Home » Air » Pentagon Develops F-35’s 4th Generation Software

Pentagon Develops F-35’s 4th Generation Software

by Kris Osborn on April 16, 2014

AF-7 Flight 185F-35 Joint Strike Fighter officials are in the early phases of mapping out a fourth software drop designed to ensure the fifth generation fighter can counter threats and weapons expected to emerge in the mid 2020’s and beyond, Air Force officials said.

“Block 4 will be that next block of software that we do. We will gather up all the requirements of what we need as a nation to counter the emerging threats that we can see even past what we can already do,” said Col. Carl Schaefer, the Air Force’s top Joint Strike Fighter integration official.

The fourth increment will build upon existing increments now in development, Schaefer added.

Many of the JSF’s combat capabilities are woven into developmental software increments or “drops,” each designed to advance the platforms technical abilities. There are more than 8 million individual lines of code in the JSF system.

Defense analysts and investigators said these lines of code poses the most significant risk to the timely development of the F-35. Delays in the software development will stall aircraft deliveries, the Government Accountability Office found.

Schaefer said many military officials with the JSF program disagree with the GAO’s March report.

“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 versions,” the report states.

Schaefer said F-35 software development is largely on track.

Block 2B builds upon the enhanced simulated weapons, data link capabilities and early fused sensor integration of the earlier Block 2A software drop. Block 2B will enable the JSF to provide basic close air support and fire an AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile), JDADM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) or GBU-12 (laser-guided aerial bomb), JSF program officials said.

The next increments, Blocks 3i will increase the combat capability even further and Block 3F will bring a vastly increased ability to suppress enemy air defenses.

The Marine Corps is planning to declare initial operational capability for its short-take-off-and-landing F-35B JSF by 2015 and the Air Force plans IOC with software block 3i in 2016, Schaefer said. Full operational capability will come with Block 3F, he added.

Block 3F will increase the weapons delivery capacity of the JSF as well, giving it the ability to drop a Small Diameter Bomb, 500-pound JDAM and AIM 9X short-range air-to-air missile, Schaefer added.

The AIM 9X is an Air Force and Navy heat-seeking infrared missile and the Small Diameter Bomb, or SBD, is a precision-guided, air-dropped Air Force bomb engineered with a next-generation seeker.  The SDB seeker uses what’s called a tri-mode seeker which can utilize millimeter wave radar, infrared guidance and semi-active laser technology, Raytheon officials said.

Block 4 will be broken down into two separate increments, Block 4A is slated to be ready by 2021 and Block 4B is planned for 2023. The first portion of Block 4 software funding, roughly $12 million, arrived in the 2014 budget, Air Force officials said.

“Block 4 will include some unique partner weapons including British weapons, Turkish weapons and some of the other European country weapons that they want to get on their own plane,” said Thomas Lawhead, operations lead for JSF integration office.

Lawhead added that Block IV will also increase the weapons envelope for the U.S. variant of the fighter jet.  A big part of the developmental calculus for Block 4 is to work on the kinds of enemy air defense systems and weaponry the aircraft may face from the 2020’s through the 2040’s and beyond.

“Coming up with requirements always starts with the threat. How are we going to meet national security objectives in the future?  Based on those objectives we look at the threat and then we decide how we are going to counter the threat,” Schaefer said.

The rationale for the Block 4 software increment is to keep pace with technological change and prepare technology for threats likely to emerge 20 years into the future, Schaefer and Lawhead explained.

“If you look back to 2001 when the JSF threat started, the threats were mostly European centric – Russian made SA-10s or SA-20s. Now the future threats are looking at more Chinese-made and Asian made threats. Those threats that are further out are the ones that are being focused on for Block 4,” Lawhead said.

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{ 142 comments… read them below or add one }

Dfens April 16, 2014 at 4:08 pm

The Pentagon isn't "developing" any software. They are paying defense contractors to do that for them, and paying those contractors $1.10 to $1.15 for every $1.00 the contractors spend coming up with the Pentagon's new software builds. I wish I could get someone to give me a $1.10 for every dollar I could spend. I'd spend myself rich, just like these defense contractors are doing.


Josh April 16, 2014 at 6:32 pm

I’m not a business or finance major, but I’m assuming that it’s pretty hard to run a business making the exact same amount of money as you are spending.


ShamWowed April 17, 2014 at 12:33 am

No kidding, go to the E-bike article and you would have thought Darpa was demanding the first born from each household to become slaves. Yeah we get it, defense tech is expensive. Guess our astute accountants wish they could apply their taxes as they see fit.


oblatt22 April 17, 2014 at 7:54 am

Always nice to find a thread where government employees get together to assure each other that corruption is normal.


ShamWowed April 17, 2014 at 10:21 am

My government employee status was finished the day I was honorably discharged from the Marines. However, I am a software developer. I do not work for free or peanuts or your imaginary honor system that you expect. Is there inefficiency and corruption in government procurement, you bet. However, you guys harp on this all the damn time. When it is your son or daughter on the front lines, maybe you would be more willing to commit money and by the best available tech. Just a thought.

Brian April 18, 2014 at 9:47 pm

The issue is the cost-plus contract of the job where the contractor has no incentive to underspend on the job. They will always meet or exceed planned spending, up to the Nunn-McCurdy limit. If they are on a "critical" program, even these limits are not meaningful.


Charles James Haas April 21, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Dfens, you are so ignorant. A ten percent profit margin for software is actually a great deal. Companies like MicroSoft make up to 50% or more for software they develop. Not that it isn't worth it, otherwise no one would buy it. You need a lesson in capitalism.


blight_ April 16, 2014 at 4:12 pm

Quick, more lines of code!


Dfens April 16, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Here's another 100,000 lines of code. They don't do anything, but I had to pay the stupidest engineers I could find $30,000,000 to write them so give me my $30,000,000 to cover my costs and another $3,000,000 to put in my pocket. And oh by the way, if you want that code to work it will cost you another $10,000,000 plus that $1,000,000 for me. Where else could you find someone stupid enough to write a contract like that outside of the US federal government?


Lance Brown April 16, 2014 at 4:32 pm

The plane isn't even in service yet and we have had 4 computer upgrades proof that this plane is a loser and time for better planes i.e. Silent eagle and return or the F-22.


William_C1 April 16, 2014 at 5:00 pm

It doesn't work that way, these are planned software implementations, not overhauling the basic avionics.


Big-Dean April 17, 2014 at 2:39 pm

wrong William, open your eyes
this is "planned" by Lockhead to make the most money by stringing out this program to 20 years

so now they are cranking out empty airframes that can't do the mission and perhaps by the year 2037 we might have a real working aircract but then we'll be bankrupt


Josh April 17, 2014 at 8:45 pm

What he said is correct though; Block 4 does not require any changes to any hardware; it's a software update. If you still refuse to believe that, provide a source that states otherwise.


Charles James Haas April 21, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Better said it is actually a software add on, as previous software largely remains unchanged, but new code is added to increase capabilities.

tiger April 17, 2014 at 9:01 am

If you folks had your way, we would Keep Making F 4 Phantom II's forever.


ev3r3tt April 17, 2014 at 10:06 am

If we had our way, a qualified software companies would be making and testing software that works with the aircraft and completely functional in a 2 year window. This current aircraft software is running on 8 years and not completely functional with the first 6 years dysfunctional.


Big-Dean April 17, 2014 at 2:40 pm

it we had our way we would've fired Lockhead years ago for corruption and incompetence


Dfens April 21, 2014 at 9:43 am

Fire them? We pay them extra for incompetence. A lot extra.


Charles James Haas April 21, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Actually, it is more like re-writing all the codes we learned from the F-15, F-16, F/A-18, F-117, and F-22 so it meets the F-35s airframe with additional code added to develop things like sensor fusion, the EO/DAS, the HMD, and other completely new technologies. The code we have on our other fighters didn't happen over night, it took over 35 years for the software on these fighters to get them where we are today. If the Air Force asked Lockheed Martin to develop the F-16 in 1978, with the capabilities we have today, then we would have had a non-operational fighter waiting for software for 35 years. Now, 88% of the F-35 Block 3F code is already written and flying. I submit that testing the code is what is slowing the process down. Testing code actually requires flying hours in highly instrumented aircraft under very specific safety measures, and a huge amount of data collection and review. Now, please tell me how do you speed this up?


ev3r3tt April 21, 2014 at 6:49 pm

This question is the trick. How to speed up all the old programming written in Fortran, Pascal, Assembly mostly running on 808xx processor. There is a lot of code that has been created, but holding on to legacy code complicates development. I know that the clock is uncontrolled in new systems, but using instances is actually a blessing in disguise. Working with newer technologies and making it work in a closed system. The code needs to move with existing technologies. This is only one way, and there are many ways. Hitting the full functionality on the first build should be the goal.


Charles James Haas April 23, 2014 at 2:24 pm

You are missing the point. The code is mostly written (88%). The problem is testing all the software functions in the sky. The CATBird can only do so much. Every function has to be tested by the planes in the air while pulling Gs. This cost time and money as flying is rather expensive. But it has to be done.

Mystick April 17, 2014 at 1:38 pm

I was thinking the same thing.


guest April 17, 2014 at 4:15 pm

This is the; 'obamacare' of jets……..


Dfens April 21, 2014 at 9:45 am

I love it when people "get it". Guest has perfectly summarized the JSF program.


Charles James Haas April 21, 2014 at 4:27 pm

No, Obamacare was simply a web site to sign people up with an insurance policy that already exists. This is taking software development over the past 35 years in other jets, adding capabilities, and applying it to a completely new jet. Obamacare has nowhere near 8 million lines of code, and I never heard of anyone falling out of the sky if Obamacare website crashed. It would be like millions of people dying trying to sign up for healthcare. Dfens and guest – What Operational Flight Software have you ever written? And since you obviously are so good at it, try and sell your products to the DoD. Then you could be laughing all the way to the bank. Otherwise, your words are hot air.


Charles James Haas April 21, 2014 at 4:04 pm

Lance, the plane was designed for software upgrades. All our current fighters are getting software upgrades. The F-35 it actually the first plane designed to accept the upgrades as part of its development. As all our other planes were designed in the 70s and 80s, they weren't designed for such detailed upgrades. So, like our current fighters, the F-35 will be upgraded continually until they are no longer flying. Unless you think having fighters designs remaining stagant is a good idea?


JKay April 16, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Ya hear that? We're talkin' code


meow April 16, 2014 at 5:47 pm

of course we're talking.

do you expect us to be writing it instead? that's the job for the Indians, the Chinese, and the Russians.


tee April 16, 2014 at 4:45 pm

They can't even get Block 2 to work correctly, at the rate they are going the Block 4 will be "Done & Useable" by 2030 if they keep at their current pace.


Charles James Haas April 21, 2014 at 4:43 pm

Block 2A is already operational and being used to train pilots. Block 2B is in the final testing stage, an getting ready for training Marine pilots so they will reach IOC next year. While, I am sure both will be improved until the are superceded by Block 3 drops, that is actually why we test aircraft. Something working correctly is true only if you mean perfectly. As both Blocks are currently flying, you could say they are working. As Block 2A is being used to train pilots, then I would suggest it is operating correctly. As Block 2B is being flight tested, it must be mature enough to actually try to demonstrate the functions they intend on using it for. Seeing as they are dropping bombs and firing missiles, which is the basic function of the F-35, it is hard to say that it isn't working. Now, they may not yet have tested firing an AMRAAM while in a 35 degree bank upside down, pulling 4 g's yet, but as with the F-22, they will get there eventually. In fact, they are still testing new F-22 software code. Are you telling me that the F-22 doesn't work? Tell me what exactly about the Block 2 code is currently a show stopper for the plane? Well, as the code is TOP SECRET, I am sure you have no idea, so you don't really have to answer that rhetorical question. It is self evident you likely know little about what you are talking about.


nick987654 April 16, 2014 at 5:14 pm

According to this document: http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2012annual_psr/WERTH.pdf

block 3F will have the sdb1, not the sdb2 with the tri mode seeker. the sdb2 will come with block 4.


Charles James Haas April 21, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Someone that actually uses legitamate sources to answer questions, how rare. And mind you, this information is over two years old. But still, it comes from a legitamate source.


Hunter76 April 16, 2014 at 6:19 pm

What is the likelihood the bulk of the code leaves in a microdrive?


Seymour Buttes April 16, 2014 at 9:58 pm

My Vegas bookie says smart money on blocks 3 and 4 walking out.


ev3r3tt April 17, 2014 at 12:10 am

I really don't like these block developments (aka: spiral development). Very costly and very lengthy. I really don't think the military gets anything worth while out of it until the plane has aged half it's life. This is a really big expense that should be removed in a sequester.


nick987654 April 17, 2014 at 7:17 am

You can't go operational with the full capabilities or it would take forever. A new release every 2 years is quite good, and it's certainly possible to accelerate the introduction of a particular weapon in case of emergency. A software upgrade is no big deal.


oblatt22 April 17, 2014 at 9:28 am

Sounds like the losers table excuses.

There is always a table in the cafeteria where the losers hang out. There they tell each other how their poor performance is fine that everyone has bad days just that theirs is every day.

And these people wonder why we make sure to let them go first.


ev3r3tt April 17, 2014 at 9:58 am

A little taste of reality is that Microsoft has introduced a new version of windows almost every two years. Completely capable of running everything your laptop is attached to and has been functionally tested. Also, software problems have lead to many crashes and failures in the field, so it is a big deal. Saying it's no big deal, just says that there is no thought of the soldier on the other end.


blight_ April 17, 2014 at 12:42 pm

What's sad is that F-16, F-22, F-35, 787 and A380 run Integrity, a Real-Time OS product from Green Hills Software…so it's not like the operating environment changed all that much. The hardware is presumably quite different, as are the operating parameters…but how much wheel-reinventing is going on?

A fun link from 2003: http://www.militaryaerospace.com/articles/print/v

I get the feeling that integration didn't quite work out for them. Vertical integration is usually easier when you make everything, instead of farming out the work to the congressional districts of people on HASC. The American defense industry is probably the most un-vertically integrated enterprise on earth.


MC14 April 23, 2014 at 10:12 am

It's not that there is a lot of "reinventing the wheel" going on. It is mostly a uniquely inefficient environment in which to develop software. There is a reason companies like Boeing and Lockheed charge the government 8 engineering hours per line of code. It's because that's how long it takes to write code in that environment. I know of one group that has weekly code review meetings. They go through every line of code everyone in the group has written during the week.

First of all, when I am in code writing mode, there's no way a group of people is going to go through every line of code I wrote during that week. They would not have enough hours in their day. Second, can you imagine how slowly these people write code given that a group of 10 or 12 people can do a review like that every single week?

Lockheed and Boeing are very aware of the fact that their engineers get paid by the hour. They have many systems in place to make sure that an engineer's hours are filled with things to do that slow them down and make them as inefficient as possible at doing their task. This is how they maximize profit. It is not a game to these companies. They are very serious and deliberate at how they do this.

nick987654 April 17, 2014 at 2:57 pm

I don't know exactly how software development on the F-35 is done. However, if a new block has say 10 new functionalities, you don't necessarily need to have the 10 tested to install a new software release. The functionalities can be independant from one another so you can install only what you have tested.

For instance integrating one weapon is independant from integrating another one. Making the software package and installing it on the hardware should be relatively easy. Every software company uses a version management software to install its releases. That's what I mean by no big deal.

I also guess the flight testing could probably be accelerated should the USAF/USN/USMC need a new functionality urgently.


ev3r3tt April 17, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Geez… it that the way it is done these days. Horrible system. Without going into details, all instances of system functionality should already be on the bus. If it is not connected, don't test it. Each LRU is only responses to inputs. All available functionalities should be at various stages of development but in the LRU. If function is critical to flight, it has to work from Block 1. Other blocks are to support other LRU needs. Again… not too hard and shouldn't take 8 years to complete. I really don't like spiral development and why combine software from the three branches all perform differently. Then many of the LRU are COTS or other aircraft integrations and complete… I got to get off… pissing me off.

Charles James Haas April 21, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Well, you never get anything unless you accept something. As to the extra expense, each drop is being modified, not completely re-written. The expense is mainly found in flight testing the code, not writing it. Jet fuel, spare parts, bombs and missiles are not free last time I checked.


ev3r3tt April 21, 2014 at 7:17 pm

yeah. I know.


John Fourquet April 17, 2014 at 6:12 am

The soft wear if it work as promised will be out standing. But why are we putting it into such an inferior air frame? Why not put in into an update F-15SE, add super cruise and thrust vectoring to the F-15SE and start on the next generation fighter.


Josh April 17, 2014 at 9:14 am

Because you can't do that and reasonably expect it to cost less than an F-35A.

Remember too that you also need to update the avionics systems, the electronic warfare suites and also the targeting systems which will cost you quite a few $.

Not to mention too that maintaining an F-15E right now already costs more than maintaining an F-35. Add thrust vectoring and various other complex systems and you're looking at something almost as costly to maintain as an F-22.


ev3r3tt April 17, 2014 at 10:15 am

Actually cost of upgrading avionics has showed less costly than new aircrafts. This is probably due to known performance characteristics of the aircraft and not have to deal with aircraft development teams that don't want to work together. In an upgrade, the primary contractor knows what to change and usually working with existing code to clean up.


Charles James Haas April 21, 2014 at 4:56 pm

Old airframe, old computers systems… And F-15 does not have room for 8 million lines of code in its computer system, could not run it on its older systems, and systems just as expensive would have to be developed to try to make is a poor example of an F-35. Technology marchs forward, not backwards.


nick987654 April 17, 2014 at 7:26 am

I don't really get the rationale of fielding the 9x bl 1 at block 3F. The F-35 has all the sensors to use the block 2 at max range with its datalink so why bother with the block1?

And the SDBII is very important to strike a lot of moving targets in stealth mode ( 8 internal ) . The 9X block 1 integration is far less important than the SDBII.

Also does anybody know if the the JSOW at block 3F includes the 3 variants?


Josh April 17, 2014 at 9:20 am

I believe JSOW won't be available for the F-35B (internally) due to the shortening of the weapons bay, but the other 2 variants should be capable.

Besides that though, When you say Block 1, are you talking about the SDB 1 or the JSF Block 1 code? If the latter, then I think you have concepts mixed up…

If you mean the former though, it's because the JSF needs to integrate weapon datalink capabilities and with the tri-mode seeker of the SDB II; there's more code to write and (especially) test for the various forms of targeting, whereas the SDB 1 only uses GPS, which is pretty much identical to develop for as the JDAM, which is the JSF and Coalition's main munition.


nick987654 April 17, 2014 at 11:29 am

I was talking about AIM-9X block 1. They want to integrate it in software block 3F and AIM-9X block 2 in software block 4.

I don't really understand why it is urgent to arm the F-35 with the AIM-9X block 1. If I were to integrate an AIM-9X variant, I would go for the block 2 directly because of its lock on after launch mode. In any case it seems to me the SDB 2 is much more usefull than the AIM-9X, so I don't see why it has not been integrated in block 3F instead. I believe both the SDB1 and SDB2 can be updated by datalink, although the SDB1 can be launched with fixed GPS target coordinates ( SDB2 also probably).

My point anyways was that the SDB2 is more urgent because it can destroy moving targets with a direct hit thanks to its tri-mode seeker. Even when the SDB1 is updated by datalink, it is not as accurate, and in order to destroy an armored vehicle it takes a direct hit.

I believe you are right with the fact that the F-35B won't be able to carry the JSOW internally. There are 3 variant of the JSOW so I was wondering if the 3 of them will be integrated at block 3F. Block 3F is more of a SEAD block, so maybe it's only the cluster bomb variant.


Charles James Haas April 23, 2014 at 3:27 pm

As JSOW is somewhat stealthy, it can go on pylons with less stealth compromises.


Charles James Haas April 21, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Because the AIM-9X Block one has already been produced in numbers. Stupid not to be able to use them. The AIM 9X will be wingtip mounted and doesn't interfer with the SDB II. Also, as we have not produced a single production SDB II, it is pretty hard to write code for it and test it properly. Putting the horse before the cart doesn't work well.


nick987654 April 22, 2014 at 2:56 am

According to this document: http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/raytheon-wins
the sdb2 will be deployed on the F-15E before the F-35 because of the F-35 delays:
"Unfortunately, SDB-II/ GBU-53 has been affected by the F-35′s lateness, which has forced postponement of SDB-II’s Full Rate Production decision by another 2 years, to 2020. The GPS-only SDB-I will now integrated with the F-35 2 years ahead of the SDB-II, and so will other weapons with more sensitive thermal and vibration requirements. That will help the Pentagon discover whether the F-35s conform to their design documents, or whether weapon changes will be required in several weapon types including the GBU-53. Meanwhile, SDB-II will deploy aboard the F-15E."

As for the AIM-9X block1, I am almost certain they can be upgraded to block 2. The F-35 is a stealth plane and should be used as such as much as possible. The 9X block 1 is not completely useless, but should be far in the priorities.


Charles James Haas April 23, 2014 at 3:02 pm

No, it is because the SDB 1 was put on the F-15E years before and was planned for F-35 Block 3, and the SDB 2 is on the next software drop. F-35 Block 2 began development years ago before the SDB 2 was a defense program. So it was too late to add to Block 2, or even Block 3 for that matter, therefore it get put on the next drop, which is Block 4. Your sense of history is poor. Also, as the F-15E is a mature program it is easier to add weapons, but still painfully slow. You are only working around the edges. As the F-35 is still working up, there is more to be done. As you noted, the internal weapons bay is actually more sensitive than hanging bombs on a pylon. So there is additional testing in that area also. Doesn't mean that putting weapons in a bay is a bad idea, just needs more work. The Block 2 AIM-9X can use components of the Block 1, such as the motor, but I doubt it is just a software update or computer card being replaced. In fact, just the data link in the Block 2 will be significantly better.


nick987654 April 24, 2014 at 4:01 am


The SDBII is a completely different weapon from the SDBI, except for the fact that it uses the same launcher and has the same dimensions.
The SDBII was originally planned for block 3X: http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/logistics_material_re
"The approved SDB II baseline program was originally planned for F-35 Block 3.X operational flight program (OFP)
integration. Since the SDB II contract award there have been further delays to the F-35 System Development and
Demonstration (SDD) program. As a result, SDB II integration will be accomplished as a follow-on integration to F-
35 SDD. Due to these F-35 delays, the SDB II F-35B and F-35C initial fielding dates stated in the APB will slip from
the current threshold date of June 2019 to an estimated initial fielding date of September 2020, resulting in an SDB II
APB schedule breach. This drives a change to the full-rate production decision from October 2019 to June 2020
resulting in an additional APB schedule breach. Air Force F-15E fielding is not impacted and remains on track for
July 2016."

The SDBII was intended to be on the F-35 BEFORE the F-15E.

nick987654 April 22, 2014 at 4:34 am

In this link, it says that the 9X block I can be upgraded to block II: http://www.thebaynet.com/news/index.cfm/fa/viewst

"The AIM-9X Block II program corrects obsolescence issues and provides performance upgrades to the highly successful, fifth generation infrared-guided air-to-air-missile, AIM-9X Block I program. Obsolescence changes include updates for the guidance unit electronic circuit card assemblies, battery, and the active optical target detector (Fuze). The Block II has ability to operate with impunity against modern threat radar counter measures such as Digital RF Memory Jammers, Towed Decoys, and Stealth airframes. "

The 9X block II can be used in BVR and should give the F-35 its 360deg engagement capability with the DAS. So why not intergrate the 9X block II directly IF you really want to integrate an AIM-9X?


Charles James Haas April 23, 2014 at 3:25 pm

First, you have to identify a software drop to integrate it in. Block 2 and Block 3 software is already set. Block 4 software is the next drop. In an emergency, they coud develop a Block 2C that would include the AIM-9X Block II, but it would be disruptive to the process, and not be cost effecient. The idea of software Blocks is to put a certain set of capabilities in a bundle to get them all on all at once. But, the software has to be mature, and tested. As I have said before, the problem isn't writing the software, it is testing it in flight. That does involve Lockmart test pilots, but it also involves USAF test pilots.


nick987654 April 24, 2014 at 4:09 am

Well that's the nice theory. It is not sure that rushing them into service would work that well if you don't take the time to fully test them.

As for the fact that the 9Xblock I can be upgraded to block II, I agree it is not sure, and I may have misunderstood what I had read, I am not sure.

However, the AIM-9X-2, which has been in production since 2011 can be upgraded to block II. That's for sure. It is explained in this article: http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/aim-9x-block-

Moreover this article says that by 2019 the USAF and USN will have 3097 blockI and 3663 block IIs ( either produced as block II or upgraded 9X-2).

In other words there will be well enough block IIs for the F-35s.

Anyways external AAMs should be a low priority, the F-35 already has its 2 internal AMRAAMs.

oblatt22 April 17, 2014 at 9:24 am

The F-35 is a tour de force of how not to manage a software project.

Every 8 months they slice the salami thinner putting off features to a later phase as they deal with the existing disaster. Sure the stage 4 plans are for a palace – but you cant build a palace in a garbage dump by piling the garbage higher.

The whole purpose of concurrent development is to have the software ready and finished when the aircraft is built. Instead we have 100 aircraft built that cant do anything – cant drop a bomb or fire a missile.


Dfens April 17, 2014 at 9:47 am

And what these articles don't tell you is that each of these software builds requires full DO-178B certification before they are released to fly. That means the thinner they slice that salami, the more times they have to do all of the testing that comes along with that total waste of time and taxpayer's money that is DO-178B. So rest assured, the defense contractors have it in their best interest to have as many of these software releases as possible because it takes far longer to test the code than it does to write and debug the code. Probably about 100 times longer. Given the fact that the F-35 software is being written under a contract that guarantees the contractor $1.10 for every $1.00 they spend, you can see the obvious benefit to Lockheed to certify this code over and over and over again. It's nothing but free money.


Dfens April 17, 2014 at 9:51 am

You might think that the DO-178B standard improves the reliability of software. That's what the government tells you. Funny thing, though, they've never tested to see if that's really true. They don't mind spending billions of your tax dollars on all the crap work that standard requires, but they can't spend a few dollars to find out if any of that work is value added? I guess you don't ask the question when you don't want to hear the answer.


ev3r3tt April 17, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Got that right. It was boring as hell to do test software. It also was ancient. I came up with ways to produce the required execution code quicker and that was so frowned upon. I did finish my part 9 months ahead of schedule and well… looked for another job because that part as budgeted for a year. That was a waste and they know it.


ShamWowed April 17, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Dfens , You are describing a common practice: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Test-driven_developm
Now if you put your hate and disgust back in the bottle you might see that at times some things occur which you do not understand. However, your lack of comprehension does not mean they are without merit.


oblatt22 April 17, 2014 at 4:49 pm

LOL test driven development isnt DO-178B certification. Though maybe the 1000s of script kiddies Lockheed hired probably dont know that either. LOL

We are toying with the idea of using the F-35 program as an interview question. We ask the candidate what he thinks about it, and if he says its exciting or great no need for any more questions – he is a moron.

The correlation between supporters of the F-35 and no nothing blowhards is very strong.

ShamWowed April 17, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Sounds like test-driven development which is a common practice and saves money over time by identifying bugs early.
You are one butt-hurt individual.


Dfens April 18, 2014 at 9:22 am

Someone give this dude a quarter so he can buy a clue. You'd think these defense corporations could hire smarter schills. Maybe they can't charge the position directly to a contract. Yeah, that would explain it. Must be an overhead position, taking money straight out of the congressional lobby fund.


ShamWowed April 21, 2014 at 11:16 am

What is wrong Depends,
Having difficulty articulating today? Nice to see you can still copy and paste. Too bad you cannot come up with an original thought. You are the POS that called me a traitor. Just curious, when you would like to challenge me further?

hibeam April 17, 2014 at 11:29 am

Is the Pentagon still crowd sourcing their software development? Or did they fix that?


Dfens April 17, 2014 at 12:46 pm

Crowd sourcing? I wish. Then we could all get a piece of that pie.


Barry April 17, 2014 at 12:58 pm

U.S.A. — that once shining city on a hill. It was a nice idea while it lasted. With our divided government, run by fools with the emotional intelligence of 6-year olds, and our completely dysfunctional military industrial complex, we are indeed our own worst enemy.


ShamWowed April 17, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Maybe you should run for political office of some sort. You act as if you have the capacity to identify all of our nation's faults. I would be interested in your solutions.


Blake April 17, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Not that development for the future is bad, but I think they should put more focus on getting their current software finished.


Louie April 17, 2014 at 1:00 pm

This just kills me this POS hasn't even gone into service the thing is barely off the ground after how many years???? and it's getting a 4th upgrade WTF this thing is a bottomless pit for Def dollars. It better have a damn coffe cup holder and a cigarett lighter when its done.


grant April 17, 2014 at 4:16 pm

I guarantee you there will be no coffee cup holder nor cigarette lighter; but how about a condom / vaseline / cocaine dispenser? How about a Playboy App for Block 69 upgrade?


TXCOMT April 22, 2014 at 10:14 am

Comin' up on 20 years of R&D and almost 10 years of production.


Dfens April 23, 2014 at 10:23 am

0 years of production. Just because they are producing airplanes doesn't mean they are in production mode yet. Mostly they are trying to use the profit surplus of the development years to prevent a loss in the early phase of getting the production line up and going.


Lightning April 17, 2014 at 1:41 pm

It's too bad the moderation policy can't delete comments that contain no factual content and whose authors are completely uninformed regarding the F-35 Program. Of course it that were the case, none of the preceding comments would still exist. This aircraft will stand as the best Weapons System ever developed in the history of military hardware, and will serve to protect the US and our allies for decades to come. This won't come for free. Get on board or move to another country where they don't invest in national defence.


45k20e4 April 17, 2014 at 2:10 pm

You are either delusional, being sarcastic, or have some serious inside information…by all means share your knowledge to back up that claim.

Right now I see a hideously expensive project that is over cost and behind schedule….all while L-Ms pockets are lined.


Dfens April 18, 2014 at 9:27 am

Lockheed is making millions of dollars in free money every single day that airplane program drags on, but you make it sound like a bad thing.


Big-Dean April 17, 2014 at 2:34 pm

"best Weapons System ever developed"


omg, now I have hiccups….


oblatt22 April 17, 2014 at 4:56 pm

Yea it ranks up there with the Titanic as most unsinkable ship, Hindenburg as safest aircraft and Pompeii 79AD as best spot for a vacation.


ShamWowed April 17, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Careful, you are suggesting the internet warrior-hood could be wrong. You are not a patriot if that is the case and ye shall be burned at the stake!


Hunter76 April 17, 2014 at 6:54 pm

And if you're wrong?


Israel April 17, 2014 at 2:43 pm

I don't know much about defense but I am a project manager by trade. If I'm not mistaken project management is a science created by the U.S military. However, when I read threads such as this I often can't believe it. The scope of this project has long since been compromised. Therefore, failed project.


Dfens April 18, 2014 at 9:30 am

As long as Lockheed is pulling money out of this program at the current rate it is not a failure. In fact, they are milking this cash cow for as long as possible this side of actually having to start a production line.


Snowden Rocks April 21, 2014 at 2:19 pm

As you said it yourself, it's a product of management SCIENCE of US military.


grant April 17, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Why not start on Block 11 right away? Or do they always play catch-up to obsolete-on-arrival systems?


PolicyWonk April 17, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Personally, I'll be delighted when they figure out how to improve the less-than-4th generation performance for the 5th generation aircraft that has a 6th generation price tag.


Big-Dean April 17, 2014 at 5:11 pm

by the time this so-called 5th air 'frame" is ready for combat the Chinese and Russians will be fielding 7th gen 'aircraft' in large numbers


lois April 18, 2014 at 11:29 am

That's not a problem really, because China already owns America. Their percentage ownership will only increase over time. It's been a foregone conclusion that there is no chance in hell that the US will ever be able to pay back the mountains of debts owed to China.


DShirley1 April 17, 2014 at 4:44 pm

My, my, sounds very similar to the startup of the ACA website…..now we know why the gov't gets screwed on major projects….company contractors half bake the effort to keep the money rolling in…..Hmmmm, how PATRIOTIC is that!


Dfens April 18, 2014 at 9:35 am

First of all, it's not the government that gets screwed on these projects. It's not the government's money they're spending. It's our money. Secondly, the US government pays these contractors more to drag these programs out and jack up the prices, and the contractors give them exactly what they seem to want. If I didn't want someone to hit me with a stick, I sure as hell wouldn't offer people money to do just that.


lois April 18, 2014 at 11:24 am

There is nothing really unexpected here because the Military Industrial Complex (which include LM and its subcontractors) IS the US government.

The MIC has been the US government since WWII.


Dfens April 21, 2014 at 9:54 am

You've got that right. Our military sold out to the highest bidder, and now they can't figure out why the US taxpayer doesn't want to give them more money.


Charles James Haas April 23, 2014 at 2:36 pm

So are you suggesting the US should by weapons from the lowest bidder?

Big-Dean April 17, 2014 at 5:13 pm

I'm so glad we're doing all of this "software" work for the Chinese, they will be sure to love us even more….


oblatt22 April 17, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Just last week one of our offices couldn't get some 5c nuts from a US supplier because "export controls are too complicated" they then literally went and got them from a local hardware store – but hey if the F-35 wants to buy RF chokes for the AESA radar from China that is obviously OK.


ev3r3tt April 17, 2014 at 6:15 pm

lol… ITAR at work which the suppliers should have known. Anyone (US Born Citizen) want to go into the magnet business with me?


Charles James Haas April 23, 2014 at 2:34 pm

Really, you are talking about less than a half dozen types of parts acquired by mistake, which were reported and will be replaced in future buys? Are you suggesting the the world should be suddely perfect tomorrow?


Robert Crawford April 17, 2014 at 6:47 pm

I love it when the Pentagon talks that way…


tee April 17, 2014 at 7:50 pm

The Price of the "Junk Strike Fighter" just went up another 7.8 Billion according to Aviation Week.

F-35 Cost Up $7.8B, Bogdan Fires on Pratt. http://www.aviationweek.com/Blogs.aspx?plckBlogId


blight_ April 18, 2014 at 7:46 am

Not sure if F-136 would have helped. We would be pushing two programs along in parallel and then downselect.


Dfens April 18, 2014 at 9:41 am

No, there wasn't supposed to be a down select. There were supposed to be two engine options for buyers to choose from.


blight_ April 18, 2014 at 9:58 am

I stand corrected.

That said, having two competing products creates the illusion of competition driving costs down…look at the LCS program.


Dfens April 21, 2014 at 9:58 am

Honestly, this seemed to be one of the best features of the JSF program, which, no doubt, is why it was cancelled. It's not really like the LCS program in that either engine could fit in any of the aircraft, so then it is a matter of picking the best performing engine for the best price. You know, real, honest to God capitalism. Plus, the minute the GE engine got cancelled, the cost of the PW engine went through the roof.

Wharthogcrewchief April 17, 2014 at 7:57 pm

scrap the whole f-35 program, build a bunch more f-15e’s , block 60 f-16′s , fa-18′s and upgrade the wharthogs, all battle proven, overwhelm the enemy with volume.


ShamWowed April 17, 2014 at 11:14 pm

So, no stealth capability?
Are you going to tell your kids they should feel safe flying in 1970's era technology?


William_C1 April 18, 2014 at 4:39 am

Hell if overwhelm the enemy with volume is the strategy why not go all the way back to P-51s? Maybe we ought to revert to M4 Shermans from the M1 Abrams too.


ShamWowed April 21, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Yeah no doubt. Half the bashers in this thread would take you up on that offer. Most don't realize it would take a draft to man that much equipment and we have long since transitioned to the quality over quantity mentality. Oblattipuss and Depends(Dfens) you listening? If you have friends or family in the military why don't you ask them how they feel about flying the not-so-friendly skies in 1970's airframes. Better still, why don't you self-appointed defense experts enlist and let us know if your superior intellect transitions well on the battlefield.


Charles James Haas April 29, 2014 at 12:09 am

Moving back in time is not an answer. While I love the Virginia Class SSNs, they really are not as good as and no cheaper than the Seawold class. Whatever we added to the Virginia's could have been incorporated in the Seawolf. Yet, we lost many years, and lots of R&D money scrapping the Seawold and remaking it into the Virginia's. You are proposing something akin to even worse by scrapping the Seawolf for more LA class subs???


Chief April 18, 2014 at 7:57 pm

The F-35 effort has gone through a LOT of pain that could have been avoided by both the Government and the vendor. It is what it is. Need to move forward. None of the issues – most are software related – are major issues. They are painful to overcome, but not #unovercomeable.


Big-Dean April 19, 2014 at 8:48 pm



Charles James Haas April 29, 2014 at 12:14 am

Big-Dean Why are the Chinese, Japanese, and Russians trying to build 5th Gen aircraft? What do you propose we use to defeat the J-31 and the T-50? And, why are new countries buying the F-35 if it is so bad. Singapore, South Korea are the latest, but certainly not the last. Note that countries trying to copy the F-22 and F-35 like China and Russia can't buy the F-35.


Charles James Haas April 23, 2014 at 2:27 pm

For all you haters out there, just read something amazing. The DDG-1000 USS Zumwalt has 7 million lines of code to run the ship. That means the each F-35 will have as much or more software than a DDG-1000. This should speach to the capability that the F-35 will bring to the fight.


Charles James Haas April 29, 2014 at 12:15 am

yeah I know… speak


Musson April 17, 2014 at 9:01 am

I have never seen a board where you are more likely to be down clicked for stating the obvious.


Dfens April 17, 2014 at 9:38 am

Just because most of the defense schills don't post here much anymore, doesn't mean they've just gone away. It's a hell of a lot easier to click a "thumbs down" icon than it is to come up with an other than idiotic sounding response to the legitimate concerns the US taxpayer has about the way the department of defense spends their money. So now they click away.


Dfens April 17, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Welfare for the rich is ok as long as you get your 30 pieces of silver. Typical traitor.


Barry April 17, 2014 at 12:46 pm

If you are writing software but can't even write English much less spell correctly, that begins to explain the mess we're in.


ShamWowed April 17, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Yeah caught that after the send. Buy not by did not see an edit function.


ShamWowed April 17, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Dfens, the internet is an easy place to be a big boy. The only traitor you know are those you elected.


ShamWowed April 17, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Seems like a lot of self-righteousness in this thread, which is a common theme on this site.
I get the disdain for waste but God, when does the pendulum swing back to the middle? As I said previously, would you want your family andor friends on the front lines with substandard gear?

We do not fight wars like Asians where we throw bodies at the enemy. We are incapable of sustaining wars of attrition. At what point do you not consider force-multiplying technology a better expense than bodies?


ev3r3tt April 17, 2014 at 2:37 pm



William_C1 April 17, 2014 at 6:50 pm

You have me curious about this company that supposedly employs you. I'm guessing it doesn't exist.


ShamWowed April 17, 2014 at 11:01 pm

You are another self-righteous internet warrior and just because you find disgust in any given defense project does not make it a complete failure. I have difficulty with certain aspects of the F-35. I particularly think the VSTOL is a waste combat capability. However, I would rather my Marines have F-35's overhead than Harriers. Would you rather have your son in an F-35 or a Harrier? Here is a clue, we called Harriers lawn darts.


Dfens April 18, 2014 at 9:10 am

Right. Traitor is as traitor does.


Dfens April 18, 2014 at 9:13 am

Maybe we should be like the Germans in WW2 and have all the best of everything and still get our asses kicked. By the way, the only war we've ever won with an Asian country was when we nuked Japan.


Dfens April 18, 2014 at 9:19 am

Who is "we". The rest of the world calls the F-16 the lawn dart, genius. One more thing about the Harrier that our troops find convenient, it is operational. It actually flies and shoots and does all that good airplane stuff.


oblatt22 April 18, 2014 at 1:39 pm

9 out of 10 moron still think the F-35 is cool.

I shudder to think what will happen when their projects are canceled and they go to infect commercial companies.


ShamWowed April 18, 2014 at 2:29 pm

The Harrier is the greatest maintenance nightmare money can buy. It has been grounded longer than any other aircraft. Hell even the History Channel ran it as a special on their "Engineering Disasters" series. It also has one of the most proven ejection seats of any aircraft in our inventory. I am sure you can deduce that is not a good thing.
In short, you are a rambling idiot.


ShamWowed April 18, 2014 at 2:07 pm

You moron you proved my point. Nukes arewere at that time, force-multiplying technology. Hence no need to invade mainland Japan. The primary reason Germany lost the war was they were caught in a two front war. You are showing your ignorance at every step.


ShamWowed April 18, 2014 at 2:33 pm


Quick question; what defense project has your blessing? Now quick statement; if you shudder at anything I think it is more likely related to your self-esteem problem. You degrade everything and everyone who has a different opinion than you. You act as if you are in a position of authority and all-knowing on defense projects. Just from my recent exposure to your BS it seems you are just crying for respect in the internet world.


ondeathsdoorstepp April 20, 2014 at 4:25 pm

For all your rants on how broke the system is, you never seem to have a solution. Which is sad, because when you get off your usual topics it is usually a good read.

If you actually had something new to say about military procurement woes, more people might listen to you….


Dfens April 21, 2014 at 9:41 am

Well, there you go.


Dfens April 21, 2014 at 10:42 am

You degrade everything and everyone who has a different opinion than you. In short, you are a rambling idiot. Just from my recent exposure to your BS it seems you are just crying for respect in the internet world.


MC13 April 21, 2014 at 3:07 pm

You should quit plagiarizing and come up with something original. I was enjoying this smack down between you two.


MC14 April 21, 2014 at 3:14 pm

You degrade everything and everyone who has a different opinion than you. In short, you are a rambling idiot. Just from my recent exposure to your BS it seems you are just crying for respect in the internet world.


Dfens April 23, 2014 at 10:12 am

Damn, forgot to change my name back.


MC14 April 23, 2014 at 10:18 am

It is worse than what you imagine. In order to comply with the DO-178B standard, every piece of of the software running at the same time on the same processor as the code just developed has to be tested. That means you don't just test the piece you just developed, you test it all. Now there is code on other processors using other memory that doesn't have to be tested, but a lot of it depends on how many systems are impacted by the change in fuctionality. If it effects a lot of systems, then all the effected code is completely retested.


ev3r3tt April 23, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Cross dependent system… that is not what it was when I was testing or creating code. All you look for is the LRU heart beat and validation signals, otherwise, you treat it as garbage. That is the input module. All internals should look at the input module for signal verification and use the same threads in the whole LRU. No wonder it takes a long time. No resource management nor control. I bet the processors are working 500% more than they should.


Charles James Haas April 23, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Dfens you can cut and paste. Glad to see you learned a new computer skill.


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