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Lockheed Martin, Tata Announce F-16 India Partnership

Landmark agreement supports F-16 Block 70 'Make in India' offer
PARIS, June 19, 2017 /PRNewswire/

http://news.lockheedmartin.com/2017-06-19-Lockheed-Martin-Tata-Announce-F-16-India-Partnership

The F-35 at Paris Air Show 2017

June 14, 2017

The Paris Air Show, or Salon du Bourget, is the world's premiere aerospace trade show. The 2017 Paris Air Show will take place June 19-25 at Le Bourget Parc des Expositions.

The F-35 will be making its aerial demonstration debut during the 2017 Paris Air Show. Key program leadership and important customers will also provide program updates and briefs throughout the show. Below is the full schedule of F-35-related events at Paris Air Show.

*Schedule subject to change due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances.

Monday, June 19

1000. Paris Air Show Conference Center Room 2 | F-35 Aerial Demonstration Pilot Briefing

1100. Paris Air Show Conference Center Room 2 | Lockheed Martin F-35 Briefing

1200. Paris Air Show Conference Center Room 2 | F-35 Program Update with Col. (Brig. Gen. Select) Todd Canterbury, Director, USAF F-35 Integration Office

1530-1600. F-35 Aerial Demonstration

Tuesday, June 20

0900. Paris Air Show Media Center Room 2 | F-35 Aerial Demonstration Pilot Briefing

1100. Paris Air Show Media Center Room 2 | United States Marine Corps Leadership Briefing

1215. Paris Air Show Media Center Room 2 | UK Royal Navy Leadership Briefing

1530-1600. F-35 Aerial Demonstration

Wednesday, June 21

1530-1600. F-35 Aerial Demonstration

Thursday, June 22

No F-35 Activities

Friday, June 23

1530-1600. F-35 Aerial Demonstration

Saturday, June 24

1530-1600. F-35 Aerial Demonstration

Sunday, June 25

1530-1600. F-35 Aerial Demonstration

Boeing Streamlining Defense and Space Unit to Boost Competitiveness

Simplified, flatter structure will accelerate decision making

About 50 executive positions affected by changes

ARLINGTON, Va., June 13, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Boeing [NYSE: BA] is taking the next step in making its Defense, Space & Security (BDS) unit more globally competitive by eliminating a layer of executive oversight.

"We need to be an agile organization that is more responsive to customers' needs and committed to continually improving productivity," said Defense, Space & Security President and CEO Leanne Caret. "We are fundamentally addressing how we compete, win, and grow in Boeing's second century."

As of July 1, the current Boeing Military Aircraft and Network & Space Systems segments will evolve into smaller entities reporting to Caret.

  • Autonomous Systems: Insitu and Liquid Robotics subsidiaries; Echo Voyager maritime vehicle; vertical lift unmanned systems; and certain electronic and information systems.

  • Space and Missile Systems: satellites; Boeing's share of United Launch Alliance; the International Space Station; Ground-based Midcourse Defense; Ground Based Strategic Deterrent; Joint Direct Attack Munition and Harpoon weapons, among others.

  • Strike, Surveillance and Mobility: F-15 and F/A-18 fighters; P-8 maritime patrol aircraft; Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System; modifications/upgrades to fixed-wing aircraft.

  • Vertical Lift: AH-6i, AH-64 Apache, and CH-47 Chinook helicopters; V-22 Osprey tilt rotor.
     

Boeing executives Chris Raymond, Jim Chilton, Shelley Lavender, and David Koopersmith will lead those, respectively.

The Development, Global Operations, and Phantom Works segments, which also report to Caret, will largely be unchanged.

About 50 executive positions will be affected this year as a result of the changes.

For more on Defense, Space & Security, visit www.boeing.com. Follow us on Twitter: @BoeingDefense.

XQ-222 Valkyrie and UTAP-22 to be unveiled at Paris Airshow

Kratos to Unveil Newest High Performance Class of Military Unmanned Aerial System Technology at 2017 Paris Air Show
SAN DIEGO, June 13, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE)

https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2017/06/13/1018419/0/en/Kratos-to-Unveil-Newest-High-Performance-Class-of-Military-Unmanned-Aerial-System-Technology-at-2017-Paris-Air-Show.html

USAF wants to upgrade 841 F-16C/Ds to 13,856 airframe hours

F-16 to fly for USAF through 2058(Introduction 17 August 1978)

14 June 2017

The US Air Force (USAF) is to increase the number of aircraft and additional airframe hours to be included in a planned service-life extension programme (SLEP) of its fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft.

While the service had previously stated that up to 300 of the service's 1,017 Block 40/42 and 50/52 C- and D-model aircraft would see their airframe hours increased from the current 8,000 hours to 12,000 hours (an increase equivalent to about eight years of operational flying), a notice posted by the service on the Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps) website on 12 June says that these numbers are now to grow to 841 aircraft and 13,856 hours.

"The F-16 USAF SLEP intends to extend the aircraft's current structural service life from 8,000 equivalent flight hours (EFH) up to 13,856 EFH by modifying and/or repairing life limiting, fractural critical, and safety of flight critical structure. This effort seeks to award a contract to a vendor who can manufacture and/or procure, assemble, and deliver up to the estimated maximum quantity of 841 F-16 Block 40-52, C/D-Model SLEP modification kits necessary to extend the structural service life of these aircraft, in accordance with Government standards and specifications defined in the Technical Data Package (TDP)," the notice said.

The 1st Japanese assembled F-35A AX-05 makes maden flight Jun. 13 2017

Luke AFB temporarily cancels F-35A local flying ops

Contracts

Press Operations
Release No: CR-104-17
May 31, 2017
Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Linthicum Heights, Maryland, has been awarded a $243,873,277 predominantly fixed-price contract with cost-plus-fixed fee and fixed-price incentive portions for 72 Active Electronically Scanned Array radars, spares and support services. Work will be performed at Linthicum Heights, Maryland, and is expected to be complete by Jan. 31, 2019. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition with one offer received. Fiscal 2016 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $30,714,025 are being obligated at the time of award. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8615-17-C-6047).

https://www.defense.gov/News/Contracts/Contract-View/Article/1198370/

Northrop Grumman

 AN/APG-83 SABR, Lockheed Martin F-16D Block 40 (87-0392) ff 03/31/89,  08/2015 USAF 416 FLTS 'ED'


"Rollin Thunder"

http://www.northropgrumman.com/Capabilities/sabr/Pages/default.aspx

Aviation Nation 2017 showcases “Breaking Barriers” Nov.11,12

Release Number: 010517

Published May 15, 2017

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. – Nellis Air Force Base is proud to present Aviation Nation 2017 on Nov. 11 and 12. The event is Air Combat Command’s closing celebration for the United States Air Force’s 70th Birthday.

 “We are excited to host the culminating event for Air Combat Command,” said Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, 57th Wing commander. “The 70th Birthday theme, ‘American Airmen: Breaking Barriers since 1947,’ is a perfect representation of Nellis Air Force Base as we continue to be the leading edge for innovation and warfighting excellence across the Air Force.”

 Aviation Nation 2017 will exhibit United States Air Force heritage and its accomplishments in air, space and cyberspace. The Thunderbirds, the United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, is the headliner for the event. Additional demonstrations and ground displays will be announced in the months leading up to the event.

 The two-day event is open and free to the public.

U.S. Air Force Authorizes Extended Service Life for F-16

New flight hour limit supports F-16 operational life to 2048 and beyond

FORT WORTH, Texas, April 12, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Air Force authorized extending the service life of the Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) F-16's designed service life to 12,000 Equivalent Flight Hours  far beyond the aircraft's original design service life of 8,000 hours.

Following F-16 Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) structural modifications, the U.S. Air Force could safely operate Block 40-52 aircraft to 2048 and beyond. The Air Force and Lockheed Martin also reduced projected service life costs for the Block 40-52 fleet, paving the way for safe, cost-effective F-16 flight operations decades into the future.

"This accomplishment is the result of more than seven years of test, development, design, analysis and partnership between the U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin," said Susan Ouzts, vice president of Lockheed Martin's F-16 program. "Combined with F-16 avionics modernization programs like the F-16V, SLEP modifications demonstrate that the Fighting Falcon remains a highly capable and affordable 4th Generation option for the U.S. Air Force and international F-16 customers."

Validation of the extended flight hour limit directly supports the SLEP goal of extending the service life of up to 300 F-16C/D Block 40-52 aircraft. SLEP and related avionics upgrades to the Air Force's F-16C/D fleet can safely and effectively augment the current fighter force structure as U.S. and allied combat air fleets recapitalize with F-35 Lightning IIs.

A second phase, or Part II, of the F-16 SLEP airworthiness process continues with the request for Military Type Certificate (MTC), which will be submitted to the Air Force's Technical Airworthiness Authority in the coming months. Part II seeks to validate further extending the F-16's operational life based on final service life analysis from extended durability testing.

About the F-16 Fighting Falcon
The F-16 continues to prove itself as the world's most successful, combat-proven multi-role fighter aircraft, having served with 28 customers around the world. The F-16V, the latest F-16 avionics upgrade configuration, includes numerous enhancements designed to keep the F-16 at the forefront of international security. The F-16 Block 70/72, the newest and most advanced F-16 production configuration, combines capability and structural upgrades into the most advanced F-16 production aircraft ever offered.

For additional information, visit our website: lockheedmartin.com/f16

New SM-3 Block IIA Intercepts Ballistic Missile in Space For First Time

February 6, 2017 2:13 PM

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency, the Japan Ministry of Defense and U.S. Navy successfully used a ship-launched Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA to intercept a medium-range ballistic missile target for the first time on Friday night in Hawaii.In the Feb. 3 test, conducted at about 10:30 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time (3:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Feb. 4), a target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, according to a MDA statement. USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53) detected and tracked the target missile with its AN/SPY-1D(V) radar and Aegis Combat System Baseline 9.C2 system. The ship fired a SM-3 Block IIA – being jointly developed by the U.S. and Japan – and intercepted the target.

News releases from MDA and Raytheon add that preliminary data shows the test met its primary objectives, which include evaluating the performance of key missile components such as the kinetic warhead, divert and attitude control system, nosecone, steering control section, booster performance and second- and third-state rocket motor.

Mitch Stevison, vice president of Air and Missile Defense Systems for Raytheon, which builds the Standard Missile family of weapons, told reporters this morning that this test represented many firsts for the program: “the first ship-launched SM-3 IIA, it was the first time that we actually were able to have our (kinetic warhead) look at a threat in space, identify that threat, discriminate that threat, and consummate an engagement on that threat. All of those things are critical in closing the entire system loop to know that we have a valid system.”

Stevison said the SM-3 IIA went through two control test vehicle tests last year, once to verify the propulsion system and the second to use the kinetic warhead in space for the first time. This third test, and first detect-to-engage event, “was a near picture perfect test,” he said, adding that there was a lot of data for government and industry partners to sift through but that it so far appears to be “a flawless flyout and engagement and consummation of the mission Friday night in Hawaii.”

Though he couldn’t talk much about the threat set this event tested against, Stevison said the system defended against a medium-range ballistic missile threat that “flew a trajectory that we would associate with potential threats, and the actual lethal object – or what we refer to as the reentry vehicle part of that target – was representative of the threat space that the SM3 IIA was created for and developed to engage.” SM-3 IIA was designed to protect against medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, and Stevison said the full envelope would eventually be tested before the system is fielded in 2018. This first intercept “gives us high confidence that those future engagements … are fully achievable.”

In some ways, preparing the SM-3 IIA for this test was made easier by previous work Raytheon, the Navy, MDA and the industrial base have done on the Standard Missile family of weapons, which all operate through the Aegis Combat System and launch from Vertical Launching System tubes aboard Navy cruisers and destroyers or from ground-based Aegis Ashore sites. On the other hand, this SM-3 IIA is much larger than the other Standard Missiles, creating some additional concerns.

“There is a very sophisticated process that is used across the industry partners and the Missile Defense Agency in doing the preparation and the integration of a missile system onto a ship. And that process was fully used in the integration of this missile,” Stevison said. Asked if the integration process has gotten more efficient every time a new Standard Missile product is developed, “I would say resoundingly yes. The more we do this, the more that we learn, the more efficient these processes become in working with the government and our industry partners to make sure that the system is a complete system and not an individual element. So that efficiency that was brought to this from our history certainly cannot be repeated in any kind of a clean sheet construct. So we’re proud of the long-term partnerships we’ve had … and we are very proud to say that this integration into the Aegis Combat System and the Aegis ship platform went very smoothly.”

Still, Stevison said, “this is a very large missile, so to move to the construct of launching a missile of this caliber out of Aegis Combat System, there was additional activities that were taking place both from a safety standpoint … and in the integration itself.”

“This capability is not just an organic capability to the Aegis Combat System, so the integration involved looking at many more things across the spectrum than we would with a normal Standard Missile or a smaller Standard Missile product,” he added.
“So that integration was extensive. It’s been part of our development plan since the inception of our program and was executed well.”

SM-3 IIA, in addition to bringing in the Japanese industrial base, the SM-3IIA program seeks to improve upon the SM-3 IB missile, which is already fielded at sea and in the first Aegis Ashore site in Romania.

“We have now increased the capability of our propulsions systems to get more range, better velocity, which increases the capability for the defended area and also gives combatant commanders and tactical commanders on the ground more flexibility in their methods of employing the systems,” Stevison said.
“We’ve also increased the capability of our kinetic warhead, which is the kill vehicle piece of the SM-3 IIA program, with both a larger divert and attitude control system and with a seeker that has more sensitivity and capabilities to deal with the advancing threats. So we have throughout this system improved this system dramatically over the SM-3 IB program.”

Despite the larger size and greater capability, Stevison said no ship or VLS modifications were needed.

“The ship itself is perfectly capable of launching a missile of this size, and we saw that executed near-flawlessly here Friday night,” he said.

Overall, he said the test “was absolutely one of the smoothest tests I’ve seen conducted in my experience doing missile defense testing,” which he said was about 20 years. The preparation going into the test ensured everything went right and that all the needed data was collected to assess and help make improvements as needed going into the next test.

The test event in Hawaii was also the first shipboard demonstration of Lockheed Martin’s Aegis Baseline 9.2 (BMD 5.1) Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) tracking and engagement capability, which is also set for certification in 2018. In tandem with the Baseline 9/BMD 5.1 software variant in development for the U.S. Navy, Lockheed Martin has been developing a comparable J7 variant for Japanese Aegis-equipped destroyers.

U-2 breaks 30,000-hour barrier in fight against ISIL

By Senior Airman Tyler Woodward, 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs / Published February 03, 2017

http://www.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/223/Article/1070623/u-2-breaks-30000-hour-barrier-in-fight-against-isil.aspx

Nellis F-15’s ‘odometer’ hits 10,000 flight hours

By Staff Sgt. Siuta B. Ika, 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs / Published February 02, 2017

http://www.nellis.af.mil/News/tabid/6431/Article/1068993/nellis-f-15s-odometer-hits-10000-flight-hours.aspx

83-3014

Air Force needs to grow to 350,000

NASA, UTechnologies Research Center Set Boundary Layer Fan Test

US Air Force Turns 69

The official date of the founding of the US Air Force is 18 September 1947.  It was a momentous event that over six decades later has demonstrated the achievement of an Air Force second-to-none, yet the Air Force's history and heritage goes back a lot further.

Sikorsky delivers 1,000th U.S. Army H-60M Black Hawk

STRATFORD, Conn., Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Sikorsky delivered the 1,000th H-60M Black Hawk helicopter to the U.S. Army Thursday, the Lockheed Martin subsidiary announced.

The company delivered the first UH-60M to the service in 2007 and the first HH-60M Medevac helicopter in 2008, the company said in a statement.

Thursday's ceremony marked the delivery of the 792nd UH-60M and the 208th HH-60M.

The "Mike" model helicopters represent the Army's third standard baseline H-60 Black Hawk aircraft version in the program's 38-year production history.

The newest models feature more powerful engines, a new airframe, avionics and propulsion system, improved rotor blades, a digital cockpit and an autopilot, among other modern enhancements.

There are currently 2,135 H-60 Black Hawks in service, with the Army's fleet of the helicopters having flown nearly nine million flight hours.

The H-60M is flown by 10 other militaries throughout the world.

Sikorsky delivered the UH-60A Black Hawk helicopters to the service from 1978 to 1989, and delivered the UH-60L from 1989 to 2008.

The Army plans to keep the Black Hawk fleet flying through 2070.

Two milestones with one bird

Only F-15E with air-to-air kill clocks 12,000 flight hours

By Staff Sgt. Samantha Mathison, 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs / Published August 22, 2016
http://www.afcent.af.mil/Units/380thAirExpeditionaryWing/News/Display/tabid/5419/Article/920994/two-milestones-with-one-bird.aspx

U.S. Army Selects ATEC to Design Dramatically Improved Helicopter Engine for Black Hawk and Apache Fleets

HUNTSVILLE, Ala., Monday, Aug. 22, 2016

The U.S. Army has announced that the Advanced Turbine Engine Company (ATEC), a joint venture of Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney, has been awarded a contract for preliminary design review of a new engine for the Army's fleet of Black Hawk and Apache helicopters.

The two-year contract, part of the Army's Improved Turbine Engine (ITE) program, will support the design of an advanced 3,000 shaft horsepower turbine engine - ATEC's HPW3000.

The primary goal of the ITE program is to produce an affordable new engine that will dramatically improve performance over the current engine powering Black Hawk and Apache helicopters. The Army specifications require that the new engine be 50 percent more powerful, 25 percent more fuel efficient, and provide 20 percent longer engine life over the current engine, while also meeting stringent performance goals in high altitude and hot conditions at 6,000 feet and 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

ATEC recently completed testing of two HPW3000 demonstrator engines, which performed very well and have already validated various program requirements, according to Craig Madden, president of ATEC.

"The HPW3000 underscores our dedication to developing an engine that will support Army Aviation superiority over potential adversaries," said Madden. "We are very confident in the engine design and in the results we've seen in testing so far. With the extensive improvements in helicopter performance it brings, the HPW3000 will mean greater mission success and safety for U.S. warfighters."

The HPW3000 features a dual-spool architecture and utilizes many of the latest gas turbine engine technologies. The engine's dual-spool architecture offers significant advantages, including optimized engine efficiency, decreased maintenance costs, extended engine life, and greater power growth capability – providing the Army with maximum flexibility as mission requirements evolve and change.

When factoring in savings from decreased fuel consumption and lowered operating and support costs, the HPW3000 is expected to offer potential annual savings of $1 billion, compared with the current engine in the Black Hawk and Apache fleets.

"The advantages of the HPW3000 design mean that U.S warfighters can have confidence that the engine will perform as intended and be capable of performing throughout a wider range of operations," said Jerry Wheeler, ATEC's vice president for programs. "The American taxpayer can be assured that we are committed to providing the safest, most affordable and capable helicopter engine to the warfighter so that they can accomplish the mission."

The Army's development schedule for the engine program calls for the service to select from competing preliminary engine designs in 2018 and then proceed with a sole engine developer.

The ATEC joint venture of Honeywell (NYSE: HON) and Pratt & Whitney, a division of United Technologies Corporation (NYSE:UTX), brings together the world-class engineering, manufacturing, and production capabilities of two industry-leading companies perfectly suited for accomplishing the goals of the Army's ITE program.

To learn more about ATEC and the HPW3000 engine, visit ATEC online at www.dualspoolrules.com or on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

This press release contains forward-looking statements concerning opportunities for development and potential production of helicopter engines. Actual results may differ materially from those projected as a result of certain risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to changes in government procurement priorities and practices, budget plans, and availability of funding; challenges in the design, development, production, delivery, support, performance and realization of the anticipated benefits of advanced technologies; as well as other risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to those detailed from time to time in filings submitted by UTC and by Honeywell to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

- See more at: http://www.pw.utc.com/Press/Story/20160823-0800/30/All%20Categories#sthash.Iqf3xxTb.dpuf

Autonomous Global Hawk UASystem Surpasses 200,000 Flight Hours

SAN DIEGO, July 26, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) autonomous Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system (UAS) surpassed 200,000 flight hours, reinforcing its status as the most effective high altitude, long endurance intelligence gathering aircraft in the world. The U.S. Air Force's Global Hawks logged 88 percent of the 200,000 flight hours with the remaining hours flown by NASA Global Hawks, Germany's Full Scale Demonstrator and the Navy's broad area maritime surveillance aircraft systems.

Photos accompanying this release are available at: http://media.globenewswire.com/noc/mediagallery.html?pkgid=40921

Global Hawks operate at altitudes up to 60,000 feet for more than 30 hours, surveying thousands of square miles on a single mission. Global Hawk carries a variety of sensor payloads that allow military commanders to gather near real-time imagery and use radar to detect moving or stationary targets on the ground. The system also provides airborne communications and information sharing capabilities to military units in harsh environments.

"Global Hawk has set endurance records and displayed an unmatched record of safety while reducing per hour flight costs to half the cost of the manned alternative," said Mick Jaggers, vice president and program manager, Global Hawk, Northrop Grumman. "This milestone is especially meaningful as it comes just before the 15th anniversary of Global Hawk's first deployment into the theater of operations following the tragic events of 9/11. We expect Global Hawk to continue to provide indispensable ISR information to our warfighters."

The Global Hawk system is building on its heritage of innovation, modernizing its current capabilities by integrating new technologies that enhance capabilities, performance and reliability. Earlier this year, Global Hawk successfully flew a SYERS-2 intelligence gathering sensor, marking the first time the legacy Air Force sensor has been demonstrated on a high altitude autonomous aircraft. Northrop Grumman plans to fly an Optical Bar Camera and an MS-177 multispectral sensor later this year via Global Hawk's open systems architecture.

Global Hawk entered combat operations shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Since then, it has flown operational and humanitarian missions around the world supporting Southern California wildfires, the Japanese tsunami, the Haitian earthquake and the Philippines' typhoon. NASA Global Hawk actively monitors environmental changes, tropical storm developments and provides ground breaking approaches to high altitude atmospheric research.

Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in autonomous systems, cyber, C4ISR, strike, and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide. Please visit www.northropgrumman.com for more information.

USMC training flight hours remain below standard

Marina Malenic, Washington, DC - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
08 July 2016
The US Marine Corps (USMC) has been steadily increasing the number of training hours flown by non-deployed pilots, but the monthly average remains far below the requirement, the corps' aviation chief said on 6 July.

In 2015, marine pilots logged an average of six to nine hours of flight training per month, Lieutenant General Jon Davis, the deputy commandant for aviation, told the House Armed Services Committee's subcommittee on readiness. Following a renewed emphasis on readiness and improved funding for the past year, pilots are now flying about 11 training hours per month.

"It is an improvement but still six hours per month shy of what a trained-and-ready force requires," the general said.

U.S. Air Force faces shortage of fighter pilots: officials

Tue Mar 8, 2016 7:03pm EST
Related: U.S.
WASHINGTON | By Idrees Ali

The United States Air Force is facing a shortage of more than 500 fighter pilots which is expected to widen to more than 800 by 2022, Air Force officials said on Tuesday.

The shortage stems from a reduction in the number of active duty fighter squadrons, according to a statement by several Air Force officials at a U.S. Senate Armed Services subcommittee hearing.

"Without these fighter pilots, the Air Force will be very challenged to continue to provide the air supremacy upon which all our other forces depend," the Air Force officials said in the written statement.

The statement said the shortage would affect air operations expertise and lead to a "gradual erosion of fighter pilot experience in test and training."

Speaking with reporters after the hearing, Lieutenant General James Holmes, deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements for the Air Force, said the shortage had been caused by a decrease in the number of squadrons, which produce about four experienced fighter pilots a year.

There are currently 54 squadrons in the Air Force, compared with more than 100 fighter squadrons at the time of the Gulf War in 1990-1991.

"The remaining active component fighter squadrons do not produce enough experienced fighter pilots to meet all of the staff, test and training requirements," the statement added.

Holmes said to deal with the issue, the Air Force would likely put new active duty pilots into guard and reserve squadrons to gain experience.

"But ultimately we're going to have to increase production and we're going to have to increase absorption so we can fix the problem," he said.

Holmes told lawmakers at the hearing that the Air Force would provide a plan next year try to retain as many pilots as possible in the short term.

Lieutenant General John Raymond, deputy chief of staff for operations, said retention was made difficult by airlines hiring thousands of fighter pilots.

According to a 2015 study by the Rand Corporation, the Air Force faced a persistent shortage because there was a gap between the requirements for a fighter pilot and the Air Force’s capacity to train them.

Air Force reveals B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber

By Mike Martin, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs / Published February 26, 2016
WASHINGTON (AFNS) --

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James revealed the first rendering of the Long Range Strike Bomber, designated the B-21, at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium Feb. 26 in Orlando, Fla., and announced the Air Force will be taking suggestions from Airmen to help decide the name of the bomber.

“This aircraft represents the future for our Airmen, and (their) voice is important to this process,” James said. “The Airman who submits the selected name will help me announce it at the (Air Force Association) conference this fall.”

While there are no existing prototypes of the aircraft, the artist rendering is based on the initial design concept. The designation B-21 recognizes the LRS-B as the first bomber of the 21st century.

The reveal comes just weeks after both James and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III delivered the fiscal year 2017 posture statement before the Senate Appropriations Committee, making it clear modernization is a top priority for the Air Force.

“The platforms and systems that made us great over the last 50 years will not make us great over the next 50,” Welsh said during his testimony on Capitol Hill Feb. 10. “There are many other systems we need to either upgrade or recapitalize to ensure viability against current and emerging threats… the only way to do that is to divest old capability to build the new.”

James said the B-21 will allow the Air Force to operate in tomorrow's high end threat environment, and give the Air Force the flexibility and the capability to launch from the continental United States and deliver airstrikes on any location in the world.

James also explained why the B-21 shares some resemblance to the B-2.

“The B-21 has been designed from the beginning based on a set of requirements that allows the use of existing and mature technology,” James said.

The program recently entered into the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase and the Air Force plans to field the initial capability of the aircraft in mid-2020s.

Mitsubishi Heavy starts final assembly on stealth fighter

TOKYO -- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has begun final assembly and checkout on the Lockheed Martin F-35A stealth fighter jet, expecting to work on two of the aircraft by the end of fiscal 2017(31 March 2018) and 16 more by the end of fiscal 2020(31 March 2021)

The F-35 is the most advanced U.S. fighter yet, developed as an international collaboration among nine countries. Japan's Ministry of Defense intends to procure 42 fighters. Mitsubishi Heavy will build 38 for Lockheed Martin at its Komaki Minami plant in Aichi Prefecture.

Advanced avionics aid maneuverability in dogfights, and a stealthy design hides the plane from radar. Mitsubishi Heavy will weld the fuselage, tail and other components together and attach the engines, landing gear and other parts using proprietary technologies that help minimize the fighter's radar cross-section.

The Japanese company will also test the aircraft's stealth against radar.

The experience with materials technologies and specialty processing that Mitsubishi Heavy is gaining through its F-35 work can be put to practical use on the next-generation stealth fighter that Japan itself is developing.

First simulated F-35A deployment conducted at Mountain Home AFB

By Kenji Thuloweit, 412th Test Wing Public Affairs

Published February 11, 2016

Two F-35A Lightning IIs (10-5009, 10-5012) taxi after landing at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, Feb. 8, 2016.

The F-35s, from Edwards AFB, Calif., will be part of an initial operating capability test at the nearby range complex.(10-5009, 10-5010, 10-5011, 10-5012, 11-5021, 11-5027)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) -- A much anticipated and important test mission for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program is underway with the "deployment" of six operational test and evaluation F-35s and more than 85 Airmen from the 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron, which took place Feb. 8-9.
This is the first simulated deployment test of the F-35A Lightning II, specifically to execute three key initial operational capability mission sets: suppression of enemy air defenses, close air support and air interdiction.
The 31st TES will execute each of these in a limited scope from a "deployed" location for this test. The deployed location is Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The 31st TES at Edwards AFB falls under the 53rd Wing at Eglin AFB, Florida, which is leading the test design, management and execution of the F-35A deployment test.
The achievements of an F-35A squadron testing ability to deploy, employ and sustain operations will set the benchmark capability for the Air Force to declare F-35A initial operational capability scheduled for this fall, according to the 53rd Wing.
During the test at Mountain Home AFB, the aircraft will be engaged in simulated combat scenarios to exercise representative mission processes such as tasking, execution, debrief and intelligence reporting. The test team will be working to capture a broad spectrum of capabilities and limitations of the F-35 system to include both operations and maintenance. The team will focus on areas such as mission planning, scheduling, weapons building/loading, sortie generation, life support, mission employment, debrief and aircraft turn.
Nellis AFB in Nevada will serve as a simulated remote air operations center for the deployed environment. Mountain Home AFB is providing a secure location with ranges to employ fourth-generation aircraft as well. The F-35As will integrate with F-15E Strike Eagles from the 366th Fighter Wing at Mountain Home AFB and A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the 124th Fighter Wing at Gowen Field, Idaho.
The entire test event is expected to last about a month.

Exclusive: Pentagon's budget plan funds 404 Lockheed F-35 jets

The U.S. Defense Department plans to buy 404 Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) F-35 fighter jets over the next five years, a net decrease of 5 to 7 percent from last year's plan, sources familiar with the plans said on Friday.

The orders will amount to about $40 billion in new revenue for Lockheed, the Pentagon's No. 1 supplier, and engine maker Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp (UTX.N).

The revised procurement numbers will be released on Tuesday when the Pentagon issues its fiscal 2017 budget and the new five-year plan, said the sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly before the budget release.

The change in the Pentagon's plan for the $391 billion weapons program defers orders for 45 Air Force jets, compared with last year's plan, while accelerating orders for the Navy and Marine Corps models of the aircraft, the sources said.

The Pentagon still plans to buy a total of 2,457 jets for all three military services in coming years, they added.

The Pentagon's plan does not include an estimated 260 international F-35 orders over the five-year period, said the sources. Those orders could rise further over the period given potential orders from countries including Finland, Denmark, Belgium and Singapore, the sources said.

The new plan calls for the Air Force to buy 243 F-35 jets through fiscal 2021, 45 fewer than planned, as the service juggles funds to pay for a new long-range bomber to be built by Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N), and KC-46A refueling planes to be built by Boeing Co (BA.N).

It calls for the Navy and Marine Corps to buy 64 F-35C jets, which can take off and land on aircraft carriers, over the next five years, and 97 F-35B jets, which can land like a helicopter, the sources said.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter this week announced plans to buy 13 more F-35 fighter jets for the Navy and Marine Corps than planned last year, but he did not disclose the total number of jets to be purchased across the department.

Two sources said the plans could actually represent an increase of 21 F-35 jets for the Navy and Marine Corps over the five-year period. No comment was immediately available on the discrepancy from Carter's office.

The U.S. Marine Corps declared an initial squadron of 10 of its F-35B model jets ready for combat last July.

The Air Force is due to follow suit in August, followed by the Navy in late 2018 or early 2019.

(Editing by Matthew Lewis)

US Air Force Cuts Five F-35 Fighter Jets From Budget Request

By Lara Seligman, Defense News 6:53 p.m. EST February 3, 2016
Planned 35A Buy Drops From 48 Aircraft to 43
WASHINGTON – The US Air Force cut five F-35As from its fiscal year 2017 budget request while fully funding the Long Range Strike Bomber and KC-46 tanker, individuals with knowledge of the budget told Defense News.

The Air Force reduced the F-35A buy in FY-17 from a planned 48 aircraft to just 43, according to one source. It is not clear if the Air Force will reduce the overall planned buy of 1,763 aircraft.

These figures do not take into account the total F-35 buy across the US armed services or purchases by international partners. In fact, the Pentagon's overall budget submission will include money to purchase 10 additional F-35C models for the Navy and 3 F-35B models for the Marines over what had been planned.

The F-35A cut was purely budget driven, the source said, as the F-35 joint strike fighter program has made strides in recent years. The Marine Corps declared initial operational capability with its F-35Bs on time last summer, and the Air Force is on track to do the same with its F-35A conventional takeoff and landing planes this summer.

The F-35A cut is not a surprise. Analysts and top government officials have hinted for months that changes could be ahead for the JSF as part of the Pentagon’s effort to balance its books. Frank Kendall, undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, said in December that the Defense Department expects to make “disproportionate” cuts to modernization in FY17 – and he indicated a slowdown in F-35 production was likely.

"The F-35 is not — it is impossible in these budget to entirely protect it, just put it that way," Kendall said in December. "Dollar for dollar, it probably gives us more combat capability than any other investment we're making but we have a lot of other things that we have to do as well. So it's not entirely fenced. I can't say it's entirely fenced [off from cuts].

The Air Force’s choice to cut F-35As in FY17 comes as the service faces a “bow wave” of major modernization programs just on the horizon. Funding for Air Force major acquisition programs is projected to grow by 73 percent from FY15 to its projected peak in FY23, Todd Harrision, a senior fellow at the Center for Stratgic and International Studies, wrote in a January report. This growth is driven primarily by aircraft programs like F-35, LRSB and KC-46, Harrison wrote.

Cutting F-35As in FY17 will likely yield millions in savings over the next several years. The Air Force had planned to buy 44 F-35As in FY16 and 48 in FY17, before ramping up to 60 a year starting in FY18. But reducing that to 48 a year would free up approximately $1 billion per year for other priorities, the Congressional Research Service’s Jeremiah Gertler wrote in a December report.

“It’s the overwhelming elephant in the Air Force’s procurement budget,” Mackenzie Eaglen of the American Enterprise Institute told Defense News earlier this week. “They are not going to want to eat Bomber lunch at the expense of the JSF.”

The Air Force’s FY17 budget request also includes commitement to moving forward with the Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System recapitalization effort, the Combat Rescue Helicopter, and restocking munitions expended in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, according to the source.

USAF considers defensive lasers for future fighters

02 February, 2016
BY: James Drew
Washington DC

The dawn of the combat laser era might begin in 2021 when the US air force hopes to begin demonstrations of a podded electric laser system for fifth and sixth-generation fighter jets that can destroy incoming missiles, not just steer them off course.

Today, the air force research laboratory started gathering market information under an advanced technology demonstration programme known as SHiELD, or self-protect high-energy laser demonstrator.

According to the request for information notice, the project seeks to integrate a “moderate power” electric laser into a protective pod for supersonic combat jets, including fifth-generation jets like the Lockheed Martin F-35 and F-22 as well as future fighters and bombers.

“SHiELD seeks to expand moderate power (tens of kilowatts) laser weapon operation into the supersonic regime by demonstrating system performance under transonic flight, and acquiring aero-effects data under a supersonic environment relevant to current and future tactical aircraft,” the notice states.

“Advanced laser options under investigation are those with size and weight appropriate for integration as part of a complete laser weapon system into an aerodynamic integrated pod-like structure carried by a tactical aircraft.”

The laser pod would be significantly more powerful than current-generation self-protection capabilities like Northrop Grumman’s directional infrared countermeasure (DIRCM) system. It’s added power could burn or otherwise disable infrared and radar-guided missiles at high speeds.

Military scientists hope to validate the laser pod in a laboratory environment (technology readiness level four) by 2017 and be ready for prototype demonstration by 2021, the notice say

The air force has long sought to introduce airborne laser weapons, but the technology remains elusive. Lockheed Martin has explored laser weapon options for the F-35, and US special operations forces want to install a laser gun on the new AC-130J Ghostrider gunship by 2020.

Instead of chemical lasers that were favoured for the defunct Boeing YAL-1A airborne laser testbed, air force and industry officials now see electric-powered lasers as the best way forward.

KC-46A Completes First Aerial Refueling

By Chuck Oldham (Editor) - January 25, 2016

The Air Force’s KC-46A Pegasus tanker successfully completed its first refueling flight over Washington state Jan. 24, 2016, according to a Boeing news release.

Flying at 20,000 feet, the tanker offloaded 1,600 pounds of fuel to an F-16 after working through a series of test points during the 5 hour, 43-minute flight.

“Today’s flight is an important milestone for the Air Force/Boeing team because it kicks off the Milestone C aerial refueling demonstration, which is the prerequisite for the low-rate initial production decision,” said Col. Christopher Coombs, U.S. Air Force KC-46 system program manager. “We have a lot of work yet to do, but this is an exciting time for the airmen who are preparing to fly, maintain and support the KC-46 Pegasus for decades to come.

Boeing and Air Force refueling operators both made multiple contacts with the F-16 to confirm that KC-46A EMD-2 was ready to transfer fuel. Air Force Master Sgt. Lindsay Moon flew the tanker’s 56-foot flying boom downward and fully extended the boom into the F-16’s refueling receptacle after the fighter had moved into position below. The KC-46A’s refueling system automatically shut off the pumps when the transfer was complete.

“The refueling boom’s handling qualities throughout the flight were exceptional,” said Rickey Kahler, Boeing KC-46 air refueling operator who also guided the boom during contacts with the F-16 while sitting in the tanker’s state-of-the-art refueling operator station in the front of the tanker. “The boom was extremely stable – it handled like it was an extension of my arm.”

EMD-2, which first flew Sept. 25, 2015 and has now completed 32 flights, will soon begin refueling other aircraft, including a C-17, F/A-18, A-10 and AV-8B.

The program’s first test aircraft (EMD-1), a 767-2C, has flown more than 260 flight test hours since its first flight in December 2014. The next two of a total of four test aircraft – EMD-3 and EMD-4 – are scheduled to begin flight-testing later this year. The Air Force’s contract, awarded in 2011, calls for up to 179 of the multirole tankers.

F-35 jets headed to UK air shows this summer: U.S. Marines

WASHINGTON | By Andrea Shalal
The U.S. Marine Corps on Monday said it would send a pair of Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets to two air shows in Britain this summer, a key milestone for the $391 billion weapons program after its thwarted international debut in 2014.

Some U.S. Air Force F-35 jets will also take part in the events, according to sources familiar with the plans. Air Force officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

A fleetwide F-35 grounding ordered after an engine fire in 2014 prevented what would have been the jets' international premiere at the annual Royal International Air Tattoo and an appearance at the world's biggest air show in Farnborough, outside London, both that year.

Since then, an F-35 jet assembled in Italy has made its inaugural flight there, but this year's appearance at RIAT will be the first by the stealthy, supersonic new warplane at an international air show.

"The U.S. Marine Corps is looking forward to demonstrating the capabilities of the F-35B Lightning II in the skies over the United Kingdom this July," Deputy Commandant for Aviation Lieutenant General Jon Davis said in statement to Reuters.

Davis said a joint U.S. Marine Corps and UK detachment would use the flights to validate overseas deployment activities and prove program interoperability. The Pentagon's F-35 program office and Lockheed would support the work, he said.

The British defense ministry had no immediate comment.

One of the sources said Britain planned to send at least one of the four F-35 jets it has already received to the air shows. The British jets are currently training in the United States.

Lockheed is developing three models of the jet, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, or Lightning II, with key suppliers Northrop Grumman Corp and Britain's BAE Systems Plc. Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp, builds the engines.

Besides Britain, seven other countries helped fund development of the jets: Norway, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Turkey, Italy and the Netherlands. All but Canada and Denmark have since ordered jets, as have Israel, Japan and South Korea.

The F-35 program, the Pentagon's single largest weapons project, ran into technical problems and cost overruns for years, but U.S. officials say it has improved and that costs have fallen for the past five years.

The Marine Corp's F-35B model can take off from warships and aircraft carriers and land like a helicopter. The service branch plans to buy a total of 420 F-35B-model and C-model jets, which can fly onto and take off from aircraft carriers.

The Air Force plans to buy 1,763 A-model jets, which take off and land on conventional runways.

Davis said lessons identified from the deployment would help the Marines as they set up a second F-35 fighter attack squadron this summer and prepare for the first one to move to Iwakuni, Japan, in 2017.

The Marine Corps in July announced an initial squadron of 10 F-35 jets ready for combat, and the Air Force is due to follow suit this summer.

In Memoriam - Philip F. Oestricher, Test Pilot


In Memoriam - Philip F. Oestricher, Test Pilot

Posted 22 December 2015

Retired test pilot and engineer Phil Oestricher, 84, the first person to fly the YF-16 prototype, passed away in Fort Worth, Texas, on Friday, Dec. 18. 

Oestricher's first flight in the YF-16 technology demonstrator aircraft on 20 January 1974 earned him a lasting place in aviation history. The aircraft unintentionally became airborne during a high-speed taxi test at Edwards AFB, California, and he made the decision to keep flying rather than risk catastrophic damage in a crash landing. His excellent flying skills and quick reaction saved the prototype from destruction, which could have resulted in an early end to the F-16 development program. 

Oestricher contributed to the development of several F-16 versions as a test pilot and helped establish safety protocols that have benefited the worldwide F-16 pilot community. He also flew all models of the F-111, the fighter-bomber that preceded the F-16 on the Fort Worth production line. He was proud to have flown the F-4D Skyray with the U.S. Marine Corps.

Before his Marine Corps service, he worked at heritage company Consolidated Vultee as an aerodynamics engineer on the B-36, which was the first true intercontinental bomber.

Since his retirement, Oestricher was active in the Lockheed Martin-Fort Worth retirees association and was an avid builder and flyer of radio-controlled model aircraft.

Click here to see article about the YF-16 first flight.

Updates for F-16s at 177th Fighter Wing

LoBiondo Applauds House Passage of Funding for Critical Radar Updates for F-16s at 177th Fighter Wing

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, today applauded House-passage of the Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Act which included $40 million to upgrade radar systems of the nation’s F-16 fleet, including those stationed at the 177th Air National Guard Fighter Wing in Egg Harbor Township. The House passed the bill 316 to 113. The Senate is expected to take up the legislation that funds the entire federal government later today.

“Air National Guard units across the country are often tasked to do more to secure our homeland without being given the most current resources available. Congress recognizes the critical need to upgrade the F-16 fleet, including those at the 177th Fighter Wing, to detect and deter present-day threats. Today’s appropriation of the necessary funding will do just that,” said LoBiondo. “In past years I have had success in expanding the physical footprint and operational capabilities of the base. I will continue to work with the men and women at the 177th to ensure they have all the resources they need to successfully complete their vital homeland security mission.”

Included in the year-end spending bill is $40 million is appropriated for active electronically scanned array radar (AESA) systems to replace the existing 1970s technology. The new radar system will help to better detect the evolving threat picture, identify new potential threats that current technology cannot, and allow greater capabilities to the Air National Guard F-16 fleet for national security efforts. F-16 aircraft that perform the Aerospace Control Alert (ACA) mission are slated to receive the upgrades.

LoBiondo had secured language in the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that authorized the AESA radar upgrades. The NDAA was signed into law by President Obama in November.

Also included in the bill is $10.2 million in federal funding for the 177th Fighter Wing’s new Fuel Cell & Corrosion Hangar facility that will replace the two current inadequate buildings in a combined structure. The new facility would increase production capability while providing the ability to handle 5th generation F-16s. LoBiondo previously announced the funding in May when it first passed the House.

Lockheed Martin Delivers 2,500th C-130 Hercules

MARIETTA, Ga., Dec. 11, 2015 – Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) delivered the 2,500th C-130 Hercules from its production line here today. This landmark Hercules is an HC-130J Combat King II personnel recovery aircraft assigned to the U.S. Air Force’s 71st Rescue Squadron, which is part of the 347th Rescue Group. A U.S. Air Force crew ferried the HC-130J to its new home at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Georgia. 

“This milestone delivery is a source of pride for our team and the global C-130 community,” said George Shultz, vice president and general manager, C-130 Programs at Lockheed Martin. “The Hercules is a global asset and versatile workhorse that is truly without equal. This delivery represents the C-130’s strength in numbers and its ongoing relevancy to operators around the world.”

The U.S. Air Force has the distinction of accepting the first delivery of Hercules aircraft on Dec. 9, 1956. The U.S. Air Force is the world’s largest Hercules operator, which includes legacy C-130 and C-130J Super Hercules fleets.

C-130s today are operated from 68 nations and the global fleet has collectively logged more than 22 million flight hours. The current production model is the C-130J Super Hercules, the airlifter of choice for 16 nations and 19 different operators. The Super Hercules worldwide fleet has more than 1.3 million flight hours to its credit.

C-130J variants currently in production include the C-130J/C-130J-30 combat-ready aircraft; KC-130J aerial refuelers; HC-130J search and rescue aircraft; MC-130J special operations aircraft; and the LM-100J commercial freighter. To date, C-130s have been produced to support 100 different mission requirements. The C-130J is available in 17 different configurations.

The C-130 Hercules is the standard for tactical airlifters, providing a unique mix of versatility and performance to complete any mission, anytime, anywhere. For additional information, visit our website: www.lockheedmartin.com/c130

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