Monthly Archives: August 2013

F-35 Flight Test Update 11

The F-35 Flight Test Update in the Volume 28, Number 1 issue of Code One concluded with the first aerial release of an AIM-120 AMRAAM from an F-35B on 26 March 2013.

This eleventh installment in the series of flight test updates on the F-35 program covers the AIM-120 launch as well as other achievements of the F-35 Integrated Test Force located at Edwards AFB, California, and at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.

2 April 2013: First Night Vertical Landing
Marine Corps Maj. C. R. Clift completed the first vertical landing at night in an F-35. The mission, at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, was performed in F-35B BF-4.

3 April 2013: F-35C Maximum Mach
Marine Corps Capt. Mike Kingen took an F-35C to Mach 1.6 for the first time during a flight from NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. Mach 1.6 is the top design speed for the F-35C.

9 April 2013: First F-35A GBU-12 Separation
Air Force Lt. Col. Jon Ohman performed the first GBU-12 separation test in an F-35A. The weapon was released from the left weapon bay of F-35A AF-1 flying over the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Center ranges.

10 April 2013: 300 Flights For AF-1
Air Force Lt. Col. Peter Vitt flew F-35A AF-1 on its 300th flight. The mission involved a successful GBU-31 separation test over the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Center ranges.

10 April 2013: Two Firsts At Night
Air Force Capt. Eric Schultz flew F-35A AF-7 in the first night Instrument Meteorological Conditions flight test. The IMC mission, from Edwards AFB, California, also included the first hot pit refueling for an F-35 at night.

11 April 2013: Link 16 Connectivity
Air Force Lt. Col. Jon Ohman flew BF-17 for the first F-35 link with an AWACS aircraft, successfully exchanging Link 16 messages during a multiship flight that included an E-3 Sentry, multiple F-16s, and multiple F/A-18E/Fs.

18 April 2013: 500 Flights For F-35C
The F-35C fleet completed the 500th System Design and Development flight during a mission that included formation flying with Navy Lt. Cdr. Michael Burks flying CF-5 and Lockheed Martin test pilot Dan Canin flying CF-2.

26 April 2013: BF-18 Arrives At Edwards
Royal Air Force Sqn. Ldr. James Schofield delivered F-35B BF-18 to the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards AFB, California. The aircraft is to be used at the ITF for Mission System testing. BF-18 was ferried from NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, by way of Fort Worth, Texas.

29 April 2013: First High Asymmetric Load
Lockheed Martin test pilot Mark Ward flew F-35A AF-2 for the first high asymmetric load flight test on an F-35. The load consisted of an AIM-120 on Station 7; a GBU-31 on Station 8; an AIM-9X on Station 11; and weapon pylons on Stations 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, and 10. The load equated to 15,000 foot-pounds asymmetry.

2 May 2013: Most SDD Flights In One Day
The F-35 test program flew eleven flights in one day to set a new record. The flights consisted of five for F-35A, four for F-35B, and two for F-35C.

3 May 2013: First Dual AIM-120 Carriage
Air Force Lt. Col. Peter Vitt flew F-35A AF-6 for the first mission that included two AIM-120 missiles. The flight occurred from Edwards AFB, California.

10 May 2013: 5k Flight Hours
The F-35 SDD fleet surpassed 5,000 flight hours.

13 May 2013: 400th Vertical Landing
Marine Corps Maj. C. R. Clift flew BF-4 in a test that marked the 400th vertical landing of an F-35B during SDD. The flight occurred from NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.

16 May 2013: Three-Ship MADL Connection
F-35As AF-3, AF-6, and AF-7 demonstrated the first three-ship connectivity for the Multi-Functional Advanced Datalink, or MADL, during ground operations at Edwards AFB, California.

20 May 2013: 100 Flights For CF-3
Marine Corps Lt. Col. Patrick Moran was at the controls for Flight 100 of F-35C CF-3.

28 May 2013: First RAF Vertical Landing
Sqn. Ldr. James Schofield, flying F-35B BF-1 on Flight 296, performed the first vertical landing for an RAF pilot at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.

31 May 2013: 200 Flights For CF-2
Lockheed Martin test pilot Dan Canin was at the controls for Flight 200 of F-35C CF-2.

4 June 2013: 300 Flights For BF-1
BAE test pilot Peter Wilson was at the controls for Flight 300 of F-35B BF-1.

5 June 2013: AIM-120 Launch
Air Force Lt. Col. George Schwartz flew F-35A AF-1 for the first powered AIM-120 air-to-air missile launch from an F-35. The missile was released from the internal weapon bay of the F-35. The flight originated from the Air Force Test Center at Edwards AFB, California. The launch occurred over the Point Mugu Sea Test Range off the California coast.

6 June 2013: Test Tow
F-35C CF-3 was used for a heavyweight ground tow test at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division test facility at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. The aircraft was fitted with four 2,000-pound GBU-31 guided bombs on its external pylons. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Tony Wilson was in the cockpit during the test.

14 June 2013: Four- And Five-Ship MADL Connection
AF-6, AF-7, BF-17, and BF-18 were used to complete the first F-35 airborne four-ship MADL connection at Edwards AFB, California. The airborne four-ship also achieved MADL connectivity with AF-3 during its ground test, marking the first five-ship MADL connection.

20 June 2013: F-35C CF-8 First Flight
Lockheed Martin test pilot Bill Gigliotti flew the first flight of F-35C CF-8 (US Navy Bureau Number 168735). Takeoff and landing occurred at NAS Fort Worth JRB, Texas. CF-8 is scheduled to join the test fleet at Edwards AFB, California, later in 2013.

9 July 2013: GBU-31 Milestone Completed
Air Force Maj. Mark Massaro completed the last GBU-31 separation test required as part of the process for releasing 2B software for the F-35A fleet. The flight occurred with AF-1 at Edwards AFB, California.

11 July 2013: First F-35B Night Aerial Refueling
Marine Corps Lt. Col. Patrick Moran flew the first night aerial refueling mission in an F-35B. The mission, from NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, was Flight 265 for BF-2. The tanker was a US Air Force KC-10.

16 July 2013: Supersonic AIM-120 Launch
Air Force Maj. Matt Phillips flew AF-1 to complete an AIM-120 launch at Mach 1.2. This flight was the first supersonic and second overall AIM-120 launch for the F-35 program.

22 July 2013: 200 Flights For BF-4
Navy Lt. Cdr. Michael Wilson was at the controls for Flight 200 of F-35B BF-4.

24 July 2013: AIM-120 Milestone
Marine Corps Maj. Richard Rusnok was at the controls of F-35A AF-1 to complete the third and final AIM-120 launch required as part of the process for releasing 2B software to the F-35A fleet.

24 July 2013: First KC-135 Aerial Refuel For F-35B
The first strategic tanking test with an F-35B and a KC-135 with wingtip hose and drogue refueling capability was carried out on the range near NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. The test was strictly a contact test in which no fuel was transferred. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Patrick Moran was at the controls of F-35 BF-2 on Flight 266. The KC-135 came from McConnell AFB, Kansas.

31 July 2013: 200 Flights For AF-3
Air Force Maj. Matt Phillips was at the controls for Flight 200 of F-35A AF-3.

3 August 2013: 500th Vertical Landing
Navy Capt. Michael Kingen completed the 500th vertical landing of an F-35B when he landed F-35B BF-1 on Flight 315 at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.

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Army, Marine Corps Take Delivery of JLTVs for User Testing

All 66 Joint Light Tactical Vehicle prototypes have been delivered to the military so that 14 months of testing can begin at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., and Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz. Full-scale testing is scheduled to begin next week, according to the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle joint program office.

Each of the three vendors competing in the current research and development program delivered a total of 22 vehicles and six trailers to the two locations, said Col. John Cavedo, the joint project manager. The vendors are Oshkosh Defense, which builds the mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle and others; Lockheed Martin, which produces the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System; and AM General, which builds the Humvee.

While this marks the beginning of full-scale testing, a certain amount of testing in the current phase has already been done, he added, pointing to: more than 400 ballistic and blast tests on armor testing samples; underbody blast testing; and more than 1,000 miles in shakedown testing.

But next week Soldiers from the Army Test and Evaluation Command and personnel from the Defense Department’s Office of Test and Evaluation will put the vehicles through realistic and rigorous field testing during a 14-month-long government performance testing period, Cavedo said.

Once that is completed in fiscal year 2015, the Army and Marine Corps look forward to awarding a production contract to a single vendor for nearly 55,000 vehicles.

The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, or JLTV, fills a big gap in vehicle needs for the Army and the Marine Corps, Cavedo said. In the 20th century, the strategy was to build heavily armored vehicles for front-line service and lighter vehicles such as Humvees for rear-area duty.

But 9/11 changed all that, he said. Battle lines are now blurred, and there is need for a vehicle that can carry a lot of gear and personnel, and capitalize on emerging networks. Such a vehicle must also be heavily armored and have plenty of speed, maneuverability and power.

According to the Army’s Equipment Modernization Strategy, “the Army is moving forward with developing the JLTV to fill the capability gaps in the light vehicle fleet by carefully balancing performance, payload and protection. The JLTV provides the same level of protection as the Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected All-Terrain Vehicle, or M-ATV, better network integration than the [Humvee] and better mobility and transportability than the M-ATV.”

The price tag had to be right too, he added. In fiscal year 2011 dollars, each vehicle coming off the assembly line could not exceed $250,000.

“We’ve insisted on that,” he said. “So the program is on schedule and on budget.”

Cavedo said he sees the testing progressing on schedule. He also thinks members of Congress see the critical need for the vehicle.

Long-term plans include the first Army units receiving JLTVs by fiscal year 2018 and all 49,000 JLTVs delivered to the Army by sometime in the 2030 decade, he said. The Marines will acquire a total of 5,500.

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Army’s manufacturing improvements yield lighter body armor

Soldiers facing rugged terrain and extreme temperatures are continually searching for ways to reduce the weight of their gear.

In a search for solutions to this persistent issue, U.S. Army scientists and engineers have preliminarily demonstrated body armor that is 10 percent lighter through new manufacturing processes.

The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, known as RDECOM, along with its industry partners, has leveraged the Army’s Manufacturing Technology Program to spur the Advanced Body Armor Project.

Shawn Walsh, Ph.D., leads the project at RDECOM’s Army Research Laboratory, or ARL, where his team has reduced the weight of a size medium Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert plate from 5.45 pounds to 4.9 pounds.

While the Army leads the research, the new armor will also benefit the Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy and U.S. Special Operations Command, with similar body-armor requirements. In addition, highly novel technology initially identified by the Army has since been supported by SOCOM, pervasively benefiting lightweight body-armor goals overall.

“The armor the Soldier is wearing right now is the best armor we can possibly give them,” said Walsh, the Agile Manufacturing Technology team leader within the Weapons and Material Research Directorate. “The one concern that we hear about it — can you make it lighter? That’s the number one request. We don’t want to compromise the protection, but want to reduce the weight. It’s a challenging problem, and ARL should take on high-risk programs like that.”

The current weight-reduction technologies in the laboratory were impractical for mass production and fielding, Walsh said. The project focused on developing manufacturing methods that resolve these issues.

To accomplish this weight reduction, researchers pushed advances in composites, ceramics and component integration. All the materials must work in tandem to provide the necessary performance characteristics — stopping the bullet, managing the bullet’s momentum, and preventing trauma to the wearer.

Project Manager Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment, or PM SPIE, had requested lighter body armor several times but did not receive a satisfactory response from industry, Walsh said.

“That’s an indicator that there’s a technology gap,” Walsh said. “We realized there is something that the [project manager] wants for the Soldier, but can’t get from industry. Maybe it’s inherently not achievable, or maybe people haven’t tried an innovative approach. We assumed the latter. In our particular case, we used processing technology as a method for achieving these weight reductions.”

ARL turned to the ManTech program and the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Defense-Wide Manufacturing Science and Technology, or DMS&T, programs for this challenge that was “beyond the normal risk of industry.” The ManTech program provides funding for the Army’s research and engineering organizations to partner with the defense industrial base to overcome manufacturing obstacles and deliver new capabilities into Soldiers’ hands.

“The ManTech and DMS&T programs give us a unique opportunity,” Walsh said. “We knew there were some untapped potential technologies, and manufacturing would be the integration step. ManTech offers industry a catalyst. This program allowed them to exercise some of their novel technologies they want to try. It’s an incentive to take a little risk.”

Because the Army does not manufacture equipment, it must ensure there are companies capable of meeting production demands, Walsh said. Researchers need a plan to transition novel technologies from the laboratory bench, to a manufacturer’s shop floor, and then to Soldiers in the field.

“I treat industry as part of a team,” he said. “The power of ManTech is that we can prove that the thing we want to buy can be made. As simple as it sounds, that’s very critical. It costs a lot of money to put a new specification out there, only to be disappointed and find out that no one can make it.”

Walsh emphasized that ARL partnered with PM SPIE; RDECOM’s Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center; and the six commercial manufacturers for these breakthroughs.

ARL initially worked with PM SPIE to demonstrate a solution was feasible, then to confirm technology transition paths. Walsh aims to insert the body-armor improvements into PM SPIE’s Soldier Protection System initiative.

The strategy of the Advanced Body Armor Project has been to focus on transitioning the improved processes directly to the industrial base. This will ensure the body-armor companies are able to respond to requests for information and proposals based on manufacturing advances accomplished through ManTech.

“We’ve created an environment for innovation and incubated some of these very promising technologies,” Walsh said. “They can take their own intellectual property and integrate it with ours to get the best solution. We’ve maximized technology transfer for each dollar we invested.

“That was our strategy — to co-develop the technology with industry,Walsh continued. “It’s a direct transfer. They’re directly exercising our ManTech technologies in preparation for body-armor weight reduction goals like those defined in the Soldier Protection System.”

RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army’s premier provider of materiel readiness — technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment — to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC delivers it.

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Czechs to extend Swedish Gripen fighter jet lease

By on Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Prague expects to renew its lease on 14 Swedish fighter jets beyond 2015, outgoing Czech prime minister Jiri Rusnok said Monday.

“The negotiations are at an advanced stage. The ball is actually in our court. The Swedes are awaiting our final answer to their recent offer,” he told reporters.

The new contract with Stockholm over the supersonic JAS-39 Gripen combat jets could be inked at the end of the year or in early 2014 by the new government, he added.

Snap elections are scheduled for late October.

The Czech army paid nearly 20 billion koruna (780 million euros, $1 billion) to lease the Gripens for a decade starting 2005.

The aircraft include 12 one-seater JAS-39 Cs and two two-seater training JAS-39 Ds.

In July of last year, former Czech prime minister Petr Necas said Stockholm was being “uncooperative” regarding the renewal.

According to press reports, the Swedes had been refusing to lower the lease price.

Necas stepped down in June amid a spy and bribery scandal. The president appointed a new technocratic government led by Rusnok, but that cabinet lost a confidence vote this month.

“The next government will make the final decision on the Gripens, but this (Rusnok) cabinet will do its utmost to facilitate it,” Defence Minister Vlastimil Picek said Monday.

He added that the new contract will be a better deal for the Czech Republic and valid for “a period longer than 10 years”.

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Maoist rebels kill four troops in India landmine blast

By on Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Maoist rebels killed four paramilitary troops and injured two others by setting off a landmine on a highway in eastern India on Tuesday, police officials said.

The powerful blast sent the soldiers’ vehicle flying through the air, with photographs showing the upturned, mangled van lying in a crater in Orissa state’s Koraput district, located 366 kilometres (228 miles) from the capital Bhubaneswar.

“The blast killed Four Border Security Force personnel and grievously injured two others”, Prakash Mishra, the state’s director general of police, told AFP.

The incident happened Tuesday morning, while the troops were driving to a railway station to catch trains taking them home for vacation, a police source told AFP.

Orissa is part of a cluster of impoverished, densely forested states in eastern and central India that are home to a Maoist revolutionary movement, described by the government as the country’s most serious internal security threat.

A group of more than 50 Maoist guerrillas ambushed a police patrol in the bordering state of Jharkhand last month, killing the district police chief and three other officers.

In May, the rebels killed 24 people including local leaders of the country’s ruling Congress party during an ambush in the neighbouring state of Chhattisgarh.

The revolutionaries have waged a decades-long battle across central and eastern India to overthrow local and national authorities.

They say they are fighting for the rights of the poor and landless farmers in India.

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China Stresses Goal of Stronger Military

By on Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China on Sunday called for better implementation of the country’s ambition for a strong military, according to a circular from the PLA’s General Political Department.

The circular, which was approved by Central Military Commission (CMC) President Xi Jinping, urged enhanced construction of the political environment within the military via mobilizing officers and soldiers’ enthusiasm for building a strong military.

China’s ambition for a strong military works as a guideline for the country’s defense and military modernization, the circular said, adding that troops should strictly follow the leadership of the Communist Party of China during the process.

The circular further noted that the PLA should continue to increase combat capacities as the fundamental and only standard, and focus the attention of personnel on combat abilities and readiness.

It also asked military officers and soldiers at all levels to strengthen research on major theoretical and practical problems and carefully fix new situations and problems in military political construction.

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Mental Health Problems Surge in the Military: CRS

By on Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Mental health problems in the military are on the rise and pose a growing challenge to active duty forces, the Congressional Research Service said in a major new report on the subject.

“Between 2001 and 2011, the rate of mental health diagnoses among active duty service-members increased approximately 65%. A total of 936,283 service-members, or former service-members during their period of service, have been diagnosed with at least one mental disorder over this time period. Nearly 49% of these service-members were diagnosed with more than one mental disorder,” the CRS report said. “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Other Mental Health Problems in the Military: Oversight Issues for Congress.”)

“Overall, mental health disorders have significant impacts on servicemember health care utilization, disability, and attrition from service. In 2011, mental disorders accounted for more hospitalizations of servicemembers than any other illness and more outpatient care than all illnesses except musculoskeletal injuries and routine medical care.”

The CRS cautioned that the data should be kept in perspective, considering the prevalence of mental health concerns among the civilian population. “Research suggests that an estimated 26.2% of Americans ages 18 and older experience a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year.” See Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Other Mental Health Problems in the Military: Oversight Issues for Congress, August 8, 2013.

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