Progress with F-35 Air Refueling Software

A software patch will be applied to the F-35 fleet in November to speed up aerial refueling, which takes “longer than we’d like it to,” Program Director Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan told Air Force Magazine. However, the patch is not likely to be the final fix. The problem, Bogdan said, is that the F-35’s software slows the rate at which the tanker can feed the last 1,000 pounds or so to fill the fighter’s tanks. The issue is that the software is taking too long to open and close valves, “relieving the pressure on those tanks so that you can pump fuel into them.” Bogdan could not offhand quote the length of the delay being encountered, but said that he believed the problem would be overcome, as it was on the F-15 and F-16, which had similar issues. The slowdown in onloading fuel becomes a problem and “it may become operationally relevant” because as the fuel flow slows, the fighter continues to burn fuel, exacerbating the problem, particularly if the mission calls for the fighter departing the tanker with completely full tanks. ?”The longer I wait, the more fuel I burn,” he said. The November software update probably won’t fully resolve the issue, though. “We have to work on it,” he said.”