Lockheed says JSF better and cheaper
DefenceE company Lockheed Martin has defended its controversial F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), declaring it will be better than current combat aircraft, and cheaper
Test pilot Elliott Clemence, who flew classic and Super Hornets in missions over Iraq and Afghanistan, says the JSF is superior in critical areas such as stealth, aerodynamic performance and futuristic sensor technology.
So-called sensor fusion allows information from aircraft radar and other systems to be projected as an image on the inside of the pilot's helmet visor.
"The air performance in a combat configuration is just eye-watering," he told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.
Mr Clemence said flying aircraft using older systems was akin to trying to drive a car while texting, operating the radar and programming the GPS.
Australia is considering acquiring up to 100 JSF aircraft which will be the country's principal combat aircraft out to mid-century. But so far the government is firmly committed to just two, with a decision on the next tranche of 12 deferred for about two years.
The JSF is regularly criticised for being too expensive, running behind schedule and failing to deliver promised capability.
On the ABC Four Corners program this week, the JSF was criticised as overweight, underpowered and unable to fly near lightning storms.
But Lockheed Martin F-35 program vice-president Steve O'Bryan said this didn't mean JSF had a problem near lightning. It just hasn't been fully certified as lightning-safe yet.
Some 30 JSF were delivered last year and 36 will be delivered this year.
"We will continue to drop the price of the airplane out to approximately 2020 where the US government estimate is for an airplane, with the engine and all mission equipment, to be approximately $US67 million ($A66 million)," he said.
"That is better than any fourth generation fighter out there today in terms of cost."
Mr O'Bryan said while there were challenges, flight testing was ahead of schedule and the latest software block had been delivered on time.
"We are confident we will deliver the full capability because we have adequate schedule and funding to do that by the end of 2016," he said.
"By all indications from the US government and all the partner countries who are able to evaluate the F-35, it is meeting all the mission requirements."
Source: AAP News - 21 February 2013
Photo: The Royal Australian Air Force F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Aircraft (Photo by rtecexpress.net)