I wouldn't dare call you Kelly. For the presumption, you might knock me out like you did that bully in elementary school, which is how you, the son of a Swedish immigrant, earned an Irish brawler's nickname like Kelly anyway.
Today's a pretty big day for you. It would have been your 100th birthday, although I'm sure it's just as well you're not around to see it. You wouldn't have liked the fuss. You're the guy who, as a lowly tooling engineer, brashly informed Lockheed's chief engineer that his design for the Model 10 Electra was hopelessly unstable. Then, you figured out a relatively simple solution. You wouldn't have expected anyone to throw a parade for you even then for saving the company, although the chief engineer did promote you from the tooling shop to aircraft design for doing him the favor.
Thankfully, people still remember you for all the right reasons, even if they fail to always heed your example. After all, you gave us not only the P-38, P-80, T-33, F-104, U-2, Oxcart and SR-71. (Don't get me wrong; that was certainly enough of a legacy for anyone.) But what you really gave us was a template. Some people might quibble with one or two of your 14 rules, but no one questions the spirit of your uncompromising devotion to smart innovation.
A few weeks ago I was at the Singapore Air Show. Would you believe your name came up even there? It was during Lockheed's press conference about the F-35. Steve O'Bryan, one of the F-35's globe-trotting salesmen, told us: "Kelly Johnson would have been proud of what we've done." O'Bryan was talking about the F-35 program. In response, an Aviation Week stringer, Rob Hewson, wrote the following day (see page 6):
"Clarence 'Kelly' Johnson would surely not recognize the F-35 story so far with its $100 billion overspend and its failure to deliver anything as planned. His motto of "Be quick, Be quiet, and Be on time." would equally not be recognized by the JSF program which has so far avoided compliance with pretty much all of Johnson's famous 14 rules of management."
Maybe that is what you think about F-35, but I'm not going to put any words in your mouth.
I remember you wrote in your autobiography about the time when the landing gear shaft for Lockheed's new airliner sheered. It was a relatively simple fix, but you lost three weeks of pay. Back then, if Lockheed couldn't deliver airplanes because of a problem, nobody got paid until it was fixed.
Well, I thought about that when the Pentagon announced earlier this month that it would withhold $614 million from Lockheed. The Pentagon is keeping the funds for Lockheed's "incentive fees" until the F-35 program gets back on track.
Whatever you think about the F-35, I bet that is something that makes you proud.
The law of unintended consequences today struck the General Electric/Rolls-Royce F136 fighter engine team, which produces the controversial alternate engine for the F-35 fighter.
The company emailed reporters a copy of the House Armed Services Committee's fact sheet describing details of Department of Defense report on the alternate engine.
The fact sheet was intended to be supportive, reflecting HASC Chairman Representative Ike Skelton's outspoken support for the F136.
However, a paragraph buried at the bottom of page 2 of the document also revealed a potential bombshell facing F136 affordability and availability. I excerpt the passage below:
"DOD states that the alternate engine program would require $2.5 billion over the next five years and $2.9 billion over six years. DOD assumptions slip the development and competitive procurement of the F136 by three years which adds cost to the program."
It certainly does. GE/Rolls have estimated F136 development will cost $1.3 billion over the next five years, which includes $400 million for production tooling. That's slightly more than half the value of DOD's current cost estimates, according to Skelton's fact sheet.
The industry team's estimate came before Ashton Carter, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, decided to restructure the overall program, potentially slashing production by about 100 aircraft over the next five years. If the DOD buys fewer F-35s and more slowly, the number of engines required is also likely to decline.
The Lockheed Martin short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing test fleet continues to progress towards the first vertical landing. The F-35B's first flight test aircraft -- BF-1 -- completed a short landing at Patuxent River Naval Air Base, Md. Pratt & Whitney, the engine supplier, posted the video online late this evening.
NASA used the Boeing KC-135 in the early 1980s to pioneer the design of the winglets that are now ubiquitous on commercial airliners and business jets.
Now, in a full-circle-Oprah moment, winglet technology may be coming back to the KC-135, only this time to benefit the refueling fleet itself.
Upon the request of the Air Force Research Laboratory and Air Mobility Command, the Air Force Academy published a study last month with new findings showing that adding winglets could reduce KC-135R fuel burn by 8%. They may have saved themselves some trouble by simply referring to NASA's original study, which predicted a 7% benefit.
The US Air Force spends $1 billion a year to pay for the gas consumed by KC-135s and KC-10s, according to this Rand web site. An 8% fuel savings extrapolates to $80 million a year. But the question remains how to pay for it. There is apparently some level of Congressional interest in the project, as Congress ordered the USAF to commission Rand's analysts to publish another study about KC-135R winglets.
While we're all waiting for Northrop Grumman to decide whether it wants to play, let's consider what could happen if they don't submit a bid for the $35 billion tanker contract.
In the absence of a Northrop-led proposal, what would stop EADS North America from submitting its own bid for the KC-X deal?
I can think of reasons why they would. If price is such a factor in the competition, cutting out the US flag bearer and bringing systems integration in-house might save some money. EADS NA has demonstrated it can win an aircraft contract from the US military. The 100th UH-72 Lakota for the US Army rolls off the assembly line in Mississippi next week. The company believes its solid performance on LUH allows it to compete on fair terms with American-owned companies for other Pentagon contracts.
On the other hand, there's no question EADS' chances of victory are smaller without Northrop's help. Northrop has powerful friends on Capitol Hill and a long relationship with the customer. Moreover, as long as fuel offload requirements for the next tanker are modeled on the KC-135R, the KC-45 is going to be disadvantaged against a smaller aircraft like the Boeing 767. And let's be honest: The UH-72, despite its success, is not a widebody tanker; it's a civilian airspace-only light utility helicopter.
EADS NA is not ready yet to even acknowledge whether their teaming
agreement with Northrop would preclude a standalone bid, as I asked
them earlier today. EADS' spokesman replied: "EADS North America is
committed, under the team leadership of Northrop Grumman, to provide
the most capable tanker to the US
5:17: Northrop Grumman has released a short statement:
"Northrop Grumman acknowledges that today it has received the final Request for Proposals for the U.S. Air Force KC-X Tanker Modernization Program.
"Northrop Grumman will analyze the RFP and defer further public comments until its review of the document has been completed."
5:10: Boeing has released this statement:
"Boeing has begun the process of closely studying the details of the KC-X Tanker final RFP. Today's release of the final RFP is an important milestone for our Air Force customer. Not only does it mean that the KC-X competition can proceed, it also is a strong signal that America is moving forward on replacing its air refueling capability - a critical enabler for projecting power and protecting this nation." "We've said consistently that it is up to the Air Force to determine the KC-X requirements for a new generation of tankers. It's our responsibility to respond to those requirements. While we appreciated the open dialogue with the Air Force throughout this process, we are disappointed that the RFP does not address some of our key concerns, including Airbus' unfair competitive advantage derived from subsidies from its sponsor European governments - subsidies that the World Trade Organization has found to be illegal and harmful to U.S. workers and industry - and how fuel and military-construction costs over the life of the tankers will be factored into consideration of the competing bids. We will review the RFP in its entirety and in detail before offering further assessment."
5:08: Press conference has concluded. The Pentagon has legal options it can pursue if Northrop decides not to bid, says Bill Lynn, undersecretary of defense. He declined to elaborate on what those options are. It raises an interesting question: Can DOD force a private company to submit a bid for a contract in the name of national security? I don't know the answer, but I'm checking. [UPDATE: Quick answer from Lynn's spokesperson: No.] Other important notes:
First deliveries of production aircraft will not occur until 2018
Four aircraft are involved in the system development and demonstration phase, plus 179 aircraft in 13 lots of production
3:46: It's almost time to tune into press conference with Lynn, Carter and Donley at the Pentagon.
3:04: Senator Pat Roberts, of Kansas, releases video endorsing final RFP, and says: "Some European airplane company isn't very happy. Tough for them. Good for us." Meanwhile, Senator Richard Shelby, of Alabama, says the same document "discredits the integrity of the entire process."
2:43: How do the competing tankers compare to the USAF's fuel offload requirement in the draft RFP?
Using Boeing and Northrop's marketing material, I've compiled the fuel offload for all three eligible platforms. Keep in mind, bonus points are awarded only if evaluated price of the bids come within 1% of each other. As you can see below, if Boeing proposes the KC-767, Northrop is at a disadvantage unless it can match or beat Boeing's price. All data is based on 10,000ft takeoff roll and 1,000nm mission radius.
2:06: I interviewed Jean Chamberlin, Boeing's new KC-7A7 program manager, in Orlando last week. For what it's worth, Chamberlin predicted a very tight race with Northrop. "It will be a tough competition, and I do see it as neck and neck," she told me. So tough, in fact, that Boeing is re-evaluating how much information it can reveal before contract award. "This is a really tough competition," she says. "I'm going to have a hard time thinking about how much I'll disclose now."
1:51: Bloomberg/Business Week has strongest legislative reaction so far. "I don't think it looks promising for Northrop" -- Representative Mike Rogers, Alabama
1:42: Associated Press takes the, er, optimistic angle on the final RFP story.
1:26: John Bennett at Defense News has already posted an excellent overview of the current situation. Bennett, I believe, also is the first to specify the only mandatory requirement (out of 373) dropped in the final RFP: an all-weather precision landing system based on microwave. I suppose tanker pilots will have to make-do with ILS approaches.
1:10: Lynn's presentation says the highest-priced bidder can still win the competition. The question remains whether that will satisfy the Northrop Grumman/EADS North America team. Northrop is also concerned that the requirements tilt the US Air Force's selection towards a smaller aircraft. The company has even opined the existing KC-135R would beat both the 767 and A330 under the evaluation criteria proposed in the draft RFP released on September 25. We now know that the final RFP contains only minor changes to the requirements, so Northrop's biggest concern may still remain.
12:56: Amy Butler at the Ares blog may have the answer about the important pricing change (see 12:41 entry). She reports the Pentagon has added an incentive fee to the fixed-price structure, and offered to split the bill for any cost overruns 60/40 with the contractor.
12:49: I asked Richard Aboulafia, aerospace analyst and executive vice president at the Teal Group, two questions this morning by email. Here's the exchange - note Aboulafia's artful dodge of my attempt to paint him into an absolute corner:
Question: Do you think Northrop Grumman will submit a bid? (yes or no)
Answer: Probably not, unless the RfP changes in a meaningful way, which it probably won't.
Do you think the US Air Force will eventually operate A330 tankers, regardless of who wins KC-X contract? (yes or no)
Answer: Probably not, but there's a decent chance they'll operate some kind of Airbus eventually.
12:41: Bill Lynn's brief says there is "an important change
to the contract pricing strategy" that would be described by Ashton
Carter, undersecretary of acquistion, technology and logistics. But
there's no mention of Carter's comments in the brief posted on DODBuzz.
So we'll have to wait a bit longer to know this critical piece of
information. Northrop Grumman says one of its biggest concerns with the
draft RFP is that it could lead to a "race to the bottom" on price, as
opposed to rewarding more performance.
12:30pm: Hi folks. Big day, of course. If you want to read the brief DOD Undersecretary Bill Lynn gave Congress this morning, download it at DODBuzz.com. I'll be live-blogging updates for the rest of the afternoon, including the 4pm press conference at the Pentagon, which you can watch at the Pentagon Channel.
Just when you might think the "split buy" idea for KC-X is dead and buried, it seems to be back today.
A self-described non-partisan coalition called American Jobs Now! has launched a well-funded push on Capitol Hill called "Build Them Both". This is not a fly-by-night lobby group. Carrie Giddens, formerly communications director for the Iowa Democratic Party during the 2008 presidential election, is the newly-hired organizer. The group also published full-page advertisements in Politico (which published today) and tomorrow in The Hill newspaper. The ad says a split buy "will speed the delivery", "retire an outdated fleet" and "will save taxpayers" money. Above all, the split buy will create "100,000 new US jobs".
Let's put our questions about those facts aside, just for the moment. (Not to get nit-picky, but surely a single project to build, at most, 25-30 aircraft a year will not consume one-seventh of the US aerospace workforce. Besides - wink, wink - those 100,000 aerospace workers are already busy building the last 40 F-22s.)
The big question, of course, is which side is this group on? The web site is no help. It shows images of both the KC-767 and KC-45. The site's domain is registered to Domains by Proxy, an anonymous service.
According to Giddens, the answer is neither. She told me today the group has reached out to Northrop, Boeing and their suppliers for support and funding, but have not yet received any. They group chose to focus on the tanker contract, she says, because it's the quickest way to create jobs in the US economy. "The goal really is jobs," she says. "Let's end the decade-long political spat."
That raises the question: Which lawmakers are on their team? The most outspoken advocate for a split buy is dead. But even the late Representative John Murtha appeared to have given up on the idea last year. At the moment, no lawmaker is actively supporting the group's efforts, Giddens says.
So it's apparently a well-funded group with no political or industrial champions, launching a well-timed lobbying push with purely economic motivations? If you believe that, I've got 100 KC-767As to lease you.
Boeing wins the award for 'surprise product unveiling' at this year's Air Warfare Symposium. I give you the P-8 airborne ground surveillance (AGS) variant, which Boeing is pitching to replace the E-8C JSTARS. (To see what Northrop Grumman has to say about that, read my full story.)
The P-8 AGS mural above includes the first image I've seen depicting Raytheon's next generation advanced airborne sensor (AAS), a moving target indicator previously proposed for the now-canceled EPX program. The P-8 also includes an array of weapons, including bombs in the weapons bay, and a Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) and Scan Eagle Compressed Carriage on the wings. The configuration also includes an electro-optical/infrared turret for organic target identification, and two 180kVA generators on the engines to power the radar.
Gen Norton Schwartz took another shot at the defense industry at the AFA Air Warfare Symposium today, albeit in veiled language. Schwartz's oblique insult seemed to catch the audience off-guard, but a smattering of applause broke out once they realized the chief's point. [See first 23 seconds of clip below.]
It's certainly not the first time I've heard Schwartz take a bat to the defense executives he depends on to deliver his most advanced weapons. In his first public appearance as chief of staff in September 2008, Schwartz did not miss an opportunity to call out retired military officers who had taken sides -- usually for a fee, naturally -- on behalf of KC-X competitors [see page 11].
Every reporter who shows up to Schwartz's press conferences usually gets to ask the chief at least one question. I decided to spend mine to ask Schwartz to explain his palpable disappointment with the air force's weapons suppliers. After acknowledging the USAF's own guilt for acquisition blunders, Schwartz delivered a surprisingly stern warning for the CEOs of defense companies.
Lockheed Martin briefed reporters yesterday about the targeting system for the F-35 and dropped somehow two bombshells about the General Atomic Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) Avenger.
The Avenger apparently has a customer, and that customer wants "Global Hawk-like" or "U-2-like" sensors for the high altitude surveillance mission, Lockheed says. Unfortunately for Lockheed, that also means that plans to install the F-35's electro-optical targeting system (EOTS) on the Avenger are on hold.
GA-ASI declined to comment about Lockheed's statements.
But now that Lockheed's statements are out there, we can at least talk about the potential implications.
First, who could this customer be? GA-ASI has sold the Predator/Warrior/Reaper family to a wide range of US military services, intelligence groups, civilian agencies and foreign militaries. I'm assuming Lockheed did not brief reporters about classified information, so that probably rules out the CIA or DIA as the potential buyer.
Second, what does the "high-altitude" part means? I've perhaps incorrectly thought of the Avenger as a direct replacement for the medium-altitude Predator/Reaper family, but what if the stealthy, jet-powered UAV is really meant to challenge the RQ-4, especially on the export market? GA-ASI has said that the Avenger is designed to operate at up to 60,000ft. Could certain foreign militaries -- Australia? Singapore? Japan? -- desire an alternative to the Global Hawk?
The United Arab Emirates has dropped a bombshell on France's Dassault, according to this UPI story today. Before it agrees to buy 60 Rafale fighters, the UAE wants Dassault to integrate Boeing's standoff land attack missile-expanded response (SLAM-ER), instead of the MBDA AM-39 Exocet. Sacre bleu! And so continues the most tortuous contract negotiations since Boeing offered to lease 100 767s to the US Air Force.
Meanwhile, back in Paris, the Armee de l'Air leaks to French newsweekly Air & Cosmos, providing a few more tidbits about what happened between the Raptor and the Rafale at the Al Dhafra exercise late last year. According to Air & Cosmos' sources, the USAF requested only two training sorties between the F-22 and the Rafale of three engagements each, with one-on-one combat within visual range. [In other words, the USAF says, "If you don't turn on your Spectra system, we won't turn on our ALR-94."]
In those six engagements, the F-22 scored one gun kill, but the other five dogfights ended in a draw, Air & Cosmos says. Another sources tells the magazine the F-22 scored two gun kills, with four nulls.
Lockheed Martin still disagrees that the F-35 program will face any new delays, but the jet's biggest customer now adamantly disagrees.
If you believe Lockheed, adding a 14th aircraft -- an F-35C carrier-based variant -- to the flight test program, as proposed in the Fiscal 2011 budget request, allows the program to deliver the first operational squadron of F-35Bs to the US Marine Corps on time before October 1, 2012.
According to the article, Lynn says the program was headed for a 30-month delay before the latest intervention, which resulted in the firing of the government program manager, four fewer production jets and more than $600 million in withheld incentive fee payments to Lockheed. As the flight test program continues to slip behind schedule, the government is proposing to Congress to add an extra developmental aircraft.
The changes bought back 18 months of lost schedule, so now there is only a 12-month delay projected, Lynn tells the Australian press.
Of course, saying the F-35 program faces a 12-month delay is vague enough to be nearly meaningless. Does that mean an across-the-board delay for all three variants, or only one or two of the three? Does it mean a delay for the initial operational capability (IOC) milestones or the completion of the development phase?
Lynn concludes, of course, by saying the program is now on the right track, with a funding and schedule profile that matches reality. I recall hearing the same argument in 2004 when Lockheed revealed a weight problem for the F-35B that cost a two-year delay and doubled the price of the development phase to more than $40 billion.
The Missile Defense Agency has spent 16 years and $6 billion to reach this moment: the Airborne Laser Test Bed (ALTB) has shot down a short-range ballistic target, demonstrating the lethal potential of 1MW-class chemical laser in-flight for the first time. [Read my full article here.]
Despite the event's significance, the MDA and the Boeing-led industry team made almost no build-up to the first shootdown. There has been no celebratory press conference, and so far neither program managers nor executives are being made available for interviews. The whole thing would still be a secret except for a couple of press releases and a few blob-like photos on the MDA's web site.
Considering the time, money and marketing resources that has sustained the Airborne Laser program since its beginning in 1994, the moment of its triumph is downright anti-climatic. There is perhaps no better reflection of the program's current status, which is a sort of acquisition purgatory. It's no longer a development program, but since last year the ABL is a "testbed", albeit with unclear objectives and long-term funding.
The Royal Australian Air Force has grounded the F-111 fleet after an engine fire prompted an emergency landing last Thursday at the Singapore Airshow. The crew reported the fire started while the F-111 performed its famous dump-and-burn trick.
Although our Air Transport editor Max Kingsley-Jones, who once vacationed on a spot that later became an F-111 crash site, had interviewed the F-111 crew two days before, there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that a charred, Flightglobal-branded microphone was found in the exhaust nozzle after the fire.
In any event, this is a great excuse to replay our F-111 video interview from the Singapore Airshow. Thanks to Alert 5 for the tip.
Since the moment on November 4, 2002, when a Hellfire-armed MQ-1 Predator whacked a car full of terrorists in Yemen, the idea was planted. It wouldn't be long before armed, remotely piloted aircraft would be doing more than striking high value targets. They would be hovering somewhere over a gunfight, backing up the good guys with a laser-guided missile -- in lieu of the A-10's 30mm cannon. It's actually already happening today, with the handful of MQ-9 Reapers sometimes being in the right place at the right time.
But the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is now seeking proposals for the unmanned component of a next generation close air support system. (Read my full article here.) It could be the US Air Force's envisioned MQ-X aircraft, which will eventually replace the Reaper. Or, according to DARPA's open-minded program managers, it could even be an unmanned version of the A-10 itself (MQA-10 anyone?).
Let no one fear, however, for the A-10's longevity. The USAF doesn't plan to replace the A-10 until at least 2027, and perhaps not even then. If you download this presentation (9054ThursdayTrack4Sorensen.pdf), and reference slide 32, you'll see that there are still plans to insert new technologies into the manned A-10, whether it gets an unmanned partner or not.
The US Air Force presolicitation notice for KC-X issued yesterday does nothing to address the issues behind the Northrop Grumman/EADS team's threats to withdraw from round 3 of the competition. (Read my full article about the notice.)
We'll find out for sure in on February 24. The presolicitation notice says only that the final request for proposals will be released no earlier than February 23, but Boeing's tanker blog today says the company plans to begin the RFP response process in 15 days.
Here's Northrop's full statement in response to the presolicitation notice:
During the previous competition, the tanker final RFP was structured so that both competitors were convinced they could compete and win the contract.
Northrop Grumman feels that the draft RFP, as structured, fails the test of true competition and, without a responsive set of changes, is not an RFP to which Northrop Grumman can respond.
Northrop Grumman looks forward to the receipt of the new final RFP in the coming weeks and hopes the RFP will be structured so that, again, it allows both competitors to believe they can compete fairly and win.
After I pestered Lockheed Martin Vice President Steve O'Bryan over F-35A numbers at yesterday's press conference, the company asked their analysts in Fort Worth to provide a complete explanation.
As you may recall, I asked O'Bryan how Lockheed could continue to say that the US Air Force will order 1,763 jets after the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) slashed the number of theater strike wings to 10 or 11. Assuming a standard 72-aircraft wing, that adds up to only 720 to 792 combat-coded jets, far below Lockheed's official number for the F-35.
I've received an email from Lockheed's analysts this morning, which I excerpt below.
I assume all the strike wings are F-35. This would mean
replacement of all F-16s, A-10s and F-15Es with F-35. As of now, it is
reasonable to assume all the A-10s and F-15Es would reach their life during the
USAF buy of F-35s (~ 2035) with no other tactical strike platform to replace
their full capability other than F-35.
For air superiority, I'm assuming 2 wings of F-22s and the
remaining 4 are F-35s. (In reality, there are only 1 2/3 wing equivalents
This leads to 14-15 wings of F-35s. The table below uses
historic USAF bottoms-up approach for force structure requirements. As you can
see, with 15 wings, the requirement is over 1,700 F-35s. This is certainly in
the noise of 1,763 when we are talking about aircraft procured 25 years from
Lockheed Martin today bravely faced a packed briefing room fully of reporters inside their chalet at the Singapore Airshow. I will give Lockheed VP Steve O'Bryan credit for taking our onslaught of skepticism. It would have been easier to cancel the event given the F-35 program's leadership and development turmoil that started on Monday. There is no other way to say it: A gap is growing between the facts we know and the statements we hear from Lockheed's representatives. The video above provides a glimpse of the exasperation -- presumably felt on both sides -- as the press conference went along.
I write about the KC-X tanker competition, so I naturally think that building a tanker is a complex undertaking requiring at least one decade to sign a contract, and at least two major acquisition scandals followed by a political stalemate and a transatlantic trade war.
But it's refreshing to remember that there are still some parts of the world where green-lighting a new tanker program is a relatively straightforward affair.
Inside the exhibit hall at the Singapore Airshow, Israel Aerospace Industries' Bedek group is showing off their new concept for a multimission tanker transport based on used 767-200s. Why buy a used tanker when you could buy one off Boeing's production line? An IAI executive replies: "Buying a new one we believe is a waste of money."
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Last March, Boeing unveiled the V-tailed F-15 Silent Eagle. The idea was to offer a "stealthy" F-15 that could be used in a first-day-of-war scenario, penetrating protected airspace undetected. The idea also involves adding an internal weapons bay by modifying the F-15's conformal fuel tank, adding radar absorbent materials to the forward fuselage and cockpit bubble, and integrating a digital electronic warfare suite. But the V-tailed F-15 design was the most visible alteration of the nearly 40-year-old fighter design.
Alas, Mark Bass, Boeing's F-15 vice president, told me today the V-tail did not make the cut for the flight test program. The V-tail also won't be offered initially to South Korea, the F-15SE's first potential buyer, he says. Of course, he adds, the V-tail could come back -- <cough> I'm looking at you -- if a customer -- <cough-cough> Air Combat Command -- wants it. Ahem.
Brig Gen David "Duncan" Heinz has lost his job at the F-35 program, a position he inherited only about a year ago from Maj Gen Charles Davis, who is now the commanding officer at the Air Armament Center. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is holding Heinz accountable mostly for the results of decisions made under Davis' watch, but maybe that's the way it goes. Although, to be fair, Heinz was Davis' deputy, so he's also at least partly responsible for the problems the F-35 program now faces. But it was also clear that Heinz adopted a different approach than his predecessor. Davis demanded that Lockheed meet first flight targets, even if the jets were not ready to enter the flight test program. Heinz changed the philosophy, allowing Lockheed to deliver the largely ceremonial first flight late if it meant the program got a more complete jet.
The question that now will be surely asked is whether Lockheed could -- or should -- make a similar leadership change. After all, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that he will withhold $614 million in performance fees from the company. In an interview this morning at the Singapore Airshow, I asked George Standridge if Lockheed could make a leadership change. Standridge, a Lockheed vice president for business development, avoided making a direct reply, but acknowledged that Lockheed accepts the DOD will hold the company accountable for its performance.
SINGAPORE -- The Changi exhibition centre is slow today, but filling up rapidly. The Singapore Airshow 2010 officially opens here tomorrow. We'll see a couple of interesting things here this week. The F-111 could make perhaps its final appearance outside Australia, which is retiring the venerable fighter-bomber later this year. Meanwhile, the US Air Force has allowed the A-10 to come out and play for the first time at an Asian air show.
Armed with a media pass and a Sony Webbie HD camera, I walked the static line and exhibit halls this morning looking for anything new or interesting. I found a few interesting things, which are profiled in the video above. In order of appearance after my narrated clip, you'll see:
Singapore's G550 conformal airborne early warning (CAEW), making its first public appearance [read full story],
Lockheed Martin's F-35 mock-up in Singapore colors,
Boeing F-15SG simulator,
CATIC's line-up of Chinese fighters and UAVs, including (right to left) FC-1, L-15, JF-17, Y-8 and ASN-206,
IAI's mock-up for a new Boeing 767 multi-role tanker transport,
IAI's Bird Eye 650 UAV, the first time I've seen this aircraft.