September 29, 2016
An F-35A caught fire at Mountain Home Air Force Base this past week, during engine start-up. The pilot was able to safely egress from the aircraft. Evidence suggests that the fire may have been connected to high rear winds, which have been known to cause fires in other jet engines following an aborted start. Tailpipe fires occur when excess fuel is left in the tailpipe, and catches fire on start-up.
Military analysts in the U.S. are growing increasingly apprehensive over the emergence of new combat aircraft in Russia and China. In testimony before Congress, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein emphasized that, "The most pressing challenge for the United States Air Force is the rise of peer competitors with advanced military capabilities rivaling our own."
Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, who heads the F-35's Joint Program Office, told last week's Air Force Association conference that upgrades to the F-35 engine were planned for the mid-2020s, either from a new engine from improvements to the existing F135 engine. The U.S. Air Force is currently funding the Adaptive Engine Transition program (AETP), which is expected to "demonstrate 25 percent improved fuel efficiency, 10 percent increased thrust, and significantly improved thermal management."
A Lockheed Martin test pilot has suggested that China's J-20 stealth fighter, which is now entering production, will out-class current fourth-generation U.S. and allied fighters and would threaten carrier groups.
India and France appear to have finally finalized terms for the delivery of 36 Rafale fighters.
Eight Chinese aircraft flew close to the disputed Senkaku islands, which are claimed by both China and Japan, during a Chinese military exercise in the East China Sea.
Lockheed Martin this past week rolled out the first F-35A fighter intended for delivery to Japan. Japan has 42 F-35s on order, with the first four to be built in Fort Worth and the remaining 38 to be assembled in Japan.
North Korea held its first international air show this past week, showcasing its ability to continue to purchase fighter aircraft despite international sanctions.