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17 May 05,, 14:58
Final Assembly of First F-35 Under Way at Lockheed Martin

More International Defence news and information:
http://www.defencenews.info

FORT WORTH, Texas: Workers at Lockheed Martin joined the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter's 35-foot-wide carbon- fiber composite skinned and metal structure wing to the aircraft's fuselage on Monday, uniting three of the F-35's four major sections -- the forward fuselage, the center fuselage and the wing. The assembly milestone was completed on schedule, and marks the beginning of F-35 final-assembly activities.

"We knew that the F-35's completely digital design and manufacturing process would yield impressive results, but the precision and accuracy in the way the pieces of this first airplane fit together is almost beyond imagining," said Bob Elrod, executive vice president and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program general manager. "It's just about perfect, and it is helping us stay on schedule for first flight next year."

With affordability as its cornerstone, the F-35 is designed for fast, streamlined production with extremely high standards for assembly precision and quality. At peak production, the Lockheed Martin factory in Fort Worth will produce one F-35 each working day.

"The F-35 team is committed to delivering an aircraft that brings major advances in performance, but at a cost comparable to that of existing multi- role fighters. It's becoming clear that we are on the path to achieving the efficiencies that will enable us to do just that," said Ralph D. Heath, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin's Aeronautics business area.

The F-35 is a next-generation, supersonic, multi-role stealth aircraft designed to replace the AV-8B Harrier, A-10, F-16, F/A-18 Hornet and the United Kingdom's Harrier GR.7 and Sea Harrier. The first F-35, a conventional-takeoff-and-landing (CTOL) variant, is scheduled for completion at year's end.

The F-35's aft-fuselage, built by BAE Systems in Samlesbury, England, will be delivered to Lockheed Martin officials on May 17 and shipped to the Fort Worth plant, where it will become the final major subassembly joined to the rest of the aircraft. The horizontal and vertical tails, also made by BAE Systems, will be completed and delivered a short time later. The center fuselage, produced by Northrop Grumman in Palmdale, Calif., arrived in Fort Worth on May 3, and was immediately mated to the Lockheed Martin-built forward fuselage.

Three versions of the F-35 are planned: a CTOL, a short-takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) and a carrier variant (CV). Each is derived from a common design, and will ensure that the F-35 meets the performance needs of the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy, the U.K. Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, and allied defense forces worldwide, while staying within strict affordability targets.

URL of this article:
http://www.defencetalk.com/news/publish/article_002405.shtml

Bill
17 May 05,, 15:47
God for-fucking-bid the reporter actually do some research about his/her subject matter.

TopHatter
17 May 05,, 17:27
God for-fucking-bid the reported actually do some research about his/her subject matter.

Well, I've always laughed at the assertion/requirement/wishful thinking that an F-35 could ever replace a Hog. On whose wish list and in whose dreams? :biggrin:

highsea
17 May 05,, 18:30
Well, it is a Lockmart press release...what do you expect? Let's not slam DT (I'm a mod there), lol. ;)

Anyway, it's still good news for the F-35, keep it on track and get the production design flying. There's still a long way to go, but if they can get it flying next August without any major hitches, it will be a good boost for the program. (But I don't see it replacing A-10's either- too risky)

Bill
17 May 05,, 19:08
What variant of JSF was this first model?

A, B, or C?

highsea
17 May 05,, 19:13
It's the "A", CTOL. Next one will be the STOVL in 2007.

CDR is scheduled for this November, most of the subsystems have already passed. The first production configuration F-35A is scheduled to fly next August. The first 22 airframes are reserved for the SDD phase. LRIP 1 is expected in 2007, (10 aircraft), followed by LRIP 2 (22 aircraft) in 2008, LRIP 3 (54 aircraft) in 2009, LRIP 4 (91 aircraft) in 2010, LRIP 5 (120 aircraft) in 2011 and LRIP 6 (168 aircraft) in 2012.

The first operational (Block 1) AC is expected to be delivered in 2008-2009.

AFAIK, Lockmart is still predicting these IOC dates:
- USMC: autumn 2010
- USAF: autumn 2011
- USN: autumn 2012
- Royal Navy/Royal Air Force: 2012

* Block 1: basic capability with JDAM and AIM-120
* Block 2: more refined mission software, more weapons certified
* Block 3: 100 per cent of mission software, all the hardware certified

Incidentally, only the STOVL variant has had the reduction to 1000lb. JDAMs- the A and C will still carry the 2000 pounders

Edit to add: Boeing Phantom Works has been working on a Block 3 Super Hornet as a hedge against any problems/delays with the F-35. Many new forward fuselage parts, leading edges, etc. Much stealthier than the F/A-18 E/F. jgetti can probably give more info on this than I can, he is more in the know than I am these days. ;)

TopHatter
17 May 05,, 19:43
Boeing Phantom Works has been working on a Block 3 Super Hornet as a hedge against any problems/delays with the F-35. Many new forward fuselage parts, leading edges, etc. Much stealthier than the F/A-18 E/F. jgetti can probably give more info on this than I can, he is more in the know than I am these days. ;)

Another Hornet? How about one with some speed?

highsea
17 May 05,, 21:55
Another Hornet? How about one with some speed?Lol, I heard it will have a cloaking device and go warp 10. The photon torpedoes have a 10 AU range.... :biggrin:

Now you know the trend is for stealth, so much more speed is problematic. I would like to see the wing, though...supposedly the nose has been completely redesigned around the APG-79, instead of just a reshaped section like the E/F has.

TopHatter
17 May 05,, 22:28
Lol, I heard it will have a cloaking device and go warp 10. The photon torpedoes have a 10 AU range.... :biggrin:

Now you know the trend is for stealth, so much more speed is problematic.

I thought that was one of the biggest complaints about the Super Hornet. It does not have the speed to be a fleet defender.

Personally, I'd like to have a phased-plasma pulse rifle in a 40-watt range.

Bill
17 May 05,, 23:00
"Hey buddy, only what you see."

The engines of the S-Hornet are only part of the problem. The wings themselves are about as poorly shaped for an interceptor as you can get short of a 'straight' wing, ala the A-10.

highsea
17 May 05,, 23:17
"...The wings themselves are about as poorly shaped for an interceptor as you can get... And the JSF suffers from the same problem. Fact is, we will never have another mach 2.5 interceptor in the Navy. The days of variable sweep wings are over...but AB DDG's and Tico CG's with SM-2's do offset the loss of the Tomcat somewhat. The USN still has the best fleet defense there is, and the Super Hornet and JSF overall are better bomb trucks.

Bill
17 May 05,, 23:23
The F-35 wings are swept right between that of the F-16, and that of the F-18, so it will have significantly better transonic performance than the F-18E/F, and it also has a vastly superior power to weight ratio.

highsea
17 May 05,, 23:43
I didn't mean it was as bad as the SH, just not as good as the Tomcat. As you say, it's in between the F-16 and F-18. It's really designed for bomb truck and turning performance at transonic speeds.

T/W's are a little more difficult to asess for the F-35 at this stage, but it will be much better than the SH, and the clean aerodynamic configuration should make it competitive in climb and acceleration to a similarly loaded eurocanard or F-16. The F-135 is definitely an awesome engine.

TopHatter
18 May 05,, 00:07
"Hey buddy, only what you see."



Heh heh... :cool:

Or better yet:
10 millimeter explosive tip caseless. Standard light armor piercing rounds.

jgetti
18 May 05,, 17:51
Edit to add: Boeing Phantom Works has been working on a Block 3 Super Hornet as a hedge against any problems/delays with the F-35. Many new forward fuselage parts, leading edges, etc. Much stealthier than the F/A-18 E/F. jgetti can probably give more info on this than I can, he is more in the know than I am these days. ;)


I know of the Block 3 effort, and we are pursuing it quite intensely as I'm sure you can imagine. Configuration changes, however, are still hiding in PhantomWorks. Increased stealthing characteristics I'm sure will be part of the effort, and I hope to God that they finally thrust it up. Again, any configuration changes are just heresay at this point to anyone outside of the Block 3 development arena.

Major forward fuse changes would surprise me as the entire forward fuse inherited from the A/D Hornet was just completely redesigned specifically to house the APG-79 AESA radar. This change incorporated a vast amount of part reductions to monolithics, and considerable use of composites. It is definately the newest part of the aircraft structure. I certainly wouldn't discount it at this point, but it would surprise me if major structural redesigns STARTED on the forward fuse. I would think they would improve wing geometry/center aft fuse first,, but who knows.

The wing certainly isn't designed for optimum transonic performance,, but again, it wasn't designed to be an interceptor. If a Block 3 purchase comes along, I would speculate that a re-engining would take place, CFT development will happen, more stealthing (again only where cost is not greatly impacted) and a wing redesign would be included in the major efforts. Further adaptation to the broadband information-sharing efforts of Future Combat Systems/Joint Tactical Radio interface, etc., and of course the latest sensors and navigation upgrades.

I'm anxious to see what they come up with, but I can guarantee they will be going after any area of performance where F-35C has advantage (let alone internal payload).

jgetti
18 May 05,, 18:32
The F-35 wings are swept right between that of the F-16, and that of the F-18, so it will have significantly better transonic performance than the F-18E/F, and it also has a vastly superior power to weight ratio.

Snipe, what is the latest you've heard for the thrust-to-weight ratio of the F-35C?
Superhornet, even with the F414 has combined thrust of 44000lbs with AB and a MAX takeoff weight of 66000lbs. If I'm not mistaken, the F135 engine has about 40000lbs thrust with AB, and a similar MAX weight. Where are you seeing the vast thrust to weight ratio improvement?

highsea
18 May 05,, 21:10
MTOW for the F-35 is quoted as 50,000 lb. in all variants.

From Aerospaceweb.org:

Empty weights: F-35C- 24,000; F/A-18E/F- 30,600
Internal Fuel: F-35C- 19,000; F.A-18E/F- 13,350
External Fuel: F-35C- unknown; F/A-18E/F- 9,780
Max Payload: F-35C- 17,000; F/A-18E/F- 17,750

So both AC can be loaded past MTOW, comparisons have to be made based on similar loadouts wrt weapons and fuel for a given range. Not that easy to do, and we don't really know what the F-35C will actually weigh. But even if equal loadouts give similar T/W's, the JSF has the advantage of internal weapons and fuel, so parasitic drag is way lower. Ignoring T/W's, acceleration and climb and turn performance will be much better for the JSF than the SH.

If you compare the two in an interceptor configuration, with 2000 lb. of AAM's and 9,000 lbs of fuel, the JSF comes in at 35,000 lbs. (1.14:1), and the F/A-18E comes in at 41,600 (1.05:1). This is just a rough comparison, assuming they both takeoff with enough fuel to get to speed and altitude, and the F-18 drops it's external tanks and makes a dash to the target, the JSF gets there first.

jgetti
18 May 05,, 21:54
MTOW for the F-35 is quoted as 50,000 lb. in all variants.

From Aerospaceweb.org:

Empty weights: F-35C- 24,000; F/A-18E/F- 30,600
Internal Fuel: F-35C- 19,000; F.A-18E/F- 13,350
External Fuel: F-35C- unknown; F/A-18E/F- 9,780
Max Payload: F-35C- 17,000; F/A-18E/F- 17,750

So both AC can be loaded past MTOW, comparisons have to be made based on similar loadouts wrt weapons and fuel for a given range. Not that easy to do, and we don't really know what the F-35C will actually weigh. But even if equal loadouts give similar T/W's, the JSF has the advantage of internal weapons and fuel, so parasitic drag is way lower. Ignoring T/W's, acceleration and climb and turn performance will be much better for the JSF than the SH.

If you compare the two in an interceptor configuration, with 2000 lb. of AAM's and 9,000 lbs of fuel, the JSF comes in at 35,000 lbs. (1.14:1), and the F/A-18E comes in at 41,600 (1.05:1). This is just a rough comparison, assuming they both takeoff with enough fuel to get to speed and altitude, and the F-18 drops it's external tanks and makes a dash to the target, the JSF gets there first.

That's a good analysis of the two, and more of what I'd expect. I really didn't think there was such a large advantage between thrust/weight for F-35, and what you've stated, including SH's greater drag is more along the lines of what I'd expect to see. Additionally, these are just the strengths of the F-35 that I really think they'll target with the Block 3 SuperHornet development. Drag can't be reduced all that much, but thrust and internal fuel (counting CFT) can be increased.