Saturday, July 21, 2018

Stealth Saga #76

Sixth Generation Fighter:

France and Germany are planning their nextgen (sixth gen?) fighter.

Since Britain has been excluded from the Franco-German next gen fighter, they are planning what to do for their next gen.

The British government has given BAe a 12 month contract for their FCAS.

The Brits have started talks with the Swedes on the next gen fighter.

The Brits have come out to call their next gen fighter concept, called the Tempest.  At this point, the aircraft shown is only a concept, not necessarily what it will end up being.  The Italians are involved with the new fighter (Leonardo) making the avionics and EW suite.  Why BAe wants to do away with the traditional cockpit in the Tempest concept. Interestingly, no American companies or Japanese: Boeing is interested in helping though.  Nor does it include the Germans or French.  The program does hinge on international cooperation though.  The announcement has been met with more than a little skepticism.  And here's a USAF POV.   Dassault was a bit snarky over the Tempest.

Airbus has since come out to say that there isn't room in Europe for two sixth gen fighters and has started discussions with the Brits to include them in the project at a later date.  Some are not sure either way.  Airbus wants a collaborative approach to the FCAS project.  How will this new set of projects, the Franco-German and British, for the next gen fighter play out?

Eurofighter expects to demo a lot of the technologies for the next gen european fighter(s).  Eurofighter is also predicting one of the two programs will be discarded.

Is the Chinese Dark Sword Fighter UCAV the world's first sixth gen fighter?

GE received a contract for the 6th gen fighter engine prototype for the US.  This engine type will support lasers and other new weapons through increased electrical output (amongst other ways).

What's going on with the USAF and USN sixth gen fighters?

The Russians are claiming the are developing a dual LIDAR/RADAR sensor to find stealth aircraft for their 6th gen fighter.

The Russians are claiming they are testing 6th gen fighter systems on the Su-57.  They stated their baseline sixth gen fighter will be unmanned, but can be flown by a pilot.

J-15 Replacement:

China has stated they are developing a replacement for the J-15.  The FC-31/J-31 has been suggested, but not likely as the start of the next gen aircraft.

Chinese VSTOL Fighter:

Could China build a VSTOL fighter like the F-35B?

A Rolls Royce engineer has been busted for trying to sell F-35 secrets to the Chinese.


The Russians claim to have a new "stealthy" flying wing UCAV with a gross takeoff weight of 25klbs.  Flight tests are supposed to start in 2019.  Or this year...

5th Gen Aerial Target:

Sierra Nevada completed the CDR for a 5th gen aerial target using carbon fibre and two afterburning jet engines.  It is intended to simulate a J-20, Su-57 or some other stealthy aircraft for target practice by fighters or surface to air weaponry.


South Korea wants the CDR for the KFX to be completed by September 2019.

South Korea wants a "Taurus" missile for its KFX.

South Korea released updated images for their KFX design.

Indonesia is wondering whether to continue with the KFX program.


The Anglo-Turkish deal to work on the TF-X fighter project appears to be in trouble.

Turkey is considering which engine to put in the TFX.


Northrop Grumman wants a big part of the Japanese F-3 5th generation fighter.

The Lockheed F-22/F-35 hybrid is being offered to Japan at $177M per plane.  This is more than the $133M/plane they want for the F-3 program.


What killed the Russo-Indian FGFA?

And there are rumors it might be brought back from the dead.


Russia has still not signed the contract for the Su-57.  It would be a challenge, to say the least, to deliver all 12 Su-57s by the end of 2019 at this point.

Now, supposedly, they have inked the contract.  It should be noted, the Russians have stated the new engine will not be installed until 2023 at the earliest.

Russia is claiming the Su-57 is going to be far cheaper than the F-35.  The F-35 is now at the same price (for the A model) as F/A-18s, Rafales and Eurofighters.  The price will continue to drop through the initiation of full rate production.

The Russians have stated they developed a new G suit for the Su-57.

The Su-57 project isn't dead, yet, but its not healthy either.

There is also a report running around that the Su-57 is going to never be mass produced.


The Air Force Research Lab is talking about a stealthy tanker.


The Russians are stating the PAK-DA will have multiple roles beyond bomber including recon and command center.

The PAK-DA will be stealthy.  If it ever gets built.


China's H-20 might be the world's first manned aircraft using the cranked kite bauplan.


The B-21 program could complete its Critical Design Review by the end of the year.

As the B-21's come online, the B-1s will be retired.

100 B-21s may not be enough.


The B-2 has undergone B61-12 nuclear bomb qualifications.

The USAF is not yet willing to publicly discuss how it will retire the B-2 bomber when the B-21 comes online.

The B-2 is getting a battle management software upgrade.

There are some cool shots of the B-2.


The EA-18G Growler has been used as the aggressor for the F-22A for training.

The GAO is recommending changes to the F-22 organization for better availability and utilization.


The House HAC-D wants the US to buy another 93 F-35s in FY2019.  The Senate only wants to pay for 72.  The Senate is now pushing 89.

The USAF is comparing the close air support capabilities of the F-35 and the A-10.  Some are very, very unhappy with the tests.

Negotiations for Lot 11 are not going well.  It was hoped for a big announcement, but, unfortunately, it does not look like that will happen soon.  It may be the government imposes a price again.  The expected price if $89M all inclusive for the F-35A, down from $94M.  Then again, AvWeek is reporting the opposite.  Now Jane's is as well.

The F-35 program is talking about adding the ability add more capabilities to the F-35 rapidly.

The US and its allies are mapping out a larger role for the F-35 than just a traditional strike fighter.

The USMC is fatigue testing the F-35Bs.

The USMC is striking its first F-35B from inventory.

The USS Essex LHD-2 deployed with F-35Bs aboard.

British efforts to introduce the F-35B seem to be going well with IOC expected in December.

In Britain, the F-35B flew by the Farnborough air show, but few others did.

The British RAF is going through a significant change and the F-35 is part of that.

Canada is highly unlikely to buy the F-35: they are planning on making it very difficult to have countries that have hurt it economically to win the competition.

China may be attempting to acquire F-35B tech.

Three more F-35Is have been delivered to Israel.

Israel is asking the US not to sell the F-35 to Turkey.

Israel hosted a delegation from the UAE to review F-35 operations.  The UAE is interested in the fighter.  The US also had a delegation present to observe what was observed.  The Israelis are now claiming they did no such thing.

Italy is assembling the first Dutch F-35 built in Europe.

Italy deployed four F-35As on their first 'operational' mission.

Italy announced they are not ordering more F-35s and may cut their existing orders.  If this happens, Italy will probably lose a lot of the work they've been getting for the project once their orders are complete.  Considering they are the major European center for maintenance and assembly, this could...hurt.

Japanese final assembly and check out capacity could be maxed out next year.

Singapore is going to announce its replacement for the F-16 shortly.  The F-35, whether the A or B model, is likely.

The Swiss have asked Lockheed amongst other Western companies to place a bid for its Air2030 fighter procurement.  Lockheed is supposed to offer the F-35A.

Turkey is taking delivery of its first F-35.  Congress is stepping up the campaign to prevent delivery.  The spending bill in the Senate would halt further transfers.  The US State Department has warned Turkey over the S-400 missile deal and threatened the loss of the F-35s.

Turkey's rollout ceremony for its first F-35 was rather different than the norm.

Turkey has stated Trump has guaranteed their F-35 deliveries.

Even with everything up in the air, Turkish F-35 pilots have started their training in the US.

The US DOD opposes removing Turkey from the F-35 program.

The United Arab Emirates are seeking to buy the F-35.

General Electric has been awarded $437M contract to develop advanced engines for the F-35 and beyond.

Lockheed will soon implement Auto-GCAS on the F-35.

Lockheed has delivered the 300th F-35.

Lockheed received a $735M contract mod for the F-35 and another $503M.

Lockheed got another $173M contract for the F-35.

Lockheed also got another $73M contract for the F-35.

Lockheed is targeting sustainability and reliability for the F-35 now.

Northrop Grumman withdrew from providing a sensor for the F-35.  Lockheed has Raytheon working on its replacement: Raytheon's new DAS sensor is lighter and uses less power than Northrop's.  Supposedly, it will save a fair amount of money on sustainment.  Britain is unsure of the change in suppliers.

Northrop has entered full rate production for the F-35 fuselages.

Pratt & Whitney is proposing upgrades to the F-35's engine.

Raytheon is waiting to see whether or not its StormBreaker bomb will be integrated on the F-35.


With Russia's SU-57 woes and China and the USA producing 5th gen fighters, where does that leave the balance of air power?

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