Home » Air » F-35 Watch » Software Delays Could Slow F-35B Delivery

Software Delays Could Slow F-35B Delivery

by Kris Osborn on April 2, 2014

F-35BThe initial operating capability date for the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter short-take-off-and-landing variant may be delayed by several months due to software problems, Marine Corps leaders told lawmakers at a Senate budget hearing April 2.

“We are tentatively behind schedule. The IOC is forecasted for July 2015. We have every expectation that could be delayed by several months. It will continue to be conditions based,” Gen. John Paxton, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps told the Senate Subcommittee on Seapower.

The software issues were delineated in a March 24 Government Accountability Office report on the Joint Strike Fighter which found that delays in flight testing of critical software could stall delivery of F-35 capabilities.

“Challenges in development and testing of mission systems software continued through 2013, due largely to delays in software delivery, limited capability in the software when delivered, and the need to fix problems and re-test multiple software version,” the report states.

Mission systems testing verifies that the software-intensive systems that provide critical warfighting capabilities function properly, the report says. The Director of Operational Test and Evaluation predicts delivery of warfighting capabilities could be delayed by as much as 13 months, according to the report.

In addition, the report says delays could increase the already significant concurrency between testing and aircraft procurement and result in additional cost growth.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., questioned Corps leaders about the report, asking if the software problems could have a lasting impact on the Joint Strike Fighter program.

“The GAO has been consistently correct on the problems with the F-35 they have not been wrong a single time. Do you think these software challenges could impact the F-35’s ability to be fully combat ready ?”

Lt. Gen. Kenneth Glueck, Command General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, told McCain that the Corps would not declare IOC until the software is developed to meet the requirement.

The JSF program developmental strategy is, in part, grounded upon a series of incremental software “drops” — each one adding new capability to the platform. In total, there are more than 10 billion individual lines of code for the system, broken down into increments and “blocks,” F-35 program office officials explain.

Software Block 2B, while still short of the full final 3F software configuration, can provide data link capabilities and early fused sensor integration, program officials have said.

Block 2B you can provide basic close air support and fire an AMRAAM [Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile], JDAM [Joint Direct Attack Munition] or GBU 12 [laser-guided aerial bomb], JSF program officials said.

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{ 67 comments… read them below or add one }

Lance April 2, 2014 at 4:57 pm

That piece of junk delayed…. again…. Im shocked shocked!!!

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DDL April 2, 2014 at 5:35 pm

It's probably better this way. Hell, it would be a godsend if the software delivery could be delayed indefinitely. Of course we all know what LM would do about the software in the coming years.

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Charles James Haas April 3, 2014 at 4:03 am

Well, consider this. Appearently the F-35 is essentialy complete short of its software development. Seemed like there were a bzillion reasons why the F-35 wouldn't be effective in the past. Weight, helmet, can't fly at night, exhaust is too hot, can't trap on a carrier…. blah, blah, blah. Now, it is down to the software. Sounds lke the plane is nearly ready to go for all intents and purposes. Mind you, 88% of the software is already flying. It would appear that testing the software is what is slowing the progress. So, if you want to complain, take it to test organizations that appear to be the folks delaying things now.

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Joe April 6, 2014 at 5:52 am

F-35 won’t match up to f-18 and f-22 you can’t land it on carriers, it gets to hot to fast.

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Peter April 2, 2014 at 5:02 pm

Just one question. How many F-18's or Eurofighters (OK, may not be your choice but they're flying and working!) could the cost of this dragged out project have bought?

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bobbymike April 2, 2014 at 7:26 pm

Like it or not the question should be how many other 5th Generation fighters could have been purchased (other then the F-22 which I wish they would have bought more) there are NO other 5th Generation 'Stealth' fighters to buy.

F-18's and Eurofighters ain't it.

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jake April 2, 2014 at 8:04 pm

You’re being sold on a crock of $hit. Why do you rule out the f/22 ? We could of developed variants of an f/22 capable of filling different roles.

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Tiger April 2, 2014 at 8:07 pm

Not that simple. Besides it has it's own issues.

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Ben April 2, 2014 at 8:31 pm

The F-22's issues are sunshine and bunnies compared to the F-35..

Bullfrog April 2, 2014 at 9:09 pm

Call me crazy, but a 2014 F-22 would most likely have the same software issues that the F-35 has.

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Charles James Haas April 3, 2014 at 4:22 am

Well, the same people that are complaining about the F-35 were complaining about the F-22. Personally, I was in favor of keeping the F-22 line open to create variants like a two seat UAV controllers. But we are so short sighted.

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Mitch S. April 2, 2014 at 9:31 pm

Wrong question.
The question is: What kind(s) of plane(s) do we need to perform the current and anticipated missions?
Do they all have to have stealth when stealth drives up costs and limits functionality?

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Mitch S. April 2, 2014 at 9:36 pm

BTW my comment is directed to "bobbymike".

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Bernard April 3, 2014 at 8:24 am

Not just the stealth. Multi-role designs are inherently underperforming and overpriced, it's the same lesson we learned from the F-111. Worse, vertical landing is a massive penalty on an airframe increasing weight, cost, and maintenance, while reducing payload and performance. We learned that lesson from the Harrier which was an under performing garage queen that still has a better STOVL design than the F-35.

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tiger April 3, 2014 at 8:09 pm

You made some rather blanket statements. While you bash the F-111( not a bad plane & whose talents we could use today) You over look multi role success stories like the F-4. Calling the AV8-B a garage queen is really over the top.

Charles James Haas April 3, 2014 at 4:16 am

Really, the Eurofighter isn't even operation with the Meteor missile yet. Its fist blocks weren't even capable of conducting air to ground ops. The F-16 has gone through so many block updates in its software, it is amazing. Imagine if when the F-16 was developed in the Block 10 variant, were didn't declare it operational until all the Block 50 M7 Operational Flight Program was ready. That is what is going on here. Neither program has had to deal with anything like the software challenge that Lockheed Martin is facing. Perry Spey designed the F-16 originally as a within visual, air to air dogfighter, using only IR missiles, and a ranging radar only. It is a great airplane today, but we would never buy it today. It took over 14 years to get it to be useful in Desert Storm. And yet, it is vastly more improved that even the Desert Storm variants (many of which have been retired). Block 3i software will be the full warfighting variant, but the F-35 software will no doubt be upgraded many times in its lifetime. When the F-35 is retired, it will be far better than we can imagine, based mainly o the software improvements made to the aircraft.

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SirSapo April 3, 2014 at 8:59 pm

I agree with all your points except that Pierre Sprey "designed" the F-16. It drives me crazy that people attribute the "design" of the Viper to the guy who merely came up with the requirements for the competition it was born from. If you want to call someone the "designer" of the F-16, that would be Harry Hillaker an actual aeronautical engineer… /rant

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DDL April 5, 2014 at 12:49 am

(1) you don't know exactly what Sprey had done in the development of the F-16.

(2) coming up with a sound set of specifications (what you call requirements) is of utmost importance and complexity in the design and development of a major AF asset!!!!! As in Computer Science / programming, finalizing a complete set of specifications for a programming language or a large application is often the most difficult and complex task of the entire project, requiring many cycles of analysis, consultation and revisions.

(3) no single person can be the "actual aeronautical engineer" for a project like designing the F-16. Not even close. Not in the real world.

(4) The F-16 may be considered a small jet, but for anyone who knows something about fighter jet design, he would refer to the project as a Large Complex System Engineering Project, one that encompasses complex engineering work across a wide spectrum of distinct fields.

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Big-Dean April 2, 2014 at 5:03 pm

Hey Lockhead
how's that outsourced software development to India (but Chinese owned) working out for you.
I hear that they promise to not leak any more code to their Chinese masters.
I also hear that they promise to reduce coding errors to only a single error for every 5 lines of code
I also hear that they promise that the code will compile by the year 2026
Lastly, I hear that they promise to not change any more of the specs and to stop saying "yes sir, yes sir" all of the time

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DDL April 2, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Perhaps LM should increase the pay rate for those Indians programmers.

Anyway, it would be a miracle if the software could be delivered in full (not including upgrades) within 10 years. Right now the plane is useless without adequate target acquisition and firing control software, and I'm not even counting the various mechanical and electronic problems currently plaguing the F-35.

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meandyou April 3, 2014 at 3:40 am

actually its a english firm

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themmeyou April 3, 2014 at 3:41 am

oh and yes is no is Hindi

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guest April 7, 2014 at 8:21 am

Yeah, I was a developer in San Diego and these greedy money grubbing defense contractors didn't want to pay us Americans a living wage in San Diego, they want all profit for their stock price. No wonder the drones are getting taken by Iran.

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hibeam April 2, 2014 at 5:10 pm

I hear the Chinese code is much further along. Try a reverse hack attack.

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Delta April 2, 2014 at 5:13 pm

Maybe they should consider outsourcing to whoever knows how to do this.
And did it 20 years ago.
And still does it.
Just sayin'…

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bud April 2, 2014 at 5:13 pm

its not all lockheed's fault when you have congress and senate all wanting a piece of the manufacturing pork barrel. I'm sure it would've gone a lot more smoother if they didn't have to buy nuts in arizona and bolts in maine. just sayn'

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oblatt22 April 3, 2014 at 2:24 am

Nonsense its Lockheed's idea to corrupt the procurement process.

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larrieer April 2, 2014 at 5:53 pm

I SWEAR WE NEED THE PIZZA NOW

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Daniel George April 2, 2014 at 5:58 pm
tee April 2, 2014 at 7:27 pm

The " Junk Strike Fighter " the program that just keeps on running, no matter how much it cost the taxpayers and how bad it is. No matter how many times they have to lower the requirements so it can just barely pass.

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William_C1 April 3, 2014 at 4:20 am

You mean the one time? Two if you could a 50 foot increase in short takeoff distance requirements for a loaded F-35B, although at last it was reported on it required less than half of that extra margin?

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Steve B. April 2, 2014 at 7:44 pm

Popcorn is in the microwave…..

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d. kellogg April 7, 2014 at 7:52 am

Well gee, it's not like we can just stick it in front of the radar…something's gonna surface at some point that 90% of the radar modes don't work right, either.
18million dollar popcorn popper, yet when all is said and done, you'll still have a bag of mostly useless kernels (or is it mostly useless colonels,…..either or).

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Tiger April 2, 2014 at 8:02 pm

Software by the same guys who did Healthcare.gov????

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uktous April 3, 2014 at 3:42 am

canadian / english, whats the difference

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Richard Dietzen MD April 2, 2014 at 8:49 pm

The reason we needed bad healthcare reform to throw granny under the bus is that the imperial wars are so expensive, and we are so broke. Of course, anyone that afford $2millon for a congressman or $6 million for a senator sets the agenda. That would be the insurance, health care and defense industries, not the public or active military.

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Brian B. Mulholland April 2, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Repeated relaxations of the aerodynamic requirements for the F-35 are public knowledge. I wonder if the requirements for the aircraft's software systems are similarly being relaxed, out of public view? As for a delay of "several months, based on program history, I translate that as "another year, if we're lucky."

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William_C1 April 3, 2014 at 4:05 am

You say "repeated", it happened once.

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Beno April 3, 2014 at 4:48 am

Good, new point for once. The AESA functions including Electronic Warfare aspects, and 360 by 360 sensor fusion are what puts the F35 ahead of the F22.
The ability to sence , see , target and fire counter any target in your spehere without the need to turn.
If we relax these criteria the basic machine really does star to become as bad as everyone says. Because kinetic performance will become significant again.
Beno

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Richard Dietzen April 6, 2014 at 9:17 pm

Kinetic performance would seem to be significant if the pilot is outnumbered, out of missiles, or could be outrun to a secure position, any or all of which would seem possible if operating in combat anywhere near China in the aircraft’s lifetime. Then the limited number of airframes and pilots would also matter. No? They would have numerical, probably home theater advantage, and, unless the pilot is defending home territory- probably non U.S., a very different political tolerance toward losses. If kinetics don’t matter so much, give me an STOL. For Pacific territorial disputes, it is harder to sink an island than to sink a carrier or disable an airstrip. The use of software should worry planners, considering how easily Snowden made off with the NSA’s Crown Jewels. Flying a hacked aircraft could prove difficult and deadly, as it could after an electromagnetic pulse countermeasure.
Aren’t we planning too few eggs and not enough baskets? We are tiny in area and population compared to the foe.

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Richard Dietzen April 6, 2014 at 9:44 pm

Well, better disregard “Your message could not be published, check your text and try again.”and the two resulting duplicates. Sorry.

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Richard Dietzen April 6, 2014 at 9:18 pm

Kinetic performance would seem to be significant if the pilot is outnumbered, out of missiles, or could be outrun to a secure position, any or all of which would seem possible if operating in combat anywhere near China in the aircraft’s lifetime. Then the limited number of airframes and pilots would also matter. No? They would have numerical, probably home theater advantage, and, unless the pilot is defending home territory- probably non U.S., a very different political tolerance toward losses. If kinetics don’t matter so much, give me an STOL. For Pacific territorial disputes, it is harder to sink an island than to sink a carrier or disable an airstrip. The use of software should worry planners, considering how easily Snowden made off with the NSA’s Crown Jewels. Flying a hacked aircraft could prove difficult and deadly, as it would after an electromagnetic pulse countermeasure.
Aren’t we planning too few eggs and not enough baskets? We are small in area and tiny in population compared to the foe.

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Richard Dietzen April 6, 2014 at 9:28 pm

Kinetic performance would seem to be significant if the pilot is outnumbered, out of missiles, or could be outrun to a secure position, any or all of which would seem possible if operating in combat anywhere in the Far East in the aircraft’s lifetime. Then the limited number of airframes and pilots would also matter. No? They would have numerical, probably home theater advantage, and, unless the pilot is defending home territory- probably non U.S., a very different political tolerance toward losses. If kinetics don’t matter so much, give me an STOL (or submarine launch). For Pacific territorial disputes, it is harder to sink an island than to sink a carrier or disable an airstrip.

The use of software should worry planners, considering how easily Snowden made off with the NSA’s Crown Jewels. Flying a hacked aircraft could prove difficult and deadly, as it would after an electromagnetic pulse countermeasure.

Aren’t we planning too few eggs and not enough baskets? We are small in area and tiny in population compared to the foe, which can potentially afford to field a swarm of combatants.

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hawounce April 2, 2014 at 10:46 pm

Im from maine and we build better fighters in the garage out back in one winter drinking beer and big ol bottles of black eye. dont you evah evah evah think maine cant make nuts and bolts, i defficate nuts and bolts way beyond the industry standards. if maine was given billions to build a fighter we would git er done. We would hire anonomous to write code, hire a vietcong,iraqi,and a lage older african american to develope warfighting capabilities. It would be capable off sitting i hole for months till it flys out of the bushes as silent as a mouse breaking wind, slitting your jugular.All while purchasing the land next to yours, just
so it can call NSA and have your family set to abu ghraib for making shoe bombs with “supossed” known al qaeda affiliates, followed with a beating from ritas huge 1960′s purple purse containing three items, a pack of kools with 3 hand rolled cigarettes squished inside with a crumbled up cellophane spilling spilling scrids rita’s gra4dson left after using a stolen beer can to smoke the sour diesel med marijuana he needs for the hurniatediscd caused by April’s teloscopic baton for looking similar to the mugger in a news stories she watched at age 6. Distriributed to all the soccer moms via weapons-universe April started,using time between eric’s pianno lesson and sally’s ballet recital. Years later when joe, the creepy 3rd cousin. last item in the 1960′s large purple puse is a coppy of the old testimate. Years later creepy 3rd cousin joe, exhiled from the family because eric and sally frequently woke up to joe standing guard with his knock off samurai sword, because the sally and eriks elf on the shelf told him krampus was lives in the closet. After waiting 30min for the internet to buffer the video of the fighter jet built in maine. Joe said “i keep telling the elf on the shelf to hire a mainer to take care of crampus” joe realized the mainers we able to build a fighter jet Without missles, that was able to stalk prey, use americas fear of shoe bombs, because its scary to have your face on a deck of cards. finally it was clear the older black womans program had the jet to find childhood fear of the target. the jet found found a large pupurple 1960s pocket book, it found a the diary the victim wrote about being locked in a large purple 1960s pocket book. The jet thengot a copy of the old testimate to convert radical muslums. without the three hand roled cigarettes and scids of sour diesel. the bums would have left him in the ally

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dubweiser101 April 3, 2014 at 1:30 am

Yet another delay… why am I not surprised?!

Cut funding for the F-35 in half or get the other member countries to pay their fair share to make up the difference. I'm looking at you Israel…

Anyway the savings could be put into into restarting the F/B-22 project now that the F-22A kinks have been worked out.

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Charles James Haas April 3, 2014 at 4:36 am

OK guys. You are seriously off base here. Looks, the South Koreans just ponied up for the F-35 over the Silent Eagle and the Eurofighter. Now, besides the recently killed F-22, there are no other fighters in production better than ththe Silent Eagle (not actually in production) and the Eurofighter. I am not actually aware of a country that has rejected the F-35 when offered it. (I know that some have lowered their buys, but none has backed out.) Then consider that all the three main countries not buying the F-35 are all building stealth aircraft (Russian and India building the T-50, and China building the J-20 and J-31 – which will be a poor copy of the F-35). None of these planes comes close to the software capabilities of the F-35.

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Mark April 3, 2014 at 10:41 am

So what you are saying is that if these other fighters shot a missile or dropped a bomb with their current software they wouldn't work? Because last I checked the f-35 at the moment can't either. So which is better, vaporware or those other planes?

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blight_ April 3, 2014 at 11:33 am

Thought the F-35 was already dropping weapons, though it's tough to keep track of all three versions sometimes.

The -A version fired an AMRAAM in October 2013. The day before a JSF-B dropped a Paveway II. Avweek declares that 2B software and IOC will come by July of next year and should have Paveway, AMRAAM and JDAM capability on day one. Not sure where the -C version is, but -C needs to trap reliably in addition to passing its weapons tests.

Just because one version has passed all its weapons tests doesn't necessarily mean the other two are ready to go. In an ideal world it does, but…

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Lacrymo April 3, 2014 at 9:31 pm

"here are no other fighters in production better than ththe Silent Eagle (not actually in production) and the Eurofighter."

The Rafale is way better than the Eurofighter

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Vsshooter April 3, 2014 at 9:20 am

Must be the same techies that wrote the code for Obamacare!

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Hitch Hiker April 3, 2014 at 12:52 pm

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

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BlackOwl18E April 3, 2014 at 6:43 pm

Someway some how this program is going to end, and when it does it will go down in history books as one of the biggest cluster****s ever made.

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tiger April 3, 2014 at 8:27 pm

Hmmm………Maginot Line, Gallipoli, USN Airships, Leaving the Bubble off JFK's limo,
George Lazenby as 007, New Coke, The remake of the Lone Ranger?

The F-35 could not be as bad as those, could it?

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DDL April 3, 2014 at 10:19 pm

No, it could not – it's hundreds of times worse than those.

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BlackOwl18E April 4, 2014 at 4:09 pm

In terms of dollars wasted, this is the worst thing in human history.

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blight_ April 6, 2014 at 9:15 pm

What do you have against USN airships? Asides from the atrocious attrition rate from weather.

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SMSgt Mac April 3, 2014 at 10:11 pm

Heh. I've let the fish run but it's time to reel them in.
This 'article' is so poorly written, its almost as if it were designer troll food for the lesser habitués of DT. Occam's Razor suggests it's just incompetence, but the 'guy' that wrote it should know better. Ostensibly, he's been a 'defense' correspondent for years – but you can't tell it from the article. The author needs to read Colin Clark about Mods being the IOC driver now. All the news,,,,last week. the first thing that should give a reader pause is the 'billions' of lines of total code?
Generals at the top rarely have the latest information in their hands when they get called up on the hill, but I suspect the testimony was clearer than the article. Note that nothing in the article supports the headline without the reader assuming the delays are now caused by software delays. The author repeats old data in a report that predates the testimony.
Current data? Per LM: "As of March 2014, more than 88 percent of the required F-35 software is currently flying. Approximately 97 percent of the required software has been coded. This equates to about 200,000 lines of code that remain to be written."
Prove LM's lying or y'all better start developing some coping skills.

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Jim April 4, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Such envy! Deep in their hearts, every one of these negative commenters wish they could fly or work on the F-35 program.

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Mark April 5, 2014 at 9:40 am

Change The Missle Design Should Address Some Of The Weight Issues Of All Of The Fighters’ Design For Starters, Might Even Permit More Load Of Missles And Still Address Some Of The Weight Malformaties. Take The Rest From The Engine And Internal Hardwares (3-D Printing, A Burnless Fiberglass Engine???) And Put The Necessary Into Fighter Frame… OPTIMISTIC About Software EFFICIENCY And EFFEFCTIVENESS In PRINCIPLE.

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Mark April 5, 2014 at 9:51 am

2. So, If / As You Do The Software And Internal Weight Capacities Right, LOGICA, Light Weight, Burnless, Conductable Materials, Then The External Frame Will Be The Subjective To The Terrain If I May, In Which, The F-35, etc As Well, As INNOVATIVE Versions Of Many Of Your Favorite Fighters Can Be Brought Back To Perform Their Unique (Terrain) Tasks… Because When It’s All Said And Done, Terrain Should Be The Only Uniqueness That These Fighters Abilities Differ At.

1. Change The Missle Design Should Address Some Of The Weight Issues Of All Of The Fighters’ Design For Starters, Might Even Permit More Load Of Missles And Still Address Some Of The Weight Malformaties. Take The Rest From The Engine And Internal Hardwares (3-D Printing, A Burnless Fiberglass Engine???) And Put The Necessary Into Fighter Frame… OPTIMISTIC About Software EFFICIENCY And EFFEFCTIVENESS In PRINCIPLE.

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Richard Dietzen April 6, 2014 at 8:28 pm

There’s a good nugget. I’m no expert, but hasn’t the bomb bay been designed around existing missile technology? Missile design should eventually become complementary to the Gen 5 platform.

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Arthur Moss April 6, 2014 at 12:02 am

One of the big problems with the F-35 is how much "Very New" Equipment and weapons are required to work together. It has become the "Fighter Pilots Dream". Total integration of all the electronics is a big challange.

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@E_L_P April 7, 2014 at 8:25 am

The F-35 is only a "fifth-generation-fighter" when flying on a PowerPoint slide.

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parsecwalker April 7, 2014 at 10:45 am

While there are software issues that may delay the operational timeline for the F-35; the US DoD has no choice except to continue buying the F-35 because of the time required to build the aircraft. The software is modular in design which means the F-35 will be capable of doing some things and will need to wait until the rest of the code is perfected; but the DoD knew this about the jet prior to picking it.

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really April 3, 2014 at 3:44 am

you mis-typed, you meant WTF

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Bernard April 4, 2014 at 1:02 pm

The F4 was not a success. It had poor maneuverability and sucked at air to air. It wasn't particularly good at anything and it costs too much. We should have learned from that but instead we just make the same mistake and make it worse.

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Bernard April 7, 2014 at 8:10 am

It's not multi-role if you need a separate model for a separate role. Furthermore, the Strike Eagle is still compromised as a bomber. It's combat radius to 790 miles as opposed to the 1220 mile radius of the standard Eagle. Furthermore, it's air to air performance is compromised by it's added weight.

Actually, it's very interesting that you mention the F-15 because the primary reason it was built was because of the F-4's failure in air superiority roles.

"The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle had been introduced by the United States Air Force (USAF) as a replacement for its fleet of McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom IIs. However, unlike the F-4, the F-15 was strictly designed for the air-superiority mission with little consideration for a ground-attack role; the F-15 Special Project Office opposed the idea of F-15s performing the interdiction mission, giving rise to the phrase "Not a pound for air to ground."[4] " http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonnell_Douglas_F-

Regardless, bombing and air superiority only qualifies as two roles covered by two variations of the same plane. The F-35 is supposed to also do close air support with the same airframe. Then that airframe has to be adapted into three variations with one for the Air Force, Navy, and Marines, while supporting supercruise and stealth. The scope of the F-35's expectations are far beyond that of any aircraft designed to date. We've seen what these kinds of ambitions do the resulting product and yet we refuse to learn because of politics and greed.

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