When Will It End?

F-35 System Design and Development could still be concluded on time by the end of the year, but only if the program trims and consolidates some of the testing required, Lockheed Martin program director Jeff Babione told reporters Tuesday at a company media day in Arlington, Va. Babione acknowledged that the System Program Office doesn’t expect the full SDD program to be completed until between February and “Spring” of next year. However, Lockheed is working with the SPO to see how flight testing could be reorganized to be more efficient, push some of the “more sophisticated” testing “up front … to reduce risk,” “compress” some testing, and eliminate some test points, Babione said. “Clearly, it’s a challenge, but it’s in everyone’s best interest to finish up as soon as possible,” to allow initial operational test and evaluation to start in early 2018 and “enable us to get on with getting certified for all the operators,”,” he noted. Babione said flight testing of “what we think is going to be the final configuration of 3F,” the objective software version, is already underway, and “we will deliver the first production aircraft with 3F this fall.”