Tag Archives: Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II

Is Boeing calling time on the stealthy F-15 Silent Eagle? Lockheed Martin hopes so.

Silent Eagle, not to become reality?

The Korea Times has reported that there is a possibility that aviation giant Boeing may not full fill its promise to provide the stealthly version of it’s F-15 to South Korea.

In an article published on Jan. 25, titled Boeing may give up offering stealthy jet journalist Lee Tae-hoon wrote that “a source familiar with Boeing’s plan to modify its F-15s said little progress has been made in the making of the F-15SE, especially in the development of its conformal weapons bay (CWB), which allows the aircraft to carry weapons internally.”

According to the informed source “only 10 percent of work has been completed for the research and development of the F-15SE’s conformal weapons bay.”

Boeing’s proposal had included canted vertical stabilisers and a conformal weapons bay on each side of the aircraft to reduce the radar cross section of the aircraft, all compulsary requirements to Korea’s KX-III procurement program to acquire advanced jets. Seoul had removed these requirements to allow other manufacturers the chance to compete, although had signed a memorandum of understanding with Boeing back in 2010. However Boeing announced late on 2010 that it had suspended development of the proposed features.

Tae-hoon also reported that other industry officials noted that it will be physically impossible for Boeing to complete the development of the CWB and canted tails by the end of October this year when Seoul plans to finalize the deal after three to four months of evaluations and negotiations. “Boeing will most likely change their offer. They won’t offer the Silent Eagle” a senior official of Lockheed Martin, which is competing with Boeing and the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS) for the FX-III bid, said asking for anonymity.

“They are going to offer the F-15K because that’s the only plane they can deliver by 2016.”

This opens the door for the F-35 and the Eurofighter Typhoon to get a toe hold in Korea.

Although EADS could try to offer a version with conformal fuel tanks and thrust vectoring, neither variant of the Typhoon is stealth. Therefore, since radar-evading capability remains a crucial factor in deciding the next South Korea fighter jets, Lockheed Martin F-35 seems to be favorite and this would explain Tom Burbage (Executive VP of Lockheed Martin and General Manager of F-35 Program Integration) optimism over the deal in the recent Press Briefing held in Rome.

What is yet to be determined is which of the three versions of the F-35 Lockheed has put forward to Seoul for consideration.

Written with The Aviationist’s Editor David Cenciotti

Credit: Boeing

You will believe China has already copied the Lockheed Martin F-35 and the T-50 just visited Nellis AFB when you see these images.

Did you know that China’s J-18 Night Owl has already been photographed and appears as a copy of the Lockheed Martin F-35? And what about the T-50 that has secretly visited Nellis AFB?

Have a look at the following images.

I didn’t know that either until Al Clark, an aviation illustrator and photographer, sent me a link to his works. Obviously, above images were photoshopped, but the result is awesome and it takes some time to analyze them and be sure they are not genuine.

I’ve often been asked to evaluate the authenticity of images published on Chinese forums and websites, as well as footage released by Iran that has often used doctored videos and fake images to spread regime’s propaganda messages and, in most cases, the authenticity of the material released by the Iranian State TV or news agency, could soon be determined.

If they want to deceive not only intelligence officer but also amateur analysts, and be much more credible, maybe Iran state media should start studying how Al Clark creates his realistic digital mock-ups.

Old Harriers and new choppers unleashed. Welcome aboard the Cavour aircraft carrier during "blue water ops".

On Jan. 25, along with the ambassadors of NATO members, EU, Middle East and Mediterranean partners, The Aviationist has had the opportunity to visit the Cavour aircraft carrier during “blue water ops” off Civitavecchia port.

The event was jointly organized by the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to showcase one of the most important assets of the Italian Defense, one of the few European aircraft carriers that is not only important for military operations, but it is also a versatile platform that made its operative debut during the Haiti relief mission.

The Cavour symbolizes “a variety of possible uses that make it cost-effective” said Adm. Luigi Binelli Mantelli, future Chief of Staff of the Italian Navy.

Along with the F-35 program, the Italian Navy flagship was recently targeted by potential budget cuts as a consequence of the country’s financial crisis. However, “the AV-8B will fly until 2020, when they will be replaced by the F-35B. The MoD Di Paola has confirmed the project will continue. We don’t know how many aircraft we will get. The Air Force will get the majority, but even the Italian Navy will receive its planes” Binelli Mantelli said.

According to the Admiral, the F-35, is mainly an Air Force project, since the service needs the plane for its future. However, the Navy has joined the program and the future STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, that was removed from probation one year earlier than expected, will serve as a force multiplier and complement the capabilities of the ship, capabilities that were showed to the ambassadors, diplomats and media during a tactical event involving the AV-8B+ Harrier (both single and double seat), AW-101 and NH-90 helicopters, the San Marco Regiment special forces and the Caio Duilio, a radar-evading Anti-Air Warfare destroyer.

Giovanni Maduli took the following images for The Aviationist.

"The F-35 remains essential to the future of air superiority" Panetta says. And Lockheed Martin reassures: "we will solve all JSF problems."

On Jan. 26, several hours before U.S. SECDEF Leon Panetta would say the Joint Strike Fighter remains a DoD top priority program “essential to the future of air superiority”, Charles “Tom” Burbage, Executive VP of Lockheed Martin and General Manager of F-35 Program Integration, had already explained in a Press Briefing held in Rome that, in spite of rumors and criticism surrounding the costly fifth generation combat plane, he did not anticipate any significant downsizing of the program.

“Every country is reducing defense budget but no country has reduced the F-35” he said, explaining also that one of the most appealing features of the program for international partners is the involvement of local companies, which supply components, systems and know-how, well before a single aircraft is purchased.

Moreover, the F-35 has recently collected some important achievement, making Burbage and the rest of the company optimistic about the future of the entire program.

First came in December 2011 the selection of the JSF as the Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) next gengeration aircraft, following the F-X competitive bid process that saw the Lockheed plane win on both the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Boeing F-18 Super Hornet.

Then the F-35B STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) was removed from probation one year ahead of schedule. Finally, the F-35C (Carrier Variant) was fixed with a new tailhook system that will be tested beginning next April, making arrested landing on aircraft carriers possible after the series of failed tests.

Last year was particularly important for the revolutionary plane. It flew about 20% more than expected, performed sea trials taking off and landing (vertically) from USS Wasp and “had no issues on the ship”, Burbage said, in spite of the alleged noise and heating problems.

Dealing with the series of issues highlighted by the JSF Concurrency Quick Look Review and other official and unofficial reports leaked at the end of last year, Burbage explains: “we are currently 20% into the test program. Today’s issues are not going to affect customers that will receive the aircraft years later, when the problem is fixed.”

In the last few days, Burbage and its entourage have met the Italian Minister of Defense Di Paola and the top Italian Air Force and Navy officers. Talks were satisfactory and Lockheed is quite confident that in spite of the financial crisis and raising criticism at political level, Italy will keep the commitment as Level 2 partner (worth 2 Billion USD already invested) in the program, which calls for total U.S. purchases of 2,443 F-35s in both A, B and C versions for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, and envisages 697 planes for other partners (UK, Italy, Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Turkey).

Japan aside, the F-35 has export chances also in South Korea, that is the only non-partner country Lockheed Martin is in talks for a possible JSF sale. Should the F-35 be selected in South Korea, the number of planes procured by Security Cooperative Participants (Singapore and Israel)  and foreign customers (including Japan) will exceed the number of F-35s ordered by partners.

Since there’s no commitment yet nor any value was set, no reduction or cut in the amount of aircraft can be foreseen. Italy is not buying 131 planes. The initial requirement was for 69 F-35A and 62 F-35B (40 for the Air Force and 22 for the Navy), but Italy will buy the plane in batches: 4 planes, then 5 planes and so on. Therefore, Italy will have some F-35s, some of them will be STOVL ones to equip the Cavour aircraft carrier.

Eventually, in the U.S. the F-35 survived the Pentagon budget cuts: the US will continue buying F-35s, but will slow its purchase of the stealth fighter planes.

Indeed, it’s a very good period for the Joint Strike Fighter.


F-35 First Night Flight video

On Jan. 19, 2012, the Lockheed Martin F-35A CTOL (Convetional Take Off and Landing) performed its very first night flight launching from Edwards Air Force Base, California.

Piloted by Lockheed Martin Test Pilot Mark Ward, the aircraft AF-6, launched at 17.05LT and landed after sunset at 18:22 LT. An F-16 chase plane accompanied the Joint Strike Fighter during its first after dark sortie.

Note the green night formation lights, used by combat plane flying in close formation.