US Navy awards $508 million contract modifcation for F-35 propulsion systems.
United Technologies Corp., Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., is being awarded a $508,214,419 modification to the previously awarded F-35 Lightening II Lot VI low rate initial production advance acquisition contract (N00019-12-C-0090). This modification provides for the procurement of 18 F135 conventional take off and landing (CTOL) propulsion systems for the U.S. Air Force; six short take-off and vertical landing propulsion systems for the U.S. Marine Corps; and seven carrier variant propulsion systems for the U.S. Navy. In addition, this contract procures three F135 CTOL propulsion systems for Italy; two CTOL propulsion systems for Australia; one F135 CTOL spare propulsion system for Italy; and one F135 spare propulsion system for Australia. This modification also provides for program labor, engineering assistance to production, non-recurring sustainment efforts, service and country specific requirements, depot activation efforts, and long-lead hardware. Work will be performed in East Hartford, Conn. (67 percent); Bristol, United Kingdom (16.5 percent); and Indianapolis, Ind. (16.5 percent), and is expected to be completed in June 2016. Fiscal 2012, aircraft procurement Air Force, fiscal 2012 aircraft procurement Navy, and international partner funding in the amount of $508,214,419 will be obligated at time of award, $422,680,150 of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps ($211,858,131; 42 percent); the U.S. Air Force ($210,822,019; 41 percent); and the international partners ($85,534,269; 17 percent). The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.
Good to see the first British pilot making a sea-based take off and landing of the F-35B. Of course (God bless the Ministry of Defence for its logic!) it was an RAF pilot and not a Fleet Air Arm pilot.
Navy/Marine Corps Team: Testing F-35B Lightning II Aircraft Aboard USS Wasp
AT SEA, ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) — Two F-35B Lightning II jets (BF-01 and BF-05) touched down aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) Aug. 12, kicking off week of Development Testing II (DT-II) where Wasp Sailors and Integrated Test Force (ITF) team members are testing and further validating the F-35B.
DT-II is the second of three test phases encompassing numerous milestone events including the first night operation at sea as well as the first launch and recovery of the F-35B at sea by a U.K. test pilot. The goal of this testing is to further define F-35B operating parameters aboard amphibious ships such as Wasp.
The F-35 Lightning II is the next generation strike aircraft for the U.S. Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force, as well as eight international partners. The jet combines advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Wasp is testing the F-35B, which has short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) capability, enabling it to operate from a wider range of ships and in support of expeditionary operations.
“It’s a significant milestone for the F-35 program,” said Capt. Erik Etz, Director, Test & Evaluation F-35 Naval Variants. “We’re providing an envelope that will be utilized by Marine Corps and U.K. aviators when they go out and employ the aircraft in a real environment. The ability to operate at night is critical and so certainly the testing we’re doing here will provide a significant amount of data so we can clear the envelope and clear the aircraft to operate day and night, when the Marine Corps takes the F-35B to initial operating capability in 2015.”
Wasp and the ITF completed a major milestone when Lt. Col. C. R. Clift launched from the flight deck and landed safely, marking the first successful night launch and recovery of the F-35B at sea.
The pilots were pleased with the progress that the first night landings at sea represent. “It all went extremely well,” said Clift. “Throughout the night we conducted eight successful launches and landings, so we’re on target and quickly gaining experience with F-35B night operations at sea.”
Launch and recoveries filled the first, second and third days at sea creating smooth, synchronized daytime operations. Wasp flight deck crew members were trained in advance of DT-II to prepare them for F-35B operations at sea, ensuring all those involved were ready to support DT-II.
“The crew itself has spent quite a bit of time up at Patuxent River working with the F-35B understanding how the aircraft operates,” said Capt. Brian Teets, Wasp’s commanding officer. “What we’ve been able to bring is a consistent platform to the F-35B to support their testing. It’s the same ship with the same capabilities, providing consistency and stability as a reliable test platform. Employing a consistent test platform allows the team to find ways to optimize this new aircraft in the Marine Air Combat Element.”
U.K. Squadron Leader Jim Schofield, a Royal Air Force pilot became the first international pilot to conduct sea-based launch and landing in the F-35B.
“It’s exciting to see the integration of this new plane with the amphibious assault ships,” said Schofield. “After a year leading up to this evolution, it’s awesome to get here and start. And the crew has been especially accommodating and efficient at running these tests smoothly.”
The historical milestones were not lost on Wasp crew members, but for most it was “business as usual”, focusing on safety and effectiveness during flight operations at sea. Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 1st Class Ashley Geary gave the signal to launch BF-05 for the first night flight operations.
“It was fun knowing we’re making history,” said Geary. “We worked with the test team at Patuxent River for a week, learning about the F-35B and its operations. They took our suggestions on flight deck procedures, ensuring we were one team working together towards a successful mission. The launch went well, without a hitch.”
The F-35 Lightning II is scheduled to replace 13 different legacy aircraft in the current U.S. defense inventory. Sea trials for the Navy’s F-35C aircraft carrier variant are scheduled at the end of 2014.
Good decision. Don’t retire ’em… keep flying ’em.
US Navy hopes to fly X-47B demonstrators into 2014
The US Navy hopes to continue flying its two Northrop Grumman X-47B unmanned combat air system demonstrators (UCAS-D). The service had earlier said that the prototypes would be retired after the type had demonstrated the ability to make carrier arrested recoveries onboard the USS George H W Bush: an achievement first made on 10 July.
“The two X-47B air vehicles will reside at [NAS Patuxent] River [Maryland] while the N-UCAS programme continues to assess potential opportunities for additional test operations at Pax River and at-sea,” the US Naval Air Systems Command says. “These efforts will focus on reducing risks for the follow-on unmanned carrier-launched airborne surveillance and strike [UCLASS] programme and help the navy to better understand how to operate unmanned systems of this size in the areas of research and development.”
Analyst Mackenzie Eaglen of the American Enterprise Institute says that the USN will continue to fly the X-47B because many critics had charged that the service was prematurely retiring the two testbeds. “Navy leaders are responding to criticism and probably the likelihood that sequestration will seriously hinder and/or delay UCLASS,” she says.
The X-47B aircraft are now expected to continue flying into 2014.
It’s called testing. Lord forgive them for not having every test go 100% perfectly every single time.
X-47B Fails Landing Attempt – Again
Unmanned Jet Was Trying To Repeat Last Week’s Success
WASHINGTON — The X-47B unmanned jet, which successfully landed twice last week on an aircraft carrier, was unable to repeat the feat Monday, U.S. Navy sources confirmed July 16.
The aircraft nailed its first two landing attempts July 10 on the USS George H. W. Bush, but a third landing that day was aborted when the aircraft’s systems detected a problem with an onboard computer. Following its programming, the aircraft then flew to a “divert” field at Wallops Island, Va., where it remains.
Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and Northrop Grumman engineers were back on board the carrier Monday to try for a third successful “trap,” this time using the other of two X-47B aircraft.
But it didn’t happen. The aircraft developed technical issues while in flight from Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., to the ship and officials decided to abort the attempt before the X-47B reached the vicinity of the carrier, steaming off the U.S. east coast.
Nevertheless, officials have termed the tests “successful” in that the program’s objectives of demonstrating unmanned flight on and off an aircraft carrier were achieved. And at least in the case of the July 10 waveoff, the system’s ability to detect and respond to a problem was validated, if unintentionally. But the fact is that four times the Navy attempted to land the aircraft on the ship, and only two attempts were successful.
Officials point out that the program’s requirements called only for one successful landing, although testers targeted three at-sea traps.
“Initial parameters for the test required three traps on board the carrier,” a Navy official said Tuesday. “However, after two successful traps and two wave-offs, the Navy is confident it has collected the data necessary to advance this program and develop the requirements for UCLASS.”
The Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike Program is the follow-on effort to develop an operational unmanned aircraft using technologies and lessons learned from the X-47. Navy officials hope to field a UCLASS aircraft by 2019.
Underscoring the effort’s importance, the July 10 event was attended by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, and more than two dozen media representatives. The secretary and CNO were effusive in their praise for the program and the technological achievement, and of the historic nature of the events. The successful landing received extensive national and international media coverage, as did the first catapult launch from the ship on May 14.
With the failure of the July 15 test, the program’s flying days are all but over. The aircraft used on Monday, numbered 501, remains at Pax River, and no further X-47B flying tests are scheduled after 502 flies from Wallops Island to Pax River.
Funding for the X-47B, under the Unmanned Combat Air System Aircraft Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program, runs out at the end of September with the close of the fiscal year.
A statement was issued by NAVAIR late Tuesday afternoon about Monday’s incident, reproduced here in full:
“The Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) program successfully completed testing with the X-47B aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) July 15, culminating a decade of Navy unmanned integration efforts that show the Navy’s readiness to move forward with unmanned carrier aviation, says Rear Adm. Mat Winter, who oversees the Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons in Patuxent River, Md.
“On July 10, the X-47B completed the first-ever arrested landing of an unmanned aircraft aboard CVN 77. Shortly after the initial landing, the aircraft was launched off the ship using the carrier’s catapult and completed a second successful landing.
“ ‘We accomplished the vast majority of our carrier demonstration objectives during our 11 days at sea aboard CVN 77 in May,” said Capt Jaime Engdahl, Navy UCAS program manager. “The final end-to-end test of the UCAS including multiple arrested landings, flight deck operations, steam catapults, to include hot refueling procedures, was accomplished on July 10 and the procedures, the X-47B aircraft and the entire carrier system passed with flying colors.’”
“During its final approach to the carrier on July 10, the X-47B aircraft, “Salty Dog 502”, self-detected a navigation computer anomaly that required the air vehicle to return to shore, where it landed at Wallops Island Air Field. The X-47B navigated to the facility and landed without incident. Salty Dog 502 is scheduled to fly back to Pax River later this week.
“Aircraft “Salty Dog 501″ was launched to the ship on July 15 to collect additional shipboard landing data. During the flight, the aircraft experienced a minor test instrumentation issue and returned to NAS Patuxent River, where it safely landed. There were no additional opportunities for testing aboard CVN 77, which returned to port today.
“ ‘Completing the first-ever arrested landing with an autonomous, unmanned aircraft is truly a revolutionary accomplishment for the U.S. Navy,” said Winter. “This demonstration has successfully matured the needed critical technologies for operations in the actual carrier environment and has set the stage for Naval Aviation to blaze the trail for relevant unmanned, carrier-based warfighting capabilities.’”