F-35 Hits Its Stride

The F-35 program has shifted from “slow and steady” to “rapidly growing and accelerating,” program executive officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan reported at ASC15 Tuesday. The program is ramping up from a three-year period where production was “30-40 a year” to next year, when production will nearly triple to 120, Bogdan said. More than 130 jets have already been delivered, and by 2019, there will be almost 500 worldwide, at 17 operating locations, Bogdan reported. While “we’re pretty much out of the business” of producing jets in the 2B configuration and soon will be in the 3i configuration, by the end of 2018, there still won’t be any in the objective 3F configuration, he noted, so “there are still challenges ahead.” However, he insisted that USAF initial operating capability will indeed be declared around Aug. 1 next year at Hill AFB, Utah, and pledged that he would “mortgage the farm on the rest of the program” to make that date. “We want no window” extending the IOC entry into a three- or four-month period, he added.