Tag Archives: Lockheed Martin

Here’s the first (and second) Australian F-35 Lightning II aircraft

A sneak preview of the first and second F-35 being delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force

The first of 72 F-35s for the Royal Australian Air Force rolled out at Lockheed Martin’s Ft. Worth facility on Jul. 24.

The RAAF is expected to base the Joint Strike Fighter at two bases: Williamtown, in New South Wales, and Tindal, in the Northern Territory, where 1.5 billion USD facilities and infrastructures to support the new fifth generation radar-evading plane will be built.

Ahead of the ceremony, Lockheed Martin unveiled to media the second F-35 (top image), AU-2, which already wears the standard overall grey color scheme along with the RAAF roundels and tail marking of the No 2 Operational Conversion Unit from RAAF Williamtown.

First F-35 RAAF

Above: the first F-35 AU-1

Image credit: Lockheed Martin

 

F-35 fleet grounded indefinitely. Once again.

The F-35 fleet was gronded once again based on initial findings from runway fire incident occurred last week.

The Pentagon has officially announced that all its fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II jets has been grounded following the runway fire incident which involved an F-35A at Eglin Air Force Base, on Jun. 23.

The news came just ahead of the long weekend for U.S. Independence Day, as Joint Strike Fighters were expected to cross the Pond to take part to Farnborough International Air Show and Royal International Air Tattoo, in the UK next week.

The participation of the F-35s has not been cancelled yet (indeed, the F-35B STOVL – Short Take Off Vertical Landing variant of the plane, expected to take part to the two leading European airshows, had resumed flights on Jun. 28) but the fleet-wide grounding puts the aircraft’s international debut at risk.

Here’s the official statement from Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby on F-35 Fleet Grounding:

The technical air worthiness authorities of the Department of the Air Force and Department of the Navy have issued a directive to ground the F-35 fleet based on initial findings from the runway fire incident that occurred at Eglin Air Force Base on Monday, June 23. The root cause of the incident remains under investigation. Additional inspections of F-35 engines have been ordered, and return to flight will be determined based on inspection results and analysis of engineering data. Defense Department leadership supports this prudent approach. Preparations continue for F-35 participation in international air shows in the United Kingdom, however a final decision will come early next week.

This is not the first time the entire F-35 fleet is grounded.

On Feb. 22, 2013 the Pentagon decided to suspend the flights of all Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter planes after a crack was found on a turbine blade of a test aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

The decision came only nine days after the DoD had cleared the STOVL variant to resume flying activity after a month-long grounding due to a fueldraulic engine problem.

Image credit: Lockheed Martin

 

Photo from the cockpit: B-52 bomber drops a live stealthy Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile

A live Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile was dropped by a B-52H during Combat Hammer exercise.

The image in this post was taken on May 5, from the cockpit of a B-52H flying a sortie of an Air Combat Command exercise dubbed “Combat Hammer” which involved the use of live cruise missiles and PGMs (Precision Guided Munitions).

Among the weapons used during the exercise there was the JASSM stealthy Air-Launched Cruise Missile, one of the Air Force’s most effective weapons.

The radar-evading AGM-158 JASSM is able to destroy targets at distances of 370 km, well outside the reach of enemy Surface to Air Missile batteries. The new missile uses its inertial navigation and GPS (global positioning systems) to find its target, and an infrared seeker for pinpoint accuracy right before impact. The weapon is jamming resistant and able to operate in “contested and degraded environments”.

The JASSM is one of the newest weapons to be integrated onto the B-52.

Several Air Force Global Strike Command B-52H Stratofortresses and B-2 Spirit stealth bombers (along with other three aircraft types, including Remotely Piloted Vehicles out of Creech AFB) took part in the evaluation, which allowed ACC to validate the accuracy and capability of its conventional weapons during multiple sorties flown over the Utah Test and Training Range.

Precision guided munitions dropped during Combat Hammer included Paveway II LGBs (Laser Guided Bombs) and multiple variants of the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), two types of weapons that have been extensively used in conflicts across the world.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

 

Iraq’s brand new F-16 Block 52 makes first flight in weird, exotic camouflage color scheme

Iraqi Air Force’s first F-16 Block 52 made its maiden flight from Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas, assembly plant in a weird camouflaged color scheme.

On May 2, the first of 36 ordered Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 52 jets destined to the Iraqi Air Force made its first flight from Fort Worth, Texas.

Noteworthy, the aircraft sports a quite weird two-tone grey camo, much different from the desert color scheme used by the Iraqi planes prior to the 2003 invasion which destroyed what remained of the Al Quwwa al Jawwiya al Iraqiya, and the light grey paint that was used on the Hellfire-equipped Cessna 208Bs or the Mil Mi-25 gunships.

Iraq is building their Armed Forces again. Along with F-16s and T-50s trainers, Baghdad is also receiving Mi-28 Night Hawk helicopters while the procurement of 24 AH-64E Apache attack choppers in being evaluated.

F-16 Iraqi Air Force

Image credit: Lockheed Martin

 

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F-22 Raptor stealth jets to get automatic backup oxygen systems to prevent new hypoxia-like symptoms

More than 24 months since the last hypoxia-like incident occurred, the U.S. Air Force has decided to equip its F-22s with a backup oxygen system.

The Raptor fleet will soon receive a brand new backup oxygen system as part of multiple contracts awarded to Lockheed Martin (worth 30 Million USD) DefenseNews reported.

F-22s belonging to the 3rd Wing from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, have already received the new system, that will be implemented by the rest of the radar-evading planes by the second quarter of year 2015.

Being automatic, the new system does not require pilot intervention; a big improvement from the previous one that had to be activated by the pilot, which might be quite difficult, if not impossible if the latter was experiencing hypoxia-like/oxygen deprivation symptoms.

Because of the mysterious problem that plagued the stealthy fleet to such an extent the radar-evading aircraft were grounded back in 2011 following a deadly incident involving an Alaska-based, the Pentagon initially grounded the F-22s, and then, after lifting the flight ban, it restricted Air Force Raptors to fly near a “proximate landing location” in order to give pilots the possibility to land quickly if their planes’ On Board Oxygen Generating System (OBOGS) fail.

In May 2012, two 1st Fighter Wing “whistleblowers” appeared on CBS 60 minutes to explain why they were “uncomfortable” flying the Raptor (before changing idea few days later).

The installation of the new automatic backup oxygen system is not the only upgrade the U.S. Raptors will get in 2015: according to DefenseNews, along with advanced electronic warfare protection and improved ground threat geolocation, F-22s should also get the ability to carry AIM-120D and AIM-9X advanced missiles.

In April 2013, the plan to integrate the Visionix Scorpion helmet-mounted cueing system (HMCS), that would have made the F-22 capable to use HOBS (High Off Boresight System) air-to-air missiles as the AIM-9X, filling a gap against other current and future stealth planes in close air combat, was cancelled following the cuts imposed by the sequestration.

Let’s see what happens this time.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

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