2015-03-15 The F-35 is not simply a replacement airplane; it is a 21st century air combat system embedded within a unique global enterprise.
On the one hand, the commonality of the software on the F-35 allows for allies to develop missiles for “their” F-35s and have “their” missiles available for export to other F-35 partners.
The commonality of the software and the testing of missile release on the various models means that if a Joint Strike Missile can be carried by a Norwegian F-35A it can be carried by every other F-35A in the global fleet.
Not only does this save significant money it makes divisions of labor in developing weapons for the global fleet as well.
This point has been driven home by the recent agreement between Australia and Norway whereby the Aussies are collaborating on the Norwegian Joint Strike Missile.
As a news story published February 26, 2015 on the Norwegian Ministry of Defense wesbsite puts it:
The Norwegian Ministry of Defence and the Australian Department of Defence have agreed to cooperate on the development of the Joint Strike Missile (JSM), following talks between Norwegian State Secretary Mr. Øystein Bø and his Australian colleague Mr. Stuart Robert during the Norwegian State visit to Australia this week.
The agreement seeks to support the introduction of an advanced maritime strike weapon on the F-35 in the early 2020’s time frame.
Although far apart geographically, Norway and Australia share many of the same challenges.
We are both maritime nations on the periphery of our immediate regions, with a large land mass and even larger maritime territories, yet relatively limited populations.
This means that we have to maximize the effects of the capabilities that we invest in to ensure that they cover as much of the spectrum of operations as possible, said Norwegian Minister of Defence, Ms. Ine Eriksen Søreide.
Norway and Australia have maintained a close dialogue for several years regarding the JSM within the framework of the multinational F-35-partnership.
This agreement takes the process one step further, with Australia agreeing to provide expertise in missile control and guidance systems.
The JSM is already a very capable missile, but with the support of Australia, we hope to make it even better. Though Australia is still a few years away from making any final decisions on its future maritime strike capability, we are encouraged by the interest they have shown for both the missile and for the capabilities of Norwegian industry.
We should now continue talks between our two governments, and aim to formalize this agreement in the near future, said Norwegian Minister of Defence, Ms. Ine Eriksen Søreide.
The Joint Strike Missile is an advanced long range precision strike missile, tailor made to fit the internal weapons bay of the F-35
The F-35, combined with the JSM, provide the ability to both locate and defeat heavily defended targets, both on land and at sea, at extended ranges, significantly enhancing the strategic capabilities of the aircraft. The missile utilizes advanced navigation, a passive infrared seeker, low signature and superior manoeuvrability to ensure mission effectiveness, thereby providing user nations with significantly enhanced combat capabilities.
Norway intends to procure up to 52 F-35A aircraft to enhance the ability of its Armed Forces to meet future security challenges, with first delivery planned for late 2015.
Norway’s first four aircraft will be based at the F-35 International Pilot Training Centre at Luke Air Force Base Arizona, while the first F-35 will arrive in Norway in 2017.
Australia has so far committed to procuring 72 F-35A, out of a planned 100, with the first two aircraft delivered in 2014.
On the other hand, there are three final assembly lines in the making for the F-35.
The main final assembly line, the one designed for large quantity production is in Fort Worth, and the line in Cameri is designed to assemble Italian and European jets and the Japanese are building a final assembly line for their F-35s as well.
March 12, 2015 saw the first Italian assembled jet roll out of the Cameri facility.
In a press release dated March 12, 2015, the event was highlighted.
History was achieved today when the first Italian F-35A Lightning II rolled out of the Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility here.
This production milestone marks the first F-35A assembled internationally and the first of eight aircraft currently being assembled at Cameri.
The aircraft, designated as AL-1, will now proceed to additional check-out activities before its anticipated first flight later this year…..
The FACO will build all Italian F-35A and F-35B aircraft, is programmed to build F-35As for the Royal Netherlands Air Force and retains the capacity to deliver to other European partners in the future.
In December 2014, it was selected by the U.S. Department of Defense as the F-35 Lightning II Heavy Airframe Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul and Upgrade facility for the European region.
The 101-acre facility includes 22 buildings and more than one million square feet of covered work space, housing 11 assembly stations, and five maintenance, repair, overhaul, and upgrade bays.
The first full F-35A wing section was recently completed and will soon be shipped to Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas, F-35 production line for final assembly.
For our Special Report on Cameri and the Italian approach, see the following:
Cameri Roll Out Video credited to Avionnews.
The slide show above shows photos of the roll out as well as of wings being delivered to the final assembly line in Fort Worth.
The Italians are thus doing final assembly of their own planes, some for the Netherlands, building wings for the global fleet and providing a significant maintenance facility for the global fleet at Cameri as well.