Delivery Of First Two F-35A Aircraft For Belgium Further Delayed

Belgium F-35


Belgium F-35
File picture of an F-35A.

In keeping with native media, the Belgian MOD “refused” the supply of the brand new F-35A destined to the Belgian Air Part, however there’s extra to it.

It appears just like the lengthy awaited supply of the primary two F-35A plane for the Belgian Air Part isn’t going to happen by the tip on this yr. In actual fact, in line with VRT NWS [whose report is titled “Belgium refuses new F-35A fighters because they are (for the time being) technically unsatisfactory”] the primary two plane, that had been scheduled to be delivered in 2023, will probably be delivered subsequent yr, with a further delay of about six months.

In October 2018, Belgium determined to acquire the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II to exchange the Belgian Air Part’s fleet of 54 F-16 Combating Falcon jets, whose phase-out was anticipated between 2023 and 2028. In keeping with the preliminary timetable, 4 F-35s needed to be delivered, yearly, between 2023 and 2030. However the very first batch of 4 stealth fighters was delayed by the Covid-19 emergency and the impression the pandemic had on the subcontractors. The revised plan known as for the primary two Belgian F-35As to be delivered on the finish of 2023 and two extra ones in the course of the first quarter of 2024. Nonetheless, the plan has undergone an extra change.

“Based mostly on the present schedule, the {hardware} will probably be prepared by December 2023. The certification and qualification of the software program and the ultimate supply of the plane rely upon the outcomes of the take a look at marketing campaign and are at present estimated for the second quarter of 2024,” mentioned the a Belgian Protection spokesperson cited by VRT NWS.

Clearly, the delayed supply of the primary plane to Luke Air Drive Base, U.S., the place BAF pilots will probably be educated on the sort, will have an effect on the coaching schedule and, probably, on the preparedness standing of the Belgian Air Drive. Nonetheless, the Belgian MOD seems to be cautiously optimistic: “if the delay is proscribed to a couple months, it can have little or no impression on the eventual gradual operational build-up (Preliminary Operational Functionality by 2027 and Full Operational Functionality round 2030)”.

The problem lies within the Tech(nology) Refresh 3 (TR-3) upgrades. As we already reported, TR-3 consists of each software program and {hardware} upgrades and is taken into account important with the intention to ship the Block 4 improve and the long run ones, being described because the IT spine for all future enhancements. TR-3 will probably be put in in all new manufacturing plane and retrofitted on all of the F-35s already in service again to Lot 10. The retrofit, which requires 14 days of downtime, will probably be carried out throughout scheduled upkeep. This fashion the F-35 will migrate to the open-system architecture and exploit all its benefits, like including new or improved capabilities on operational plane in a short time and at a diminished price.

Listed below are some particulars about TR-3 configuration and Block 4 capabilities we now have mentioned in our earlier article on the first test flight of the first upgraded F-35:

Over 75 main upgrades anticipated to be included within the upcoming Block 4 F-35. Among the many upgrades there are enhancements of the Electronic Warfare capabilities, radar and electro-optical techniques, weapons, cockpit and navigation techniques. A few of these upgrades will probably be delivered in increments till the ultimate configuration, for which an engine improve is likely to be required with the intention to present extra energy to all of the techniques.

Among the many unclassified upgrades there are a next generation Distributed Aperture System, a brand new Built-in Core Processor, cooling techniques enhancements, new Digital Warfare processor and antennas. Unclassified slides from Lockheed Martin additionally present Auto Ground Collision Avoidance System integration, a brand new Open System Structure, Multi-Area Operations and Missile Protection capabilities, Manned-Unmanned Teaming and prolonged vary with the usage of exterior gasoline tanks.

A just lately confirmed improve that can include Block 4 is the new APG-85 AESA radar, which is able to substitute the present APG-81. Nearly all of the main points concerning the Block 4 upgrades, nonetheless, are labeled. Typically thought-about the F-35’s most formidable improve, the Block 4 is supposed to assist preserve the Lightning II’s preventing edge over potential adversaries by 2070.

The contract that Belgium and different nations have signed with the US states that the F-35s have to be delivered in the latest/fashionable obtainable configuration. Subsequently, Belgium needs its F-35s to be delivered with the Block 4 improve, whose certification is taking extra time than anticipated.

“In concrete phrases, the US authorities’s refusal [of delivery of new aircraft] implies that the method of certification and qualification remains to be ongoing and that the US authorities doesn’t want to settle for (and subsequently pay for) {hardware} so long as the software program isn’t totally accomplished. It is a fully logical choice that additionally applies to Belgium.”

Subsequently, though it’s being framed as a refusal as a result of the plane is “technically unsatisfactory”, evidently the Belgian MOD is just demanding supply of the most recent model of the plane and, as a consequence, prefers to attend for this to be licensed. In actual fact, as defined within the VRT NWS article the Belgian MOD identified that if the delays will be restricted, the nation could have the benefit “of a uniform fleet, geared up with the most recent Tech Refresh 3 {hardware}. In spite of everything, this not solely gives entry to new Block 4 capabilities, but in addition avoids a later pricey retrofit of many months.”

H/T to our reader Jean-Paul Van De Walle for the heads-up!

David Cenciotti is a journalist based mostly in Rome, Italy. He’s the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of many world’s most well-known and browse navy aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for main worldwide magazines, together with Air Forces Month-to-month, Fight Plane, and plenty of others, overlaying aviation, protection, conflict, business, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown a number of fight planes with completely different air forces. He’s a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Drive, a personal pilot and a graduate in Laptop Engineering. He has written 5 books and contributed to many extra ones.


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