Senators Push for More F-35 Oversight in Spending Bill

Col. David Shevchik, Jr., commander of the 158th Fighter Wing, Air National Guard, flies the wing’s final F-35A Lightning II to the South Burlington Air National Guard Base during a ceremony marking the arrival, South Burlington, Vt., Oct. 14, 2020. The aircraft is the 20th and final to be assigned to the wing since taking delivery of the first two in Sept. of 2019. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Campbell)

The Senate Appropriations Committee wants to keep a closer eye on the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program.

Lawmakers added multiple provisions to the committee’s version of the fiscal 2021 defense spending bill that call for more reports on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, as well as greater transparency in future budgets.

The committee is offering $1.1 billion for 12 more F-35As, and $525.5 million for five more F-35Cs, than the Pentagon requested. In total, Senate appropriators want to spend $5.5 billion on 60 F-35As for the Air Force in 2021. That’s nearly identical to the House’s plan for the F-35A, which offers $5.8 billion. The service requested 48 of the jets.


The Navy Is Finally Creating America’s Next Fighter Jet

The U.S. Navy is laying the groundwork to field a new fighter jet sometime in the next decade. The Next Generation Air Dominance fighter, meant to replace the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, should start flying off America’s aircraft carriers in the 2030s. But a declining defense budget and short timetable could mean the best candidate is … the F-35.

U.S. Navy aircraft carriers typically embark four squadrons of fighter jets as part of the carrier air wing. Right now, all four squadrons fly the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. Over the course of the next decade, the Navy will retire older Super Hornets in favor of the carrier-based variant of the F-35, the F-35C. By the 2030s, a carrier air wing should consist of about two squadrons of upgraded Super Hornets, the Block III, and two squadrons of F-35Cs.


When US Navy and Marine F-35 pilots most need performance, the aircraft becomes erratic

WASHINGTON ? The U.S. Navy?s and Marine Corps? F-35s become unpredictable to handle when executing the kind of extreme maneuvers a pilot would use in a dogfight or while avoiding a missile, according to documents exclusively obtained by Defense News.

Specifically, the Marine short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing variant and the Navy?s carrier-launched version become difficult to control when the aircraft is operating above a 20-degree angle of attack, which is the angle created by the oncoming air and the leading edge of the wing.


Unmanned Systems Cited as Key by Future of Aviation Panelists

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. ? Future naval aviation will benefit from the fifth-generation F-35s, manned-unmanned teaming and the possibility of greatly enhanced rotary wing aircraft being developed under the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program, a panel of Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard officials said.

The naval services also are focusing on improving the readiness of their existing aircraft, and some types of aircraft are coming close to meeting the 80% readiness goal set by former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the officials told a forum on the future of naval aviation at the Navy League?s annual Sea-Air-Space exposition May 6.


The USAF?s F-35A Just Saw Combat for the First Time

The U.S. Air Force?s F-35A Joint Strike Fighter saw combat for the first time earlier this week, dropping a satellite-guided bomb on an Islamic State target in northeast Iraq. The mission was the first for the service?s variant of the F-35 since the jet was declared initial operations capable in August 2016.

According to U.S. Central Command, the target was an ?entrenched tunnel network and a weapons cache? in Iraq?s Hamrin mountain range. Two F-35As dropped a Joint Directed Attack Munition on the target, described as a ?location able to threaten friendly forces.? JDAMs are regular unguided ?dumb? bombs fitted with a GPS-based guidance system and steerable tail fin kit. The pilot enters the GPS coordinates of the target into the JDAM and the guided munition will steer itself to the target. Military GPS is typically accurate to within 3 meters, making JDAMs extremely accurate.


Triple Threat: The New F-15X Super Eagle Could Help the F-22 and F-35 Dominate the Skies

Boeing?s new incarnation of the venerable F-15 will be padding the ranks of high-dollar aircraft such as the F-35 Lightning II and F-22 Raptor- and they won?t cost the US Air Force and arm and a leg to do so.

New reports reveal that the new Boeing F-15X will come in two variants and are not an attempt by Boeing to disrupt Lockheed Martin?s F-35 rollout, but are instead going to replace 30-plus-year-old F-15Cs and F-15Ds currently in service.


Mitchell Weighs In: More F-35s or New, Old F-15s?

The Air Force needs to buy more new fighter planes. The constricted size and increasing age of the Air Force?s fighter inventory is the product of long-standing deferred investment; the 2009 decision to prematurely curtail the F-22 buy at less than half its required inventory; failure to boost F-35 production to originally planned rates; and the fact that 234 of 1970?s era F-15Cs will be hitting the end of their service lives in the next decade. Maintaining the current fighter inventory size demands that the Air Force buy at least 72 fighters per year into the 2020s.


Head of F-35 Joint Program Office: Stealth fighter enters the new year in midst of a growing phase

As the ?quarterback for the joint force,? the F-35 provides new transformational capabilities that will fundamentally change the way our nation?s military operates around the globe. More than a fighter jet, the F-35?s ability to collect, analyze and share data is a powerful force multiplier that enhances all airborne, sea and ground-based assets in the battlespace, while ensuring our war fighters can execute their mission and return home safe. With stealth technology, advanced sensors, weapons capacity and range, the F-35 is the most lethal, survivable, connected and interoperable fighter aircraft ever built.

US Air Force moves to fortify F-35 weak points against hacking

BERLIN ? The U.S. Air Force is devoting fresh energy to plugging cybersecurity holes in the F-35’s external support systems, as they are deemed the easiest entry points for hackers into the fifth-generation combat jet, according to a key service official.

?It?s a software-based aircraft, and any software-based platform is going to be susceptible to hacking,? Brig. Gen. Stephen Jost, director of the Air Force F-35 Integration Office, told Defense News in an interview at the International Fighter industry conference here.

The service considers the information backbone of the actual airplane ? managed by manufacturer Lockheed Martin ? relatively safe. That is thanks to what Jost called ?multilayer security protections? ranging from secure authentication when crafting mission data packages for each aircraft before takeoff, to pilots punching in personal identification numbers to start up the plane.