“Workarounds” for F-35B IOC

Despite recently discovered deficiencies in the 2B iteration of software, the Marine Corps will likely declare initial operating capability with the F-35 in July as planned, Joint Strike Fighter Program Director Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said Tuesday. Speaking to reporters at his Arlington, Va., office, Bogdan said the “fusion” software can falsely interpret multiple detections of the same target by a four-ship F-35 package as multiple targets. “The sensitivity of the fusion model has to be tweaked,” Bogdan said, adding that a final fix may not be in hand until several months after the planned IOC date of July 1. There are operating “workarounds” available—such as treating the package as two two-ship flights instead of a single four-ship flight—that solve the problem, he said, and those are “good enough for the Marines” to go ahead with IOC. “They feel confident they can go to war with it,” he said. The program office doesn’t technically have to fix the problem until a later software increment, and Bogdan said, “I’m going to take the heat” for having a fix in work when IOC is declared, but it’s being dealt with now “because it won’t get any better” with age. Even so, the software, as it stands, will work well and give the Marine Corps much more capability than they have now with “old Harriers and Hornets,” he said. “I won’t put anything out there that’s unsafe,” Bogdan asserted. As for Air Force F-35A IOC, now just 496 days away, “I know for a fact the fixes will be in” by then, he added.