Boeing Delivers Final JSF Flight-Test Data to U.S. Government
Less than two weeks after completing one of the most successful flight-test programs in history, Boeing on Aug. 9 gave the U.S. government its final flight-test data, validating how well the Boeing Joint Strike Fighter performance matched predictions.
Boeing completed its JSF flight-test program July 28 with five flights -- two of them supersonic -- in a single day.
"You can't get where JSF has to go by doing business as usual," said Frank Statkus, Boeing vice president and JSF general manager. "We had to prove that our solution is not only the best, but also the lowest-risk as well. We did that in large part with breakthrough usage of modeling and simulation. Then we proved it works during 66 flights in our X-32A and 78 flights in our X-32B. I can honestly say we delivered as promised."
During the concept demonstration phase of the JSF program, contractors had to demonstrate commonality, naval-variant low-speed handling qualities and short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing (STOVL)capability.
Statkus pointed out that the customer has repeatedly made it clear that it's not just buying an airplane, but a management team as well. "Certainly, when you understand that part of the requirement, you know why that is a definite plus for Boeing. We are the recognized global leader in bringing teams together to build and integrate large-scale, complex systems," Statkus said.
"When picking a partner for 50 years, as the government is with JSF, you want to not only look ahead at what's being promised, but also at past performance to see how reliable those promises are. The F/A-18E/F is the only fighter program to be on schedule and on budget, and we're delivering the C-17 ahead of schedule with steadily declining costs," Statkus noted. "These and other recent successes such as winning the C-130 avionics modernization program will give the customer extreme confidence regarding how Boeing will perform in all aspects of JSF program management."
Boeing demonstrated nearly 90 percent commonality with its two X-32 aircraft in completing the concept demonstration phase objectives. Boeing used one plane, the X-32A, to demonstrate both aircraft-carrier variant objectives for the U.S. Navy and conventional-takeoff-and-landing objectives for the U.S. Air Force. The company then used its X-32B to demonstrate STOVL requirements for the
U.S. Marine Corps and the United Kingdom Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.
During the X-32B flight-test program, pilots smoothly and rapidly (in one to three seconds) converted from conventional flight mode to STOVL mode and back more than 150 times in flight, consistently demonstrating the key component to operational STOVL flight.
"There's no question that our direct-lift approach to the STOVL requirement not only is low-risk, but also greatly enhances long-term reliability and affordability," Statkus added. "Both pilots and maintainers want a system that is simple, reliable and easily maintained throughout its service life. Our system gives them that. It's all part of delivering 'best value' to the customer."
Shifting his focus to the future, Statkus pointed out that the workload of the Boeing JSF One Team has not diminished with completion of flight-test.
"We have got to hit the ground running immediately after downselect," he said. "History is full of examples of programs that got into permanent cost and schedule problems because they weren't ready to begin work on the first day."
To avoid that, Statkus said the One Team has been working for more than a year to be ready. "We've been working to shorten the security clearance process, extend contingent job offers, identify floor space, get phone lines and computers, in short doing everything that must be done to start work on Day One. We have the plans, processes and people in place -- we'll be ready."
A competition winner is scheduled to be selected in late October.