For the F-35 sceptics: Joint Strike Fighter program reaches 2010 goal of 394 test flights - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

Home Top Ad


Tuesday 21 December 2010

For the F-35 sceptics: Joint Strike Fighter program reaches 2010 goal of 394 test flights

The F-35C prototype (carrier version) shown here being drop tested. Meanwhile, the US Marine Corps is adamant on seeing the F-35B programme through

News about the F-35... from Lockheed Martin

"On Thursday, December 9, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II program team reached its 2010 goal of 394 test flights jointly established by the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office and Lockheed Martin. Since the first flight of the F-35 on December 15, 2006, the program has logged a total of 531 flights, expanding the performance envelope of the three F-35 variants and testing the mission systems.

"We exceeded our 394-flight goal and expect to meet our overall test-point goal this year by reaching ahead and working 2011 test points," said J.D. McFarlan, Lockheed Martin vice president of F-35 Test and Verification. "While we are still behind on our overall STOVL variant testing, we are working through a plan to get us back on track."

In November, the program completed 60 flights against a plan of 51. Both the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) and the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variants exceeded their monthly flight targets. The F-35C carrier variant (CV) jet fell just two flights short of its plan.

The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems."


  1. this f-35's target cost .

    the target cost is without the engine. and there will likely to be cost escalation and revised figures.

    the final price may well be around $ 150 million.

  2. I'm sure we can trust LM, everything is under control and right on track !

  3. why is shukla saab still dragging the dead donkey? the indian government has already distanced itself from considering F35, especially for MMRCA. perhaps its more of an ego saving act now for shukla saab. by the way, F35 has come under great pressure because of its continuous delays and lockheed is just trying to squeeze everything here. its their last best efforts before the aircraft really gets ditched, because that is what is now being considered: ditch the programe f35 and resume f22. at least, f35 may not see at least one of its versions developing, that would be the STOVL. uk recently changed its plan to airforce version. the deadline is again pushed away by one year. f35 will not be a reality before 2015 (if its not killed), then orders will pour in from participating countries. if its only for buying f35, shukla saab can wait and indian gov can still make that decision after 2020, because even if its done now, india wont get any f35 before 2025. lets get real here no stop weeping. IAF is on verge of retiring a major part of its fleet and there's no real choice for it unless it want to wait for super f35 at cost of having 400 fighter jets all in all. MMRCA is not a choice for IAF, its a necessity. F35 is luxury, india can do without it for sometime. a better way is to put the decision beyond 2020 and see how good the program ends.

  4. There is no point keep harping about F-35 programme. We are not getting it. Americans are not going to get into any significant TOTs to Indian defence industry, so there is no point to go for them for orders involving crusial products technologies which we can try and possible get some where else. It is ok when we don't have any option, but I would avoid Americans as long as I can.

  5. Your initial statement is wrong. The f-35C is not the STOVL variant. It is the carrier based variant. The f-35B is the STOVL variant

  6. OK, we agree F-35 program is on track will beat all MMRCA and FGFA. But no matter how much hue and cry paying for one fighter's development and buying 100 of another variety is complete non-sense. But I was surprised u could get the highest decision making apparatus to be so transparent and come out with an explanation.

    I've been campaigning for scrapping MMRCA since it would scuttle proper induction of Tejas by depriving it of IAF's attention, u can check it out at

    I agree by the time FGFA is inducted there will be no strike fighters in IAF armoury to help army in A to G ops. So why don't u write an article "the case for developing Indo-Russian FGFA into a stealthy strike fighter with a secondary air defence role"

    Its not something out of the blue. the Russians call Su-34 a bomber inspite of it having only 8 tons of payload. the americans investigated FB-22, unfortunately it never got off the drawing board. Imagine a Su-34 kind of version of PAKFA developed in two-seat configuration(exclusive WSO) for INDIA developed and fielded in 200 nos starting 2020 along with first batch of 50 single seater PAKFA for air-superiority can be maintained till AMCA takes over the load starting 2025. First set of PAKFA may be sold to friendly nations like vietnam to ease logistics, after AMCA is taken in numbers. AMCA with 2 tons of internal load is more than enough for Air to Air, while 6-8 tons of payload on FGFA can give both tactical and deep penetration stealthy strike capability. What do u think?

  7. Ravi's comment: "I would avoid Americans as long as I can."

    All the best, Ravi, in your lonely little corner! I don't know if you've noticed it, but the MoD certainly isn't avoiding the Americans.

    Benith's question: "AMCA with 2 tons of internal load is more than enough for Air to Air, while 6-8 tons of payload on FGFA can give both tactical and deep penetration stealthy strike capability."

    Benith, you're making the same mistake that most people in the F-35 debate have made, which is to imagine that if you have a 6-8 tonne weapons load, you can do the job of a ground strike aircraft. No Sir.

    The F-35 is engineered, ground up, with every nut and bolt geared towards ground strike. It is about much, much more than just weapons load.

    Anonymous 20:10. Thanks for bringing that error to my notice. I've corrected it.

  8. Ajai Sir,

    You mentioned...

    Ravi's comment: "I would avoid Americans as long as I can."

    That was not my whole comment!!! I did say that its OK to go for their product if we don't have any option. Moreover, my position is not that of a little corner, in the context of American defense products foot print in India. American presence, thankfully, is still small. And as far as MOD is concerned, it has just signed a contract of $30 billion with RUSSIA, and not America, and I won't be surprised if MMRCA goes for a non-American bid.

  9. Ajai

    Maybe a post on what is the difference between the ground up F35 and a regular FGFA or a FGFA with 8 tons payload would help?


  10. The JSF F-35 didn't just fall out of the sky into US lap as the premier post cold war multi-role fighter.
    A multi-role plane is so uttered becos, it performs three tasks Air-defence, Strike and Reconnasance. You should acknowlodge the world's first ground up development of a multi-role fighter is the JAS-39 grippen. After 14 years in service, few combat planes have been fielded as multi-role ground up as the JAS-39 bar the Dassalt Rafale with F-35 soon to join the ranks. Others have largely been makeovers of existing platforms compromised to perform multi-roles at a switch turn Hence swing-role aircrafts.
    Our arguement involves around the context that F-35 is more survivable as a defence and strike fighter in the Chinese and pakistani theatres of conflict since its armour is compounded by stealth, giving it the element of surprise. I hope u agree.
    It seems u are fixated on the sense that PAK FA is an air-superiority fighter with limited strike capability with a 6 ton payload. Lets come to terms with the present with only a Technology demonstrator T-50 is just a hood with nothing in it to perform neither defence, strike nor reconassance. To perform multi-roles a Radar needs to look to air and terrain at the same time, this radar is in the works. To hit a target 400 km away using a cruise missile u need GPS,TERPROM(Terrain profile matching)guidance, Just dropping two LGB won't do. Targetting pods need to be developed with capabilities to distinguish ground targets and engage the most important and evasive ones using armour piercing ammunition. A special EW suite, Senor fusion have only started. In short with $ 12 billion earmarked PAK FA is no short of resources and commitment. with which it can be developed to become as multi-role as the JSF F-35.
    Our plane is FGFA which is still very much on paper, it will only mock up when 40 HAL engineers reach Russia and work in TsAGI research institute with Sukoi Engineers. The very need for a special WSO is for strike role like in the F-14 to operate complex avionics. With sensor fusion and a second member FGFA can be developed into a best multi-role fighter if large quantity of orders keep coming. But for that to happen IAF cannot go duplicating inventory by buying F-35.
    Technically Su-30 is a better strike fighter to replace Mig-27 and Jaguar with a combat load of 8 tons. It has already replaced all of mig-23. But still to keep up its tradition of evaluating and selecting IAF is hloding a bogus MMRCA in the name of diversifying from the Russians.
    If they want to diversify why not into Tejas? it is our own plane no IPR restriction any type of munition from any source like the Raytheon cluster bombs can be integrated onto it, which may not be possible on Su-30. Of all the Late claims, there is still 15 more years before Mirage 2000, Jaguar and mig-29 start retiring. Can't Tejas replace the 2 ton payload carrying Mig-21 now and Tejas mk-2 replace 4 ton carrying mig-27 and Jaguar till 2025?
    The military seems to be on a muddled path where it encourages indigenous and joint developments in talks and forums in actual practice they never appreciate the work of scientists and engineers in developing weapons and systems platforms for them. This is especially true regarding the Indian context where the attitude is "give us the money and we'll get what we need from any loser out there with a open for sale sign".
    It seems for all the enthusiasim u show for Akash and Tejas program, when I see that u seem to be taken by surprise when indigenous programs meet their specifications and impress the forces to get more orders.may be its due to your stint with the army, but no problem we engineers are used to it by now. Jusr don't take our foreign counter parts for granted too. They may sell off weapons eagerly for money, but they seldom get to enjoy the respect and admiration military commanders get till they win a nobel prize.

  11. Do u really belive nuts and bolts are more important compared to percision guided munitions, navigation and guidance systems for a strike mission?

  12. I found a good comment about defence sevices attitude towards both indigenous and joint venture programs.
    A disappointing article from the officer. Reading his article, I wondered if the IAF is the Indian Air Force or the air force of some other third country that happens to be, to his great misfortune, hosted in India and tasked with defending us lowly Indians.

    The article reflects a profound lack of faith in indigenous R&D capabilities. Perhaps DRDO/HAL's track record has a lot to do with it too. But what is more serious is the officer's condescending attitude towards the nation's defense industry that seems endemic and systemic in the IAF, if you read between the lines.

  13. Dear Ajaiji, have you run dry of topics to post that you had to go back to F35.

  14. The truth is that the promise from LM for FY 2010 was 12-12-12, meaning within 12 months having 12 prototypes flying 12 times a month. This would produce 1200 flights during FY2010, not 394. The minimum requirement from the US Congress for continued funding on the other hand, was 394.


Recent Posts

Page 1 of 10412345...104Next >>Last