- The Pentagon is delaying F-35 initial operational test and evaluation owing to software issues
- This will further delay full-rate production
The Pentagon is delaying initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) because of several software issues, according to Defense Department correspondence released on 12 September by the Project on Government Oversight watchdog group.
Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) Robert Behler said on 24 August that he was delaying IOT&E until the F-35 programme updates versions of the aircraft’s operating software, mission-data files, Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), and Air-to-Air Range Infrastructure (AARI) software. Dan Grazier, POGO military fellow, told Jane’s that the delay is significant as it will delay the moment the programme can legally begin full-rate production (FRP).
The next version of the F-35’s operating software, known as 30R02 and scheduled to be fielded in the next two months, should enable the aircraft to perform several key combat missions, including strategic attack, air interdiction, offensive counter air, and electronic attack.
Behler also declares that the programme uses the same version of AARI software throughout formal IOT&E. The currently fielded F-35 software, known as 30R00, has deficiencies with AARI that are addressed in the follow-up software 30R02. AARI, he said, must be functioning adequately to ensure test results are accurate, understandable, and defendable.
“Changing AARI software versions in the midst of IOT&E could potentially result in inconsistencies in data collection and affect the validity and adequacy of the test and evaluation,” Behler warned.
Grazier said AARI is the system at the test ranges that simulates enemy missile shots. He said to be consistent with testing purposes, the same software must be used to control the variable throughout the testing process. If not, testers will not be able to properly evaluate the F-35 because it will have a different variable involved.
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