Home » Aviation » Schedule at Risk for Navy F-35C Fighters to be Combat Ready by End of Year


Schedule at Risk for Navy F-35C Fighters to be Combat Ready by End of Year

An F-35C Lightning II assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101 is positioned on the bow catapults of the Nimitz-Class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) March 17, 2018, in the Atlantic Ocean. US Navy photo

It’s looking less and less likely the carrier-variants of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter will be ready for combat this year as has long been planned, but their first deployment is still expected in 2021.

For years, the Pentagon targeted initial operational capability (IOC) for the F-35C – the version designed to land on and take off from aircraft carriers – between August 2018 and February 2019, according to a June 2013 report to Congress.

This timeline was mentioned as recently as September 2017, when the Navy issued a release detailing F-35Cs testing takeoff and landing aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72). According to the Navy release, “according to the F-35 Lightning II Pax River Integrated Test Force, the F-35C should reach its initial operational capability in 2018.”

Now signs indicate the 2018 date could be slipping to the right because of when the F-35 program can test the upgraded 3F software package in a formal Initial Operations Test and Evaluation (IOT&E). This is an F-35 enterprise testing event, not just an evaluation of the Navy’s F-35s, Rear Adm. Dale Horan told USNI News. Horan is the Navy’s director of Joint Strike Fighter Fleet Integration. Block 3F provides 100 percent of the software required for full warfighting capability, including data link imagery, full weapons, and embedded training, according to F-35 contractor Lockheed Martin.

“The whole F-35 enterprise’s IOT&E starts in September, so it’s not Navy F-35C that’s holding up IOC, it’s that we’re tied to IOT&E and need to see the demonstration and capabilities. We need to really see the 3F capability demonstrated in IOT&E and there’s just not going to be enough time to see enough of that before Feb. 2019,” Horan said.
“It’s DoD’s opportunity to test drive their new airplane.”

Similarly, the 2013 report to Congress notes the timeline would be event-driven rather than calendar-driven, leaving some wiggle room for the 2018 to 2019 IOC time range, stating, “should capability delivery experience changes or delays, this estimate will be revised appropriately.”

The upcoming IOT&E round of software testing is designed to show the military how well the 3F package works in mission situations and is an integral part of declaring the F-35C combat ready, wrote Rear Adm. Scott Conn in testimony provided on March 7 to the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee.

“After eleven years and over 16,000 flight hours, the full Block 3F SDD (system development and demonstration) developmental test phase is quickly approaching an end,” Conn wrote.
“We estimate completion to be March/April 2018. The program can now proceed into IOT&E (initial operational test and evaluation). IOT&E is critical to the Navy because we have linked the successful demonstration of 3F capabilities in IOT&E to our IOC declaration for the F-35C. Our IOC criteria states that the aircraft will be in a 3F configuration with the ability to conduct assigned operational missions utilizing SDD program of record weapons, mission systems, sensors and performance envelopes. … IOC is capability and event driven, not calendar driven. The Navy understands that the threshold and objective dates, August 2018 and February 2019, are at risk due to a delay in the IOT&E schedule. Once full 3F capability has been demonstrated in IOT&E, and all other IOC criteria have been met, the Navy will declare that the F-35C has achieved Initial Operational Capability.”

IOT&E will start after the long-predicted IOC, but Horan said there’s a possibility the Navy can see what it needs fairly quickly and still declare the F-35C combat ready inside the expected window.

“I’m just saying that’s those dates are at risk and it’s based on the capabilities and events that we need to see,” Horan said.

Interestingly, while not saying a delayed IOC is certain, both Navy and Lockheed Martin statements suggest this is case because of what is not said.

A year ago, Lockheed Martin’s annual report provided investors with an F-35 update. “The program continues to advance towards the U.S. Navy declaring the F-35C carrier variant ready for combat in 2018, as demonstrated by completing final carrier tests aboard the USS George Washington in 2016,” the report states.

Fast-forward a year, and the current Lockheed Martin annual report, released on Feb. 6, does not mention when the F-35C will be combat-ready. The company update to investors only states, “we continue to advance towards the U.S. Navy declaring the F‑35C carrier variant ready for combat.”

Since then, Navy mention of F-35C IOC has seemingly disappeared. Last week, when pilots conducted F-35C day and night qualifications aboard Abraham Lincoln, there was no mention of a 2018 IOC. A Navy release described this significant milestone as being “in anticipation of F-35C operational testing later this year,” without mentioning an IOC date specifically.

The Navy plans for its carrier air wings by 2025 to include F-35Cs, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft, E-2D Hawkeye battle management and control aircraft, and MH-60R/S helicopters. The first F-35C squadron deploying aboard USS Carl Vinson (CV-70) in 2021. Horan, speaking to USNI News, stressed this, saying as of now, a delayed IOC will not delay the 2021 deployment.

“I don’t see any significant barriers to first deployment,” Horan said.
“We have plenty of work to do. Getting a new aircraft into the fleet will always be a complex issue.”

  • WhiskyTangoFoxtrot

    Imagine if Ford, GM, etc build autos like Lockmart builds aircraft. Ford announces that new F-150 for 2018, “it’s ‘initial operating capabilities” will include, a body, an engine, transmission and four wheels, next year we’ll release the 2018 Block IIA upgrades which include a seat and a steering wheel, then 2019 we’ll release Block VIIF which includes a speedometer and a fuel gauge, then in 2020 the Block XII will include…”

    • Because we all know that pickup trucks and state of the art jet fighters are perfectly comparable. But even if they were, your analogy is terrible – it would be more like releasing a barebones truck and then adding the radio, cruise control, and heated seats down the road.

      • Todd

        yep, because it’s great (only for Lockheed) giving us ‘incomplete’ aircraft, that ensure a huge and constant upgrade stream which translates in $millions of extra revenue. Meanwhile we’re stuck with a whole fleet of aircraft that can do much more than fly. It’s a great procurement plan. You sound like you come from Microsoft.

        • Duane

          Yeah, that constant upgrade thing is such a drag, because as we all know, technology changes only about once every 40 or 50 years or so.

          Sheesh!

          • Dean687

            Sheesh, don’t you know by now Mr. Lockmart, that it’s ALL about making massive profits for Lockmart, in any way they can: dragging out development to 17+ years, dividing up the code development into tiny “blocks,” saying over and over again “the requirement have changed,” and numerous other excuses. you and Lockmart wouldn’t care in the least if this development is stretched out to 30+ years, the only thing you care about is ensuring Lockmart has a nice fat bottom line year after year after year (17 so far). Sheesh.

          • Duane

            LM’s profits are not massive, indeed very modest compared to most public companies. Their 2017 profits were just 3.7% of revenue.

            Compare that to Apple who made 5 times as much profit on almost the same revenue as booked by LM.

            If course, Putin and his internet friends detest the worlds most successful arms producer, because they produce those arms for the US and our allies, instead of for him.

          • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

            LM is a solid company with a reasonable dividend and a P/E of 25 which is a a very sound company. The complaint isn’t with the financials, it is that some of us would like to see more diversity in the procurement market. There used to be thousands of banks, now there are 7 odd “to big to fail” banks. Spreading risk is a sound strategy but nobody can accuse congress of sound anything.

            The same applies to defense. LM is one of these “to big to fail” companies now. Diversity in production and manufacturing mitigates risk. It also reeks of undue political influence.

            Personally, I am not a huge fan of the F-35. It is an amazing feat of engineering. Too amazing maybe. Complexity of that degree has it’s own costs. The Cobra, for example, is a very simple helicopter yet it is still a formidable attack helicopter. It took years for the Apache to reach that readiness level. Multi-role anything is a compromise on something.

            We shall see. I think the F-22 should have seen FRP.

          • Rocco

            Kudos…. I appreciate your honesty! Everything of late is a jack of all trades master off……….. Well all lol! Not in agreement with your helo Cobra comparison though!

          • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

            Not a Cobra fan? Neither were the Veit Cong… I realize it is simple by todays standards but, like the P-51, it is still a fine looking aircraft.

          • Rocco

            No not saying I’m not actually. I like it better than the Apache! Just thought you didn’t! The P-51 is one of the best looking aircraft to ever fly. I saw 5 in the last 3 yrs.

          • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

            The Navy Cosair is a fine looking machine too…

          • Rocco

            Goes without saying! Nothing like the sound of a radial engine! & a J-79!! & My old Ironhead!! &……

          • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

            I flew on a B-17 a couple years ago. That was a really fun ride.

          • Rocco

            Cool! I went in Aluminum Overcast last year . Have yet to go up. The only way I would is if I could sit in the bombidiers seat.

          • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

            That’s what I flew in and once airborne you can sit there. I have great photos of the Florida Coast from that very seat… it was glorious.

          • Rocco

            Nice good for you! Maybe this year!

          • Rocco

            Go cry in your corn flakes cry baby!!!

        • El Kabong

          LOL!

          Guess you missed the fact the Super Hornet’s AESA radar STILL isn’t 100% functional….

      • Rocco

        Thankyou

    • RunningBear

      @WTF

      The F-35 is a software a/c, accept it! The 180-odd flying and training early blocks are budgeted to be upgraded to the Block 3.0 version and will be equal to the same type off the production line, today. Unlike the 30+ F-22 early block trainers, that have yet to be upgraded for frontline assignment. To recap, each of the 180ish Block 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 3I are in the upgrade system. They will be assigned to squadrons as required and “no” a/c will be left behind. To the future, the on-coming 2,800-ish will still be software a/c and will continue to be upgraded as new technologies and tactics are discovered, developed and demanded by the users. Future weapons, “hopefully” will be designed to the UAI standard and will require an “app” to be loaded after they are tested for separation from the a/c. I truly loved the 1950 and ’70 a/c that I served in and would never wish either of them on my sons and daughters that are serving today. State of the art has changed and future a/c will be built on the cornerstone that has been set by the F-35A/B/C. Now…we wait to see how much, “if any” is used in the soon to deliver B-21!
      🙂

      • Retired

        We taxpayers are being ripped off-accept it. We’re basically paying over and over and over again for one aircraft. This is what major monopoly providers like Microsoft/Oracle, etc do, they get their ‘hook’ into you, promising a ‘complete’ product for X dollars, then they say they require ‘upgrades’ after upgrades, etc, whereby they make a ton of extra profit.

        • Duane

          thank you comradski old retired guy … but retired from whose Navy, I wonder.

          • Todd

            thank you young latte sipping snowflake, now go back to your basement

          • Rocco

            All you know how to do is harass people!!!

        • RunningBear

          The developmental cost for the three types; F-35A for the Air Force, F-35B for the Marines and F-35C for the Navy are similar and utilize similar software and parts. But aside from the three different types, the software development technology, the systems data merging and the materials development, applications and manufacturing technologies are all new features that will be applicable for the future a/c such as the B-21 and the existing F-22 and the ‘teens. The upgrading, is the progress in technologies. The F-22 has experienced this as will any of the future a/c. In the past, the changes between E and H models were usually different avionics systems and affected parts and training for one crew member. An A to B model change could be a change in engines, again a parts and training for pilots and maintenance. With the F-35, it is anticipated that the a/c structure will remain the same and weapons will be upgraded thru UAI and avionics thru software upgrades (apps). The 2,400-ish US a/c 1,700 AF, 350 Corp, 340 Navy/ Corp are three different platforms; the F-35 is not one type of aircraft. The 3,000+ a/c to be bought by the 10 allied nations are supporting the commonality of NATO and Western Pacific, thereby providing existing infrastructures (maintenance, parts, facilities) for allied US a/c deployed into the area per the US govt.

          • Rocco

            Just like the F-4’s back in the day!! Mine especially!

        • Duane

          That’s because we all know technology stands still.

      • Techdude

        If this is a so-called “software aircraft” what in blazes is taking so long??? It shouldn’t take 17 fre ak ing years to write the software for it-entire technologies have been created and surpassed in shorter amounts of time. Lockheed just wants you to believe that this is THE most complicated piece of software ever written-I call major b.s. You’ve fallen for their PR machine hook, line, and sinker.

        • Duane

          Actually, the F-35 IS by far the largest and most complex computer code written for any aircraft that ever existed. Over 8 million lines and constantly changing as new weapons, new sensors, new countermeasures are developed, and also changing to incorporate enemy aircraft flight data files into the machine.

          • Frank274

            so what you’re saying is that we’ll get a working a/c by 2037 or so?

          • Duane

            Its been working for years, undefeated in Marine air to air exercises, 95% kill ratio in USAF Red Flag exercises. Fully deployed in the world’s most dangerous airspace – Korean peninsula -for more than a year.

          • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

            Yeah, 8 million lines. What could go wrong?

        • El Kabong

          “If this is a so-called “software aircraft” what in blazes is taking so long???”?

          Go ahead, show us how it’s done.

        • RunningBear

          The F-35 is three types of aircraft; F-35A USAF, F-35B MARINES, F-35C NAVY. The three types have similar software and similar hardware. Certifying each type with software and as weapons the air separation tests were all part of the SDD program. Where reasonable duplication was identified, the testing was mitigated after review. With the new technologies in materials, stealth manufacturing, avionics system designs, weapons development and advances (UAI), each type is certified. The ALIS common system interface loads the latest mission data with the latest applicable ISR data available. As each system computer was developed and interfaced, their data was merged to provide the detailed and simplified displays required for the pilots. Safety of flight, mission systems, weapons, defenses are all integrated, merged and simplified for the pilot. Block 3F is complete and in service in Okinawa with the Marines and the Airforce. But,…..technologies evolve, new weapons become available; thus Blocks 4+ Are already planned.
          🙂

      • Rocco

        Kudos

      • Refguy

        So when do we get beyond the Beta release?

        • RunningBear

          Both the Marines VMFA-121 F-35B and the USAF 34th FS F-35A are both flying Block 3F forward deployed at Iwakuni and Kadena, as we speak.

          • Refguy

            And? What’s included in 3F in terms of weapons, sensors and envelope.

          • RunningBear

            3F Weapons
            18,000lbs.

            GAU-22/A 25mm interenal/ external

            Internal
            – AIM-120C7
            – AIM-132 ASRAAM
            – GBU-12 LGB Paveway 2 (500lb.)
            – GBU-32 JDAM (1,000lb.)
            – GBU-31 JDAM (2,000lb.)
            – AGM-154 JSOW

            External
            – AIM-9X
            – Paveway 4 (500lb.)
            – GBU-39 SDB (250lb.)
            – GBU-10 LGB Paveway 2 (2,000lb.)
            – GBU-24 LGB Paveway 2 (2,000lb.)
            – GBU-16 LGB Paveway 2 (1,000lb.)
            – GBU-38 JDAM (500lb.)
            – MK. 82 (500lb.)
            – MK. 83 (1,000lb.)
            – MK. 84 (2,000lb.)

            *note* internal weapons can be carried external
            🙂

          • Rocco

            There you go!!

    • Rocco

      Stupid post!!

      • Todd

        Brilliant retort! and the Einstein of the year award goes to Rokko

        • Rocco

          2 C’s in Rocco so GFYS

        • Rocco

          The only sun you are is a bitch!!

    • Refguy

      So when do we get beyond the Beta release?

      • RunningBear

        Block 1A/1B – Block 1 comprises 78 percent of the more
        than 8.3 million source lines of code required for the F-35’s full warfighting
        capability. Block 1A was the ready for training configuration while Block 1B
        provided initial multi-level security.
        Block 2A – Block 2A is currently released to the
        F-35 fleet. It provides enhanced training including functionality for off-board
        fusion, initial data links, electronic attack and mission debrief. With Block
        2A, nearly 86 percent of the required code for full warfighting capability is
        flying.
        Block 2B – Block 2B provides initial warfighting
        capabilities, including but not limited to expanded data links, multi-ship
        fusion and initial live weapons. The U.S. Marines declared IOC in July 2015 with Block
        2B. With Block 2B, more than 87 percent of the required code for full
        warfighting capability is flying.
        Block 3i – Block 3i provides the same tactical capabilities
        as Block 2B. The principal difference between 2B and 3i is the implementation
        of new hardware, specifically the updated Integrated Core Processor. The Air
        Force declared IOC with Block 3i in August 2016. With Block 3i, 89 percent of
        code required for full warfighting capability is flying.
        Block 3F – Block 3F provides 100 percent of the
        software required for full warfighting capability, including but not limited to
        data link imagery, full weapons and embedded training.

        FY
        LRIP
        BLOCK
        ORDER
        DELIV.

        2007
        1
        1A
        2
        2009

        2008
        2
        1B
        12
        2010

        2009
        3
        1B
        17
        2011

        2010
        4
        2A
        32
        2012

        2011
        5
        2A
        32
        2013

        2012
        6
        2B
        36
        2014

        2013
        7
        2B
        35
        2015

        2014
        8
        3I
        43
        2016

        2015
        9
        3I
        64
        2017

        2016
        10
        3F
        90
        2018

        • Rocco

          Interesting ! Thanks for the breakdown.

  • RunningBear

    There obviously is no interest in the F-35C by Naval Aviation. Their dabbling in the F-35 program has been lackadaisical at best. Having bought less than 3 dozen, to date, it appears their is little intent in providing aircraft squadrons for deployment on the carriers in the foreseeable future. Even the successful SM-6 testing of NIFC-CA was performed by the Marines in an F-35B. The focus on the SBug problems has

    all but exhausted their manpower and budgets and integrating the advanced F-35C has overwhelmed them. Let F-35C IOC slide behind whatever potential delays IOT&E can create and slowly build the limited shore squadrons to absorb the minimum of a/c ordered. IOC is not something to be celebrated by Naval Aviation but dreaded by the SBug Mafia. The JPO had certified the F-35C in carrier operations in SDD and now I wonder why the Navy “wasted” the operations/maintenance manhours and materials on carrier quals for those two squadrons when they will not be deployed on those carriers. Perhaps they should consider transferring the a/c from the Navy to the Marine Corp for training a/c and free up the early training F-35Bs for the concurrency upgrades that are in the existing budgets. At least that would allow the F-35C Navy personnel to be reassigned to SBug squadrons for their pilot and maintenance shortages.
    🙂

    • muzzleloader

      Well said

      • Rocco

        Disagree

        • muzzleloader

          Rocco, I work for Navair, and some inside humor has developed over the F-35 and all the false starts in the program. What makes it even more ironic, is that we are as much in the dark as anyone about where the F-35C is in its IOC.

          • Rocco

            Really that’s cool!! They hiring?? Time will tell. I’m gonna bet it’ll be by 2020

          • Duane

            In another article on this subject on Breaking Defense, absent the click-baiting headline and slant used in this post, the admiral referenced in this post said that the schedule for IOC is event driven, not date driven … but that in any case he expects IOC to be declared not later than next spring, no more than a couple months after the most recently projected Feb 2019 date. Since the program was rebaselined in 2012, the C model IOC has been projected for FY2019, not 2018.

            This article is just a lot of noise over nothing … but a clear dog whistle to the F-35 hating crowd who showed up in this thread.

          • Rocco

            Agreed!! VFA -101 & 121 are already deployed as we speak

          • RunningBear

            Strike Fighter Squadron 101 (VF-101), “Grim Reapers”
            F-35C FRS
            Eglin AFB Florida

            Strike Fighter Squadron 125 (VFA-125), “Rough Raiders”
            F-35C FRS
            NAS Lemoore California

            Strike Fighter Squadron 147 (VFA-147), “Argonauts”
            F-35C Carrier Air Wing Eleven (CVW-11)
            NAS Lemoore California
            🙂

          • Rocco

            Yes I have the breakdown thanks. Combat aircraft magazine 😉

    • Centaurus

      We must equip our sidewinders with Nukes to blow the Rooskies out of the sky !!!

    • They wanted the A-12, they weren’t allowed to. Thus the F-35C was created.

      • Bubblehead

        Jeez man, you must be older than I. The A12 dates to the 1990’s, we are almost at 2020. Not many people left in the USN from the A12 days.

    • Duane

      “No interest” is not correct. The C model development was always slated to take several years longer than the A and B models. Whether the Navy declares IOC in Feb 2019, or a few months later is immaterial to its development and deployment.

      The Navy has not pushed on F-35 deployment nearly as strongly as have the Marines. The Marines owned proportionally more of the oldest Hornets than did the Navy, and also needed a replacement for their aging subsonic Harriers, and did not want to buy non-VSTOL replacements …whereas the Navy was fine with buying more new Super Hornets.

      The Navy aviators are ecstatic about their F-35Cs, which are vastly more capable than the Super Hornets. The Navy is banking on the F-35 both for the opening battles of near peer naval warfare where all airspace is contested and heavily defended … and to be the key node for NIFCCA … neither role can be played by the Super Hornet.

      • Curtis Conway

        “… and to be the key node for NIFCCA … neither role can be played by the Super Hornet.” . . . yet. AESA radar and software (along with Link-16) make this possible. AND That upgrade involves a new high-powered computer called the distributed targeting processor network or DTPN and the tactical targeting network technology (TTNT) waveform.

        • Duane

          What makes the F-35 a key node in NIFCCA is its superior sensors (not just AESA radar which is a bolt on upgrade on any aircraft, but its entire suite of sensors that cannot be bolted onto a Super Hornet, including the distributed apperture system that is literally integrated into the skin of the F-35, plus its electro-optical sensor, plus othe sensors and antennas that are built into the skin … and something that the SH and every other aircraft in the world does not have, and which cannot be bolted on … its massive computer and sensor fusion.

          Its those unique in the world capabilities that causes the AF to pair up F-22s with F-35s, and has MDA planning to use F-35s just offshore from the Korean peninsula to provide boost phase missile defense … and explains why F-35Bs are undefeated in AA combat exercises for the last 3 years running, and why F-35As are at better than a 24:1 kill ratio against all other US and NATO warbirds in Red Flag AA combat exercises.

          • Curtis Conway

            The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Blk III will have it.

          • Duane

            No the Block III SH will not and can never have the same sensors and computer brain and sensor fusion of the F-35. The only sensor upgrade is the AESA radar which is rapidly being adapted to virtually all US military aircraft, from F-16s to F-15s to drones of all types.

            Claimung a AESA radar on a Block III SH makes it “just like a F-35” is like adding a turbocharger to a Chevy Malibu makes it “just like a Ferrari Portafino.

          • Curtis Conway

            You just can’t help yourself can you? I never said: “…the Block III SH will … have the same sensors and computer brain and sensor fusion of the F-35”. YOU DID! What I quoted for USNI News was: “… and to be the key node for NIFCCA … neither role can be played by the Super Hornet.” AND ADDED . . . “yet. AESA radar and software (along with Link-16) make this possible. AND That upgrade involves a new high-powered computer called the distributed targeting processor network or DTPN and the tactical targeting network technology (TTNT) waveform.” The DTPN and TTNT waveforms, upgrades to the AESA radar, and software mods are what facilitate the NIFC-CA capability. This is “Forward Pass” in reality, and it doesn’t take the IR DAS system, or massive sensor fusion, or extraordinarily capable computers to perform the NIFC-CA function.

      • Arthur Vallejo

        You seem to know a lot more than you are sharing with us. Chinese eyes and ears are everywhere. I appreciate…..
        1 F-35C is the USN’s third attempt at a CV capable radar stealthy jet. A-12 failed and a navalized F-22 failed.
        2 No navy has ever successfully deployed a steath fighter or bomber aboard a CATOBAR carrier.

        • Duane

          It is all widely disseminated public info, no secrets.

          There is no particular issue with a catobar aircraft and stealth. The Navy has been launching and trapping the F-35C on carriers for several years already. The pilots report that the JSF handles liks a dream on approach to landing. An issue was exoerienced a couple years ago with excessive nose gear bounce on cats with very lightly loaded aircraft – the same issue experienced with early launches of Hornets 30 some years ago. Fixed the same way by adjusting the nosegear hold down pressure on the cats.

          F-35C goes IOC in FY2019, which is just a couple months away.

          • Arthur Vallejo

            Understood. It is just that you make most of the other commenters sound like fools who believe themselves to be wise.

          • Duane

            Thank you.

    • Rocco

      Your twisting things!!

      • RunningBear

        How?
        Please explain!

        250+ built, <36 USN
        🙁

        • Duane

          The plan was ALWAYS for the CTOL variant to be a small minority of F-35 build … 340 out of 2,460. And the CTOL was ALWAYS projected to need several more years to complete development than the other two variants. IOC for the C model has been projected for FY2019 ever since the F-35 program was re-baselined in 2012 (6 years ago).

          • RunningBear

            Current plan for;

            CV is 340 (13.8%), where 70 (2.8%) for USMC, 270 (11.0%) for USN

            STOVL is 353 (14.4%) for USMC

            CTOL is 1,763 (71.8%) for USAF

            Total is 2,456

    • Iridium Halo

      Um, how many billion of dollars did the dabble with?

  • CharleyA

    AvWeek is reporting that IOC will be in 2019. I want to know if the nose gear oscillation mitigation was validated on the cruise earlier this year, and if the Navy will accept it. As for as the Navy slow rolling the F-35C, based on their budgeting and statements about wanting compatible communications with existing fleet platforms, it looks like they are waiting for Block 4 upgrades before buying the F-35 in greater numbers.

    • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

      The USN have said that the oscillation thing was sorted.

      Can’t post a link but here’s their quote on twitter to that very question:

      “The oscillation issue has been resolved. We instituted new pilot strap-in procedures and reduced setting of the Repeatable Release Holdback Bar to minimize oscillation which occurs during cat shots.”

      • CharleyA

        I’ve read testimony before the HASC that the JPO and Lockheed Martin have solved the Nz oscillations, but the testimony did not say it was validated in carrier testing (that was how the issue was identified in the first place.) Both the JPO and LM also said the helmet issues were solved – as it turned out, a bit prematurely. I’m a bit skeptical of the JPO and the contractor at this point. Trust but verify.

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    Any IOC estimate from 5 years ago would have been at best a guess.

    As mentioned below, one doesn’t exactly smell the enthusiasm from the Navy for the F-35C.

    But they may have to grow to love it…… they were supposed to be into the early stages of the 6th gen F/A-XX programme by now.
    Given how arduous 5th gen development has been, I doubt the Navy will manage making a 6th gen all by themselves.

    • CharleyA

      Report on NGAD AoA is due FY19 according to DoN testimony before a SASC subcommittee earlier this month.

      • DaSaint

        The Navy would love to skip to the 6th Gen, but unfortunately that can’t happen. God knows how long that competition, selection, and implementation will take.

    • Centaurus

      Equip them with 2 pair of Gatling guns, 300 Mk.84 bombs and 30000 Napalm tanks.

  • Bubblehead

    A few years ago it was reported 35C wing was found not to be strong enough to mount the sidewinders on the outer phylons. This was to be a main configuration of the 35C. Internal AMRAAMS, Sides on the outer phylons. Supposedly the only fix would be a major structural redesign. Anybody hear an update on this? I am of the assumption the USN just changed their requirements in order to avoid a redesign and this will be a flaw in the 35C?

    With no internal cannon, limited range, and extremely limited internal weapon carriage, the F35C is not the plane the USN needs. It has some great features stealth, datalinks, etc but it will always be limited by its shortcomings I listed above. It also is not a good air interdiction fighter. Flies low and slow (comparatively speaking). To defend the fleet ships you need more ordnance, super cruise, higher altitude and much more range. In many ways the fighters of 20-30 years ago were better defending the fleet than todays fighters. The F14 excelled at air interdiction. Speed and altitude allow you to not only get their sooner but to fire from a much further distance before ASM can be launched. Nothing in the USN fleet comes comparatively close to an air interdiction fighter and there is nothing even planned. Block III SH will have much improved range, but still fly relatively low & slow.

    • Duane

      The wingtip experienced excessive flutter when deploying AIM 9X on the external hard points, a configuration only used when not VLO, and an issue temporarily only on the C model with its wider wingspan and folding wingtips. All it needed was a change in internal bracing, and this type of deficiency and its fix is common in developing new warbirds.

      The nosegear oscillation issue – the exact same issue faced by the Hornet in its developmental testing, was fully resolved last year.

      A cannon does not care if it is internal or in an external pod, it shoots exactly the same.

      And you obviously don’t know what you are talking about when you claim “limited range” for the F-35C with its 630 nm effective combat radius, which is by far the longest range of any supersonic attack fighter that is carrier based … more than 60% greater than the Super Hornet and 25% greater than the old Tomcats.

      • DaSaint

        Internal cannons are inherently more accurate and can be more accurately calibrated than external cannons, which also affect the signatures of the aircraft it’s slung under.

        • Duane

          If you were talking about a gun that is just hanging below a wing, you might be only partially right, but only if you assume the gun is not rigidly mounted on the airframe. As long as the gun is rigidly mounted, there is absolutely zero “inherent” difference in aiming accuracy or precision.

          In any case the external gun mounts used on the B and C models are not what you think. The gun mechanism is not “hung”, or mounted under a wing, but is part of an integrated low observable aerodynamically smooth fairing system rigidly mounted to the fuselage. The gun aiming is managed electronically, integrated with the aircraft’s extremely sophisticated fire control system enabling precise compensation and “zeroing in” not possible with a old tech internal or external gun.

          • DaSaint

            Well according to the DoD, you’re partially correct. The podded guns on the B and C are doing better than the internal on the A. All exhibit a tendency ‘for right aiming bias’ though the F-35A exhibits the most.

            Reference: Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, Robert Behler, in his office’s latest annual report on the F-35.

          • Duane

            That is ancient developmental testing results from Block 2A. The gun was not IOC until Block 3F, which has been out for the last 7 months. The aiming bias issue was a software issue that has been addressed.

            In any case, the gun is an anachronism, a hat tip to 20th century tech. It is irrelevent to the capabilities of any 21st century strike fighter … very limited range, dumb rounds only, only works on line of site, and for those three reasons nullifies the advantages of avoiding ground fire, engaging at long range using precision targeted smart munitions that don’t expose expensive machinery and human pilots to ground fire.

          • DaSaint

            No Duane, this testimony was in January of this year.

            And precision weapons are great, until you’ve used them up. Having a gun as a backup doesn’t hurt. If the pilits didn’t feel it was necessary, it would no longer be required.

          • RunningBear

            “Windage and elevation, Mrs. Langdon; windage and elevation.”
            🙂

    • PolicyWonk

      Hmmm. Well, the USN changing the requirements to accommodate the aircraft wouldn’t be much of a surprise: with the F-35, the mission profiles of today have little in common with the original objectives.

      • RunningBear

        ….another personal comment; the SBUG mafia doesn’t know what to do with the “Litenen”, it is superior in any mode and sadly (for them), it has more SA data that can be exported by MADL to either an a/c, ship or ground troops. MADL is LPD/ LPI wideband unlike Link16. Adding it to a ship is a 50# box and a couple of redundant antennas and is integrated into CEC/ Cooperative Engagement Capability. Israel is adding a similar system to their fleet of F-15 (BAZ) as a simple (hump) on the top of the fuselage.

        IMHO; the F-35C should fly it as a strike quarterback, tasking targets to the SBugs as required and protecting the strike package from a/a and SAM systems. MADL needs to be added to all SBugs and Ships.
        🙂

    • Rocco

      Good questions!! …. Put a – between number & letter of aircraft please!!!

    • Hugh

      My concern regarding the F35 variant to go on the RN carriers!

      • RunningBear

        No concerns for the RAF/RN F-35B to fly off the QE ski-jump this summer, from the east coast of US.

        The F-35B is flying off the USS WASP LHD1 as we speak. VMFA-121/ Green Knights has 6 F-35Bs deployed on the WASP and hopefully they will participate in the 2018 annual Key Resolve 1 April and Foal Eagle later this summer. If they are supported as an ESG/ Expeditionary Strike Group with P-8A, Cruisers and Destroyers employing NIFC-CA the “at sea” testing of the successful SM-6 from back in 2016 could be demonstrated.
        🙂

        • Hugh

          My concern, or rather disappointment, was from the comparisons raised by Bubblehead, and the smaller combat range and payload of the B compared to the C, and also the smaller complement of aircraft compared to ship displacement. I accept that it all boils down to available funds.

          • El Kabong

            Compared to a Harrier?

          • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

            The RAF payloads are the same between the B & C.
            The UK’s weapons for the Lightning are: ASRAAM, Meteor & SPEAR-3.
            No matter what variant used, the payload of the above weapons is the same.

            Range under load is pretty similar to the Tornado (which it also repalces) and vastly better than the Harrier.

            The ‘B’ was the right choice given the costs.

          • RunningBear

            The Navy only allows the F-35B to fly from the amphibs (LHA/D) in support of the Corp. The effect of these new tools; F-35B, MV-22B and soon MH-53K will greatly impact the tactics of the Corp/ Rapid Deployment Force. Overlaying the operating ranges of these tools based from a ESG/ Expeditionary Strike Group, greatly changes the entire approach to how these “boots on the ground” are to be deployed. The simple ability of the F-35B to guide a SM-6 to a target 300mi. out is significant from a ship defense point as well as for attacking a mobile ground target. Defending the beach just became a “bit” more difficult.

            🙂

          • Duane

            The effective combat radius of the F-35B on internal fuel is still much longer than that of the Harriers it replaces – 410 nm vs. only 300 nm. And it is just vastly more capable in every respect.

            In order to deploy CTOL aircraft at sea, you have to build a big deck carrier, and so far the UK has been unwilling to make that investment in ships.

    • RunningBear

      When (if ever) the F-35C flys fleet defense, it will carry 4 AIM-120Ds and 2 AIM-9Xs in the full stealth mode.

      The two internal 2,000lb JDAMS are only a portion of the 18,000k+ capacity of the F-35C.

      The optional external F-35B/C GAU-22/A gun pod [email protected] has been certified inflight.

      • Bubblehead

        F35 can’t fly with AIM9’s in full stealth mode. AIM9’s hang on the outer pylons creating drag and losing stealth advantage. The IR seeker on the missile has to be able to see its target.

        As on now, I believe the internal weapons bay can only handle max of 4 AMRAAMS.

        • RunningBear

          Sorry, but the AIM-9X is only carried on the LO external pylon and is included in the RCS measurement for the F-35s. It is a stealth weapon.

          • Bubblehead

            Rules of physics still apply. Even to the F35. Sidewinder isn’t stealthy missile nor is the pylons. It does effect stealth.

          • El Kabong

            Prove it.

            What EXACTLY is the RCS with the pylons and ‘Winders?

          • SolarWarden

            of course it has some effect but it’s not as significant as you think. Brazil did an RCS test on their Aim-9 clone (Piranha I think) and they released their report on it.

            Here’s the link but since this site doesn’t allow links I’m just going to put spaces between the address so that it doesn’t get blocked.

            http://www.jatm. com. br/papers/vol3_n3/JATMv3n3_p287-294_Numerical_evaluation_of_an_air_to_air_missile_rcs_signature_at_x_band.pdf

            9x seeker and fins have a much smaller rcs than 9Mike has. Also the 9x is a BVR-ish missile.

        • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

          No.

          The Sidewinder has lock-on-after-launch.

          And even with the outer rails active, it will still have the lowest observability of any naval fighter on the planet….. by a magnitude.

    • El Kabong

      “…the F35C is not the plane the USN needs.”?

      LOL!

      Quick! Get on the horn and tell the USN they’re wrong.

  • Duane

    This is silly. The Marines declared IOC with Block 2F nearly 3 years ago, the AF with Block 3I a year later. 3F has been out in the Fleet for months, with all new production aircraft since the beginning of last September delivered with 3F. All the critical deficiencies have been resolved on the F-35C.

    There’s some kind of politicking going on with declaration of IOC. None of it reflects the actual capability of the aircraft or its systematic integration in the air wings. It’s just words.

    • Bubblehead

      The Marines declaring IOC was a joke 2-3 years ago. That aircraft was nowhere near ready for combat. Even Marines admitted as much. It is barely ready for combat now, 3 years later.

      The Marines had not choice to declare IOC. Their F18C’s aren’t air worthy. What was the stats a few years ago? Something like only 10% of F18A/C’s were air worthy? The Marines decided never to buy the SH and instead wait for the F35. In hindsight that was a very big mistake.

      • Duane

        No joke … just ask the pilots of the 100% of all fourth gen and fourth gen plus US and NATO aircraft defeated in aerial combat exercises by Marine F-35Bs over the last 3 years. The Russians, Chinese, and NORKs certainly don’t consider it a joke.

        The only people who call the F-35B a “joke” are Russian troll farm inmates, trying in vain to convince internet idiots that every single thing our US military does is a failure.

        You think we haven’t got you pegged? ROTFLMAO!

        • Bubblehead

          Trying to find where i called it a joke. It’s a darn good dual purpose fighter bomber, especially penetration bomber. Like the Hornet. But it’s no superiority fighter or air interdiction fighter which is what they need to protect battle group. Against near peer you will need speed, range, altitude to intercept bombers with ASM.

          • El Kabong

            “Against near peer you will need speed, range, altitude to intercept bombers with ASM.”?

            LOL!

          • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

            Neither is the Super Hornet though!

            So much moot!

          • Duane

            You cannot even read your own words saying that the Marines declaring IOC was “a joke”?

            And you are completely wrong in declaring F-35 a single role aircraft. It is a multi role aircraft that certainly IS an extremely capable air interduction aircraft, more capable than any other on the planet. You don’t score 100% kill ratios, as Marine B models have for the last 3 years, or 95% as USAF A models have in Red Flag exercises for the last two years, and not be the best there is.

            In many respects all of the F-35 models are better at air to air combat than the F-22. Much better sensors than the F-22, or of any other fighter. The only aircraft in the world with sensor fusion. The only fighter with both LINK-16 and MADL. All F-35s have HMDs, which F-22s are only starting to get, and no other fighter has.

            Only the F-35 has the on board computing power to deploy mission data files on each potential enemy aircraft, able to instantly categorize each sensed target, prioritize all sensed targets, automatically deploy countermeasures, and feed targeting data to own ship’s fire control system as well as to friendlies so they can deploy weaps at the multiple simultaneous targets.

            F-35s are so superior to F-22s in BVR air combat that the AF has paired F-22s with F-35s, with the F-35 serving as mission commanders and F-22s serving as arsenal aircraft, shooting AAMs at targets it cant see under command of the F-35.

        • Rocco

          Kudos

      • El Kabong

        Prove it.

      • Rocco

        BS

  • b2

    LOL. F-35C ain’t ready? Really? This is news? CAPT Obvious?

    Yeah sure, my US Navy should just just declare the F-35C IOC/combat ready just like the US Marines did with their pig-n-poke machine. Let US follow THEM. YGBKM.

    That would be a real good choice, eh?….. Sure- “IOC” is just words behind the acronym for civilians and “combat ready” is just in the eye of the beholder, right?… What do they call that gibberish-“doublespeak”, Navy UCMJ training being done nowadays that used to be called “leadership”? “Sailors for good choices” or something? Run any decision by that committee…LOL (cynically…) What have we come to?

  • DaSaint

    The saga continues…2021. What is the projected date that 2 squadrons will be assigned to all carriers, 2040?

    • Duane

      That will achieved by the mid to late 2020s. Total F-35 production is rapidly ramping up. 65 in 2016, 90+ in 2017 … by 2021 up to around 170 aircraft per year, possibly significantly more as foreign buyers keep stepping up. We’ve got 30+ C models now. Total Navy buy is 260 plus the Marines are buying another 70 C models in addition to their B models.

      • Refguy

        We’ve built a lot af birds for a program that hasn’t had a full OpEval

        • RunningBear

          250-ish where 2/3 are training a/c that are budgeted to upgrade to the Block 3F (frontline) configuration.

          • Refguy

            That’s a lot.

          • El Kabong

            It’s disingenuous.

          • El Kabong

            “training aircraft”?

            That’s what the US deployed overseas?

            LOL!

          • Duane

            EK, bear’s point is that when standing up a new aircraft that is revolutionary in it capabilities, most of the initial production runs go towards training pilots, beginning with training the trainers, and moving on to training the early combat pilots. At this point only a few squadrons are deployed … but within a few years that will flip, with combat pilots and their aircraft outnumbering the trainers by many times.

          • El Kabong

            He’s being disingenuous.
            It’s only common sense to use new equipment to train with.

            He’s merely trolling and trying to make it sound like those F-35’s aren’t good for combat.

        • Todd

          How dare you insert logic into this debate, that’s uncalled for…

        • Duane

          The IOT&E op eval is of a single release of the software, Block 3F. The system has been continuously evaluated by the testers ever since the first aircraft flew a decade ago.

          Each software block in the future will be operationally tested, exactly just as all upgrades to any other US military aircraft

          I’d ask you what your point is, but it is obvious you are just here to snipe and snark.

    • RunningBear

      “The U.S. Navy plans to deploy USN F-35C fighter jets to MCAS Iwakuni sometime after 2021” CVW-5/ Carrier Air Wing Five, CVN-76/ USS Ronald Reagan. Logistically both the F-35B/C would be located on the same base, optimizing spare parts, ALIS, and simulator/ training facilities, etc.

      • DaSaint

        Thanks. What a saga. Let’s keep our fingers crossed in the interim.

  • Iridium Halo

    Obviously no one learnt a thing from the F-111

  • Rocco

    No Spelling….Rocky!!!! If anything I’m alot older than you & Duane put together!!! Have some respect asshole!!