Trying to get a handle on the problems that led to the F-35 program restructure, Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) asked Feb. 24 at the House Appropriations defense panel hearing on combat aircraft, “Give us a little flavor of what the reason is for this 13-month delay.” In the words of Rear Adm. David Philman, that “flavor” is predominantly the overreliance on modeling instead of actual flight testing. (Hmmm, fly before you buy?) In Scott’s words: “What we’re seeing in the actual flight hasn’t necessarily validated the model. So now we’re continuing to press back and have to go back to more traditional testing for some time until we can get the aircraft mature enough to be more in line with a validated model.”
New F-35s are coming off the production line with the TR-3 upgrade and going right into storage because testing is incomplete. Next lot negotiations are continuing, but talks over a performance-based logistics contract have stalled.