joint Strike Fighter was designed to give the program time to resolve and test out engineering changes without creating a retrofit problem, the head of Navy acquisition said last week.
February 18, 2011
The Navy decided to buy seven additional P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft through fiscal year 2016 to add "flexibility and stability" to the program, according to a Navy spokeswoman.
February 18, 2011
In his first public comments since taking over as program executive officer of the Joint Strike Fighter program last year, Vice. Adm. David Venlet last week said the program is adding more than 1,800 test flights to its schedule and pulling in production aircraft to help bear the testing load in a bid to get the troubled program back on track.
February 18, 2011
The Navy is reevaluating its approach to maintenance and could move away from relying on contractors for those services in order to address concerns about total ownership costs for a wide range of new platforms, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead said last week.
February 15, 2011

In his first public comments since taking over as program executive officer of the Joint Strike Fighter program last year, Vice. Adm. David Venlet said today that the program is adding more than 1,800 test flights to the schedule and pulling in production aircraft to help bear the testing load in a bid to get the troubled program back on track.

February 15, 2011

The Air Force plans to invest $197 million in maturing technologies for the new long-range penetrating bomber, according to the fiscal year 2012 budget request released today.

February 15, 2011

The Navy heavily boosted Fire Scout buys, added seven P-8As to the future years defense plan and made the expected additions and subtractions to its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet procurement and Joint Strike Fighter buys, according to the president's fiscal year 2012 budget proposal rolled out today.

February 14, 2011

The Air Force has moved $3.4 billion gathered through operating efficiencies in the fiscal year 2012 budget over to enhance funding for several initiatives including F-15 radar modernization, the block purchase of space launch vehicles and the purchase of MQ-9 Reapers, according to a top service official.

February 10, 2011

The U.S. intelligence community was not caught off guard by last month's first flight of China's J-20 stealth fighter and has concluded that the aircraft program -- which has been described in initial reports as a fifth-generation platform -- faces numerous hurdles before reaching its “full potential,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress today.

February 9, 2011

The long-range, stealthy bomber the Air Force plans to develop should be designed with hard points so it can carry weapons or other equipment externally if need be, according to Paul Kaminski, the head of the Defense Science Board and a former Pentagon acquisition chief.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced last month that the Air Force will make a major investment in a new long-range, nuclear-capable penetrating bomber. This aircraft, which will have the option of being remotely piloted, will be part of a joint portfolio of conventional deep-strike capabilities, he said.

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