Lockheed Martin has no plans to change the way it builds the Joint Strike Fighter if it is directed to bring Boeing on-board for system development and demonstration (SDD). Says Lockheed Martin JSF general manager Tom Burbage: "Right now we break the aircraft in the right places for production, and not because of workshare. We are not going to change the way the aircraft is broken."

The aircraft is divided into three major subassemblies shared between the partners - BAE Systems with the aft fuselage, Northrop Grumman the mid fuselage and wingbox, and Lockheed Martin the forward fuselage and cockpit, edges and final assembly. "The high value is in the fully integrated assemblies," Burbage says.

Plans call for all JSFs in all three variants to be assembled and flight tested at Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth, Texas, fighter factory. "But we can put a second assembly line anywhere," says Burbage.

It is more likely Boeing will be brought on as a fully integrated member of the Lockheed Martin team. "If directed, we can find a way to bring Boeing on in a highly integrated and collaborative way," says Burbage.

"We are very sensitive to the term 'noble' work - it is not a case of picking a part and throwing it to Boeing. The work has got to be meaningful."

The impact of Lockheed Martin's win on Boeing's partners will be eased by the teaming overlap. In some cases different divisions of the same company were present in both camps, such as Rolls-Royce Allison which will supply the Lockheed Martin STOVL aircraft's lift fan and Rolls-Royce in the UK, which would have supplied the vertical lift system to Boeing. Other companies, like ejection seat producer Martin Baker, were supplying virtually the same system for both designs.

In the months leading up to the decision, Lockheed Martin increasingly emphasised two aspects of its bid: the close external resemblance of the X-35 to the PWSC design (see panel far right); and that "the engine is in the right place".

The latter is a consequence of the STOVL variant's shaft-driven lift fan. This allowed the newly designated Pratt & Whitney F135 engine to be mounted in the rear of the aircraft, resulting in conventional take-off and landing and carrier-capable variants that are less compromised by the requirements of the STOVL mission.

With differences largely limited to the STOVL lift system and the carrier version's increased wing and tail areas, Burbage sees potential for flight-test commonality.

"My vision is that there will be service-common tests and service-unique tests, mainly basing related. Any common tests - mission system, flying qualities, up-and-away - could be done with any of the aircraft," he says.

Source: Flight International