Thursday, 19 May 2011

F-35 facts and Figures

From Weapons and technology

* The company and subcontractors Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N) and BAE Systems (BAES.L) are developing three variants of the plane, a conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) model for the Air Force; a short takeoff, vertical landing (STOVL) variant for the U.S. Marine Corps andItaly; and one with wider wings for the Navy to use on aircraft carriers.

* The Air Force plans to buy 1,763 of the conventional model; the Navy will buy 680 of the short takeoff and carrier variants for a total of 2,443 for the U.S. military.

* The foreign partners on the program -- Britain, Canada, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Turkey, Italy and Australia -- will contribute $4.8 billion to the development of the plane, and plan to buy more than 700 production aircraft.

* Israel, the first foreign military sales customer, signed a $2.75 billion preliminary agreement in October 2010 to buy 19 F-35s, with an option for one more. Over time, the country plans to buy about 75 of the fighter jets.

* Other countries interested in the F-35 include Singapore, South Korea, Finland, Spain, Greece and Belgium. Lockheed expects to submit a proposal to the Japanese government this fall as part of that country's new fighter competition.

* The latest Pentagon acquisition report to Congress estimated the average cost of each F-35 fighter to be $110 million in 2002 dollars, including research and development costs, up from the previous estimate of $97 million.

* Excluding development costs, the average price per airplane is estimated to be $91 million, also in 2002 dollars, up from $79 million per plane in December 2009.


* Last week ( week 20 , 2011 ) , the Air Force accepted the first production plane, dubbed AF-7, and it was ferried to Edwards Air Force Base in California for testing. The Air Force is expected to accept delivery of a second production plane later this week.

* The U.S. Navy plans to conduct sea trials of the Marine Corps' short-takeoff variant on the USS Wasp, an amphibious assault ship, off the coast of Virginia this October.

* In late June, the carrier variant will begin testing on land of a catapult launching system and a hook that keeps the plane from sliding off the deck of a carrier.

* On May 23, Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter and other top defense officials are scheduled to review progress on the F-35 program and an updated independent cost estimate. The military services are also expected to submit revised dates for when they plan to begin using the new planes.

* The new fighter plane has executed 878 of 7,700 planned flight tests since testing began in December 2006. So far this year, the program has done 331 flight tests.


* The F-35 fighter jet is 42 percent built of composite materials. The plane is just over 50 feet long and can travel at a speed of Mach 1.6. The variants have a range of up to 900 to 1,200 nautical miles and carry 15,000 to 18,000 pounds of weapons.

* The Pentagon estimates it will cost about $1 trillion to operate and maintain the three variants over the next 50 years. Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter wants a thorough review of that figure, saying it is not affordable.

* Lockheed officials say the plane's operation and maintenance costs will be about half that of older fighter planes. They say the plane will require half the spares of older planes and about 60 percent less testing equipment.

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