April 6, 2017
The U.S. Air Force has completed tests of the revised F-35 ejection seat, which should allow lightweight pilots to fly the aircraft. The previous version of the ejection system placed lightweight pilots at increased risk of neck injury during an ejection.
Conflicting media reports suggest that Lockheed Martin is being offered a multiyear block buy for purchase of the F-35 stealth fighter, in return for Lockheed's agreement not to protest additional orders of the F/A-18 for the U.S. Navy. U.S. government officials have declined to comment on the reports.
The recently retired Director of Test and Evaluation for the U.S. military has published his final report on the F-35 program, pointing out that "The Services have designated 276 deficiencies in combat performance as 'critical to correct' in Block 3F, but less than half of the critical deficiencies were addressed with attempted corrections."
Lockheed Martin has won a $500 million contract for the supply of spares for the F-35.
Brig. Gen. Eric Fick has been named as the new deputy director for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Fick was formerly the U.S. Air Force's director of global reach programs.
The U.S. Air Force has finally certified the latest version of the Sidewinder heat seeking missile, the AIM-9X for use in the F-22 Raptor, but has still not integrated a helmet mounted display and sight into the stealth fighter - which would allow the aircraft to take advantage of the missile's high off-boresight capabilities.
An F-16C crashed two miles south of Joint Base Andrews, near Washington D.C. The pilot ejected safely. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
The U.S. Air Force is debating whether to retire its F-15C fleet earlier than had been planned, due to the high cost being projected to structurally refurbish the airplane. The cost of refitting the aircraft is projected to be around $30-40 million per airplane, causing some to consider retiring the fleet in the 2020s rather than maintaining them past 2040 as previously planned.
The Japanese Air Self Defense Force has doubled the number of F-15 fighter intercept sorties over the past year, in response to increased Chinese incursions in the East China Sea, and the area surrounding islands that Japan claims as its own.
The U.S. is reportedly considering a new, broader arms package for Taiwan, possibly to include F-35 stealth fighters - a weapons system that the U.S. had previously refused to sell to Taiwan for fear of offending China. Previous administrations had refused to sell additional F-16 fighters to Taiwan, let alone the United States' lastest stealth jet.
The Indian Air Force suffered the loss of 11 fighter jets over the past year, as its fleet continues to age and replacement plans are dragged out.
A group of U.S. senators is urging the Trump administration to more vigorously promote the proposed sale of F-16 fighters and U.S.-built drones to India.