Pentagon's Top Weapons Tester: F-35 Still Challenged

RSS

The Pentagon's top weapons tester has never been shy about hammering Lockheed Martin's F-35. In an Oct. 14 memo to the Defense Secretary, Director of Operational Test and Evaluation J. Michael Gilmore once again slammed the program for continued schedule delays, insufficient testing progress, and ongoing challenges with major systems. He "very strongly" recommended DOD restructure the program.

The full 8-page document surfaces as Gilmore turns up the heat on the F-35 program. In the memo, Gilmore repeated his claim that the F-35 “clearly” will not be able to finish its development phase - called System Development and Demonstration (SDD) – and begin operational testing as planned in August 2017. The full flight envelope, weapons clearances and verified mission data file for the aircraft’s final warfighting software load, Block 3F, will not be available before May 2018, DOT&E states in the memo.

In fact, Gilmore believes IOT&E likely won’t start until late 2018 or early 2019, unless DOD decides to start the test phase without “significant aspects” of full 3F capability, a DOT&E spokesman recently told Aviation Week.

The program office is more optimistic. Top officials have acknowledged the F-35 will not be ready for its final test phase until 2018 at the earliest, but Joint Program Office (JPO) chief Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan anticipates IOT&E will begin early that year.  

The JPO estimates the program will need an additional $530 million to complete the $57 billion SDD program, primarily to pay for new requirements and unforeseen delays, according to spokesman Joe DellaVedova.  

“Most of this needed funding will come from other F-35 JPO funding sources to minimize the impact on the U.S. Services and DoD overall budget requirements,” DellaVedova says.  “No additional funding will be required from the International Partners.”  

Unless the F-35 program’s current plans are revised and additional resources provided, DOT&E says it is “unlikely” that the low-rate initial production (LRIP) lot 10 F-35s delivered in fiscal 2018 will have full combat capability, according to the DOT&E spokesman. This projection is significant for the Air Force, particularly, as Secretary Deborah Lee James recently certified to the congressional defense committees in compliance with the FY16 National Defense Authorization Act that the F-35As delivered in FY18 would indeed have their full warfighting capability.

But for now, the Air Force is not worried.

“The Air Force considered multiple factors and inputs from various entities before certification,” says Air Force spokesman Capt. Michael Hertzog. “With some additional risk today, we believe Block 3F with full hardware, software, and weapons capabilities planned will be available to support LRIP 10 aircraft.”

James Drew contributed to this report.

Here is the full memo, obtained by Aviation Week. 

 

 

 

 

Discuss this Blog Entry 117

on Nov 16, 2016

This program should be taken away from Lockheed Martin and given to another company that can deliver on promises. We all know, nothing will change with Lockheed until their leadership teams and shareholders start paying huge penalties. Look at every defense program they are involved with, nothing not even one of the programs is even close to within budget. Look at the gun ammo on the new destroyer. Ammo was suppose to be $80,000 per round and ended up at $800,000 per round. $80 grand is to much, much less $800,000. This company is fleecing our nation, handing us equipment we cannot afford to field while paying their CEO $20,000,000 million plus in compensation yearly. If we don't start holding these companies accountable our nation will find itself unable to effectively fight the next large scale war with nations that can field capable equipment at 1/16 the price.

on Nov 17, 2016

You are spot-on. The Donald may perhaps do just that. It is time these programs and completion dates and commitments made within contract , time to be held accountable. Because national security is at the plate with timelines. Because tax payer dollars are employed into these programs. It is of utmost importance. Perhaps treason needs to be mentioned so that any company signing a contract for our national security ( A.N.A.M.) is focussed completely upon the completion and success of the project, rather than, perhaps, focussed upon how long to procrastinate for maintainence of job? Right then? Treason it shall be? Perhaps? I suppose contracts definately on time, effective max, without fail?

on Nov 17, 2016

One might, as an alternative, consider that initial cost and schedule forecast are typically made, during the concept design phase, in an environment riddled with unknowns and thus necessitate a great amount of guess work.

It should not therefore be surprising that once requirements are solidified and the technology readiness level (TRL) matured, approved modifications would result in a much higher cost and schedule baseline and it is this baseline upon which program performance should be judged.

on Nov 17, 2016

Are you on Lockheed Martin's payroll?

on Nov 17, 2016

You are 100% correct, sir! Bravo. Nice point. The estimates are WAY too low in the first place. The schedules are FAR to optimistic to begin with for such a complex fighter.

on Nov 17, 2016

They arent talking about 'concepts in early stage of development', this is final stage of development where the promises and costs are being broken , and it happens every year

on Nov 18, 2016

I can't imagine how one could make reasonable estimates without spending a lot of money in the first place to see what was and wasn't feasible at what price.

on Nov 19, 2016

Correct - But you CAN make the reasonable assumption that doing all those things (wiz-bang everything, 3 variant concurrency, work spread all over the world, etc. etc.) will definitely raise the price above what was already optimistic for just a modernized stealthy F-16 for example. THAT'S the problem with the program, the all-eggs-in-one-basket, no loking back policy still has us with, bottom line, no F-35s replacing F-16s on an airframe by airframe basis, since apparently (SURPRISE) the F-35 ,ay nt be ready - See the trend there?

on Nov 19, 2016

The main problem is not that the cost rose... or that it's delayed. The problem is the program was so over-ambitious, and so jam-packed with revolutionary capabilities not even existing in completed form this late in the game, built in 3 variants, and on and on.
The goal of the program at the start was, like the F-16, to design and build an affordable LOW END multi-role fighter to replace existing air frames.
Now you can go on and on about how requirements change, etc... But the lateness, cost, and problems of the F-35 are a direct result of the shoot-for-the-moon, all-eggs-in-one-basket, too-big-to-fail stupidity displayed from early on. Yes, the F-35 will be revolutionary... But like I said, you don't need to look any further than the requirements to replace the F-16 to understand that the F-35 is NOT just a repaeat of past programs - It is a repeat of the worst of all of those programs, and it has to date left us with a very large bill, a gap in fighters we are having to spend Billions anyways to fill with F-18s it was supposed to replace, and the ridiculous contentions that it's issues are just teething problems - Teething problems occur in children... With many tens of billions spent thuis far, and 15-year+ dev programnow prompting cries for ANOTHER restructure, at what point do people realize the problem and actually fix it rather than providing ridiculous excuses and continued suggestions of "let's wait and see"? If you can answer that, you'll know the solution... Buy what's available NOW to replace airframes, and when the program gets on track, put yourself in a position to actually send the message that needs to be sent - To the supporters, the manufacturer, the buyers,The whole lot of 'em..

RSF (not verified)
on Nov 22, 2016

Raptor1:

Thank you for talking about what so many of us have been saying for years. We need to buy and continue to develop our fine legacy aircraft until such time that the F-35 can actually be deployed in a fully functional state ready for combat! The all the eggs in one basket is a failed strategy with the JSF Program.

on Nov 23, 2016

I could agree more this whole project is far too ambitious. The time line far too short. Now they have a huge cap which needs to be filled with updated aircraft like the F15 and F18.

on Nov 30, 2016

Agreed. This new F-15C MLU upgrade is a direct result of the delayed F-35 program.

on Feb 16, 2017

"One might, as an alternative, consider that initial cost and schedule forecast are typically made, during the concept design phase, in an environment riddled with unknowns and thus necessitate a great amount of guess work."
=> Yakovlev would have finished Yak-43/F-35B for long. 22-26 years after they transferred their technology to you
People must spend much more time to the coffee-machine or well, as they surely are forbidden to smoke, snorting something than working on Catia CAD...
Kelly Johnson must be twisting in his grave!
Let's be clear : it's much easier to create a plane with Catia than in the 60's or 50's.

So, what screwed the project? Well, first s.o. "convinced" BAe not to build the Harrier III, the one with X wings... (as someone "convinced" MBB not to do their Lampyridae). So, what we have? A Yak-43 but... it doesn't fit with the Tarawa-class elevator! Let's shrink it ang have small wings to make it fit a Harrier-sized elevator! You need small wings! Hell, LM wouldn't have conceived a system of folding wings with saw-tooth linking, hell no! Now F-35B will have a small wing area while much heavier than Harrier while you look to make smth more powerful...

Ouppps, the Samara NK-321 250kN thrust engine doesn't fit anymore!
OK, let's call P&W to make smth shorter.Thus, they couldn't, actually, Russians are the real masters at making powerful jet engines. Well, I aslo may be wrong, maybe Russians refused any technology transfer as they don't want westerners to copy their specificities.

Well, visibly nobody in the west has the technology for the 2 small RKBM RD-41 41.7kN used as lift engines (gosh, they'd be delightful for a very light jet!), so LM asked RR to do something.

Now we have their 85kN lift fan and to make it more compact, the fan of the huge PW F-135 is linked to the fan of the RR by a gear box.
This is merely the sole real innovation in the aircraft BUT the diameter goes to 1.3m and remember, we've got the air intakes and the weapons bay, so the F-35 is becoming very bulky while the Yak-41M/43 would have been slim!
Drag is rising!
Now we have little wing area with serious drag and as the powerful Samara engine ain't here, F-35 is under powered while it's the weight of a F-15 while being more near the size of a F-16 or Harrier. Moreover, the huge F-135 engine is thirsty and the F-35B has not too much room for fuel, so ends designed to have kerosene everywhere, kerosene will even be used as a coolant for the engine and this feature will be used on all other versions to minimise logistics and maximise range! And now, as it's bulky and under-powered, we have to chase weight! What would have been redundant as a security in any aircraft will be scrapped. We can already forsee a serious failure rate, well, isn't it already the case? The DOT&E report says that on the about 200 F-35 already built, only around 21% are flyable and you have to cannibalise the non flying ones every 9.8 flying hour to maintain the 21% in the air with only around a 52% availability which is on par for F-22... Huhu. Dassault guarantees a 75% availability for 5 years that can be extended to 8 years ;) They have it easy with an aircraft that can do 5 missions a day without being 'under pressure' and if we put a bigger team with serious spare parts in reserve, we pushed them to 10-11 missions per day for a full week! F-35 is already reputed hard to maintain, it'll already be great if it can fly every other day in the end!

But where things become even more horrible : if F-35B is still more potent than the Harrier which was far to be great in anything except its VSTOL capacity, OK, F-35B s a replacement for Harriers still fits for the USMC but frankly, for the +280m aicraft carriers in the Royal Navy, let me laugh, F-35B is a pussy if compared to Rafale exactly the same way F-16 although very potent, was inferior to Mirage-2000 and Mig-21, Starfighter or Phantom II were crap compared to Mirage III. Ahhhh, Lockheed Starfighter had also small wings. Do you ever heard of its nicknames? Was either called the Widow-maker or the Flying Coffin! F-35 seem on the way to be its successor! Lockheed managed to impose it to NATO through bribery! US very soon saw how irrelevant it was in Vietnam. Had Israel chosen F-104 instead of Mirage, there'd had been a Shoah v.2.0...

But let's come back to our sheeps!
Initially, LM was into buying the Yak-43/Yak-41M/Yak-141 to make some kinda stealth Harrier with A-7 bombtruck features, F-117 first night capability and limited air-defence stuff. Now the DoD wants a common aircraft for USMC, USAF and USN and they call it "Joint Strike Fighter". In NO WAY was it intended to become an air-superiority thing! McDo-D's A-12 AKA Flying Dorito became a Lockheed style technical quagmire and nowhere near to replace A-6 and for USAF, well, F-22 should have became the air-superiority thing, maybe even considered for a Navy version.
So, the goal being to have a 70% common parts between the USAF, USN and USMC versions to minimise logistics and spare money on a large scale.

So what do we do now? Let's make the USAF version! Just throw away the lift fan and replace it by a fuel tank! The aircraft stills bulky but we don't care, hey, it's a strike aircraft, F-22 will make the fighter job! Actually, it should never ever had been called F-35 but A-35! No need hyper manoeuvrability, well, just watch the lengthy runway F-35A needs to take off! Swiss and Swedes who use their aircraft from roads wouldn't love it at all.
Now we go to the Navy version. Let's fit a hook. Errrr, well, doesn't works great! Why? Speed to approach the aircraft carrier is MUCH too high! Let's redisign the wings, it needs much more wing area!
Now, LM does it's biggest error! At this moment, F-35A as it is should mostly have been scrapped! The F-35C should had become common to the Navy and the USAF, just building the USAF version without hook and reinforced landing gear! Moreover, although still bulky and draggy because of the now out lift fan on F-35B, at least wing area would have been correct and you do economy scales. Thus, it'd had made F-35B a bit more expensive but seriously, even having the bigger wing on F-35B would have been OK as the Tarawa class being retired, the last ones now being put into the Navy reserve and the Wasp class has 2 lateral elevators, so will have the America-Class then we end with what initially made F-35 a fiasco being outdated : A Yak-43 with bigger wing area could have been made more easily while keeping a short wingspan and not underpowered like the Yak-41M/141 with its Soyuz R-79V-300 engine! There'd had been much less drag and a more powerful engine than the two on a F-15! No surprise if there is corridor noise about Yakovlev considering rebuilding either the 'Freestyle' or the Yak-43 and due to how F-35B is already a catastrophe and hopefully, Trump is going out of the Cold War v.2.0 the neo-cons and hawks were pushing Killary, Obongo and Kerry to reboot while Russia ain't an enemy at all as long as WE don't mess with 'em. I'd be more than pleased to see Yak-43 instead of F-35 on the Cavour, Juan-Carlos I and why not on our 3 Mistral-Class LHDs thus as they are, they'd require some mods and if we mod them, we could do it to make them use Rafales which would be much more potent than ANY F-35 or Yak-43.

Now, what became the nail in the coffin of F-35? 2 points : politicians don't understand a f**k to weaponry then the price of F-22 and US politicians that dreaming of keeping some technical supremacy who voted a law banning any F-22 export. I'm laughing a bit about it as Rafale is more than able to compete and beat F-22 if not dominate the engagement : not even using its active stealth, just the ECM and it's low observability, even if F-22 has a very long range and powerful radar, this range will be reduced to 27km with Rafale and probably much much less with the active cancellation if not even less, but well, such infos are classified, I have no access, nevertheless, nobody is enough crazy to have its radar on into an air-fight! You don't want to get an anti-radiation missile incoming, especially as they are passive and well, bad trip, the French are champions in IRST use and the Rafale has the best IR stealth on market while F-22, as a money sparing measure, has no IRST and F-35 will be limited to 50km (and Su-35 or Mig-35 to 55km frontal and 90km on back but OLS-50 for PAK-FA might replace and so be on par with the former on Rafales or the Pirate on Typhoon. Typhoon also has low observability but no active stealth, all Russian aircraft can have active stealth through a pod now, thus the French system is better as there are about 30 points everywhere on the aircraft for this purpose, helping to calculate an optimal active cancellation), well, what have we then? The now obsolete Rafale's IRST could already lock a subsonic F-22 @90-95km facing it and 145-155km seeing its tail. If F-22 flies Mach1.7, it grew to 270-285km frontal and 430-450km back, thanks to aerodynamic friction. Even with engine cooling (3 stages on Rafale) and anti IR coating (Rafale has it, while the radar absorbant materials are baked-in the airframe. Mig-35 works this way too, but only 1 stage exhaust cooling, actually, Russians are coppying the way Dassault led its concept but in a cheaper way, thus, if the Sukhois are too big/hot, it'd be more than enough to have Mig-35 eat both F-22 and F-35). Nevertheless, F-22 ends screwed as locked by optronics/IRST from much further than its radar becoming efficient and anyway, US IRSTs end being less efficient than the now 20y old European ones but even than the Russian ones and now, another nail in the coffin, no IRST on F-22 and a bulky and extremely hot F-35! There's simply now way F-35 could detect a Rafale or Mig-35 in the IR first unless these are flying near Mach-2 and anyway, it's sensors are inferior to what both Europeans and Russians can field and the French one I told about is now seen as obsolete!
This is how technically, USA has technically lost it's air supremacy and it's not only a question of using L-band radars! Nonetheless, we already had an A.I. algorithm around 1993-94 that was able to reconstruct the position of some F-117 by using several networked X-band radars. The guy that made the algorithm, well, I actually know him personally.

Nevertheless, what ended to make the F-35 a real fiasco, well, it's by the ban of F-22 foreign sales, ending with an unobtainium price -although LM could have cut seriously in their margins but hey, you're not commies, my dear AviationLed! Shareholders want money, big money, they're not in for patriotism and preserving jobs!- that simply pushed Obongo into cancelling the buying of more than 187 units... And there are thousands of F-16 ending their lives!
Now some CEO at LM had a genius idea, although he thought it was so, promoting the fact that, with its stealth capabilities and a powerful radar, F-35 was capable to shoot anything down from beyond visual range without being seen as others couldn't detect it on their radars! Thus, F-35 allegedly could replace F-16 too, bingo, it'll never have to engage a WVR and even less a dogfight!
Well, might have worked without any competitor in Europe and you worked very hard with the DoS to prevent ANY Rafale foreign sales, perfectly knowing that Rafale would ruin US air-superiority, but this also considered that Russia would stay on its knees forever and the Chinese would stay totally idle going on with reverse-engineered soviet crap but hey, Chinese are clever and they invented the Mafia 3000 years ago, even the commies didn't managed to get rid of the Triads, so when you're as good at having secret societies, espionage goes the same way! And now they do it "à la japonaise" too! They don't only copy but also improve! Mark my words, as I have seen it flying, J-31 is better than F-35 and even has great potential against F-22, now they just need to not forget the gold leaf on canopy to close the Faraday cage... I'm more dubious about J-20 and not because of canards : too big, too hot...
Nevertheless, by basing their aircraft on both Mig 1.44 and F-35 for J-20 and a corrected F-35 without VSTOL for J-31, they pursue the US passive stealth way, now, they have ordered Su-35, if the Russian deliver these with the active-stealth pod, Chinese will reverse engineer this. I don't know about Chinese IRST, well, OLS-35 on Su-35 ain't enough although able to slightly outcompete the one on F-35, thus, it'd be enought to make their new jets and even J-10 becoming serious threats.

Now, F-35 is likely to become a SERIOUS issue for the EU's defence as with such competitors that are ALL able to screw it easily, well, what happens for the US ain't my problem and due to their habitual foreign policy at causing problems to anybody not agreeing with their aggressivity, it's not a problem for me if their F-35 are sitting ducks to Shenyang, Chengdu, Sukhoi or Mikoyan gear and even to exported Rafales and Typhoons. I can't tell what will happen with Trump but some US habitual foreign policy containment is not a bad thing : too many countries were destroyed on its behalf, it's very bad, especially when there is complicity in the EU. BUT some EU countries buying F-35 to replace legacy F-16 simply jeopardises our common security and this can't be accepted! Especially as LM ALIS so-called logistics database forces them to connect to LM databases through internet before EACH flight, then the aircraft is only allowed to fly! Let's face reality : ALIS IS NOTHING ELSE THAN A BACKDOOR INTO F-35! AT ANY MOMENT, THE US GOVERNMENT CAN SIMPLY HAVE LM BLOCKING ALL YOUR FLEET! Thus, nonetheless, F-35 is irrelevant, so costly that these countries will be barred from buying anything else for probably 2 decades but the F-35 BUYERS WILL BE FORCED TO BOW TO WASHINGTON IF THEY WANT TO USE THEIR FLEET. AT THE E.U. LEVEL, THIS CAN'T BE TOLERATED! Many times, the DoS actions were TOXIC for our economies, now they would allow themselves having the right to pressure us through OUR AIR-FORCES! No way!
F-35 shall be banned from being imported in the EU, period!

on Nov 17, 2016

Why pay LM execs $20m when they have a monopoly on so much of the USG business? We should Nationalize the company and let people who are motivated by doing good and doing well run that enterprise.

on Nov 17, 2016

I agree. The CEO's compensation is obscene. It would be even if the company was a stellar performer - which it is not.

Max
on Nov 18, 2016

rbindc: oh but it IS – for its shareholders.

on Nov 18, 2016

Think about it. It is entirely possible that LM is slow walking this thing because they get to keep building defective aircraft that will need major repairs before being serviceable. There is absolutely no penalty being incurred by LM for this practice. This plane should be the poster boy for procurement malpractice.

on Nov 16, 2016

"Gilmore repeated his claim that the F-35 “clearly” will not be able to finish its development phase - called System Development and Demonstration (SDD) – and begin operational testing as planned in August 2017. The full flight envelope, weapons clearances and verified mission data file for the aircraft’s final warfighting software load, Block 3F, will not be available before May 2018, DOT&E states in the memo."
- AW&ST

Surprise Surprise Surprise!
- Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.

Behind schedule and deficient. What's new?

"“Most of this needed funding will come from other F-35 JPO funding sources to minimize the impact on the U.S. Services and DoD overall budget requirements,”

Translation: The accountants have figured out a way that only the taxpayer gets screwed.

"This projection is significant for the Air Force, particularly, as Secretary Deborah Lee James recently certified to the congressional defense committees in compliance with the FY16 National Defense Authorization Act that the F-35As delivered in FY18 would indeed have their full warfighting capability."
- AW&ST

Any lie needed will be provided. An old story when the firm of USAF & LM is concerned.

"But for now, the Air Force is not worried."
- AW&ST

Why should the Air Force be worried? They always get away with it.

“The Air Force considered multiple factors and inputs from various entities before certification,” says Air Force spokesman Capt. Michael Hertzog. “With some additional risk today, we believe Block 3F with full hardware, software, and weapons capabilities planned will be available to support LRIP 10 aircraft.”
- AW&ST

With fingers crossed behind his back no doubt.

The mismanagement of the F-35 program continues unabated.

No one involved suffers the least, so the mismanagement continues.

Only when it costs the officers and executives responsible will behavior change.

And we all know that in that wonderland of incompetence and profligacy called defense procurement no one suffers but the taxpayer - and the national defense.

btw Anyone believe that Bravo Sierra article about the F-35 being ready for combat? If so what does "and begin operational testing as planned in August 2017" mean?

on Nov 16, 2016

"other F-35 JPO funding sources" might include the Pentagon slush fund (OCO) that they have fought so hard to keep.
TheFiscalTimes, May 8, 2015
Pentagon's $90 Billion 'Slush Fund' Comes Under Attack
Last September, for example, the Defense Department tried to use $2 billion of OCO funds to pay for weaponry including eight F-35 stealth fighters that are still in development and may not be available for deployment for years. Congress blew the whistle on that, but has allowed other abuses of the OCO fund over the years.

on Feb 15, 2017

For the full DOT&E 2016 Annual report, it's here :
dote.osd.mil/pub/reports/FY2016/pdf/other/2016DOTEAnnualReport.pdf
it begins on p.75 of the pdf (and p.47 of the document : long intro)
Fort those not wanting to read all the voluminous results of tests reports, the main points are commented here :
defenseissues.net/2017/01/14/the-2016-dote-report-on-the-f-35-david-archibald/
The commenter seems to say the aircraft is terrible but reading the full report will make people think it's worst than it!

AND THE WORST TO COME IS FOR EXPORT CLIENTS :
WASHINGTON WILL SIMPLY BE ABLE TO GROUND THEIR AIR FORCE ANYTIME THEY PLEASE TO!

on Nov 16, 2016

Gilmore (and Bogdan) never mention the Milestone C production decision which follows IOT&E. This is the most important milestone in any systems acquisition which of course is why it is never mentioned in the JSF program, with its ongoing low rate production of faulty useless prototypes. The delay in IOT&E also affects Milestone C, currently scheduled for 2019 but that is now impractical because of development delays.
Senator McCain, to his credit, did mention it in his letter to Frank Kendall. In McCain's ten questions:
"7. When will you make the Milestone C/Full Rate Production decision?"
from DOD Directive 5000.02, p. 27
Milestone C
Milestone C and the Limited Deployment Decision are the points at which a program or increment of capability is reviewed for entrance into the P&D Phase or for Limited Deployment. Approval depends in part on specific criteria defined at Milestone B and included in the Milestone B ADM. The following general criteria will normally be applied: demonstration that the production/deployment design is stable and will meet stated and derived requirements based on acceptable performance in developmental test events; an operational assessment; mature software capability consistent with the software development schedule; no significant manufacturing risks; a validated Capability Production Document (CPD) or equivalent requirements document; demonstrated interoperability; demonstrated operational supportability; costs within affordability caps; full funding in the FYDP; properly phased production ramp up; and deployment support.

WOE
on Nov 18, 2016

@Don Bacon, are you sure you are not a Borg Russian Drone ? Just kidding, Rant on, and on and ON !

on Nov 16, 2016

Gilmore didn't think that the USMC or USAF could declare IOC on time either and the Services & JPO proved him wrong once again.

This will likely be no different.

CharleyA (not verified)
on Nov 16, 2016

Hmmm, who to trust, Gilmore or those services, considering their prior appointments to lead the JPO totally mismanaged this program, and mislead multiple SecDefs and Congressional committees. It is well understood that compromises were made to get these pre-production aircraft and supporting system declared ready for IOC. Attempting to besmirch Gilmore doesn't change the fact that the program is not on track to finish SDD without further funding and time - unless the bar is moved once again.

on Nov 17, 2016

Gilmore is the quintessential "boy who cried wolf". I don't mind him pointing out issues that the program has, but he really needs to stop sticking his nose into areas of the program that are none of his business, like the recent "Block Buy" (not to be confused with Multi-year contract) proposal that he crapped all over. He complains about lack of funding yet torpedos the one proposal that could have saved at least $2 billion over the next 3 years. That could have taken care of all the "lack of funding" issues that he was compaling about.

on Nov 17, 2016

Was he against "block buy" or "block buy of non working development aircrafts"?

Procurement of non-working/non-finished development aircrafts to save money short term does not guarantee saved money in the end.

on Nov 17, 2016

He was against the "Block Buy" of already schedule F-35s. There was no proposal to increase the buy. The DoD just wanted to negotiate 3 years of production at the same time. Norway recently said they wanted that too.

This would have saved at least $2 billion.

Now, the same F-35s are going to be build, but they will have to conduct three separate negotiations. Also, because it was a "Block Buy" and not a "Multi-Year Procurement" contract, the DoD was not locked in to the number of F-35. If there were problems, the order could still be reduced.

Please stop the "non-working" BS Mantra. Both the USMC and USAF are IOC, the pilots & crew love the jet, and it's kicking a$$ at Red Flag, Northern Lightning, etc. The F-35B is deploying to Japan in Jan 2017 & CENTCOM later in 2017. The USAF plans to deploy soon and the Combat Commanders have been asking for the F-35 specifically.

on Nov 19, 2016

SAVED $2B, Spud; or just deferred the $2B a few years until $4B in mods are required after testing is hopefully done?
Do you really NOT get why there's resistance?... It's because you can't provide any data, other than test pilots who love the aircraft, indicating it is ready for full-scale production letalone combat. You just hate the fact when someone DOES prov ide facts, and it conflicts with your reality.

on Nov 17, 2016

You are right. The 'money saved' would just be from an accounting trick, not from real cash being spent.
Plus the idea that Director of Operational Test and Evaluation can torpedo anything is absurd, they only check that the standards that the program itself sets have been met. They dont set the standards, they dont control the purse strings, they just provide unvarnished results of where the program is compared to what the contractor promised.

on Nov 17, 2016

Bogdan has taken Gilmor'e appraisal seriously and asked for another half billion dollars for development.
Senator McCain has taken Gilmore's concerns seriously (first raised last Spring), and Bogdan's reaction to them, that the program be restructured now and provided the additional resources it clearly requires to deliver its long-planned and sorely needed full Block 3F combat capability. McCain has called Gilmore "prescient" and has sent a letter to Kendall asking ten questions.
1. When will the Department complete the SDD phase of the F-35?
2. How many additional funds, in each upcoming fiscal year budget, will be required to complete F-35 SDD?
3. What other service priorities will not receive funding in fiscal year 2018 due to the SDD delay and cost overrun?
4. Is Secretary James’ Block 3F full combat capability certification, as required by the Fiscal Year 2016 NDAA, still valid?
5. How will this delay and cost overrun affect the current overall schedule for Joint Strike Fighter deliveries to the Services?
6. When will you complete the operational test and evaluation phase?
7. When will you make the Milestone C/Full Rate Production decision?
8. Will you defer any planned F-35 capabilities from SDD into the F-35 Follow-on Modernization program?
9. How will the SDD delay affect the Follow-on Modernization program?
10. When will you provide your final response either to revalidate the current requirement for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter total program of record quantity or identify a new requirement for the total number of F-35 aircraft that the Department would ultimately procure?

on Nov 17, 2016

The most important component in warfare today, whether it be against asynchronous opposition of massed armies, are jet aircraft. No battle will ever be won again without air superiority. Russia invades the Baltic's? LOL. Only until the US stealth aircraft arrive to blow down Russia's air defenses, shoot down every single Russian fighter and then drop thousands of tank busting cluster munitions on the ground forces. In that aerial would a single F-22 or F-35 be lost? Probably not.

on Nov 17, 2016

Not a single F-22 will be lost, but with very high probability all of them. Russian air defence (PVO) will shoot down "stealth" airplanes surely. F-35? LOL. it's a fake worth 400 billions, unfitting to war against peer adversaries.

on Nov 17, 2016

Delicious Red cool aid by the gallon

on Nov 17, 2016

LOL rever. You are joking right? That RCS of 0.0001m^2 says differently. That is the RCS of a moth. An F-22 could overfly a S-400 battery at 800 feet and they would never be able to target that plane due to all of the other "moths" on the screen. Learn some physics.

on Nov 18, 2016

Absolutely sick of Russian fanboys spouting the invulnerability of the S400. All you need is one more antradiation missile than antiaircraft missile in the S400 battery and the S400 personnel have a real bad day. The big flaw in the S400 is the small number of expensive missiles.

on Nov 18, 2016

I can inform you that the air-defence actually got air-defence to protect it. Just for that reason.

on May 26, 2017

NorEastern : You seem to forget that :
This RCS is only from the front, rest of the aircraft is 0.1-0.3m² and ONLY over X and part of S-bands.
Unfortunately, S-300 and S-400 use L-band, Sa-3 use C, D, E and I bands that's why it was a bad surprise for F-117 over Yugo. It was also a bad one over Iraq too (but there, they managed to cover the whole thing up).
They thought they could come as close as 22-24km from a S-300/S-400, unfortunately, it was before knowing there wasn't only AESA.
Moreover, such network-centric system doesn't relies only on one radar but many, including passive ones ans also IR and even noise sensors and if you think there aren't CIWS around, be aware that if USAns truck-mount Phalanx CIWS, it was Russians that invented such systems. Kasthan is pretty impressive : 2x GSh-30-6 + 8 missiles... Ouch.
Moreover, both Russians and Europeans are MUCH more advanced than USA when it comes to IRST. You have no way to locate a SWIRST/EO 'ball' and these may be disseminated anywhere.
Even if you have active cancellation systems like SPECTRA or Khibiny, neither F-22, F-35 or B-2 are IR stealth. Once they enter an A2/AD area and are into 40N6 range -and remember these have NOT to be located at the same place the main radars have-, these pseudo-stealth assets are screwed!

on Nov 18, 2016

"Gilmore didn't think that the USMC or USAF could declare IOC on time" - the question is not 'could' they declare IOC, but whether they should have. Clearly a decision driven more by PR needs than by operational sense.

on Nov 19, 2016

So you're contending that the IOC declarations, which are utterly ridiculous considering that the thing is still under dev fixing known issues, and still has a long way to go, somehow trumps the fact that the IOC declaration is just that, bogus?
Who gives a crap if they declare IOC just to get status they need to keep partners from bailing and to keep the money flowing into the program at the expense of aircraft that are actually able to fill the role, right?
Brilliant LibDem thinking - Claim success in the face of failure... Look what that turned into (thankfully)

RSF (not verified)
on Nov 22, 2016

"Gilmore didn't think that the USMC or USAF could declare IOC on time either and the Services & JPO proved him wrong once again."

Exactly! Whats another rubber stamped IOC at this point? Move along now folks, nothing new to see here.

on Nov 17, 2016

Maybe the wonder bar was set too high to begin with. It will still be an effective warfighter even dumbed down.

on Nov 19, 2016

BINGO!!!! - No one should give a damn at this point if its revolutionary, still-in-the-lab, 360 degree, fully networked capabilities are up-to-snufff - Can it be fielded to do what 40-year old F-16s are already doing? From everything we're hearing, yes it can; just not out in an actual war zone because it would be "risky" - THAT is the problem, we've spent 15 years coddling an all-or-nothing program that won't even be out of dev for a few more years.
I say, if the test pilots are so trustworthy on how great it is, get it out there - If it's not able to do what an F-16 can do, at least everyone will SEE it. If it CAN, get the damn thing fielded and the resources in place to give us what we've paid dearly for - The time for "sit back and wait" is long gone.

on Nov 17, 2016

Too complex, too expensive and too late. We all pay the price for this 'ill conceived, mismanaged project.

on Nov 17, 2016

Well I do have a solution, we should ask Bogdan to re-qualify for JSF then put him in that bird to engage some terrorists in Syria or Iraq!!!

on Nov 17, 2016

The memo is a classic case of a very large scale program under fire over run-away costs that goes for the classic tactic of trying to make it's non-recurring development phase look better at the expense of the recurring operations and the operator. I'd interpret almost every item of the Director's concerns as a form of saying that someone has decided on paper that development will be over, for mere appearances sake, as the funding from operations can later fix and finish what was not done right. After all, it's just one big happy family and all. Take one for the team you ops guys! The Director is clearly not taking this easy. Finally, a real leader, speaking up as leadership requires.

At the end of the day, finding the unexpected in actual operations is one thing, finding the unfinished quite another, as fielding a fighter aircraft with known deficiencies is a formula for someone, one day, having a so-called "accident"; so-called because an improper development and test phase carried into operations virtually assures such an "accident".

on Nov 17, 2016

@edzapata
Yes, they want to go back to the old way of doing things, to send crappy poor-performance high-maintenance systems out to the line units and make them deal with the consequences. That's why the laws were passed thirty years ago restricting such behavior - 10 U.S. Code § 2366 and 10 USC § 2399.
In fact this situation is worse, with known faulty pre-production prototypes being called "combat capable" by a corrupt establishment.
Gilmore: The program's recent decision to eliminate two full software builds and delete TEMP- and JTP-required testing due to software schedule slips and funding shortages is inadequate to address the large number of significant open Deficiency Reports (DRs) remaining in SDD. This plan assumes no further significant discoveries in SDD; however, even in the unlikely event no additional discoveries are made, the program is running out of time and budget to properly test and verify the required fixes for the existing DRs. The program currently has 146 Category 1 and 1,033 Category 2 "active" open DRs, along with 16 new DRs, since the last deficiency review board on September 26, 2016. Of the 1,179 DRs, there are 528 that are being categorized as "Open Under Investigation" (OUIN) and 385 categorized as "Open Awaiting Fix Verification" (OAFV).

on Nov 17, 2016

If it keeps going on that way, the plane will be obsolete before being operational. Technology does not stop striding forward and updates will be a never-ending story!

on Nov 17, 2016

There's obviously a lot of swamp-draining that needs to be done in the Pentagon.

on Nov 17, 2016

Draining swamps still leaves you with ground thats unable to be built on.

on Nov 17, 2016

Just a dumb suggestion from yokel in the boonies. Let's give the F-35 to all of our enemies - let them figure out how to get the "thing" working ( they probably will ) but let them waste their time and money while we develop some "thing" a fraction of the cost that is good and then go with a swarm approach. Just don't let the builders associated with the F-35 bid on it ! We could have nearly gone to Mars with that
money !

Please or Register to post comments.

What's Ares?

Aviation Week editors blog their personal views on the defense industry.

Blog Archive
Penton Corporate

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×