F-35 Joint Strike Fighter News, Videos and pics Thread


Jura

General
interestingly,
Next F-35 Deal Expected Soon, But Multi-Year Strategy Shifts

May 10, 2019
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The
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’s acquisition leader said on May 10 that she expects to sign the next production contract for hundreds of
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by July, but pulled back from the program’s previous plan to switch to a multi-year order for U.S. aircraft starting in 2021.

A contract signing by July would break a string of protracted negotiations between
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and the Joint Program Office (JPO) over each annual production lot.

The JPO signed the 11th lot of low-rate initial production (LRIP-11) for 141 F-35s on Sept. 28—nearly a year behind schedule and only three days before the fiscal year deadline.

If the prediction by Defense Undersecretary Ellen Lord proves accurate, the LRIP-12 negotiations would wrap up only six to seven months behind schedule. Since LRIP-1 aircraft were ordered in 2007 and delivered in 2009, the schedule for each follow-on F-35 contract can be tracked by adding six to the LRIP lot number for the year of order and adding eight for the year of delivery. Thus, LRIP-12 aircraft should have been ordered in 2018, but the delayed contract award does not change the scheduled delivery year of 2020.

The LRIP-12 contract also moves the program closer to an overall multi-year procurement. The contract includes pricing for a three-year block by international partners. But domestic law prevents the JPO from signing a multi-year contract for a weapon system before it reaches full-rate production. So the U.S. contract is for a single lot for LRIP-12, along with priced options for LRIP-13 and LRIP-14.

In 2018, the JPO confirmed that the long-term plan was to convert the U.S. orders to a multi-year procurement starting in the first lot of full-rate production, which begins with LRIP-15 aircraft ordered in 2021 and delivered in 2023.

But Lord, who oversees acquisition and sustainment, says a multi-year procurement contract is no longer part of the negotiating strategy for the U.S. orders.

“I’m not sure I would call it a goal. It’s under consideration,” Lord said, responding to a question from Aerospace DAILY. “There’s a question of the benefits to doing that, plus the negatives to doing that. Any decision I make will be a data-driven decision and right now we’re still collecting the data.”

Lord’s comments echo the prepared testimony for Vice Admiral Mat Winter, the F-35 program executive officer, who appeared as a witness on May 2 before the House Armed Services Committee.

“To date, the return-on-investment provided by our industry partner in regards to a Multi-Year procurement does not support proceeding with this acquisition approach,” Winter’s prepared testimony says.

The Pentagon usually requires a contractor to slash unit prices by at least 10% to justify a multi-year procurement deal.

As the program finalizes prices for the last three years of LRIP, Pentagon officials appear to be shifting focus away from unit costs to tackle the F-35’s current cost to operate per flight hour, which stands now at $44,000.

“We will continue to look at how to not only [get] the unit cost of the aircraft down but just as importantly, if not more importantly right now, I am focused on the cost per flight hour and the mission capability of the aircraft,” Lord said.

The flyaway unit price for the F-35A appears to be falling faster than program officials expected. Several years ago, the JPO set a goal to lower the unit price for each F-35A to $80-85 million, with the lower number representing an 11.5% cost reduction from the $89.2 million price for LRIP-11 aircraft.

With
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offering the
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with a recurring unit cost of $80 million, Lockheed now believes the F-35A can be cheaper by LRIP-14 for aircraft delivered in 2022.

“While it’s premature to discuss specifics as negotiations continue, we are absolutely confident that the final agreement for aircraft in Lots 12-14 will include an F-35A price below $80 million for Lot 14 in 2020, per our long standing commitment,” Lockheed says in a statement. “This represents equal or less than the procurement cost of legacy jets, while providing a generational leap in capability.”
 

Jura

General
Apr 30, 2019
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Polish defense minister: F-35 acquisition ‘not far away’

already heard at defence24.pl (
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)

OK the text:
now
US, Poland to Discuss Potential F-35 Sale, Air Force Secretary Says
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Warsaw’s eagerness to buy the Joint Strike Fighter came up during Heather Wilson’s April visit to Poland.

A U.S. delegation is scheduled to brief Polish defense officials eager to buy the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter later this month, U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said Monday.

The American team is expected to discuss the costs of buying the Lockheed Martin-made jet as well as the warfighting capabilities it would bring to the Polish military.

“They want to deepen their relationship with the United States of America in part by interoperability of advanced equipment,” Wilson said after a Meridian International Center event in Washington. “Those discussions are continuing. We’re providing the information that might be needed for them to make a decision.”

Poland has been
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its Soviet-era MiG-29 Fulcrum and Su-22 Fitter fighters for several years. Its air force has 31 MiG-29s and and 18 Su-22s, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ 2019 Military Balance. In recent weeks, Polish officials said they
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32 F-35s.

“The Polish government has decided that they want the F-35 and they’re in discussions with the United States,” Wilson said Monday.

U.S. officials heading to Poland is a sign that the potential deal is going through the standard foreign military sale process.

The F-35’s design and electronic equipment make it difficult to track for advanced surface-to-air missiles — like the long-range S-300 SAMs that
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in its Kaliningrad exclave north of Poland.

When the U.S. Air Force deployed F-15 fighters from the 104th Fighter Wing to Estonia in 2016, the jets flew close to those Russian surface-to-air missiles.

“When you take off [in Estonia] you were either in or very close to being in a Russian [surface-to-air-missile] system out of Kaliningrad,” Col. Tom Bladen, operations officer with the 104th Fighter Wing,
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Defense One in October 2016.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Marine Corps
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, where Russia has also deployed the S-300.

Last month, the F-35 program director listed Poland as a potential purchaser along with Greece, Singapore, Spain, and Romania. Vice Adm. Mat Winer submitted his
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to the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee.

Later in April, Poland Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak
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that a F-35 deal was “not far away.”

While the sale has not been approved by the U.S. State Department, Wilson said it came up when she
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in April.

“[T]hey want to be allied with the United States,” the secretary said. “If there’s one thing that’s really clear, is they fear and detest the Russians.”

Wilson touted Warsaw’s defense spending, which has been increasing for nearly three decades. Poland is one of seven NATO members who
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of its annual gross domestic product on defense.

Buying a fifth-generation fighter is expensive and includes an abundance of training, infrastructure, and maintenance costs beyond the aircraft themselves. Right now, an F-35A, the Air Force version of the Joint Strike Fighter, costs just under $90 million each. For comparison purposes, in January 2018, the Pentagon
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the sale of 34 F-35s to Belgium at $6.53 billion when all associated costs are factored in.

Poland already flies 48 Lockheed-made F-16 fighters.
 

Brumby

Major
A well written article on the F-35's EW features.

The F-35 Isn't Just 'Stealthy': Here's How Its Electronic Warfare System Gives It An Edge

The F-35 fighter is the enabler of American air dominance through midcentury. It will provide the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps with combat aircraft that can survive in places where no legacy fighters would be safe, collect information crucial to joint operations, and suppress threats that might otherwise preclude victory.

Despite the program’s importance, though, many politicians, pundits and even some senior military officers don’t understand key features of the F-35. For example, although the fighter is frequently described as “stealthy”—invisible to detection or tracking by radar and other sensors—public reference is seldom made to its electronic warfare capabilities.

That’s understandable, because release of details about the F-35 electronic warfare (EW) system is carefully controlled. However, it is the synergy of an integrated stealth design with the world’s most advanced EW architecture that makes F-35 the most survivable combat aircraft ever built. So you can’t fully understand the F-35 value proposition unless you have some grasp of the plane’s electronic warfare capabilities.

I have business ties of one sort or another to several of the biggest contractors involved in the F-35 program including airframe integrator Lockheed Martin, engine provider Pratt & Whitney, and electronic warfare lead BAE Systems. And yet, two decades after the fighter was first conceived, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I have ever had a serious conversation about the on-board EW suite. The industry team doesn’t like to talk about it in public, and neither does the government.

So what follows comes from other sources, all of them available to the public if people are willing to dig. Let’s begin with a description of what electronic warfare is all about. Among the handful of elemental forces that define our universe, electromagnetic energy has proven to be by far the most malleable in human hands. Electromagnetic energy is often said to be arrayed in a spectrum ranging from forms with the lowest frequencies (vibrations per second) and longest wavelengths to those with the highest frequencies and shortest wavelengths.

There are no obvious boundaries in this continuum, but the properties of electromagnetic energy gradually change as frequencies increase and wavelengths decrease. The two most useful segments of the EM spectrum for warfighters are the infrared region of frequencies just below the visible light range, and the radio-wave frequencies of longer wavelength than infrared. As this description implies, radio waves and infrared energy are invisible to the human eye, but they can be readily detected and manipulated using a variety of technologies.

That is what electronic warfare was conceived to do. Long before the Pentagon designated the electromagnetic spectrum as a warfighting “domain,” military planners had figured out that if they could exploit the properties of radio and infrared waves while denying spectrum access to enemies, they would gain important operational advantages. For instance, by overloading relevant frequencies with energy, they could prevent enemy communications and radars from functioning effectively, and disrupt the homing sensors on heat-seeking missiles (which operate at infrared frequencies).

However, there are problems with this strategy. If you generate enough energy to “jam” hostile communications, you might disrupt friendly transmissions—or become a beacon to your enemies. So electronic warfare isn’t just about pumping out a lot of energy, it’s about managing how that energy is used while disguising your location and intent. The F-35 fighter is by far the most advanced expression of this science ever devised, because it must reconcile the generation of diverse signals with the requirement to remain stealthy and continuously utilize other on-board systems such as digital datalinks.

The only way to make all of these functions operate in harmony was to create an integrated architecture in which all of the key features of the airframe were closely coupled. That architecture differs greatly from the looser, “federated” architectures of last-generation fighters, because those aircraft were not designed to be stealthy. Once you decide you want to be invisible to enemy radar and other sensors, though, every emission your plane generates has to be carefully controlled. So even the turbofan engine on the F-35 is designed to limit its reflectivity to radar and the heat of its exhaust.

The core of the F-35’s electronic warfare system is the AN/ASQ-239 EW suite, a modular system providing both defensive and offensive capabilities ranging from detection of hostile emitters to geolocation of threats to the automated release of countermeasures—either infrared flares or radar-reflecting chaff. The system provides continuous, precise monitoring of threat frequencies in all directions, fusing and displaying relevant information inside the visor of the high-tech helmet worn by the plane's pilot. It not only will prioritize solutions to a threat, but it can respond without any action by the pilot.

The system also can assimilate information from various offboard sources including other F35s via a variety of secure datalinks, so that a pilot has comprehensive awareness of where hostile and friendly forces are in his or her vicinity. In fact, F-35 collects so much information in so many frequencies and wavelengths that it is often described by users as a sponge—soaking up everything in its operating area worth knowing.

Because the F-35 is highly integrated, it isn’t so easy to describe where the EW system ends and other parts on the electronic architecture start. Everything gets channeled through a central processor that sorts out diverse inputs at the rate of a trillion operations per second, and then the most appropriate on-board systems are used to address threats as needed. For instance, a “distributed aperture system” of six infrared cameras scattered around the airframe might detect surface-to-air missile launches originating from a particular location, leading to a pilot’s decision not only to dispense flares but also jam radars in the same area using the fighter’s multi-function radar.

Executing that kind of complicated response from a legacy fighter would take precious time, and might not be feasible at all given design limitations. Moreover, a legacy fighter would lack the advantage of an integrated stealth design, making it much more vulnerable even with EW upgrades. No aircraft can be invisible in every electromagnetic frequency, but the F-35 is designed to be so hard to detect in the frequencies used by targeting radars that an enemy would need to be nearly within visible range to even attempt a kill (very few enemies would be able to get that close without being shot down).

There are many arcane features of the F-35 EW system that I don’t have space to describe here, such as the towed decoy that distracts incoming missiles and the digital library that stores details about all known threats. Suffice it to say that when you take into account all the electronic features of the F-35 fighter and then combine them with the stealth qualities of engine and airframe, you end up with an invincible combat aircraft piloted by an operator with unprecedented situational awareness. This is why F-35s typically kill over 20 adversary aircraft for every friendly loss in exercises aimed at honing pilot skills.
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Brumby

Major
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At the top of the list, though, is boosting the command and control capabilities of the amphibious assault ships to best leverage the massive amount of data the F-35B will soak up as it flies its missions. In particular, the Wasp-class LHDs cannot take in all the data the jets are collecting and share them with Marines aboard and with other ships in the fleet – something the amphibious community wants to fix.
As I previously highlighted, the F-35's sensors are vacuuming up so much data that the existing communications infrastructure are simply having problem coping.
 

Jura

General
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As I previously highlighted, the F-35's sensors are vacuuming up so much data that the existing communications infrastructure are simply having problem coping.
wondering if it's "collect it all" as in
NSA is so overwhelmed with data, it's no longer effective, says whistleblower
One of the agency's first whistleblowers says the NSA is taking in too much data for it to handle, which can have disastrous -- if not deadly -- consequences.
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(dated April 27, 2016)
 

Jura

General
inside:
A well written article on the F-35's EW features.

The F-35 Isn't Just 'Stealthy': Here's How Its Electronic Warfare System Gives It An Edge


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"Everything gets channeled through a central processor that sorts out diverse inputs at the rate of a trillion operations per second, ..."

how would the author know there's 1 TFLOPs on board??
 

gelgoog

Senior Member
Registered Member
Last I heard about it the F-35 computer was no where near that speed. They might also be mentioning performance in DMIPS rather than FLOPS.

You should consider that they typically measure the performance of the whole compute module which might be multiple boards with several chips per board. In addition there are multiple versions of the F-35 ICP and the latest was announced last year I think.

Even if it really was 1 TFLOPS (I doubt it) that level of performance can be attained and surpassed with current GPUs. Even a single GPU chip.
An NVIDIA Turing GPU can do like 4 SP TFLOPS.

Even the Russians could do a board like that if they wanted to. A single Elbrus-8SV chip (VLIW) can attain half a TFLOPS. Two chips would be enough.
The chip is manufactured at 28 nm. Hardly a leading edge manufacture process.
SMIC has been able to manufacture with those sorts of features for a long time already and should be able to produce with 14 nm features this year.

That is the Russians we are talking about here... So the Chinese can do better.

China has the Sunway architecture used in the Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer for example.
 
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Brumby

Major
I have seen so many times the argument that the latest and greatest COTS somehow just seamlessly and readily can get adopted into military application that it warrants to be debunked. It is a false argument that does not reflect reality. Chips for military applications are of a different standard that go through a lengthy process of testing and hardening against radiation, EMP and shocks. The emphasis is about reliability and not the fastest and greatest. It is not a subject I have technical expertise but there is a poster (Hornetfinn) in F-16.net who works in the radar industry that did a writeup on this issue which I am reproducing because his insight comes with industry knowledge. This is at least a couple of years ago.

Intel introduced their first 65nm chip at the start of 2006 and Russia's Mikron is only now at that same 65nm. To add insult to injury those machines that Mikron is using are bought from the west (all modern lithography machines come from the west and Japan).

Another interesting fact is that the USA has more fabs for just military semiconductors than Russia has as a whole.

Elbrus-8S is at 28nm and Elbrus-16S with 16nm is due next year except both are manufactured by TMSC in Taiwan.

Mikron (the only manufacturer of such things in Russia), is about a decade behind at least and only now is beginning to acquire the (civilian) technology by licensing Western systems. That also means it is impossible for PAK-FA to have any such systems, or to have them in the near terms, since the production capacity in fact doesn't even exist at Mikron for such things yet.

I love the idea that Russia and China can just take a CPU and install it into an aircraft and be ready to go whereas USA and other Western countries take about a decade to do the same. If it was that easy, everybody would have latest and greatest processors and components in their aircraft. That's not feasible for multiple reasons (like environmental robustness requirements, security and power requirements, development and testing requirements). When somebody shows a box of something, that doesn't mean it will be flying in operational jets for some time. I really doubt Russia can put that processor in an operational jet for a long time as it will be far too unreliable and short lived for that. There is a good reason why processors and other ICs have special Military and Aerospace grades used.

Besides, it's not general purpose CPUs that do most of the number crunching in modern aircraft or modern anything any more. That job is done by FPGAs or even GPUs (like
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or AMD makes) which are insanely fast due to their natural massively parallel operation. FPGAs (and GPUs) easily crush CPUs in digital signal processing, fixed- and floating point calculations and generally handling massive amount of data. Basically the difference is like using real GPU for gaming graphics vs. using only CPU for that. Even a several generations old GPUs will beat latest Intel i7 quite easily in that department. CPUs are more flexible and that's why they are also used where that counts.

In 2013, LM bought well over 80,000 FPGAs for F-35s which means that F-35 likely use dozens of FPGAs doing computations. Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafael also use FPGAs as well. For example:
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Those are rather old technology when compared to normal commercial products, but not that old for Military and Aerospace grade products. How many FPGAs does PAK FA carry, what performance level and what grade?

All operational fighter aircraft fly with technologically really old processors. Everybody would like to have latest and greatest processors and components in their aircraft, but that would be basically impossible. It takes time to develop and hone all the complex software and hardware together and test all that accordingly. Changing CPUs would mean changing almost everything else as you cannot just swap the latest Intel i7-7567 in place of Intel Pentium 4 from 2002 for example. You would need to change pretty much all other components (motherboard, memory, memory devices). Then the software might not work well with newer components and would need to be replaced with newer versions. In military equipment there will be extensive and time consuming testing after every major change in components.

Will PAK FA really use 65 nm processors? I've seen no evidence of that and I don't see them using such processors. Maybe so if it enters service in 2030 or something similar. And like already mentioned, it's mostly the FPGAs that do the actual number crunching in F-35 and other modern Western fighters. I've yet to see Russian FPGA that are even remotely modern.

Anyone can design a 16nm or 14nm chip today if they outsource the production to
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, TSMC or Globalfoundries. Russia does not have 28nm production capability. Both the 28nm and 16nm chips are produced in TSMC. These chips are not military-grade nor can they be retrofitted for that.

The "latest & greatest" semiconductor production nodes are never available in military grade and I'm not sure if TSMC even has the capacity for that; or that they even would be willing to produce for foreign military. It's not like your engineers can design chips for 28 nm or whatever and voila! you have a military grade chip. Civilian grade stuff is completely different to what the military needs - temperature tolerances, greater reliability, EMP hardening. You can't just say "who cares, it's good enough". At 10000m and above you can start expecting more radiation in whatever form, and a single energetic particle can mess up your computation in a really bad way. By the way, a chip being good for general military use is NOT necessarily good enough for aerospace.

At high altitudes radiation becomes a concern. Granted, the ones for space are way, way more heavily shielded than for military aircraft. You must also take into account those need to survive EMP at range and fly through airspace that might be awash with radars, EW, EA...

The main goal of those Elbrus chips is security. That they can handle a wider range of temperature is a good thing and means they should be more reliable, however these chips are far from aerospace grade quality.

To make sure you are onboard Russian node size again:
* Russia's current smallest domestic fabrication node size is 65nm.
* Russia's 65nm production machines are second hand machines that they got from the west.
* Russia's domestically produced chips are at the smallest 65nm and they are not applicable for aerospace use.
* Russia does design smaller node size chips but they are not produced in Russia.
* The Russian designed chips that are not produced in Russia are not applicable for aerospace use.

Regarding ICP upgrades to APG-81. We can't know, but we can guess...

Off-the-shelf ruggedized aerospace application computers are available at 14nm technology, produced by Mercury Systems. Something like this:
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Which is essentially the highest you can get in in civilian production today as well.

TR2 is underway, and bidding for TR3 went out last year. So it’s safe to say it would be very likely this is the level we're talking about the current generation of APG-81.

The point of APG-81 was to be able to quickly integrate off-the-shelf components, which is why in 2004 they were able to use 90nm technology which at the time was also cutting edge. (by comparison if the claim that PAK-FA radar uses 65nm technology, which is still unlikely at this stage, that means it is already starting off at least 10 years behind in terms of manufacturing technology)

So we can guess APG-81 can keep up with the latest in civilian levels of fab manufacturing, given that such systems are already available for aerospace applications.

There are always people fantasizing about Russia or China being able to just jump to latest technology in their products. This hasn't ever happened though and they have constantly been lagging Western countries by couple of decades when it comes to avionics systems. Su-35 is the first operational Russian jet that has MIL-STD-1553 level databus and data link "Link 16" type. F-15 and F-16 got to that level 20-30 years ago. Su-30 N011M Bars radar has computer which has specs that are very roughly equal to what much smaller F/A-18C/D Hornets got roughly 10 years earlier. And it still has much lower SAR resolution. I don't see any possibility that they suddenly go from 1980s avionics systems to 2010s given their budget and technological capabilities. They might well aim for that eventually, but I'm sure that they need to go through iterative development like everybody else. I see PAK FA getting systems roughly similar to what Western 4th++ gen fighters have but at lower technological level overall.
 
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gelgoog

Senior Member
Registered Member
Eh. There are other foundries worldwide, even outside the US, which can manufacture chips with some level of radiation resistance.
ST Micro from Europe is one example. They can manufacture chips with silicon on insulator technology.

The leading edge fabrication facilities in the US are owned by Intel and GlobalFoundries. GlobalFoundries is owned by a fund from Abu Dhabi. Most of the process development at GlobalFoundries is actually done by Samsung. So Samsung basically has access to any process which GlobalFoundries has access to which includes silicon on insulator. Intel's leading edge fabs don't support fabrication with silicon on insulator technology, heck, AFAIK Intel uses no rad-hard specific manufacturing processes at all.
The fabs in the US which produce such rad hard chips specifically for the US military also typically use 2nd hand tools or are decades old and might as well be using 2nd hand tools which would likely be better. Guess who is one of the leading silicon on insulator (SOI) wafer manufacturers in the world? You guessed it, it is China.

SOI is widely used in RF, microwave, MEMS, so telecoms chips. Guess who is the leading manufacturer of 5G wireless telecoms equipment?

Also, to a large degree, making a specific rad hard processor or chip might not even be necessary if you use an adequate chip and board design.
For example SpaceX uses COTS hardware on their rockets. They just have a lot of redundant hardware chips so even if they have faults they can work around them.

With regards to Mikron, sure, they can only manufacture at 65nm. But there are plenty of foundries the Russians can use including in China.
AFAIK most of the production Mikron does is things like credit card chips for the Russian Mir payment system. You don't need some advanced fab to do that.
They can simply outsource the leading edge production. If push comes to shove, the Mikron factory is a security measure. Mikron can produce the Elbrus-4S at 65nm which does 107 GIPS and 50 GFLOPS. Which is good enough to make a system with that kind of performance if you use enough chips. It is faster than the processors either the F-22 or the initial F-35 ICPs use.

AFAIK the current Su-57 combat computer uses some SPARC processor derivative manufactured at 90nm also designed by MCST which will still have better performance than chips used in either F-22 or the initial F-35 ICPs.
 
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gelgoog

Senior Member
Registered Member
Also, you don't need millions of processors to manufacture a couple hundred combat aircraft. That is one reason why the Russian government limits their investments in fabrication facilities. China on the other hand has huge industries which can easily create the demand for large leading edge facilities.
 

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