Mark Collins – F-35 Update as US Marines’ IOC Approaches

Further to this post,

Sky’s Still Cloudy for F-35’s Way Ahead

it’s not quite clear sailing yet:

F-35B IOC Expected Soon, Awaits Marine Commandant’s OK

Lockheed F-35B’s reliability found lacking in shipboard testing

Air Force Secretary Acknowledges Wide Range of Problems with F-35
[note software currrently]


F-35 Air Combat Capability Dust-Up

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


16 thoughts on “Mark Collins – F-35 Update as US Marines’ IOC Approaches”

    1. More on Aussie Growlers at AvWeek:

      ‘First RAAF Growler Rolls Out At St. Louis

      The aircraft is identical to the U.S. Navy version aside from the addition of an advanced targeting forward looking infrared (AT-FLIR) system and AIM-9X air-to-air missiles, a configuration that Air Marshal Geoff Brown says will be standard for the RAAF. The AIM-9X is needed for self-defense. With the RAAF operating with a small yet highly advanced air force, the aircraft must be able to react to airborne threats by itself rather than relying on interceptors for support.

      The addition of the AT-FLIR system grew out of lessons from U.S. operations in Libya and, later Syria, according to Rear Adm. Donald Gaddis, the Navy’s program executive officer for tactical aircraft. He said to get weapon-quality tracks and kills on ground targets, the Growler operators used their onboard threat detection systems and active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars to locate threats. But they had to use the onboard Multifunction Information Distribution System (MIDS) and Link 16 datalinks to request “eyes on target” from offboard AT-FLIRs on the Super Hornet or other aircraft in order to validate some targets.

      “In the other airplanes, they were taking the datalink tracks [from the Growlers] and slewing their sensors onto the targets. That is where the AT-FLIR came in,” he told reporters following the Growler rollout ceremony in St. Louis. Together, “the Growler, the Super Hornet and the datalink – especially the MIDS and the Link 16 messages – it worked pretty well. We took a lot of lessons from that … when you do that you are decreasing the kill chain even more because you don’t have to datalink to another AT-FLIR. You have got it on your airplane.”

      Thus, the Navy is considering incorporating the FLIR into its configuration, he said…’

      Mark Collins

  1. US Navy–fewer F-35Cs, more Super Hornets/Growlers?

    ‘[Admiral John Richardson, President Barack Obama’s nominee for chief of naval operations]… said he would take a hard look at the Navy’s current requirement for 340 F-35 C-model fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp.

    “If confirmed, I will work with the chairman and other services to revalidate the appropriate number of aircraft the Navy requires to meet the mission,” he said.

    Richardson’s comments opened the door to a fresh push by Boeing Co to market a more advanced version of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet now in use on carriers…’


    “USN Looking for More Super Hornets–Maybe Upgraded–and More Growlers”

    Mark Collins

  2. AvWeek:

    The Marines are declaring IOC with the limited capabilities provided by Lockheed Martin’s 2B software package for the jet. This allows for use only of the AIM-120 air-to-air missile, 500-lb. Laser Guided Bombs, and the 2,000-lb. Joint Direct Attack Munition. This early software release allows for employment of weapons only from the jet’s internal bay; external stores are not functional until later software releases.

    Still, Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, the Marines’ deputy commandant for aviation, insists the aircraft will be more effective than the F-18 Hornets and AV-8B Harriers it will replace. The software supports “basic” close air support and interdiction missions as well as “limited” suppression of enemy air defense and destruction of air defense missions, according to the service.

    The Marines plan to retire the Harriers in 2026 with the Hornets to follow in 2030, according to Maj. Paul Greenberg, a service spokesman. The second Marine Corps squadron set to stand up in fiscal year 2016 with the F-35B is VMA-211, now operating with the Harrier jump jet. It will be followed by VMFA-122, another Hornet squadron, in 2018, Greenberg says.

    The service expects to declare full operational capability (FOC) in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2017, at the end of the development phase of the program, which began in October 2001. After meeting that milestone, the Marines finally will have the 3F software package that allows for use of far more weapons and the aircraft’s full electronic attack capability, including the missionized gun outlined for the Marine Corps.

    Davis says his primary concern for the first squadron is improving its mission capability rate. VMFA-121’s jets are mission capable about 60% of the time. Though that percentage is low, that is where service officials expected it to be at the F-35B’s operational debut…’

    Mark Collins

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