July 14, 2016
The F-35 finally made its air show debut at Farnborough, putting on an impressive display of the F-35B's hover capability.
During interviews at this year' Farnborough Air Show, Lockheed Martin's CEO, Marillyn Hewson emphasized that the unit cost of the F-35 has decreased by 57 percent since the first aircraft was produced, attempting to build a case that the airplane's development woes were behind them.
Russian officials are reporting that they are now testing new electronic warfare elements, in preparation for launching a 6th generation fighter program. The 5th generation PAK-FA stealth fighter prototypes are being used to help evaluate the new technologies. The tests are reportedly focused on microwave energy weapons.
India is reportedly negotiating with Russia for the supply of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) - the Indian version of Russia's PAK-FA stealth fighter still under development - as well as upgrade packages for its existing Su-30MKI fighters. Previous talks surrounding the PAK-FA had stalled over questions of the new airplane's cost and performance.
Lockheed Martin has unveiled a plan to transfer its F-16 production line to India, where future Block 70/72 F-16V models would be produced. There are no signs, however, that India has agreed to purchase the F-16, despite the announcement. Lockheed Martin has only 15 remaining F-16s to deliver, before the production line is due to shut down.
The U.S. Air Force is considering proposals to expand the role of its T-X trainer program, to encompass a replacement for not only the service's T-38 Talon supersonic trainers, but also a replacement for the A-10 in the close air support role, or possibly as an aggressor aircraft for air combat training. Lockheed Martin is offering a version of Korea's T-50 as a contendor for the contract, while Raytheon is offering a version of Italy's M-345 and Boeing has teamed with Saab to develop a proposal - likely based around Saab's Gripen fighter. Northrop Grumman also plans to bid, in partnership with the UK's BAE Systems.
Flying aircraft that were largely supplied before the 1979 revolution, the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force has reported four fighter aircraft crashes so far this year. Iran has ordered a large number of Russian Su-30 fighters to update its fleet, but no delivery schedule has been announced. The U.S. government has protested that the proposed fighter sales would violate the terms for lifting previous sanctions against Iran.