Navy Committed To JSF, First F-35C Flight In Coming Weeks, Service Says

Navy Committed To JSF, First F-35C Flight In Coming Weeks, Service Says

By Geoff Fein

The Navy took one of its strongest stands yesterday in support of Lockheed Martin‘s [LMT] Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) stating the service needs to move to a fifth generation strike fighter and only the F-35C will get it there.

The Navy’s firm commitment to the F-35C comes a short time after the Department of Defense and Congress moved on buying 124 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets under a multi-year procurement. Lawmakers in the House are also looking to leverage the savings the service will realize in the multi-year to buy upward of eight more of the Boeing [BA] strike fighters.

But buying any additional F-18E/Fs won’t take the Navy’s strike fighter fleet into the future, Rear Adm. Mike Manazir, director, air warfare, told reporters yesterday.

"We grew the Super Hornet, the E/F and now the G into the limits of fourth generation of TAC air coming off a carrier," he said. "The Block II AESA that is in the Super Hornet and the attributes of the Super Hornet get us to the very limits of fourth generation capability, and thus we need to move into the F-35C to realize our vision for TAC air coming off the carriers."

The F-35C, the Navy’s carrier variant of the JSF, will bring stealth, data fusion and a systems-to-systems approach to warfighting, Manazir said.

The current budget before Congress is a balanced approach to that requirement, he added.

Manazir noted the sensor and data fusion is "absolutely unprecedented in any kind of airplane."

"We currently move data around to enable people in the cockpit to communicate with folks on the ground…decision makers. The F-35C takes that to a greater level," he added.

What the F-35C brings is a node in the greater fight, Manazir said. "It is communicating across a broader range of networks, providing data to a broader range of people, sometimes with the pilot’s knowledge, sometimes not."

Still, even with the recognized capabilities, the F-35C will bring the Navy, Manazir said he often finds himself fending off questions about the Navy’s commitment to the strike fighter, especially given the recent effort to buy Super Hornets under a multi-year plan.

The 124 Super Hornets the Navy will buy in the multi-year is the number the service will procure between fiscal year ’10 and ’13, Manazir said. "It supports our program of record of 515 Super Hornet, Es, Fs and Gs."

Manazir has seen the House Armed Services Committee language which proposes buying… Want the rest of the story? Subscribe to Defense Daily today and receive all the detailed news and information you need each day. 

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