Almost a couple of days back the company Lockheed Martin released new photos of the factory shop where gather new fighters F-35 Lightning II. Imprinted on their units wing of another aircraft notable because it will be the hundredth fighter in the series. Overall, at this point in factories offices in various stages of readiness is almost 90 boards. So Makar, with 50 already built with redundant aircraft in the coming months, the total amount of new fighters will surpass the mark of fifteen hundredths. As we see, despite all the criticism and prepyadstviya, «Lockheed Martin» not only finished the development of a promising aircraft, and establish a true mass production. Yet, after deployment and mass production are preserved some prepyadstviya, is not so great as before, which hitherto are subject to criticism.
Main shaft critical remarks in the address of the project F-35 On the economic side of things. Despite the promised advantages over existing and promising technique, the plane went very expensive. Currently, the creation of the 1st Fighter F-35A costs more than $ 100 million. The mid 90’s, when the work on this project included in the active stage, it was planned to keep the price of the 1st aircraft with all the preparatory costs at the level of 30-35 million. As we see, there is now a three-fold excess of the aircraft relative to the planned. Needless to say, these «factors» could not attract the attention of enemies project. With all of this project from the creators of «Lockheed Martin» justified reasons impartial meaningful appreciation, such as the complexity of the development of new technologies or the creation of a unified design.
Noteworthy that all the costs of the project, either directly or indirectly linked with the policies adopted at the very beginning. Since the Pentagon lusted get three aircraft with different purpose, different features and for 3 different types of troops, Lockheed-Martin engineers have embarked on the greatest simplification of the design. In addition, intensively addressed the ease of maintenance of the aircraft. As in the case with the prior Superprojects — F-22 Raptor — all measures to reduce the cost not only failed to onomu but even increment price applets generally aircraft and each viz. Particularly interesting project F-35 looks in the light of the concepts of creation and implementation. Initially, this was done as a fighter and cheapest kind of light aircraft, supplementing the heavy and expensive F-22. Eventually came to observe the required ratio of the prices, but 100 million overboard can be called only a small price compared with 140-145 million F-22.
Perhaps save value of aircraft and managed programs including through proper approach to business. Project F-35 rises to programmke ASTOLV, which began in the first half of the 80s, but which had no special of success. On the basis of developments on this project later works were initiated codenamed CALF, which eventually merged with applets JAST. Puzzles of all these programs differed markedly, but the steps of combining CALF and JAST already formed the general requirements for a promising fighter. Maybe specific nomenclature moments that costs one programmke not end up in spending on other, eventually reduced price tangible outcome of the project F-35. With all of this last transformation applets JAST (Joint Advanced Strike Technology — «Unified promising technology shock»), led only to a change of its name to the JSF (Joint Strike Fighter — «Unified Strike Fighter»), can hardly be regarded as a prerequisite for any savings .
It should be noted, much greater savings were achieved through the use of existing developments. For example, when designing a new fighter F-35 heavily used CATIA and automatic test complex COMOC. These systems have been specially made for the F-22 project, which is essentially «took over» their price. The same is true, and with some new technologies, for example with several new varieties of composite materials.
Yet, even with a similar division of the costs of F-35 aircraft went quite expensive. All have reason to believe that the basic premise of the highest rates of specific aircraft is thought to make several independent machines based on one design. This task is not easy in itself for itself, let alone talk about the modern aircraft, which should exist between voedinyzhdy inside the newest technology. In addition, said the change requirements. In the late 90s the U.S. Navy a couple of times, revised and corrected their wishes with regard to the future deck features F-35C. Because of this, designers Lockheed Martin had to constantly update the project. In the case of a separate independent development project such adjustments do not would entail some extreme operations. But in the case of applets JSF, due to its demands for unification, every perceptible change based fighter or at least some other modifications directly affected the 2-fighter other embodiments. According to various estimates, more refinement projects took about 10-15% of the time construction work. Of course, similarly the case with excessive currency costs.
Besides problems with the implementation of these or other requirements that lead to unnecessary costs, price applets JSF was also substantiated a number of new technical solutions for the design and verification which also left a lot of money.
First catches the eye lifting units fighter with short takeoff and vertical landing F-35B. To meet the requirements of the Marine Corps regarding the ability based on the amphibious assault ship staff «Lockheed Martin» with engine builders from Pratt & Whitney had had spent a lot of time to create a lift-propulsion engine, which would not only give the required thrust, and fit into the plan adopted by the ideology of the greatest unification. If the propulsion system for the creation of a «land» and the deck was pretty fighters do upgrade an existing motor PW F119, then in the case of the jet or the shortened vertical takeoff had to make a number of specific measures.
More on the results of an old applets ASTOLV thrown by several variants of lifting and propulsion engines. During the work on the JSF in «Lockheed Martin» concluded that the most comfortable of the remaining options is to use a turbojet engine with a rotary nozzle and additional lift fan driven by the motor. This assembly provides sufficient thrust for vertical takeoff and easy operation, though not devoid of drawbacks. First, there is the fact that most of the time the plane will carry the extra load of a lift fan, which is needed only when the vertical / short takeoff or landing. All units are fan of Disconnecting coupling to the upper and lower sashes, weigh about 1800 pounds, which is slightly more than the dry weight of the motor F135-600. Yet, when using a high-temperature engine turbojet other options did not look very comfortable. The fact that the flow of cool air from the fan, faced with the jet engine, partly cools it also does not allow the superheated gases enter the vozduhopoglotiteli. No other layout lifting power plant has no such ability and because overweight recognized allowable charges for dignity.
With other more complex unit powerplant fighter F-35B — rotary nozzle — related a fascinating story. Research on this topic began during applets CALF, but had no particular success. Spending a lot of time, effort and money, the South American scientists and engineers consult the Russian design bureau. AS Yakovlev. As a result of lengthy negotiations the Americans were able to purchase part of the documentation project Yak-141 and study it carefully. Already acquired knowledge with the introduction of the new nozzle was designed for motor F135-600, which has a number of features in common with a suitable unit Russian Yak-141.
And yet, despite the introduction of foreign experience, a propulsion system for vertical take-off aircraft proved to be very difficult. Namely, shortly before the start of the test the first prototype F-35B BF-index 1 found the risk of cracks in the blades of the turbine engine. Because of this for a few months, all tests were conducted hoist units with severe restrictions on the power, and after each inspection required gazovki motor for damage. As a result, quite a long work on the final design of the power plant all the same managed to eliminate all its main difficulties and provide the required reliability. It should be noted that these problems hitherto sometimes blames the brand new aircraft, and in some sources cite the emergence of new cracks, including on production aircraft.
Not come without problems and the development of deck variant F-35C. Originally intended to increase its runways property by a motor with thrust vector control system and boundary layer control. But back in the late 90s and the overall complexity of price applets JSF/F-35 grown so that it was decided to quit only thrust vector control. According to some sources, Lockheed Martin employees and related companies have already begin research and design work on the subject of boundary layer control, but soon finished them. So Makar, in general price applets added regular expenses that, but had no practical utility.
Just like the fighter F-22, F-35 was the first to be fitted with massive computing system, which would provide an opportunity to work on air and ground targets, navigation, control of all aircraft systems, etc. In developing avionics for the F-35 is widely used in developing the project F-22. At the same time, some features have been considered for the production of electronics components. Assumed that the introduction of the new devices will allow not only to increase the hardware properties, and to protect the aircraft from problems similar to those that happened with the F-22 in the mid 90’s. Recall, then, soon after the start of the first test version of the computer system, the manufacturer used processors announced the end of their release. Staff immediately several companies involved in the project F-22, had to urgently remodel most electronics.
The main means of obtaining disk imaging on the situation in the F-35 is airborne radar AN/APG-81, Curb active phased array antenna. Also on the aircraft structure distributed 6 optoelectronic sensor system AN/AAQ-37, looking for furnishings from all angles. For observation and use of guns aircraft is equipped with a thermal imaging system AAQ-40. Also worth attention station jammer AN/ASQ-239. Within a couple years of development, testing and dovodok South American engineers were able to solve almost all problems of electronic equipment for the F-35.
But to this day has not ended the protracted saga with a special helmet pilot. The fact that in accordance with the requirements of military and fabrications creators general form F-35 fighter pilots promising should work with a special helmet, glass that are equipped with a system output of information. Helmet on screen display is planned, all data needed for navigation, search and attack purposes. Initially the company was engaged in the development of the helmet Vision Systems International, but for a couple years and she could not bring it to mind. So even at the end of 2011, there were delays in displaying disk imaging helmet on screen. In addition, electronics protective headgear is not always true determines the position of the pilot’s head relative to the aircraft, which led to the issuance of the wrong disk imaging. Because of these problems from VSI helmet and incomprehensible terms of their corrections company Lockheed Martin was obliged to order the company BAE Systems to develop an alternative embodiment of the pilot’s helmet. Already has his models, but taking into service some of the helmets is still a matter of the future.
If the associate state projects the F-35 and F-22 at the start of series production, the first in the eyes throws bringing the total degree of fighters. It seems engineers and managers Lockheed Martin have taken into account all the problems that occurred with the previous promising plane and tried to avoid the bulk of the problems which prevented earlier. Naturally, debugging and additional tests of all 3 versions of F-35 took away the extra time and money, but the wages apparently considered applicable in the light of the probable subsequent problems. Because at the present time «Lightning 2» is the main cash prepyadstviya and, as a consequence, is not completely clear perspectives on first export.
Already that year fighter F-35 is subjected to criticism by various professionals from various states, including participating in the project. Perhaps most exciting is the position of the Australian military and professionals. This country has long intends to purchase a certain number of new fighters with bolshennymi prospects, with lust to acquire the F-22 aircraft. United States, in turn, so long as true and clearly denied zabugornye all countries in the ability of such supplies and suggested «instead of» the newer F-35. Australians, although not denied the ability to purchase the F-22 in recent years often become necessary to raise the issue of F-35 purchases namely and prospects of the aircraft in general. Often found the view that in the pursuit of more fun «Raptor» Australians are willing to incriminate «Lightning 2» non-existent shortcomings. Yet, in the current application criteria of Australia can be used as a source disk imaging without causing severe distrust.
One of the most recognizable and controversial statements are analysts center Air Power Australia. From the available information, the experts still several years ago recognized the plane F-35 fighter of the 4 +, although the «Lockheed Martin» positioning it as belonging to the fifth. In support of his own words, Australian analysts led a small thrust aircraft and as a consequence, the impossibility of supersonic flight without afterburner incorporating relatively great visibility for radar and several other reasons. Little later Australian Analytical Center compared the ratio abilities fighter F-22 and F-35 with the bike and scooter. In addition, the year already Australian specialists conduct comparative analyzes of F-35 air defense systems of different countries. Result of this calculation is constantly becoming conclusion virtually guaranteed victory gunners. In the end, a couple of years back the Australian military were present at the virtual working between the South American air combat aircraft F-35 and Russian Su-35 (generation 4 + +). For disk imaging, received from the Australian side, South American planes, at least, did not show anything that we should have. These woes of American technology in the «digital» Pentagon official explained to some other purposes. Either way, Australia continues to be the critic of the project-specific F-35.
A few days back the Australian edition of Sidney Morning Herald published excerpts from caught him plans of the Ministry of Defense. From these passages it follows directly that the Australian military wants to break a contract with the United States for delivery of new F-35. Instead of dozens of «Lightnings» Canberra is going to get a certain amount of fighter-bombers, F/A-18 recent modifications. Acts Australian military make sustainable impression that the Air Force command considers the F-35 is significantly outperformed the cost-effectiveness over the old one F-22, and therefore not worthy of attention and costs. Specifically, for this reason, Royal Australian Air Force ready to take an old and proven F/A-18, but not new and strange F-35.
In April last year on the sidelines of the Canadian Department of Defense real scandal erupted. Few years ago, when Canada entered into a program from the F-35 aircraft planned to purchase 65 F-35A total cost of about 10 billion dollars. Given the twenty-service aircraft all expenses had to keep within 14-15 billion Few Canadians later reread costs under the contract and found that in general difficulties planes will cost 25 billion In the end, the end of 2012, resulting in more than one allocation , and the total purchase price of aircraft increased to 40 billion due to excessive growth of such spending Ottawa obliged to abandon the purchase of new fighter fifth generation and see more moderate versions. Noteworthy that due to tightening of the project F-35 Canadian Air Force were not in a very pleasant position: available technology uniformly produces its own resource, and will not feed the latest now and not tomorrow. Poet Canada is currently considering the possibility of buying or F/A-18 fighter European Eurofighter Typhoon with a view to save time and money.
All current export prepyadstviya F-35 aircraft based on a number of circumstances. Complexity of the project led to a tightening of terms and slowly but surely increasing prices applets as a whole, and each aircraft viz. All this could not affect the export future fighter. Air Force, Navy and USMC United States being the main customers, certainly should continue to purchase the latest technology. The greatest risk for applets in this case is to reduce the amount of purchased equipment. Exports are less clear prospects, because the upcoming deadlines and offset the price increase only deter possible buyers.
Today and tomorrow
Meanwhile, in 2012 a total difficulties soared three 10-ka new aircraft F-35, which is two times higher than with an excessive rate of production in 2011. His first received the RAF fighters (two) and the Netherlands (one). In addition, the first three F-35B fighter went to serve in combat squadron of the Marine Corps. According to official data of «Lockheed Martin» in the past year was made test flights in 1167 (18% more than the plan), during which scored 9319 points characterizing the progress (the plan was exceeded by 10%). As we see, the Americans do not even think to stop debugging and creation of new fighters. To date in 2013 and completion is scheduled tests avionics version Block 2B, as the first tests of weapons. Scheduled for the summer of the first tests on the modified STOL amphibious assault ship project Wasp.
In general, all companies and employees of companies involved in the project F-35, continue to work on it and do not intend to renounce it. Well, the project has already passed the point of no return long, because the military and engineers not working the way — need to continue fine-tuning and construction of new aircraft. All the complexity prepyadstviya one or another part of the project, they also caused delays in implementation eventually lead to an increase in prices across the applets. But, as already mentioned, there is no turning back, F-35 will serve at any cost.
That’s just not entirely clear how it will look further updated the U.S. Air Force, if the value of another aircraft will be even higher than at present. In the late 90’s one of the senior managers of the company «Lockheed Martin» N. Augustine noticed that every 10 years to develop a new fighter programm four times more expensive relative to the preceding one. If this trend continues, then in the middle of the XXI century one-year benchmark U.S. military budget late 90s would be equivalent to the costs of development and construction of the entire 1st aircraft. Aptly described by Augustine, three and a half a day or a week, this will serve as a fighter in the Air Force, even as many in the Navy, and in particularly good years he occasionally would «come one’s way,» Marine Corps. Will «Lightning 2» to finish this bad tradition? Judging from the current situation, this possibility is not so great.