January 19, 2017
The U.S. Department of Defense and Lockheed Martin are close to concluding a deal for the 10th low rate initial production (LRIP) batch of F-35 fighters, that would bring the unit cost below $100 million for the first time.
Israeli air force pilots conducted their first night sortie with the F-35, since receiving their first two aircraft last month. The airplane is undergoing evaluations in preparation for operational service later this year.
Citing hundreds of deficiencies in the airplane to date, Pentagon weapons test chief Michael Gilmore has cautioned that initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) of the F-35 is expected to slip by at least a year, from 2018 to 2019. At the heart of the deficiencies noted in the latest report are shortcomings and delays in the Block 3F software needed to operate many of the airplane's weapons systems, and to open up its flight envelope.
USMC F-35Bs have arrived in Japan for their first overseas deployment.
Russian manufacturer Sukhoi is expected to deliver the first of five PAK-FA stealth fighters to the Gromov Flight Research Institute, for familiarization training with Russian air force pilots. To date, the airplane has been flown exclusively by dedicated test pilots. This will be the first time that Russian air force pilots will fly the new airplane.
Taiwan has begun the upgrade of its F-16 fighters to the new F-16V standard. Taiwan's fleet of 144 F-16A/B fighters were obtained second-hand from the U.S. Air Force during the 1990s.
India's indigenous Tejas fighter is expected to see its first appearance during a Republic Day celebration.