Bogdan: Go With What We’ll Have for F-35 Operational Testing

The F-35 program won’t be ready for operational testing on time, but program executive officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan would like to start it with the assets that will be available. Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee Thursday, Bogdan acknowledged he won’t be able to provide the “23 ready-to-go … production-representative,” all-up F-35s in the 3F configuration that are supposed to be offered up for operational testing by August of this year. In fact, Bogdan said, he will only have 18 machines in that status a year from now. However, he’s asked the Pentagon’s directorate of operational test and evaluation “to consider” starting the evaluations with the smaller number of jets at that point. “Every month I delay” operational tests “costs me $30 million,” Bogdan said, and he’d like to get OT working with that smaller number as soon as possible, because everything they discover as a flaw “means there’s less … I have to retrofit … on the production line,” saving money and time. “I’m not asking that they never get” the full 23 jets required, just that “they start earlier” with the jets that will be ready for testing, and take the other five as soon as they’re available, he said. He objected to characterizations that essential elements of the system design and development phase have been dropped to keep the schedule intact. “I never cut corners,” he said.