Pentagon Extends F-35 Software Testing to Fix Flaws
24 March 2015
, by Anthony Capaccio (Bloomberg)http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-24/f-35-software-testing-for-marine-version-extended-to-fix-flawsThe Pentagon has extended testing to debug software flaws that need to be fixed before the first F-35 jets from Lockheed Martin Corp. can be ready for combat.
The Marine Corps wants to declare its version of the F-35, the costliest U.S. weapons system, ready for limited combat as soon as July.
Flight testing of software essential to delivering on the plane’s promised capabilities was supposed to be completed last month, about four months late, but now may take until mid-June, according to the Pentagon’s test office.
A declaration that the plane, known as the Joint Strike Fighter, is ready for initial operations would be this year’s biggest milestone for the $391.1 billion program.
The Marine model, designed for short takeoffs and vertical landings, is the most complex of three being built. The U.K. and Italy are buying this version.
The F-35 is a flying computer. Each of the planes made by Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed will have more than 8 million lines of code, more than any previous U.S. or allied fighter.
The F-35 program has extended testing of modified software “intended to correct deficiencies,” Air Force Major Eric Badger, the test office’s spokesman, said yesterday in an e-mail.
“It began flight testing last week,” he said.
Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman for the Defense Department’s F-35 program office, had no immediate comment.
Air Force Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan, the F-35 program’s manager, was scheduled to meet with reporters on Tuesday to discuss the testing extension. Gathering Data
The Pentagon program office determined last month that an additional software version of the “Block 2B” software must be tested “based on a number of deficiencies revealed by ongoing testing, including problems with fusion” of data compiled by the aircraft’s sensors that operate its combat systems, Badger said.
“What is clear is that” the software “will finish with deficiencies remaining that will affect operational units,” Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of combat testing, said in a letter to lawmakers in January transmitting his annual report on major weapons to Congress.
Gilmore said through Badger, the spokesman, that he still holds that view.