While Pentagon testers gave high marks to the F-35 program for matching or exceeding flight test goals through October 2013, despite lost productivity connected to the sequester and government shutdown, they hit the program for falling behind in testing mission systems and weapons integration testing, according to the Fiscal 2013 Director of Operational Test and Evaluation’s annual report. The F-35 program office should ensure flight test timeline estimates for remaining systems demonstration flight testing “faithfully account” for the historic growth in F-35 testing, especially mission systems and weapons integration, states the report. The office also wants low observable repair times tracked in monthly performance metrics, and track and publish metrics on overall software stability in flight-testing. In a statement responding to the report, Lockheed Martin spokeswoman Laura Siebert said the company is confident the F-35 will complete flight testing and software requirements for the Marine Corps’ F-35B initial operational capability later this year. The contractor also plans to release the required combat ready software for the F-35 production fleet “no later than July 2015,” said Siebert.
The Pentagon awarded a contract worth over $2 billion for the next batch of F-35 engines to Pratt & Whitney on June 5. The deal for Lot 17 F135 engines, totaling $2.02 billion, is expected to be completed by December 2025.