System Engineering and Analysis – JSF System

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Short Description of the JSF System

The joint strike fighter program is the largest procurement program. It is the human-made, physical system (Ball, Gross, & Burt, 2014). JSF is a program that is intended to perfect and improve the existing defense machinery for fighter strike and ground attack in the United States. It has three versions for the Air Force, Marine, and the Navy. For it to achieve lower costs, three versions of aircraft designs were made (Ball, Gross, & Burt, 2014). All the three are supersonic enabled and have advanced stealth characteristics. The system has advancements in military capability. JSF has a high technological capability and a higher budget compared to the previous programs. The program resulted from a merger between Common Affordable Lightweight Fighter and Joint Advanced Strike Technology (Ball, Gross, & Burt, 2014). It originally continued under JAST until the latter phases of engineering manufacturing and development where it was rebranded as the Joint Strike Fighter.

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The Stage of Implementation of the JSF System

The JSF was created in 1993 as an implementation of the United States department of defense. It is currently in the testing stage where various stakeholders are running important tests to determine its workability and effectiveness. In the year 2015, the software testing was 99% complete (Ball, Gross, & Burt, 2014). Pilots conducted some test trials, which included night flights and arrest landings. They also completed the wet runway and crosswind testing at Edwards Air Force base. The United States Marine Corps declared the initial operational capability in 2015. The air force is expected to declare initial operational capability in 2016 (Ball, 2014). Currently at Edwards Airforce Base, California and Naval Air Station integrated air force are running some tests on all three F-35 variants and the systems of missions. There are six static airframes and dozens of integrated labs that are dedicated to the development of the system. The labs are involved in the testing of all software updates before they are tested using actual flights. The aircrafts undergo comprehensive testing to prove the strengths of its design. There has been the training of more than 200 F-35 pilots and 2000 maintenance experts in the year 2015. According to Ball (2014), Simulation has been effectively used to test some of the aspects of the program and train the pilots.

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Cost Effectiveness of the JSF System

The program is the largest in terms of acquisition cost (Sullivan, 2014). It has an estimated acquisition cost of about 319 billion dollars after inflation has been adjusted. The cost is expected to be shared by the allies of the USA. Eight of them collaborate with the US in cost sharing (Martin, 2016). The three versions of the program require high-cost components including engines and avionics. In an attempt to reduce the costs, the F-35A applied a high-low mix.  It involves mixing high-cost and high-capability aircraft and lower-cost, more affordable aircraft. This approach is aimed at balancing performance and the cost of procuring the machinery (Sullivan, 2014). At the end of December 2015, the total acquisition costs for the program was 325 billion dollars. It included about 59.2 billion for research and development, 260 billion for procurement, and about 3.7 billion for MilCon. The program has received a total of about $83.3 billion dollars of funding. It has also received about $33.1 billion in procurement and $1.8 billion in military construction (Sullivan, 2014).

In a report released later, the government accountability office questioned the ability of the F-35 program to meet its set targets. In the report, they reported that acquisition of the program requires 12.6 billion US dollars per year all through to 2037. This data appears far from achievable, basing the argument on the fiscal environment of the economy. The program is trying to reduce unit costs. However, costs need to be reduced further to begin full-scale production, which is scheduled for 2019 (Sullivan, 2014). In the year 2013, the Government Accountability Office released figures that indicated that there was a one percent increase in costs despite the efforts to lower them. The program continues its efforts to lower the costs and make them competitive to previous versions.

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The program as a technological advancement is more operationally feasible compared to the previous versions (Sullivan, 2014). The Lockheed F-35 Lighting II is described to be one of the most expensive military acquisition in history. It is greatly enhanced in terms of maintenance. Pilots will have the opportunity to simulate a couple of times before heading into a mission. It provides greater fidelity in comparison with other previous versions of jets.  It can attack with kinetic and non-kinetic tools, and it goes beyond the visual range. It is equipped with the latest software that makes it more reliable. Only this year, the aircraft surpassed the 50000 flying hour mark. The previous mark had been 25000 flying hours that was reached in 2014.  It indicates that the program is greatly improving since it has doubled the record in just over six months. Flight hours are the main indicator of operational feasibility of jets. The flight hours have been divided into two: operational flying hours and system development and demonstration flight test hours.

Operational Feasibility Addressed in the JSF System

The system has enhanced dominance and can cope with hostile airspace environment. It has made advancements in stealth-integrated avionics sensor fusion and superior logistic support. It has the strongest sensor package (Sullivan, 2014). This feature makes it outperform the previous versions made. The F-35 advanced stealth can enable pilots to enter into war zones undetectable. Missions that were previously suicidal can now be performed with F-35. Moreover, the system has made advancements in electronic warfare. The pilots can track enemies and jam radars and even can be able to disrupt attacks (Vucetic, 2013). The advancement in avionics enables the pilot to get feeds about the battlefield information. The sensors collect information and share it with the command center. This system allows the pilots to reach targets more easily and suppress enemies perfectly.

How It Works


The F-35 has integrated a low observable stealth (Vucetic, 2013). It enables the aircraft to penetrate defended airspaces without being noticed by the radars. Previously, it could not be avoided, and the pilots had to look for other ways to penetrate defended airspaces.  The aircraft has the ability to carry all weapons and fuel with itself (Vucetic, 2013). The pilots can attack ground targets at longer ranges than they would previously. It makes the aircraft even more feasible. It can clear the way for other aircraft enabling the mission to achieve better success. Its sensor gives the pilots a cutting edge over potential enemies in the air space (Vucetic, 2013). Previous fighter jets have a larger radar cross section, which makes them easily detected by the enemies. The enhanced ability to see enemies and not be detected is one of the main advancements of the program. The pilots of the aircraft have enhanced situational awareness. The aircraft can capture more sensitive data than the previous versions.

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The JSF has incorporated the best ideas to streamline its acquisition. It uses a lean footprint and aims to achieve impressive combat abilities (Vucetic, 2013). The JSF system is capable of generating full range initial surge. It also minimizes the size of the initial sortie generation. It utilizes to a great extent maintainable, reliable, and deployable aspects of the air vehicle. It also supports enhanced weapons diagnostics (Vucetic, 2013). It can respond to updates through its enhanced intelligence. It is similar to the human system where basic functions respond without any conscious thought. It has a smart weapon system that supports multi-functions (Vucetic, 2013).