Only One of Six Air Force F-35s Could Actually Take Off During Testing

During a mock deployment at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho, just one of the $100 million Lockheed Martin F-35s was able to boot its software successfully and get itself airborne during an exercise designed to test the readiness of the F-35, FlightGlobal reports. Nonetheless, the Air Force plans to declare its F-35s combat-ready later this year.

Details surrounding the failed exercise were disclosed earlier this week in written testimony presented to Congress by J. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester. Continue reading

F-35 Stealth Fighter Still Has 419 ‘Deficiencies,’ Manager Says

The head of the U.S. Defense Department’s F-35 program said the number of “deficiencies” in the stealth fighter jet’s hardware and software is decreasing but that hundreds of technical challenges remain.

Speaking to reporters last week in his offices in Arlington, Virginia, Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan discussed a range of issues affecting the Pentagon’s biggest weapons program at nearly $400 billion, including the hundreds of lingering deficiency reports, or DRs, known as “technical debt” in acquisition parlance.

There are 419 things that we have yet to decide with the war fighters how we’re going to fix them, whether we’re going to fix them and when we’re going to fix them,” he said. The figure was three times higher a few years ago and “we think the technical debt that we have — the deficiencies that we have — are things that we can handle … within the next two years,” he said. Continue reading

The F-35 Has To Phone Texas Before Taking Off

The U.S. military ran the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter through a series of tests aboard the USS Nimitz super carrier in San Diego in early November. It performed adequately, with one exception — it needed to send its diagnostic data to Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, before taking off. If the most recent exercises are any indication, the F-35 may need to phone home every time it sets out on a mission.

First, the good news. The plane flew through its aerial paces well enough and passed a majority of its flight tests. Continue reading