A USMC F-35B. The Marine Corps declared IOC with Block 2B software in July 2015 as it provided increased initial warfighting capability. Marine F-35Bs have the necessary weapons to conduct close air support, air interdiction and limited suppression/destruction of enemy air defence missions. Credit: USMC

"Risks understood and manageable" as F-35 faces intense scrutiny

The US Joint Program Office (JPO) responsible for the delivery of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has released a public statement as the annual report conducted by the Pentagon's Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) is about to be released to US Congress.

Claiming there were no surprises in the draft report, the JPO said the issues raised in the report were "well known to the JPO, the US services, international partners and [its] industry team". 

The issues raised by DOT&E chief Michael Gilmore were centred on the need for more robust cyber security testing of the fighter's Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) and the concern over the JPO's ability to have the Block 3F software ready by the scheduled date of August 2017. 

Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan said in the statement that "although the DOT&E report is factually accurate, it does not fully address program efforts to resolve known technical challenges and schedule risks".

He cited a proven track record of the JPO overcoming challenges such as its resolutions of problems involving the F-35C tailhook, the F135 engine rub and the F-35B STOVL Auxiliary Air Inlet door.

Bogdan recognised that challenges remained with regard to ALIS but that "disciplined systems engineering processes addressing the complexity of writing, testing and integrating mission systems and ALIS software have improved the delivery of capability".

Bogdan said coding for the final development software block (known as 3F) was completed in June 2015 and the software has been released for flight testing.

"Additional updates are planned throughout the year with 3F tracking for completion by the end of the System Development and Demonstration Program (SDD) in the fall of 2017 in order to support US Navy Initial Operating Capability in 2018 and the start of initial OT&E."

ADM has sought comment from Australian JSF Program Manager Air Vice Marshal Chris Deeble and will be reporting further on this story in coming days.  



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