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Aircraft

November 4, 2010

Air Force officials are moving ahead with avionics upgrades on some of the service's newer F-16s in addition to structural upgrade work already planned for the aircraft, according to a senior service official.

The service will add communications navigation capability upgrades and radar upgrades to some of its older Block-40 and Block-50 aircraft, said Lt. Gen. Philip Breedlove, deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and requirements. He talked about the avionics and radar upgrades for the first time this week but did not provide further details.

November 4, 2010

The United Kingdom's decision to cancel its Nimrod MRA4 maritime patrol aircraft program presents an opportunity for the Pentagon to work with the British on a "creative approach" to meeting their maritime patrol aircraft and antisubmarine warfare requirements, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Policy James Townsend told Inside the Pentagon this week.

November 3, 2010

The delivery of the first Joint Strike Fighter to roll off Lockheed Martin's production line could be delayed by as much as six months, according to government sources.

The expected delay shifts the target delivery date from late November until as late as May 2011, pushes the start of pilot training on the F-35 until the spring at the soonest and could force delays to when the military services declare their first JSF units operational, these sources say.

November 1, 2010

A technical review of the Joint Strike Fighter program suggests more money and time may be needed to develop the F-35 aircraft -- resources above and beyond the new funding the Pentagon pumped into the effort within the last year, according to government sources.

October 29, 2010
The Navy plans on keeping about 40 P-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft online years after the fleet's scheduled shutdown in 2019 due to the cancellation of the EPX spy plane program, a Lockheed Martin official said last week.
October 29, 2010
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter's woes are putting pressure on the Navy and Marine Corps program it is slated to replace, the Navy's F/A-18 program manager told industry last week.
October 29, 2010
The Navy is confident it can extend the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet from 6,000 to 9,000 hours partly because the aircraft are burning through hours in a fashion that is less stressful on the airframe, according to Capt. Mark Darrah, F/A-18 and EA-18G program manager.
October 22, 2010
Last week's announcement of a nearly $60 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia is the first "of a larger arms package," according to a source familiar with Saudi-U.S. military programs, with huge naval sales to the kingdom likely to take place in the next two to five years.
October 22, 2010
Britain's recent announcement that it will scrap planned purchases of the F-35 short-takeoff and landing variant and instead buy Joint Strike Fighter variants designed to operate from aircraft carriers is not causing any heartburn at Lockheed Martin, the aircraft's prime contractor, which has long-planned for potential customers to adjust its orders, the company's chief executive said.
October 20, 2010

Israel is poised to acquire 20 new F-35 aircraft before the Joint Strike Fighter program reaches full-rate production, with construction of the country's fifth-generation fighters slated to begin in 2013, according to JSF prime contractor Lockheed Martin.

The 20-aircraft buy, announced by Israeli Ministry of Defense Director General Udi Shani on Oct. 7 in New York, would commence in tandem with the Defense Department's seventh and eighth batches of early production aircraft in fiscal years 2013 and 2014, according to Lockheed spokesman John Kent.

October 19, 2010

Economic factors and defense budget pressure could force the Air Force to wait more than 30 years from now to begin replacing its largest aerial refueling tanker in service, the KC-10 Extender, a retired three-star general said today.

October 15, 2010

The Pentagon is continuing to develop the Joint Strike Fighter alternate engine -- a project Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants terminated -- under the stopgap funding measure enacted on Sept. 30 to keep the government operating until early December, according to Pentagon officials.

The extension temporarily postpones the high-stakes battle between the executive and legislative branches over the fate of the F136 engine.

October 13, 2010

The military's top uniformed official is confident that the Air Force's $35 billion KC-X next-generation tanker will be more fuel efficient than its predecessor.

Making progress in energy efficiency within the military will present both challenges and triumphs in the near future, said Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. One way to move toward progress is to take a long view of how to design the next generation of ships, vehicles and aircraft, he said.

October 12, 2010

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz today challenged the companies developing the second engine for the Joint Strike Fighter to take on a larger share of the program's cost if they want the effort to survive.

“If Rolls [Royce] and [General Electric] is so confident that their product will succeed and bring value to the taxpayer, it would be nice if they put a little bit more against that $1.9 billion bill that they would like the taxpayer to undertake,” Schwartz said during a speech in Washington today.

October 8, 2010
The Marine Corps wants an all-jump-jet F-35 Joint Strike Fighter fleet, but it will wait until both the short-take-off, vertical-landing and carrier variants of the aircraft have been tested aboard aircraft carriers before making a final decision, Lt. Gen. George Trautman, deputy commandant for aviation, told Inside the Navy last week.
October 8, 2010
The Marine Corps will be deploying the first KC-130J Harvest Hawk kit to Afghanistan this month, the first of nine planned kits that will give the platform a precision fires and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability, according to Maj. Richard Roberts, KC-130 action officer.
October 7, 2010

While the Pentagon imposes a review of the schedule for the jump-jet version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter amid debate over the feasibility of a December 2012 fielding date, the service's deputy commandant for aviation stressed today that the larger goal of initial deployment in 2014 remains on track -- and is more important overall.

October 6, 2010

The Government Accountability Office today upheld the Air Force's decision to disqualify a small U.S. defense company and its Ukrainian partner from the $35 billion KC-X next-generation tanker competition.

The Air Force notified U.S. Aerospace on July 22 that it would not consider its proposal because it was received five minutes after the July 9, 2 p.m. deadline. The company -- which partnered with aircraft manufacturer Antonov -- claimed its messenger was “intentionally delayed” and given “incorrect directions” to the building where the proposal was due.

September 30, 2010

The incoming Dutch coalition government plans to cut defense spending by 600 million euros ($816 million) and limit Joint Strike Fighter procurement to a second test aircraft during its four-year term.

The Conservative Liberals (VVD) and the Christian Democrats (CDA) -- who plan to form a right-wing government with support from the anti-Islam Party for Freedom (PVV) -- today released a “Liberty and Responsibility” coalition agreement along with a financial annex.

September 30, 2010

A key effort to modernize the Air Force's B-2 bomber faces a two-year setback if language proposed by the Senate Armed Services Committee is made law, according to the Air Force.

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