Tuesday, December 17, 2013

F-35: A couple of milestones

First, the manufacturer is set to deliver the 100th F-35.  The breakdown:
The first 100 F-35s include 44 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variants, 42 F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variants, and 14 F-35C carrier (CV) variants. The U.S. Department of Defense will receive 95 of the first 100 jets from the F-35 assembly line here. The remaining five jets were delivered to two of the program’s partner countries. The United Kingdom received three F-35B aircraft and two F-35As have been delivered to the Netherlands.
Deliveries are ramping up as more orders come in.  Yup, that's right, we should see those economies of scale begin to kick in big time soon.

The other milestone?  A pretty important one I'd say:
An F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) fighter aircraft successfully employed a Guided Bomb Unit-32 (GBU-32) Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) weapon from the F-35B's internal weapons bay against a fixed ground test target on Dec. 6, completing a successful flight test and verification year for weapons integration. The latest series of weapons tests was accomplished with Block 2B software. The GBU-32 JDAM is a 1,000 pound "smart" bomb with high accuracy, all-weather, autonomous, conventional bombing capability that is guided by a Global Positioning System (GPS)-aided Inertial Navigation System (INS) to its target upon separation from the jet.
The significance?
The test was a major milestone in the F-35 program for the Marine Corps' F-35 Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in 2015 (employing the 2B software), Air Force IOC in 2016 and Navy IOC in 2018.
Onward and upward.


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