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  • JSF Bosses Still Dodging Export Stealth Question
    Posted by Bill Sweetman 7:17 AM on Jun 22, 2011

    Someone asked That Question at the Joint Strike Fighter press conference at the Paris air show Tuesday:  "I saw on an Australian website" (visible reaction from panel) "that the stealth of export JSF versions is degraded relative to US aircraft. Can you confirm or deny this?"

    The presenters, deputy program office director Maj Gen CD Moore and Lockheed Martin executive vice-president Tom Burbage, denied this promptly and unequivocally, confirming that all F-35s will be delivered with identical low observables design, materials and performance.

    Ha ha! Only kidding.

    The two program leaders broke left and right and demonstrated evasive maneuvers that would have done credit to an Su-35 formation tackling a salvo of AMRAAMs. The report was speculative with no access to program information. The partners have been fully involved in defining requirements. The F-35 will meet all its requirements. And so on and so forth. Following it was enough to cause a G-LOC episode.

    The question is one that has been asked many times over the years, with the same non-conclusive results.
    And yet there is no hard evidence, either, to show that some or all export models will have different levels of LO.

    But if all the aircraft are indeed the same, why is it clearly policy to avoid saying so?

    One possible explanation (and before anyone else says it, this is speculation with no access to program information):  All JSFs may be alike today, but the US is reserving the right to make them different -- if, for example, some magical radar-absorbent material were to be invented, but was judged to be too sensitive for export to some of the partner nations.

    Another note from Tuesday's media conference: The program office has no activities under way in relation to India, despite reports that JSF might be offered in a bid to reopen the Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft competition.

    Tags: ar99, pas11, tacair, jsf

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