Pubblicato in: Economia e Produzione Industriale, Problemi militari

USS Gerald R. Ford. Una portaerei da cui non si decolla né si atterra. 12.9 mld Usd. Gli F-35, poi…

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2017-06-23.

2017-06-16__Portaerei Ford__001

Le forze armate americane hanno subito in pochi giorni due smacchi sensazionali: uno con la USS Gerald R Ford, una portaerei con problemi di atterraggio e decollo, poi con la saga degli F-35, sui quali si blocca l’erogatore di ossigeno.

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USS Gerald R. Ford.

A prima vista potrebbe sembrare una domanda idiota il chiedersi a cosa possa servire una portaerei se poi gli aeroplani non riescano ad atterrarvi sopra e nemmeno a ripartirne.

Ma poi, nei fatti, non è una domanda idiota: è il caso della USS Gerald R. Ford.

«The newest and costliest U.S. aircraft carrier, praised by President Donald Trump and delivered to the Navy on May 31 with fanfare, has been dogged by trouble with fundamentals: launching jets from its deck and catching them when they land»

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«Now, it turns out that the system used to capture jets landing on the USS Gerald R. Ford ballooned in cost, tripling to $961 million from $301 million»

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«While the Navy says the landing system has been fixed, the next-generation carrier built by Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. still hasn’t been cleared to launch F/A-18 jets carrying a full complement of fuel tanks under their wings, a handicap that could limit their effectiveness in combat»

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«Until the catapult problem, which was discovered in 2014, is resolved it limits how much combat fuel can be carried in planes being launched from the carrier’s deck»

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«scoffed at the carrier’s troubled electromagnetic launch system …. the Navy should stick with an old-fashioned steam-driven catapult ….The digital costs hundreds of millions of dollars more money and it’s no good.»

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F-35.

F-35 fighters grounded indefinitely over oxygen issues [Cnn]

Dozens of F-35 fighter jets grounded in US due to oxygen deprivation [Guardian]

US F-35 fighter jets grounded over pilot oxygen supplies [BBC]

In sintesi: l’erogatore di ossigeno di bordo non funziona ed i piloti vanno in anossia. A latere, la cabina non mantiene la pressurizzazione.

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«The Lockheed Martin-made F-35A fighter jets were declared combat ready by the Air Force last year, and F-35s have now deployed to Japan and Europe»

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«An F-35 fighter wing will remain grounded as the service works to identify the cause of five incidents where pilots suffered from oxygen deprivation problems, the Air Force said Monday. …. The 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona suspended all F-35A flights last week after the five pilots experienced hypoxia-like symptoms, Air Force. …. The pilots all used their backup oxygen to land the planes safely.»

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«For military jets, oxygen deprivation has been a nagging problem.»

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«Navy investigators had identified 382 cases, including 130 that involved some form of oxygen contamination, and 114 with a failure of the jet’s system that maintains cabin pressure.»

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Questi elementi ben si presterebbero a satire e facezie, che vorremmo evitare.

Tuttavia alcune considerazioni di ordine generale sembrerebbero emergere.

– Il livello degli ingegneri progettisti sta decadendo sempre più rapidamente nel tempo.

– Se è vero che tutti i grandi progetti richiedono un certo quale lasso di tempo per funzionare pienamente a regime, è altrettanto vero che i difetti dovrebbero emergere durante le simulazioni ed il periodo di prova, non dopo che sia stato dato l’ok operativo. Chi ha concesso il permesso di operatività dovrebbe essere rinviato a giudizio.

– i progettisti di ottanta anni fa, con regolo e buon senso, avevano progettato le portaerei che fecero vincere agli Stati Uniti la guerra sul mare. Esattamente come i loro colleghi nel ramo aeronautico avevano progettato e costruito i mitici B-17 e B-25. Alcuni progettisti, protetti dall’anonimato, hanno ammesso sconsolato che quelli non avevano femmine per i piedi.

– i progettisti di questa generazione hanno una fede infantile nelle nuove tecnologie e si illudono che elettronica, software ed intelligenza artificiale possano rimediare alle loro lacune matematiche, nel settore della fisica e della scienza dei materiali. Fanno un figurone nei salotti e nelle trasmissioni televisive, ma sul lavoro sono solo iettature. Ma come ingegneri, specie quelli meccanici, si qualificano con quello che producono.


Bloomberg. 2017-06-15. New U.S. Carrier Hobbled by Flaws in Launching, Landing Planes

– Landing system costs soared to fix flaws during development

– Carrier still can’t launch jets with full extra fuel tanks

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The newest and costliest U.S. aircraft carrier, praised by President Donald Trump and delivered to the Navy on May 31 with fanfare, has been dogged by trouble with fundamentals: launching jets from its deck and catching them when they land.

Now, it turns out that the system used to capture jets landing on the USS Gerald R. Ford ballooned in cost, tripling to $961 million from $301 million, according to Navy documents obtained by Bloomberg News.

While the Navy says the landing system has been fixed, the next-generation carrier built by Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. still hasn’t been cleared to launch F/A-18 jets carrying a full complement of fuel tanks under their wings, a handicap that could limit their effectiveness in combat.

The twin issues underscore the technical and cost challenges for the planned three-ship, $42 billion Ford class of carriers that is drawing increased congressional scrutiny. The Navy and Trump want to increase the carrier fleet from 11 authorized by law to 12.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain has long criticized the Navy’s management of the Ford program and joined a congressional effort that capped funding for the Ford at $12.9 billion and for a second ship under construction, the John F. Kennedy, at $11.4 billion. He’s likely to grill Navy officials about the newly disclosed landing system costs and troubled launch system during a hearing Thursday on the Navy budget.

General Atomics

The surge in costs for the development phase of the advanced arresting gear — built by General Atomics to catch planes landing — was borne by the Navy under terms of that contract. In addition, the program acquisition costs of the three systems built so far more than doubled to $532 million each from $226 million, an increase which must be paid by closely held General Atomics.

General Atomics spokeswoman Meghan Ehlke referred all questions to the Navy “per our contract.” Captain Thurraya Kent, a Navy spokeswoman, said the contractor forfeited all bonus fees it could have made during the 2009-2016 development phase and the service is reviewing the company’s master schedule for the John F. Kennedy weekly. The Navy also has placed personnel at the company’s facility in Rancho Bernardo, California, to monitor progress.

The Navy reported the cost increase to Congress last month because it breached thresholds established under a 1982 law for major weapons systems. It’s separate from the 22 percent increase since 2010 for construction of the carrier, which resulted in Congress imposing the $12.9 billion cost cap.

Trump, who has repeatedly complained about the high cost of major weapons systems — and then taken credit for reining them in — did that in a Coast Guard commencement address on May 17. The Ford “had a little bit of an overrun problem before I got here, you know that. Still going to have an overrun problem; we came in when it was finished, but we’re going to save some good money.”

‘It’s No Good’

Trump said “when we build the new aircraft carriers, they’re going to be built under budget and ahead of schedule, just remember that.” Still, the Government Accountability Office said in a new report Tuesday that the John F. Kennedy’s cost estimate “is not reliable and does not address lessons learned” from the Ford’s performance.

Trump scoffed at the carrier’s troubled electromagnetic launch system in a Time magazine interview last month, saying it doesn’t work and “you have to be Albert Einstein to figure it out.” Saying the Navy should stick with an old-fashioned steam-driven catapult, he added, “The digital costs hundreds of millions of dollars more money and it’s no good.”

Until the catapult problem, which was discovered in 2014, is resolved it limits how much combat fuel can be carried in planes being launched from the carrier’s deck.

That “would preclude normal employment” of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the radar-jamming Growler version because “the aircraft are limited in the types of missions that they can accomplish” without added under-wing fuel tanks, Army Lieutenant Colonel Roger Cabiness, spokesman for the Pentagon’s testing office, said in an email. He said the Navy asserts that testing on the ground has solved a software flaw that caused excessive vibrations of those fuel tanks.

“The Navy estimates the software problem will be resolved and software updates incorporated” on the carrier for testing at sea during the vessel’s post-shakedown phase between May and November of 2018, Michael Land, spokesman for the Naval Air Systems Command, said in an email. He said actual launches of jets with wing tanks will follow in 2019.

The Navy still has time to fix the catapult issue. Though the Ford has been delivered, the ship is not scheduled to be declared ready for operations until 2020, with first actual deployment planned for about 2022, according to spokeswoman Kent.


→ Cnn. 2017-06-16. F-35 fighters grounded indefinitely over oxygen issues

Washington (CNN)An F-35 fighter wing will remain grounded as the service works to identify the cause of five incidents where pilots suffered from oxygen deprivation problems, the Air Force said Monday.

The 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona suspended all F-35A flights last week after the five pilots experienced hypoxia-like symptoms, Air Force spokesman Capt. Mark Graff said in a statement. The pilots all used their backup oxygen to land the planes safely.

The Air Force had expected to lift the grounding measure over the weekend, but said Monday that flight operations will remain on hold until a coordinated analysis of the problem is complete. An updated timetable to resume flights was not provided, with the Air Force saying only “we will take as much time as necessary” to ensure pilot safety.

“The 56th Fighter Wing will continue their pause in local F-35A flying to coordinate analysis and communication between pilots, maintainers, medical professionals and a team of military and industry experts,” said Air Force spokesperson Maj. Rebecca Heyse in a written statement.

“This coordination will include technical analysis of the physiological incidents to date and discussions on possible risk mitigation options to enable a return to flying operations,” she added.

There are 55 F-35As at Luke Air Force Base. Graff said that it’s still not clear what caused the oxygen incidents, but said that the pause was confined to Luke because “no other incidents have been reported” at any other Air Force bases since May 2.

The Luke F-35 grounding is the latest setback for the $400 billion F-35 program, a long delayed and over-budget weapons system that’s become the Pentagon’s most expensive in history. The Air Force grounded 10 of its F-35 fighters last year due to insulation problems, and last month the Air Force announced it had resolved an ejection seat issue that had led to a weight restriction being imposed on pilots.

The Lockheed Martin-made F-35A fighter jets were declared combat ready by the Air Force last year, and F-35s have now deployed to Japan and Europe.

The F-35A is the Air Force variant of the Joint Strike Fighter: The F-35B Marine Corps variant was declared combat-ready in 2015, and the F-35C Nary variant is supposed to be combat operational next year.

President Donald Trump has taken a personal interest in the F-35 program, slamming the costs as “out of control” and then getting involved in the Pentagon’s contract negotiations with Lockheed Martin. He took credit for generating $700 million in savings in the $8.5 billion contract for the latest batch of F-35 fighters.

For military jets, oxygen deprivation has been a nagging problem.

The Navy’s F/A-18 fighter jet pilots experienced a rising rate of “physiological episodes,” Navy officials told Congress in March.

Navy investigators had identified 382 cases, including 130 that involved some form of oxygen contamination, and 114 with a failure of the jet’s system that maintains cabin pressure.

The Air Force’s F-22 fighter pilots also struggled with hypoxia-like symptoms back in 2012, which led to limitations on F-22 flights until the issue was resolved. The Air Force said Friday that the F-35 program office has created a team of “engineers, maintainers and aeromedical specialists to examine the incidents to better understand the issue.”

 

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