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Whose JSF is Stealthier?

Lockheed Martin has been handed another $134 million contract to develop a "partner version" of the JSF "that meets U.S. National Disclosure Policy, but remains common to the U.S. Air System, where possible." That's on top of $603 million awarded for the same basic job four years ago.shed-f22.jpgThat's pretty close to the billion dollars that USAF Lt.Gen. Jeffrey Kohler, head of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, said would be needed to create a sanitized F-22 for Japan.The Delta SDD program mentioned in the contract documents is an interesting beast. Look at papers from the Netherlands from 2004 -- when opposition politicians asked after the 2003 contract whether it meant that the Netherlands were getting a less-stealthy JSF. They stress that the Delta SDD covers things like nationally required features (for instance, Norway wants a braking parachute) and nationally specific weapons -- if someone wants IRIS-T, for example.But that clashes with the bald statement in the Pentagon contracts that the $737 million program is about security and protecting US technology, by delivering air vehicles that are different from US air vehicles -- "as common as possible". Also, features such as nationally required weapons wouldn't be covered in SDD, which has a defined set of weapons to be cleared for the Block 3 configuration -- the endpoint of SDD.Does this mean that there are two or more versions of the JSF, with differing uses of sensitive technology -- meaning, in most people's eyes, stealth? It's certainly possible, because key LO features -- such as the edges of the wing and chine and surface coatings -- are built in secure facilities and added after major assembly -- as can be seen in an unpainted F-22.

The decision on whether to release stealth technology is also not up to the JSF program office, but to a high-level group called the LO/Counter-LO Executive Commitee (LO/CLO-Excom).

Read the rest of this story from our friends at Aviation Week on Military.com

-- Christian

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