The Bumpy Path to F-35 IOC

The Air Force is holding to its Aug. 1, 2016, initial operational capability date for the F-35A, but this date should be seen as merely a “pit stop” on the way to a more robust capability, Air Force F-35 integration director Maj. Gen. Jeff Harrigian said Thursday. At an AFA Mitchell Institute briefing in Arlington, Va., Harrigian said, “the plan to [get] to IOC is solid,” and he’s satisfied USAF will have the 12 jets needed with the necessary software, maintainers, and parts in order for Gen. Hawk Carlisle, Air Combat Command chief, to declare IOC on time. However, there are “challenges” to achieving IOC, including having deployable versions of the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) maintenance kit and some software, which is behind schedule. He said Carlisle thinks “there will be some deficiencies,” and has some “concerns about data fusion” on the F-35, but these may not be sufficient to delay IOC. Harrigian also said that correcting some deficiencies in the 3F version of F-35 software may “slip” to be corrected in the Block 4 update, which is supposed to be a series of improvements and upgrades to weapons and functionality. F-35 system program office spokesman Joe Della Vedova acknowledged there will be “some cleanup” in the Block 4 update.