Software Straight Talk

The progress of the F-35 Lightning’s software was front and center at Tuesday’s meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s airland panel. F-35 Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan declared the F-35 is seeing “slow but steady progress” in the aftermath of its restructuring and clarified the timelines impacted by software development for all three variants of the F-35. The first iteration, the IIB block, is not delayed and will be installed on the Marine Corps F-35B aircraft by the July 1, 2015, initial operational capability deadline. However, Bogdan said ensuring all 10 aircraft are modified with hardware that is “production representative” is a critical component to reaching IOC. That includes changes to the engine, parts, and other components. The second block is 3I software, the exportable block for partners, and none of the dates for this spiral have been delayed to include USAF’s planned IOC for F-35A in the summer of 2016. The real issue remains with 3F, the full capability block. “If we don’t change anything or get smarter or do things better, I project that software will arrive four-to-six months late,” he told panel Chair Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). “For the last year and a half every increment has been on time with the capability we expected,” Bogdan said. Extra operational test aircraft in the program will also help close the testing gap in the final block, he noted. (See also Curse of the Zeros and Ones.)