Kendall: F-35 rollout marks U.S. – Australia partnership milestone
The official rollout of the first two F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force is a milestone in the U.S.-Australia partnership, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics said July 24.
Frank Kendall spoke during a ceremony held on the flightline at the Lockheed Martin aviation facility in Fort Worth, Texas.
The two F-35A aircraft, known as AU-1 and AU-2, are scheduled for delivery to the Australian air force later this year. They will be based at Luke Air Force Base and used for Australian and partner-country pilot training beginning next year.
The first F-35s to operate in Australia are expected by 2017.
The F-35 Lightning II program consists of a series of single-seat, single-engine, multirole fighters designed with stealth capability to perform ground attack, reconnaissance and air defense missions.
The three variants of the F-35 include the F-35A, a conventional takeoff and landing variant; the F-35B, a short take-off and vertical-landing variant; and the F-35C, a carrier-based variant.
Joining Kendall as members of the official party were Australian Finance Minister and Senator Matthias Cormann, Air Marshal Geoff Brown, chief of the Royal Australian air force, and Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson.
Kendall told an audience of about 300 that it takes a community to accomplish something as significant as the F-35.
Kendall said he didn’t think it would work, because the communities would never agree on what to do, or stay together on the agreement long enough to develop three such aircraft.
The program’s eight partner nations and two foreign military sales countries already have announced plans to procure nearly 700 F-35s. The program of record outlines the acquisition of more than 3,000 aircraft, defense officials said.
Many partners have ordered their first aircraft, and pilots and maintainers from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands have taken delivery of their first F-35 at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, where they’re training with U.S. counterparts.
The communities supporting the F-35 have stayed together because of common values and shared interests, Kendall said, and because they are committed to having next-generation capability and a multirole fighter that all partners need and will be able to depend on for decades.
In his remarks, Kendall explored the nature of the F-35, which has overcome many issues since its first flight in 2006, by discussing the 1981 nonfiction “The Soul of a New Machine” by author Tracy Kidder.
The Pulitzer Prize and American Book Award-winning story is an account of the efforts of a team of researchers at now-defunct Data General, one of the first late-1960s microcomputer firms, to create a new 32-bit superminicomputer.
Telling the story, Kendall explained the point in the book he considers relevant today.
The designer realized that no single person could possibly grasp all the complexity involved in the design they were creating, he added, and the designer had to trust many others to design their parts successfully and bring the machine together.
During one of Kendall’s first office calls several years ago with then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the undersecretary recalled Panetta asking, “Frank, why can’t we make more things like the mine resistant, ambush-protected vehicle? Why is the F-35 taking so long and costing so much?”
The undersecretary listed several of the factors that make the F-35 so complex: “Millions of lines of code, an incredibly integrated design that brings together stealth, a number of characteristics, very advanced sensors, advanced radars, advanced (infrared) sensors, incredibly capable electronic warfare capability, integration of weapons and integration across the force of multiple aircraft and multiple sensors to work together as a team.”
All of that integrated technology is unprecedented, he said. “You’re talking about something that no one has ever done before, which will put us all a decade or more ahead of anybody else out there. And (it will) keep us ahead for some time to come as we continue to upgrade the F-35.”
Such complexity has led to the cost and the time it has taken to design and build the F-35, Kendall said, but also to the capability it represents.
As he ended his remarks, Kendall asked for a round of applause for the engineers and production workers who made the F-35 possible.
Courtesy of DOD News
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