In H.R. 4310, this fiscal year’s newly enacted defense policy legislation, Congress directed the Air Force Secretary to establish the initial operational capability date for the service’s F-35A strike fighter. Lawmakers want the date, along with a report on the details of the aircraft’s features at IOC, “not later than June 1,” according to Section 155 of the act, which covers this topic. They also want the Navy Secretary to define the same for the Marine Corps’ F-35B variant and the sea service’s F-35C model in that same timeframe. The anticipated IOC dates for the three F-35 configurations have slipped by several years over the past few years due to delays in completing the stealth fighter’s development and testing. (H.R. 4310 conference report; caution, extremely large-sized file.) (For more background, read Slow Climb for the F-35 from Air Force Magazine’s 2012 archive.)
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.