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Inside a failed us trillion dollar jet fighter program

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작성자 Viola 댓글 0건 조회 10,806회 작성일 23-02-10 08:22


F-35 was ever the main problem of the pentagon brainchild. Has it finally shed its reputation as a hyped and ineffective military aircraft?

Aviators conduct pre-flight and post-flight inspections of the f-35a lightning ii at the mountain home air force base in idaho. Credit. ..Anne rerik for the new york times


Valery insinna

Aug. . November 21, 2019on the morning of june 23, 2014, an f-35 caught fire a couple of minutes before its pilot was hired to take off for a routine training mission. He heard a loud bang and felt the engine slow down as "fire" warning lights began flashing and other alarms signaled that the aircraft's circuits were going down. Witnesses at the eglin air force base near pensacola, florida, said they saw the pilot break out of the cockpit and run away from the fighter jet, which was shrouded in thick puffs of black smoke. It was the first major accident with an f-35 joint strike fighter and it couldn't happen at a worse time.

Less than 3-4 times a year f-35, america's aerobatics the next-generation profile fighter was hired to make its international debut in europe at the farnborough airshow, the second largest event of its kind in the world. Government officials for the pentagon and the aircraft's trademark, the lockheed martin, eagerly awaited the opportunity to demonstrate a working, flying f-35 after a decade of delays and skyrocketing cost overruns. Which is expected to cost taxpayers more than $1 trillion over its 50-year lifespan. It is still the same ambitious international partnership of the us, but eight other countries are investing in the development of the aircraft. Its supporters promised that this jet would be a game-changer in the military battle of the future—so much depended on its success that cancellation of the program was impossible. However, for decades it has been shown that the f-35 in life will not be able to go beyond the planning stage. Incident call. His first reaction was relief at being discovered before takeoff, a stroke of luck that allowed the pilot to escape unharmed. "If there was a problem with the engine after 30 seconds, 60 seconds, two minutes later, this plane would already be in the atmosphere," bogdan said in a recent interview. "Heaven knows what could have happened then."

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incident investigation showed that a fan blade in a jet engine overheated due to friction and cracked, throwing metal fragments that pierced the fuselage, ruptured hydraulic and fuel lines, and ignited jet fuel spray. Officials couldn't guarantee that no other f-35 would have a similar problem, and they didn't want to risk a potentially catastrophic fire on a transatlantic flight. The f-35 never reached farnborough that year, and the pr coup the pentagon and lockheed had hoped for was yet another bullet for the plane's critics.

This was the key of the list. Another bad news for a controversial program that was plagued by bad news.

However, over the next five years, the program and its reputation gradually improved. Lockheed has now delivered more than 400 aircraft to us and foreign militaries, and the unit price of the aircraft has dropped significantly. This year, the f-35 completed its initial combat operation for the marines in afghanistan. About six months later, the air force used it for airstrikes in iraq. After the f-35 will go into mass production in the next six months or very early 2020 and lockheed is expected to produce 130 to 160 or more aircraft in 12 months, which is a huge step up from the 91 aircraft delivered in 2018. Will be a symbolic turning point bonus for the app, a testament to the fact that the core problems that have plagued joint strike fighter have gone are now history in the new century. Difficulties remain. To appear.In june, my defense news colleagues and i reported how, during operational testing, the aircraft still suffered from at least 13 serious technical deficiencies, including cockpit pressure surges, a few rare cases of structural damage at supersonic speeds, and unpredictability during extreme maneuvers. - Any difficulties. This could affect the safety of the pilot or jeopardize the success of the mission. At the same time, the f-35s already delivered to the squadrons introduced new difficulties: military bases in the united states, the high cost of operating aircraft, the lack of spare parts you need and the modern regular approach to upgrade the most important aircraft. The code of program officials and military leaders is urgently in search of a solution. However, they assure the public that nothing will prevent the program from moving forward. This is a position that is contrary to the advice of the government accountability office, which recommended that all serious problems be resolved before going into full-scale production.

With the critical difficulties that once dominated both headlines. And the congressional auditions are probably over, the f-35 may not be the loud, troublesome kid it was in the not-too-distant past. But the pentagon's attempts to play down the new complications are raising uncertainties about whether america's most controversial military aircraft is really ready to move on to the next stage, and that new challenges may come with this transition.

The joint the strike fighter program was conceived in the 1990s as the most ambitious aircraft development program in the history of the department of defense. One firm will oversee the design and production of three different versions of the aircraft, which can be operated by the us air force, navy and marine corps, and us allies to help offset development costs. The result of the project would be a technologically superior aircraft that would be produced in such huge numbers that jet aircraft would be no more worthy than the older aircraft it would replace. Us armed forces, including the air force's f-16 fighting falcon and a-10 thunderbolt ii, the marine corps' av-8b harrier, and the f/a-18 hornet operated by the wms and the marine corps. All wishes in intimacy for special fighters were combined into one program, which was to be transferred to one contractor. Like the air force's f-22, this new fighter should be stealthy and capable of supersonic speeds. To meet the needs of the marine corps, it needed to land vertically on ships, while the navy version would need larger wings and other landing gear so it could take off and land on aircraft carriers.
lobbying saves broken ships: the navy has been forced to decommission nine of its newest warships after years of serious problems and mission changes. But then lobbying started.R.O.T.C. Programs: after the times reported that some high schools are automatically enrolling freshmen in military-sponsored utilities at public high schools, congressional leaders are expanding their view on the junior reserve officer training program.Korean war testimony wall: many of the names of american servicemen who died in the conflict are misspelled or missing from a new memorial wall in washington, relatives and researchers say. Available to military personnel."If you were to go back to the year 2000 and an amateur said, 'i can build a stealth aircraft that is capable of vtol and supersonic speed,' most moviegoers in the international market would say that this is impossible," said tom burbage, general manager of the lockheed program from 2000 to 2013. Rm was out of the reach of industry at the time."

Lockheed martin thought otherwise. In 2001, the defense company's model, then called the x-35, beat the boeing x-32 after both companies demonstrated working prototypes of a stealth fighter capable of hovering and vertical landing.

Coming soon will appear. Turned out to be a significant shortcoming in the unimaginable plan of creating a single aircraft that can do everything. The design specifications required by one type of aircraft were detrimental to the performance of the f-35 in some area. "It turns out that when you combine the requirements of the three services, you get the f-35 — an aircraft that is sometimes not optimal for everyone, which is what any of the services really craves," said todd harrison, an aerospace lawyer at the center for strategic and international studies."It's a lot more expensive than originally thought, and there really isn't always much in common among the three versions of the aircraft."

But in the early days of the program, lockheed martin began construction with glowing optimism. The company decided to first build the f-35a for the air force because it was considered as primitive as possible, then proceed with the complexities of the short takeoff and vertical landing version of the f-35b, and finally the f-35c, which could land on an aircraft carrier - a solution that turned out to be mistake. After lockheed engineers started on the more complex design of the f-35b, they suddenly realized that their original weight estimates were no longer accurate and the b grade would have to be 3,000 pounds too heavy to meet the specifications. The facility was forced to start an extensive modernization project, which added an 18-month delay to the program.

Later, serious problems arose with the start of production, when the aircraft was still under development, a mechanism that the pentagon calls for parallelism. The strategy was intended so that the services could start using their f-35s earlier. Instead, the f-35s began to roll off the assembly line with unresolved technical issues, forcing the pentagon to continually upgrade even newly built jets. More than 89 percent above baseline, leading to a violation of the nunn-mccurdy act, laws that force the pentagon and congress to decide whether to cancel a problematic program. But since the f-35 was intended to replace so many obsolete fighters, the military instructions had virtually no choice but to keep going.

One factor that knocked the f-35 program off course, was different. Lockheed's level of control over the program. The organization provides not only the f-35 itself, but also training gear for pilots and maintenance experts, an aircraft logistics system, and concrete ancillary equipment such as carts and drilling rigs. Lockheed also manages the supply chain and guarantees a significant portion of aircraft service support. This gave lockheed considerable power over almost every part of the f-35 enterprise. "After the first 90 days, i had the feeling that the government was not holding back on the program," said bogdan, who took over as executive director of policy in december 2012. You were technical, were they planned, were they contracted, in fact each one was made by lockheed martin and the program office was just watching."

Bogdan was particularly worried about everything that lockheed had fairly significant control over the government's test flights. The company was allowed to manage the test program and had the right, for example, to defer more complex tests until later. In past programs, the government controlled the diagnosis and sought to identify any complex, high-priority concerns early so that they could realistically be addressed as soon as possible. Bogdan also argued that the pentagon's program office was not transparent enough to tell the military how their money was being spent. Since lockheed was not required to report in detail on its financial performance, the program office itself did not have a clear idea of ​​how the f-35 cost and meanwhile how this money was used.

Costs and complications grew along a spiral line. "Someone must intervene before the ministry of defense completely loses control," bogdan thought. In september 2012, when he was deputy program manager, he took the floor at the largest air force conference and said something that was never publicly admitted: working with lockheed was the worst agreement he had ever seen between the pentagon and a defense contractor. The audience was shocked. At military conferences and trade shows, defense department officials usually show off their contractors together. Instead, bogdan publicly shamed the defense giant, criticizing lagging production times and rapidly rising costs.

That nuance was in no way to blame. The pentagon banned the f-35 from flying near thunderstorms as soon as flight tests showed that its lightning protection system was deficient. The above was easy prey for skeptics, given the designation of the aircraft as the f-35 lightning ii. The aircraft's advanced helmet display, which combines photos from multiple cctv systems and f-35 sensors into a single image, didn't work well, and pilots experienced jitter and video lag. And aircraft software development was behind schedule, leaving pilots stuck on an intermediate version that only allowed basic training.When bogdan was promoted to the top post as the program's executive director, a rule change gave him the option to sit in the listed post beyond the previous two-year term, and he signaled to lockheed that he wasn't going anywhere until the f-35's major problems were fixed. Behind it. The pentagon and the contractor proceeded to eliminate related procedures with the aircraft, one by one.

During the year, bogdan publicly stated that the relationship with lockheed was improving, and the contractor was making every effort. Progress with the f-35's difficulties, albeit more slowly than he would have liked. The transfer office and lockheed figured out how to cut the cost of producing the fighter. Additional flight testing took place. In 2014, the lightning protection system was redesigned, and now the f-35 can fly in unwanted weather. A series of hardware and software changes to the helmet solved the image quality issues.

However, as problems were eliminated, new ones appeared. Recently, the program office discovered that an aircraft ejection seat could cause major neck injuries in light pilots, prompting the air force to ban pilots weighing less than 136 pounds from flying until a 2016 correction is passed. War is boring, a popular military blog, quotes an air force test pilot's paper stating that the f-35 could not beat the 1970s-era f-16 in air combat. If this is true, then the staggeringly expensive high-tech jet aircraft was obsolete long before it took to the skies in wartime. It became known that the assessment was preliminary and incomplete. The pilot based his judgment on one daytime dogfight between f-16s and f-35s, which temporarily had limited maneuverability and limited performance because he had an early version of his software package. However, the f-35's characterization as an overrated but mediocre aerial fighter still haunts it.

While the f-35's bad reputation among the public persists, the military is becoming very self-confident. In the functionality of the aircraft, since the problems were eliminated, and additional weapons and software made the aircraft more combat-ready in combat. As more pilots spend more minutes in flight, they are delighted with the f-35's performance and technical achievements.

The marine corps, which began normal flying with the aircraft in 2015, was the first a military affiliate to fly the f-35 in combat if it used the planes for airstrikes in afghanistan last year. Both the air force and the navy now also use their own f-35s. In 2017, during the first flight of an f-35a in red flag, the air force's largest air warfare training event, the aircraft destroyed 20 aircraft in any f-35 shot down in a simulated combat. In april, air force pilots went through this development and put it into practice for the first time, using the f-35 in an airstrike against isis in iraq.

Pressure at first by congress also helped shape the f-35 into a more successful program. In 2016, arizona senator john mccain called the program "a scandal and a tragedy about pricing, schedule, and efficiency." Recognizing that canceling the program was almost impossible, mccain, however, sought to hold her accountable for her repeated failures. He moved forward using the carrot-and-stick method, approving additional funding for the f-35 as chairman of the senate armed services committee, and in the meantime regularly interrogating defense department officials during congressional hearings.
after mccain's death a few weeks later in 2019, no other legislator has required this level of scrutiny. It's by design, said dan grazer of project on government oversight, a watchdog organization that has repeatedly criticized the aircraft. "In addition, there can be more than 1,500 suppliers for the f-35 application, then they are scattered throughout almost all the states," he said. "This means that there is only a veto-proof bloc of voters on capitol hill in an f-35 program situation, so it can be quite difficult for members of congress to really criticize this program." Legislators seeking to ease the clampdown on the program and advocating an annual increase in the number of aircraft purchased have been able to note noticeable progress in the parameters of the f-35 and its management. But that leniency comes at the cost of taxpayer dollars, say critics like grazer, who want lawmakers to do more to save money. That the pentagon gives to serious technical problems, even those that can affect environmental and safety or mission efficiency, and a good half of the f-35's huge noticeable problems have been solved.However, also in june, at least 13 category 1 deficiencies were still being reported. "All of them are well studied, already resolved or willing to come to a decision in the near future," lockheed said in a statement. Vice adm. Matt winter, who headed the pentagon's f-35 program until july, said the 13 downsides weren't bad enough to cause loss of life or aircraft. The department has a plan to fix all but two of the troubles - two of which occurred only once during flight experiments and are considered anomalous - and winter says the problems will not affect the pentagon's plan to move to full-scale production. / >
The f-35 was in the news again in july when the white house decided to remove turkey from the annex when the controversial ally refused to abandon its plan to simultaneously acquire an advanced air defense system from russia. This is a new engagement with it was a food risk to moscow that f-35 technology secrets in turkey were leaking to russia.

The program's international reach is only growing at the same time. Ten international partners and customers have committed to buying the aircraft, and eight of them have received their first f-35s. Israel was the first country to use a fighter jet in combat, announcing in may this year that it used the f-35 in two separate airstrikes against specific targets in the middle east.

The cost of the fighter continues to decline as rising sales are driving down the unit cost of the aircraft, with the cost of the conventional f-35a — the variant purchased by most international customers — dropping to $89.2 million in 2018. Back in 2006, the first batch cost $241.2. Million per plane. In june, lockheed and the pentagon announced an agreement that would drop the price of the f-35a to a long-awaited $80 million, roughly equal to the cost of older aircraft like the f/a-18 super hornet. "This will turn out to be the first multi-thousand jet fighter to be produced in quite some time," said richard abulafia, an aerospace analyst with the teal group. "None of this can be stopped. When the smoke clears, it will be remembered as something that worked much better than the critics thought, but something you never, ever want to do again."

Hill air force base near utah, where the air force's first operational f-35s are based, tasked with training pilots for combat, and has one of the mostmost famousmost famousmost commonmost famousmost famous high availability rates of any facility that aircraft fly - a key metric, which the service uses to track the share of aircraft. Which are working and ready to fly. But the lengthy performance of some maintenance steps suggests that more than 30 percent of the squadron's aircraft are on the ground at any given time. On other bases where older models fly, the level of availability is much lower: sometimes more than 60 percent percent % % of their f-35s do not serve. In the current and future years, only about 50% of the f-35 fleet was affordable to fly at some point in time, and the rest looked in for repairs.

The main reason the f-35s stood idle idle land lack of spare parts. Lockheed and department of defense officials blame each other for this problem, and there are probably many to blame. Aircraft require a staggering cut of manifestations received from various vendors, and spare parts are not delivered to flights when you need them. For example, the f-35 has problems with a canopy, a glass railing protecting the cockpit, and repairs to jet aircraft can sometimes continue through the winter and summer. Preliminary in the hope of such a nuance that the ministry of defense will return the debt to the company later. He is also trying to consolidate all the needs of the f-35 so that his suppliers can supply parts for both loyal aircraft and old ones. Winter is skeptical that lockheed's actions will solve the problem. "Lockheed martin's statement that this would all be done in about 2 years was the same thing that was said a few years ago," he said. "It's always two years before success, every time we talk." But lockheed is only partly responsible for the lack of parts. An investigation by the government accountability office in april of this year found that the pentagon has about 4,300 parts in progress, does not manage its inventory properly, and is at times unaware of the prices and current whereabouts of its f-35 components.

Again, this complexity can be exacerbated by the transition to full-scale production.As lockheed is responsible for producing many more aircraft and prioritizes delivering these new aircraft to its customers, the f-35s that are already in service will face even tougher competition for spare parts.

Slow and complicated maintenance is not a minor issue. It is expected that, as is common with most weapons systems, maintenance will be in excess of 70% of the total cost of the f-35 program over the expected program life. And managing those costs becomes more and more important as more f-35s are sold.

An important indicator of the cost, durability and value of a new aircraft is its total operating cost. In 2018, flying an f-35a cost an eyeball about $44,000 a day, about double the cost of operating a boeing f/a-18e/f super hornet naval aircraft. Some senior military officials, including general dave goldfein, chief of staff of the air force, and former air force secretary heather wilson, have complained that touring and maintaining the f-35 is too expensive, raising the possibility of the phenomenon that replacement parts should be bought less if costs won't go down.

In 2018, goldfein called the f-35 "the computer that got to fly," a popular description among f-35 fans. , Emphasizing the ability of the aircraft to accumulate and think data to shoot down enemy aircraft and missiles. But until now, china is developing its own stealth fighters and investing public money in research in the supercomputer and artificial intelligence segment, the pentagon is wondering: how can it continue to give f-35 technology a competitive advantage over america's adversaries.
one of the solutions that winter favored during his last tenure was the well-known agile software development. His vision of "constantly moving forward and delivering features" is reminiscent of devops, a popular method in the private sector for quickly auditing and evaluating the features of new products. Programmers generate software updates or patches within a couple of days or weeks, give them to users for testing, and then distribute more extensive updates if the changes are successful. This speed will be a significant improvement over months, and in some situations a year or more, when defense contractors can deliver a program fix immediately.

Winter has also made this a priority. Insist on a radical optimization of the testing of the new f-35 program. Subject to existing procedures, the pentagon may require test flights for over three hundred different reasons or functions when installing new software. Winter worked to reduce this to a single test flight, to test only the software and circuitry affected, rather than retesting the capabilities of the entire aircraft. The pilot program, and this involved a team of air force and lockheed programmers, has proven that the method works - and therefore does not put the pilots at risk and a strategy of rapid creation by winter is currently being implemented. But referring to a flexible software approach for the f-35 presents an insurmountable hurdle to the sluggish and bureaucratic military procurement system, and there is absolutely no plan to integrate it into traditional hardware development and testing processes.

How and in the internal stories connected to the tangled web of the pentagon bureaucracy, it is tempting to try to find the hidden root of all problems - greedy corporate executives, corrupt generals, the military-industrial complex itself. But the engineers, software developers, and middle managers closest to the f-35 program say the same thing over and over again. Frustrated that the sheer scale of the software doesn't allow them to do more to fix it; and a wounded sense of pride in the impressive technological achievements they have achieved, but which often seem lost in an insoluble tangle of problems and failures. Pentagon weapons. It is needed to eliminate the last errors before the launch of full-fledged production. In june, winter stated that none of the remaining issues remained the most serious to delay full production. Well, after passing the test, there will inevitably be problems that need to be fixed.

In a way, this is a feature of today's changing battlefield. There will always be new threats, new upgrades to develop, new technical challenges to keep handy to decide.Dod officials continue to argue that the f-35's adaptability makes skinali the best method to deal with such uncertainties. What's lucky, if such an item is true, when choosing such clothes, keep in mind that this is a natural option. Because even if the f-35 fails to become the invincible aircraft that the pentagon dreamed of, it turned out to be an unkillable program.


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