Apr 07 2016

Contracts new F-35 facilities RAF Marham: £167 million

Gepubliceerd door JSFNieuws.nl onder Global F35 News

Press release UK Ministry of Defence 7-Apr-2016:

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has announced contracts worth £167 million to upgrade and build new facilities at RAF Marham, the future home of the UK’s F-35B Lightning II squadrons.

The contracts, which will create 300 new jobs, will allow for the addition of maintenance, training and logistics facilities to the station in East Anglia, all of which will be dedicated to the next-generation fighter aircraft.

The announcement was made in the same week as the UK met a new milestone on the F-35 programme with the completion of the 10th aft – or rear – section being built for the UK’s fleet.

Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon said:
The F-35 is the most advanced combat aircraft in the world. Whether operating from land or our two new aircraft carriers, they will ensure we have a formidable fighting force. They are part of our plan for stronger and better defence, backed by a budget that will this week rise for the first time in six years, and keep rising until the end of the decade.”

The works at RAF Marham have been made possible through three contracts, placed initially by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and totalling £25 million, for demolition and cabling works at the Norfolk site, readying RAF Marham for new construction works.

A £142 million contract between Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) and Lockheed Martin UK will then allow the construction of three new buildings which together will keep the new aircraft ready for service, provide training facilities for pilots and ground crew, and enable centralised management of the UK’s whole F-35B fleet.

Approximately 300 people will be employed on the construction works, which will be managed by sub-contractors BAE Systems. The buildings will become a place of work for around 250 military and civilian staff when they open in 2018.

Defence Equipment and Support Chief Executive Officer Tony Douglas said:
These facilities are critical to the F-35B Lightning II programme, which is in turn vital to the future capability of the UK’s Armed Forces. The cutting edge technology of these aircraft, supported by world-class facilities at RAF Marham, will ensure we have a battle-winning fleet of jets deployable anywhere in the world.”

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Apr 04 2016

AFB Eielson (Alaska) selected as new home F-35As

Gepubliceerd door JSFNieuws.nl onder Global F35 News

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, was selected as the new home for the Air Force’s first operational overseas F-35A Lightning IIs.

Air Force officials chose Eielson AFB after a lengthy analysis of the location’s operational considerations, installation attributes, environmental factors and cost.

Alaska combines a strategically important location with a world-class training environment. Basing the F-35s at Eielson AFB will allow the Air Force the capability of using the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC) for large force exercises using a multitude of ranges and maneuver areas in Alaska,” said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. “This, combined with the largest airspace in the Air Force, ensures realistic combat training for the (Defense Department).”

Proximity to the JPARC will enable the Air Force to take advantage of approximately 65.000 square miles of available airspace for realistic, world-class training in the Air Force’s most advanced fifth-generation fighter.

The decision culminates a three-year process that included an extensive environmental impact statement that examined impacts on such factors as air quality, noise, land use and socioeconomics.

The decision to base two F-35 squadrons at Eielson AFB, Alaska, combined with the existing F-22 Raptors at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, will double our fifth-generation fighter aircraft presence in the Pacific theater,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. “Integrating that fifth-generation force with Navy, Marine, and allied F-35 forces will provide joint and coalition warfighters unprecedented survivability, lethality and battlespace awareness in contested environments. It’s an exciting time for Pacific airpower.

The base is projected to receive two squadrons of F-35As, which will join the wing’s F-16 Fighting Falcon aggressor squadron currently assigned to Eielson AFB.

On-base construction to prepare for the aircraft is expected to start in fiscal year 2017 in order to be ready to accept the first F-35As, which are currently scheduled to begin arriving in 2020.

Preliminary estimates had the new aircraft arriving a year earlier, but officials say the 2020 arrival will provide the Air Force more time and grow its active-duty maintenance force.

The Air Force is facing a shortage of experienced, active-duty fighter aircraft maintainers as we transition from legacy aircraft to the F-35A,” said Lt. Gen. John B. Cooper, the deputy chief of staff the Air Force for logistics, installations and mission support. “Adjusting the initial plan and slightly accelerating F-35A arrivals at Burlington Air Guard Station, Burlington, Vermont, to fall 2019 will allow the service to stick to the overall F-35 rollout schedule, while capitalizing on the Air National Guard’s experienced fighter aircraft maintenance force as we put additional measures in place to increase the number of trained active-duty maintainers.”

Press Release US DOD, US Air Force; Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs; 4-Apr-2016

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Mrt 26 2016

Dodgy software will bork America’s F-35 fighters until at least 2019

Gepubliceerd door JSFNieuws.nl onder Global F35 News

IT News Magazine reports about the software troubles of the F-35, telling us that the “Trillion dollar fleet offers literal Blue Screen of Death…….

The (f-35) aircraft, which is supposed to reinvigorate the American military’s air power, is suffering numerous problems, largely down to flaws in the F-35’s operating system. These include straightforward code crashes, having to reboot the radar every four hours, and serious security holes in the code.

Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation, reported that the latest F-35 operating system has 931 open, documented deficiencies, 158 of which are Category 1 – classified as those that could cause death, severe injury, or severe illness.

“The limited and incomplete F-35 cybersecurity testing accomplished to date has nonetheless revealed deficiencies that cannot be ignored,” Gilmore said in his testimony (see this LINK for complete tekst)

Read more:
Dodgy software will bork America’s F-35 fighters until at least 2019

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Mrt 26 2016

Man Who Sold F-35 Secrets to China Pleads Guilty

Gepubliceerd door JSFNieuws.nl onder Global F35 News

Vice News reports about the man who sould F-35 secrets to China:
Su Bin is facing five years in prison for his role as ringleader in one of the most elaborate and daring hacking operations uncovered in North America.
The 50-year-old Chinese citizen, who also held permanent residency in Canada, pled guilty this week after more than two years of legal proceedings. He copped to funneling information, with the cooperation of Chinese military officials, back to Beijing.
Su’s life in Canada did little to arouse suspicion. He had a wife and two kids. He ran his own business — Lode Technologies, based in Beijing, but with an office in Vancouver. Quietly, he was the center of an international hacking organization that stole highly sensitive information from some of the world’s most powerful defense companies.

He also managed to grab volumes of data relating to the F-22 and F-35 fighter jets, both of which are made by Lockheed Martin.
The operation was complex, and expensive. The team said that they had servers set up in the United States, Korea, Singapore, and elsewhere to serve as “hop points,” which act as intermediaries to mask the attacking computer’s IP address. The hackers also had work stations in Hong Kong and Macao, in order to “avoid diplomatic and legal complications.

Read complete news item:
Man who sold F-35 secrets to China pleads guilty

Vice News; Man Who Sold F-35 Secrets to China Pleads Guilty; Justin Ling; 24-Mar-2016

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Mrt 24 2016

Alarming testimony by Gilmore (DOT&E): F-35 problems continuing

Gepubliceerd door JSFNieuws.nl onder Global F35 News

Statement of the honorable J. Michael Gilmore, Director, Operational Test and Evaluation Office of the Secretary of Defense

Before the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee of the US House Armed Services Committee.

Summary of DOTE testimony:
- JSF Program is at a critical time
- Block 3i software fielded, however many unresolved significant deficiencies
- By overlap of production and testing many F-35s need costly and time consuming modifications and retrofits (300 aircraft involved; US$ 3 billion extra costs)
- Availability of effective mission load files may be a challenge
- Cybersecurity testing not completed and revealed important deficiencies
- Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) on F-35 considered inferior by pilots to those currently on legacy system
- CAS capabilities in its childhood; a long way to go (fuel, targeting and weapons limitations)
- Alert launch test, with multiple aircraft involved, failed due to start-up problems
- High fuel burn rate (60% more than F-16); more tanker support necessary
- Heavy load of 931 open or unresolved (technical) deficiencies
- Ejection seat (escape system) immature and requires modifications and new testing
- Major findings continuing in the durability tests
- ALIS (logistics and maintenance) software not ready and problems in remote operations
- F-35 reliability/availabiloty improving but much too low
- New challenge is managing all different software and hardware versions
- Deployment sustainment tests show bad results (50-60% availability)

Text of Statement

Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Sanchez, my testimony today discusses the status of the F-35 program using my Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Annual Report as the basis. There are a few updates since the report was released in January 2016, which I will highlight today.

Program at a critical time

Overall, the program is at a critical time. Although the Marine Corps has declared Initial Operational Capability (IOC) and the Air Force plans to do so later this calendar year (CY), the F-35 system remains immature and provides limited combat capability, with the officially planned start of Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) just over one year away. Over the past year, flight test teams continued to accomplish test flights at the planned rate, and a new version of software capability, Block 3i, was fielded. However, there are still many unresolved significant deficiencies, the program continues to fall behind the planned software block development and testing goals, and sustainment of the fielded aircraft is very burdensome. (The latter is not a surprise, since, as the Program Executive Officer has noted, F-35 remains under development notwithstanding the Services’ declarations of IOC.) The program is working to resolve the many issues it confronts, but my assessment is that the F-35 program will not be ready for IOT&E until CY18 at the soonest. Because aircraft continue to be produced in substantial quantities (all of which will require some level of modifications and retrofits before being used in combat), IOT&E must be conducted as soon as possible to evaluate F-35 combat effectiveness under the most realistic combat conditions that can be obtained. Over 300 aircraft are planned to be built by the end of FY17 when IOT&E is currently scheduled to begin.

Testing progress, despite severe problems

Test teams executed very closely to the planned sortie production rate throughout the year, as has been the case in previous years. It will be important to ensure the government flight test centers and the associated ranges and facilities at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) and Patuxent River Naval Air Station (NAS) remain sufficiently resourced to overcome the remaining test challenges, which are significant. However, sortie production does not necessarily mean that planned test points were completed successfully, the system under test functioned as designed, the data collected were usable to sign off contract specification compliance, or that the system will actually be effective and suitable in combat.
In fact, the program did not accomplish the amount of test points planned in several flight test venues, and the program continued to add testing via “growth points” while deleting many mission systems test points as no-longer-required. Because of a change by the program in defining growth in test points, the amount of this re-defined growth was less during the last year than in previous years.
Regarding mission systems test progress over the past year, the program focused on culminating Block 2B development and testing in order to provide a fleet release enabling the Marine Corps F-35B Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) declaration of IOC, while transitioning development and flight test resources to Block 3i and Block 3F.
The program terminated Block 2B development in May 2015, and the Marine Corps declared IOC in July 2015, despite known deficiencies and with, as expected, limited combat capability. Block 3i developmental flight testing restarted for the third time in March 2015, after two earlier attempts in May and September 2014. As mentioned in my annual report, Block 3i began with re-hosting immature Block 2B software and capabilities into new avionics processors. Though the program originally intended that Block 3i would not introduce new capabilities and would not inherit technical problems from earlier blocks, both of these things occurred. Despite ongoing severe problems with avionics stability, sensor fusion, and other issues, the program terminated Block 3i developmental flight testing in October 2015, and released Block 3i software to the fielded units. This decision was made, despite the unresolved Block 3i deficiencies, in an attempt to meet the unrealistic current official schedule for completing development and flight testing of Block 3F mission systems.
The Air Force insisted on fixes for five of the most severe deficiencies inherited from Block 2B as a prerequisite to use the final Block 3i capability in the Air Force IOC aircraft; Air Force IOC is currently planned for August 2016 (objective) through December 2016 (threshold). However, as the program attempted to concurrently develop and test Block 3i and Block 3F software, the latter of which began flight testing in March 2015, the immaturity and instability of the Block 3i mission systems software continued to manifest problems in flight testing. In February 2016, when the latest version of Block 3F software – version 3FR5 – was delivered to flight test, it was so unstable that productive flight testing could not be accomplished. Consequently, the program elected to reload a previous version of Block 3F software – version 3FR4 – on the mission systems flight test aircraft, to allow limited testing to proceed. The program converted its developmental labs back to the Block 3i configuration in another attempt to address key unresolved software deficiencies, including the avionics instabilities troubling both Block 3i and Block 3F. This decision by the program to return to the Block 3i configuration and address the poor mission systems performance should be commended. It will likely cause some delays, but it is a necessary step to ensure the Air Force has adequate Block 3i software for IOC and that the additional full set of combat capabilities planned in Block 3F can be effectively tested with a stable baseline and eventually fielded to operational units. The extent to which the significant outstanding deficiencies are being addressed thus far is still to be determined; the program plans to begin flight testing of another version of Block 3i software, version 3iR6.21, in late March 2016.

Block 3F presents significant challenges

Realizing the numerous new and advanced capabilities planned to be in Block 3F mission systems, which are specified in the program’s Operational Requirements Document (ORD), presents significant challenges for remaining development and flight test. Before the program’s decision to pause Block 3F developmental flight testing and rework Block 3i software, test progress was limited as flight testing had only accomplished approximately 17 percent of the Block 3F baseline test points by the end of February 2016. This is because many of the test points, including the more complex weapons delivery accuracy events, could not be flown until stable, functioning Block 3F software was available. After this next version of Block 3iR6.21 software has completed flight testing and the next iteration of the Block 3FR5 software is developed and tested in the lab, the program plans to release 3FR5 to the test centers and resume Block 3F flight testing. Because of the reworking of Block 3i software and the added capability being incorporated in the remaining Block 3F software, it is incorrect to assume that the difficult testing is behind the program. In fact, the most stressing missions systems testing remains to be completed, since the final Block 3F capabilities are both complex and important to the F-35’s viability. A recent example is an attempted four-ship Electronic Warfare “Super Scenario” mission with Block 3F software that resulted in only two aircraft arriving at the range because the other two aircraft ground aborted due to avionics stability problems during startup. Also, when the aircraft operated in a dense and realistic electromagnetic environment, the current avionics problems caused poor detection and fusion performance, which is exacerbated in multi-ship F-35 formations. Due to the large amount of difficult flight testing remaining, it is likely 6
there will be discoveries of additional significant deficiencies that will need to be rectified before IOT&E.

United States Reprogramming Laboratory (USRL)

Significant, correctable deficiencies exist in the U.S. Reprogramming Laboratory (USRL) that will preclude development and adequate testing of effective mission data loads for Block 3F. Despite a $45 Million budget provided to the Program Office in FY13, the required equipment was not ordered in time and the USRL is still not configured properly to build and optimize Block 3F Mission Data Files (MDFs). The program still has not designed, contracted for, and ordered all of the required equipment – a process that will take at least two years for some of the complex equipment – after which time for installation and check-out will be required. The estimate of earliest completion is 2019, which is after the planned IOT&E of Block 3F. As I explain in my annual report, the corrections to the USRL are needed to provide F-35s the ability to succeed against the modern threats that are the key rationale for pursuing this $400-Billion program. If the situation with the USRL is not rectified, U.S. F-35 forces will be at substantial risk of failure if used in combat against these threats. Further, I note that the laboratory being built to provide MDFs to the partner nations will be more capable than the USRL is when we are preparing for IOT&E. The full set of required upgrades for the USRL should be pursued immediately, without further delay.

Cybersecurity testing

The limited and incomplete F-35 cybersecurity testing accomplished to date has nonetheless revealed deficiencies that cannot be ignored. Multiple tests are scheduled for spring 2016; however, the JSF Program Office (JPO) and contractor are still reluctant to allow testing of the actual Autonomic Logistics Operating Unit (ALOU) including its many connections, fearing testing might disrupt its operations. Even though the program is providing alternate systems for ALOU testing in the near term, which is better than foregoing all testing, it must allow full cooperative and adversarial cyber tests on every level and component of the operational Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), as well as the actual aircraft, as soon as possible. Cybersecurity testing on the next increment of ALIS – version 2.0.2 – is planned for this fall, but may need to be delayed because the program may not be able to resolve some key deficiencies and complete content development and fielding as scheduled.

IOT&E readiness and adequacy

IOT&E will be the first rigorous evaluation of the combat capability of the F-35. However, the current schedule to complete development and enter IOT&E by August 2017 is unrealistic. The problem is, and has been, the slow rate at which required combat capabilities are maturing; that is, becoming stable and viable enough to successfully complete testing. Based on the historical performance of the program and the large amount of testing that remains, my estimate for completion of developmental flight test is no earlier than January 2018. For these reasons, the test organizations’ capacity should be maintained at current levels, and not reduced in a counter-productive effort to meet unrealistic budget targets. Several other significant obstacles remain to be overcome before IOT&E can begin, including the following:

1 - Weapons integration. A significant amount of weapons integration developmental testing remains in order to integrate and qualify for operational use of the full suite of Block 3F weapons, including the gun. Since my annual report, nothing has changed my estimate that the program must complete weapons employment test events at a pace three times faster than it has previously been able to do. Eliminating some of the planned developmental weapons test events will only result in deferring them to be done later by the operational test squadrons, which will likely delay identification
and correction of significant new discoveries and, therefore, delay IOT&E. The developmental weapons test events are critical in preparing for IOT&E and the Block 3F weapons events are much more complex than previous testing for Block 2B and Block 3i. For example, critical air-to-air and air-to-ground gun accuracy testing still has not occurred because test aircraft have not received the required gun modifications, which are expected in summer 2016. Whether the F-35, the first modern fighter without a heads-up display, can accurately employ the gun in realistic situations with the Generation III Helmet Mounted Display System remains to be seen until this testing can be conducted.
2 - Modification of aircraft. One of numerous penalties associated with highly-concurrent F-35 development and production is that all the early operational aircraft now need many significant, time-consuming, and costly modifications. The 18 U.S. aircraft (6 each of F-35A/B/C) required for IOT&E need to be representative of the configuration of the weapons system that will be bought at full production rates, which is Lot 9 or Lot 10 and later; recall that the operational test aircraft were purchased in early production lots (Lot 3 through 5), when the program planned IOT&E to occur in 2013. The program and the Services need to decide whether to pursue all of the modifications needed to those early-lot aircraft prior to IOT&E, or to equip later production aircraft, requiring few or no modifications, with the necessary instrumentation for IOT&E. Nothing substantive has occurred since my annual report to change my estimate that if the former course is pursued, the aircraft designated for IOT&E will not be ready until April 2019. This is despite ongoing efforts by the program to accelerate the modification schedule. The program is also pursuing other options, including taking some of the new Block 3i processor sets from the production line to modify some of the IOT&E aircraft. The program and Services are also considering swapping new Block 3i processors from other delivered aircraft with the operational test aircraft that are currently configured with Block 2B hardware. The primary problem with staying on the course of completing modifications of the older aircraft is that the production line and the depots – where earlier lot aircraft are being modified – compete for the same materiel. Of course, this issue affects not only the IOT&E aircraft, but all of the aircraft produced before at least Lot 9 as well. A decision is needed now on the approach to be taken to provide production-representative aircraft for operational testing.
3 - Mission data. I already addressed earlier in my statement the problems with the USRL with respect to the need for upgrades in order to be able to produce mission data loads for Block 3F IOT&E. Again, this is a significant problem for the program and the processes involved in completing the Block 3F laboratory upgrades need to be accelerated, or IOT&E could be delayed well into 2019, with the combat capability of the F-35 remaining deficient. Besides programming the mission data loads, the laboratory is also used as a test venue for optimizing the performance of scan schedules within the data loads. These schedules command the time-sharing of the radar and the electronic support systems to ensure threat signals are detected, geo-located, and correctly identified for battlespace awareness. Such testing takes time in the laboratory and should be completed prior to, and refined after, testing on the open-air ranges.
4 - Sustainment. In my annual report I provided details on operational suitability. I highlight here, with respect to IOT&E readiness, that if the program is only able to achieve and sustain its goal of 60 percent aircraft availability, the length of IOT&E will increase significantly because a combat-ready availability of 80 percent is planned and needed to efficiently accomplish the open-air mission trials with the number of aircraft planned for IOT&E. Improvements in reliability and maintainability, along with significant improvements to the ALIS, are all needed. The program has worked and achieved better performance in these areas over the past two years, but progress is still too slow if the program is to be ready for IOT&E in less than two years. Of course, this is not only an issue for IOT&E execution, but also for the fielded operational units.
5 - Operator preparedness. In addition to having production representative aircraft, effective mission data, and improved sustainment, the units that will execute the operational test trials need viable tactics and enough time to become proficient by training to them. For example, the pilots will need time to adapt to and train with the new Generation III Helmet Mounted Display System that will begin testing later this year. The operational test team has always planned for this training to occur; however, the program continues to believe that this can be done concurrently with development. Concurrent development and training for test has been tried in other programs, and is fraught with difficulty and failure.
6 - Test range improvements. I have been working within the Office of the Secretary of Defense and with the Service staffs for the past five years to improve the test venues for operational testing of F-35 and other platforms, in particular the open-air
test resources. These efforts have resulted in putting improvements on track for F-35 IOT&E to be able to include already fielded advanced threats that previously were not going to be available for testing and training. However, resistance and bureaucratic delays to adequately integrating these assets continue despite the decision having been made by the Secretary of Defense to ensure a full and complete test capability that is no less than that available with older threat systems. I will continue to work to bring the needed level of integration to fruition, and appreciate the support provided so far.
7 - IOT&E plans. IOT&E will include trials in various mission areas, specifically Close Air Support (CAS), Surface Attack, Suppression/Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD/DEAD), Air Warfare (both offensive and defensive), and Aerial Reconnaissance. The IOT&E will also include tests that compare the ability of the F-35 to accomplish CAS, Combat Search and Rescue and related missions – such as Forward Air Controller (Airborne) – with the A-10, plus SEAD/DEAD missions with that of the F-16, and Surface Attack missions with that of the F/A-18. These comparison test trials are essential to understanding the new capabilities expected from the F-35 program, relative to the legacy systems it is designed to replace. The trials will be designed to answer the question, “Is the new system as good as or better at accomplishing the mission than the legacy system under the same conditions and in the same environment?” Comparison testing is not new with the JSF. Of note, the F-22 completed comparison testing with the F-15 during its IOT&E. Typically, many variables are present during operational testing that cannot be controlled, especially in force-on-force exercises. Areas where commonality in the variables can be sought among trials to enable valid comparisons include: the type of mission; the size, organization, and capability of the enemy force; the terrain (or environment) where the test is conducted; the size, organization, and capability of the supporting blue forces; and time available to accomplish the mission. These comparison test trials will be designed as “matched pairs” where the F-35 aircraft will fly the mission trial and then the comparison aircraft will fly the same mission trial, under the same operational conditions, with pilots making best use of the differing capabilities and tactics for employing each aircraft.

Block 2B Capabilities Fielded

As mentioned in my annual report, if used in combat, the Block 2B F-35 will need support from command and control elements to avoid threats, assist in target acquisition, and control weapon employment for the limited weapons carriage available (i.e., two bombs and two air-to-air missiles). Block 2B deficiencies in fusion, Electronic Warfare, and weapons employment result in ambiguous threat displays, limited ability to respond to threats, and a requirement for off-board sources to provide accurate coordinates for precision attack. Since Block 2B F-35 aircraft are limited to two air-to-air missiles, they will require other support if operations are contested by enemy fighter aircraft. The program deferred deficiencies and weapons delivery accuracy test events from Block 2B to Block 3i and Block 3F, a necessary move in order to transition the testing enterprise to support Block 3i flight testing and Block 3F development, both of which began later than planned in the program’s integrated master schedule. The program fielded new software for the ALIS during 2015. These versions included new functions, improved interfaces, and fixes for some of the deficiencies in the earlier ALIS versions. The program also fielded a new version of the Standard Operating Unit (SOU) which is more modular and easier to deploy. However, many critical deficiencies remain which require 13
maintenance personnel to use workarounds to address the unresolved problems. For example, training systems for ALIS are immature and require maintenance personnel to learn ALIS processes in the fielded locations. Also, data within ALIS modules referring to aircraft parts are often inaccurate and need to be manually corrected. In addition, the process for creating and receiving action requests, needed for resolving maintenance issues when technical data are insufficient or not clear, is lengthy and burdensome.
The Marine Corps conducted a deployment demonstration to the USS WASP in May 2015, which provided lessons learned and highlighted limitations for conducting ship-borne operations. The Marines also conducted a deployment demonstration to the Strategic Expeditionary Landing Field near Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Twentynine Palms, California, in December 2015. Both deployments required extensive time to transfer data to the deployed ALIS and ensure files were formatted correctly to support operations. In addition, low aircraft availability rates resulted in less than planned sortie generation rates.
The Air Force also conducted deployment demonstrations – one as a “cross-ramp” deployment of three F-35A aircraft across the ramp at Edwards AFB, California, in April and May 2015 and another with six F-35A aircraft to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, in February 2016. Like the Marine Corps demonstrations, the cross-ramp deployment required extensive time to get ALIS set up and data files transferred from the operational unit. ALIS set up and data transfer during the Mountain Home deployment was more efficient than in other demonstration, being completed within four hours for each of the six aircraft. The Air Force attempted two alert launch procedures during the Mountain Home deployment, where multiple F-35A aircraft were preflighted and prepared for a rapid launch, but all failed to accomplish the alert launch successfully due to start-up problems requiring system or aircraft shut-downs and restarts.

CAS capabilities very restricted

There are several issues affecting the F-35’s CAS capabilities, as mentioned in my annual report. Both the Air Force, with the F-35A, and the Marine Corps, with the F-35B, have flown simulated CAS missions during training or in support of training exercises, with the aircraft in the Block 2B configuration. These training missions have shown that the Block 2B aircraft will need to make substantial use of voice communications to receive target information and clearance to conduct an attack. This is because of the combined effects of digital communications deficiencies, lack of infrared pointer capability, limited ability to detect infrared pointer indications by a controller (which may be improved in the Generation III Helmet Mounted Display System), and inability to confirm coordinates loaded to GPS-aided weapons. Many pilots consider the Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) on the F-35 to be inferior to those currently on legacy systems, in terms of providing the pilot with an ability to discern target features and identify targets at tactical ranges, along with maintaining target identification and laser designation throughout the attack. Environmental effects, such as high humidity, often forced pilots to fly closer to the target than desired in order to discern target features and then engage for weapon employment, much closer than needed with legacy systems, potentially exposing them to threats around the target area or requiring delays to regain adequate spacing to set up an attack. When F-35 aircraft are employed at night in combat, pilots with the currently-fielded Generation II helmet will have no night vision capability from the helmet, due to the restriction on using the current limited night vision camera (due to poor performance, unless a waiver is granted for combat), which is planned to be subsequently upgraded after aircraft are retrofitted with Block 3i and pilots are equipped with the Generation III helmet, which is still in development and testing. In general, using Block 2B F-35 aircraft, pilots would operate much like early fourth generation aircraft using cockpit panel displays, with the Distributed Aperture 15
System providing limited situational awareness of the horizon, and heads-up display symbology produced on the helmet.
Fuel and weapons limitations also affect F-35 CAS performance. For example, an F-35B, assuming a 250-nautical mile ingress to a CAS area contact point, would have only approximately 20 – 30 minutes to coordinate with the controller, assess the tactical situation and execute an attack using its two air-to-surface weapons before needing to depart for fuel. By comparison, an Air Force A-10 would have approximately one and one half hours of time in the CAS area under the same conditions, but would be able to autonomously acquire and identify targets, while using datalink to receive and/or pass target and situational awareness information. Also, an A-10 would be able to employ at least four air-to-surface weapons, including a mixed load of ordnance and its internal gun, which provides flexibility in the CAS role. Although F-35 loiter time can be extended by air refueling, operational planners would have to provide sufficient tankers to make this happen.

High fuel burn rate

The F-35 fuel burn rate is very high compared to legacy strike fighters, at least 60 percent higher than the F-16C, and 180 percent higher than the A-10. This creates a burden on the air refueling resources if used to increase F-35 time on station. Of course, the F-35 is designed to do more missions than CAS, which is the primary mission for which the A-10 was designed. Also, the F-35 is designed to do these missions in a high-threat area. Furthermore, F-35 development is still not complete. If the capabilities stated in the ORD are realized, Block 3F aircraft will have the ability to carry additional weapons externally, for an increased payload, as well as a gun. For example, a Block 3F F-35A aircraft could carry six Guided Bomb Unit (GBU)-12 laser-guided bombs (vice two in Block 2B) along with four air-to-air missiles (two Air Intercept Missile (AIM)-120C and two AIM-9X). The gun capabilities of the F-35 and A-10 are significantly different. The F-35 has a lightweight, 25-millimeter cannon, 16
internally mounted on the F-35A with 182 rounds, and in an external pod with 220 rounds for the F-35B and F-35C, while the A-10 has a 30-millimeter cannon with 1,150 rounds. Even though the A-10 gun has a higher rate of fire, the A-10 gun can fire for over 17 seconds versus approximately 4 seconds for the F-35, providing the capability for many more gun attacks. Also, while both guns have a similar muzzle velocity, the rounds fired by the A-10 are twice as heavy, providing twice the impact energy on the target. The F-35’s fusion of information from onboard sensors and data from off-board sources (i.e., F-35 aircraft in formation via the Multi-function Advanced Data Link (MADL) and other aircraft via Link 16), along with all-weather ground-moving target and synthetic aperture radar capability, are planned to be more capable in Block 3F and should provide better battlespace awareness than that being fielded with Block 2B and better capability in these aspects than an A-10. The extent that these capabilities improve combat capability over legacy systems will be evaluated during IOT&E.
Mission planning time and the debriefing times for the F-35 with the current version of ALIS – which must account for the long download process for cockpit video – are much longer than those of legacy platforms and will affect operations when the F-35 unit is a member of composite air and surface forces, since planning timelines will have to be adjusted.

Software Block 3 – more instability, more reboots

As I explained above, Block 3i was intended to be a simple re-hosting of Block 2B mission systems software on new hardware and processors. However, Block 3i content also includes attempted fixes for five significant functional deficiencies related to mission systems identified by the Air Force as necessary for its IOC declaration. Four additional discoveries in Block 3i have since been identified as deficiencies in need of fixes. Unfortunately, as explained earlier in my statement, Block 3i software is still not stable; in fact, it is much less stable than Block 2B. The final version of Block 2B, version 2BS5.2, had 32.5 hours between stability events during flight testing, versus only 4.3 hours for Block 3iR6. Because Block 3i is the basis for the final new and challenging Block 3F capabilities, the program has rightly determined to focus on Block 3i problems in lieu of further Block 3F development. The program is developing another version of Block 3i software – version 3iR6.21 – which it plans to release to flight test in late March 2016. Unfortunately, further development of the software had been on hold, due to the expiration of the Authority to Operate of the software testing labs at the contractor lab facilities, but has now recently re-started. The Block 3i software instabilities, unresolved deficiencies, lab delays, and the potential for additional discoveries are adversely affecting Block 3i tactics development and the IOC Readiness Assessment, currently underway at Nellis AFB, and are likely to affect Air Force IOC. Nevertheless, the program continues to deliver Block 3i aircraft configured with the available software to fielded units and will continue to do so this year and next year.
Success of Block 3F mission systems depends on the program resolving the problems with Block 3i. The stability and functionality problems in the initial versions of Block 3F, inherited from Block 3i, were so significant that the program could not continue flight test. The program recently announced a commitment to shift to capability-based software releases, rather than schedule-driven and overlapping releases. While this may cause further short-term delays to the program, I agree with the program’s decision to shift to a serial process of testing and fixing software in the lab before releasing the next software version. If a workable version of 3FR5 is released later this spring or early this summer, mission systems testing and weapons releases can potentially resume in earnest. If this software has better stability and functionality, the test point completion rate may increase, which will be essential given the significant amount of testing that remains.

Heavy load of 931 open and unresolved deficiencies

The program continues to carry a heavy load of technical debt in open and unresolved deficiencies. As of the end of January 2016, the program had 931 open, documented deficiencies, 158 of which were Category 1, defined as deficiencies which may cause death, severe injury, or severe illness; may cause loss of or major damage to a weapon system; critically restricts the combat readiness capabilities of the using organization; or result in a production line stoppage. Of the 158 Category 1 deficiencies, 135 were associated with the air vehicle and the remaining 23 were associated with the ALIS or support equipment. Furthermore, 100 of the 158 open Category 1 deficiencies were categorized as “high severity” by the program or Services. Specific to mission systems, the program was carrying 17 open Category 1 deficiencies for Block 2B capabilities that were characterized as having “high” impact and 35 open Category 1 deficiencies for Block 3F with “high” impact. The Program Office, in cooperation with representatives from the Services, developmental test and operational test organizations, recently led a detailed review of the open deficiencies. This effort, which I applaud, assessed the effect of each deficiency with respect to both combat capability and IOT&E. The resulting list of critical deficiencies should be the top priority fixes for the program prior to finalizing Block 3F and conducting IOT&E.

Mission Data

The problems in the USRL described earlier will not only adversely affect Block 3F combat capability; they are crippling the ability to produce effective mission data loads for today’s fielded aircraft. The current tools and software in the lab are very difficult to work with, resulting in a lengthy, inefficient process to produce and test the mission data. Along with the decision to delay moving the lab equipment from the contractor facilities in Fort Worth, Texas, these inefficiencies created sufficient schedule pressure that the program and the Marine Corps directed the lab to truncate the planned testing of the Block 2B mission data so that an 19
immature version could be fielded in mid-2015 to “support” Marine Corps IOC. The lab provided a Block 2B mission data load, but the risks of operating with these mission data are not understood, and will not be characterized until the full set of planned testing, including operational test flights with the mission data, are conducted later this year. Because the hardware in aircraft equipped with Block 3i cannot operate with the Block 2B mission data, Block 3i mission data must be developed and tested independently of, but concurrently with, the mission data for Block 2B. This creates an additional significant strain on the lab, which is already burdened with inefficient reprogramming tools. Block 3i mission data will likely incur the same fate as Block 2B mission data, as inevitable schedule pressure to field immature mission data will drive product delivery despite incomplete optimization and testing. In any case, the risks in combat associated with operating with these early mission data versions will remain unknown until the planned lab and flight testing are complete.

Escape System – immature, modifications required

The F-35’s pilot escape system is immature; it requires modifications and additional testing if the Services are to be reasonably confident the system is safe for their intended pilot populations. The failures during sled tests last summer simulating controlled, low-speed ejections caused the program and Services to restrict pilots below 136 pounds bodyweight from flying the aircraft. Also, the risk to pilots weighing up to 165 pounds, while lower than the risk to lightweight pilots, is still considered “serious” by the program. Last year the program assessed the risk for this 136 to 165 pound weight class, which accounts for approximately 27 percent of the pilot population. The program assessed the probability of death during an ejection in these conditions to be 23 percent and the probability of some level of injury resulting from neck extension to be 100 percent. However, the program and the Services decided to accept that risk and not restrict pilots in this weight category from flying. Subsequently, the program 20
conducted “proof of concept” tests last fall for modifications to the escape system including a “lightweight pilot” switch on the seat and a fabric head support panel between the parachute risers behind the pilot’s head, intended to restrict the severe backward neck extension. The tests apparently showed that the lightweight pilot switch and head support panel prevented a neck load exceedance after parachute deployment and opening shock. However, these changes do not prevent the high loads on the pilot’s neck earlier in the ejection sequence due to the rocket firing and wind blast. Full testing of these fixes using the new lightweight Generation III helmet and full range of mannequin weights across different airspeeds is expected to extend through this summer with flight clearance this fall and modification kits in 2017. Additional testing and analyses are also needed to determine the risk of pilots being harmed by pieces of the transparency from the canopy removal system during ejections (the canopy must be explosively shattered during ejection) in other than stable conditions (such as after battle damage or if out-of-control), referred to as “off nominal” conditions.

Structural testing – major findings are continuing

Major findings are continuing in the durability test articles, particularly in the titanium bulkhead in the F-35C test article. Significant limitations to the life of the fielded F-35C aircraft can only be addressed with intrusive structural modifications prior to the expected full service life, and show again the high cost of concurrent production and development. In the past year, discoveries of unpredicted cracks continued to occur, and in some cases required pauses in testing to determine root causes and fixes. This occurred in all three variants. Currently, only the F-35A structural test article can be tested; it is about to begin the third lifetime test phase, or the third series of 8,000 equivalent flight hours of testing. The F-35B test article is still down for repairs needed to complete the second lifetime. The F-35C test article restarted testing in mid-February but stopped three days later when strain gauges indicated cracking in a titanium bulkhead; it has not yet restarted.
ALIS – not ready, difficulties in remote operations

The program has developed a new version of the ALIS hardware, termed Standard Operating Unit version 2 (SOU v2), which possesses all of the functional capabilities included in the original version – SOU v1 – but in a modularized, more deployable form. As I described earlier in my statement, in recent months, both the F-35A and F-35B have conducted deployment demonstrations in an effort to learn how to forward deploy with, and conduct flying operations using, the SOU v2. The Marine Corps and Air Force needed several days to successfully establish a new network in an austere expeditionary environment or to integrate ALIS into an existing network at a non-F-35 military installation before ALIS was able to support flying operations. Although the hardware for the SOU v2 was much more manageable to move and set up, the processes for connecting to the main Autonomic Logistics Operating Unit (ALOU) at Lockheed Martin facilities in Fort Worth took time, as did ensuring the data from home station units was transferred correctly to the deployed unit.
These two Service-led deployment demonstrations showed that ALIS operations will require significant additional time to initiate beyond setting up hardware modules, since the details of a network configuration and data file structure vary among base operating locations. ALIS requires a secure facility to house hardware, including SOU modules, mission planning workstations, and receptacles for transferring data to and from aircraft storage devices, which must be connected to power and external communications and integrated into a network with data exchanges occurring at multiple levels of security. It is difficult to establish and configure a network in the precise manner that ALIS requires, so network personnel and ALIS administrators have needed several days to troubleshoot and implement workarounds to prepare ALIS for operations. Although Lockheed Martin has provided several techniques for transferring aircraft data from a main operating location SOU to a deployed SOU, data transfers have proven time consuming and have required high levels of support from Lockheed Martin. Also, relatively minor deviations in file structures relative to ALIS’ specifications can cause the process to fail.
The program plans to release another increment of ALIS software this year – version 2.0.2, with added capabilities to support Air Force IOC declaration. However, it is struggling to meet the schedule currently required to deliver the planned content. Recent Program Office schedule assessments show delays from six weeks to five months, neither of which align with the planned objective date for Air Force IOC of August 2016. Cybersecurity testing of ALIS 2.0.2 is planned for this fall, but may need to slip if the program cannot deliver the planned increment of additional capability on time, adding associated risk to fielding systems and declaring IOC because adequate cybersecurity testing will not have been completed.
Delays in completing development and fielding of ALIS 2.0.2 will compound the delay already realized for ALIS 3.0, the last planned increment of ALIS, which is needed for IOT&E but is currently not scheduled to be released until April 2018. Although the program is considering deferring content and capabilities to make up schedule, the full set of capabilities for ALIS 3.0 will be needed to comply with the program’s requirements and therefore are required for IOT&E.

Aircraft Reliability, Maintainability, and Availability

Although measurements of aircraft reliability, maintainability, and availability have shown some improvement over the last two years, sustainment relies heavily on contractor support, intense supply support to arrange the flow of spare parts, and workarounds by maintenance and operational personnel that will not be acceptable in combat. Measures of reliability and maintainability that have ORD requirement 23
thresholds have improved since last year, but six of nine measures are still below program target values for the current stage of development; two are within 5 percent of their interim goal, and one – F-35B mean flight hours between maintenance events (unscheduled) – is above its target value. Aircraft availability improved slightly in CY15, reaching a fleet-wide average of 51 percent by the end of the year, but the trend was flat in the last few months and was well short of the program’s goal of 60 percent availability that it had established for the end of CY14. It is also important to understand that the program’s metric goals are modest, particularly in aircraft availability, and do not represent the demands on the weapons system that will occur in combat. Making spare parts available more quickly than in the past to replace failed parts has been a significant factor in the improvement from 30 to 40 percent availability experienced two years ago. However, F-35 aircraft spent 21 percent more time than intended down for maintenance in the last year, and waited for parts from supply 51 percent longer than the program targeted. At any given time, 10 to 20 percent of the aircraft were in a depot facility or depot status for major re-work or planned upgrades, and of the fleet that remained in the field, on average, only half were able to fly all missions of the limited capabilities provided by Block 2B and Block 3i configuration.
The program showed improvement in 11 of 12 reliability metrics by May 2015; however, as I depicted in my annual report, 8 of the metrics are still below the program interim goals for this point in development, and it is not clear that the program can achieve the necessary growth to reach the reliability requirements for the mature system, at 200,000 total fleet flight hours. Many components have demonstrated reliability much lower than predicted by the contractor, such as fiber channel switches, main and nose-wheel landing gear tires, the display management computer for the helmet, and signal processors. These low-reliability components drive down the overall system reliability and lead to long wait times for re-supply, which negatively affects aircraft availability.
Maintainability metrics indicate flight line maintenance personnel are working extremely hard to keep up with the demands of unscheduled maintenance (e.g. trouble-shooting and fixing failures) and scheduled maintenance (e.g. inspections). Small improvements in maintainability metrics occurred in the past year, but the measures for all variants are far from the operational requirements. There are a few individual causes for long down times that may be addressed by the program, such as long cure times for low observable repairs, but many must be accepted as facts of life for the time being. Maintenance manuals and technical information must continue to be produced, verified, and validated for use by the military maintenance personnel so that they can learn how to generate combat missions in the most efficient manner. The current process requiring “action requests” to fill gaps in technical information, while improved, will not be acceptable for combat. F-35 maintainers must also dedicate a significant amount of time to scheduled maintenance, in addition to repairs. This accounts for over half of all maintenance time in the last year (from June 2014 through July 2015), a result of fielding an aircraft with an immature structural design that must be inspected for evidence of wear and cracking, such as that which has been found in the structural static test articles.
I also want to point out that the fielded units, and the overall program, have a new challenge with managing multiple software and hardware configurations as aircraft emerge from depot and local modification processes. Modified aircraft include new parts and this should improve reliability metrics. However, managing multiple configurations requires continual, intense focus to ensure correct procedures and parts are used based on aircraft configuration and data elements tracked within ALIS. 25
Deployment sustainment results. As I outlined earlier in my statement, Service-led deployments over the past year have revealed challenges to adequate suitability performance, and provided useful lessons for future operations. More detail is provided below.
During the Cross Ramp Deployment Demonstration flying period at Edwards AFB during May 4 – 8, 2015, the operational test squadron flew 20 of 22 planned missions. The squadron originally intended to deploy four F-35A aircraft and planned most fly-days with two aircraft flying two sorties apiece, but could only make three aircraft available to participate in the exercise. The ALIS data transfer problems forced the detachment to operate in an ALIS-offline mode until the morning of May 7, which restricted aircraft maintenance to minimal, simple activities. The detachment was able to achieve a relatively high completion rate of planned sorties in spite of this largely because no mission systems were required for the flights, so failures in these components were left un-repaired. By the end of the deployment, one of three aircraft had to be towed back to the test squadron hangar because it was down for a flight system discrepancy that the detachment could not fix in time. The detachment also exposed problems with retaining spare part requisitions against aircraft when they are transferred between SOUs, and issues with keeping maintenance records intact when returning from ALIS-offline operations.

USS Wasp deployment demonstration

The shipboard flying period of the USS WASP deployment demonstration from May 18 – 28, 2015, excluding the return flights from the ship to home base on May 29, was not intended to maximize aircraft utilization rates, but showed difficulties in achieving adequate availability to support planned flight schedules. The six deployed F-35B aircraft were mission capable for flight operations approximately 55 percent of the time, which led to the detachment flying 61 of 78 planned missions. The Marine Corps reports a higher number of sorties than missions, since each vertical landing constituted a sortie, while each post-flight engine shut down constituted a mission. Several missions were canceled for weather, or other operational reasons, but 13 missions were canceled, apparently due to a lack of available aircraft. In order to consistently generate tactically relevant four-aircraft mission packages day after day, out of the normal complement of six F-35B aircraft onboard an L-class amphibious ship, the F-35B would likely have to achieve availability rates closer to 80 percent; although during the deployment demonstration, the detachment did generate a four-aircraft mission on one day. Fuel system reliability was particularly poor. This is more burdensome in the shipboard environment than at land bases, as fuel system maintenance in the hangar bay can restrict the ability to perform maintenance on other aircraft in the bay. Due to a fuel system problem that would have required an engine to be pulled, one aircraft was transferred on a one-time flight back to shore and swapped with an alternate aircraft, an option that would not exist in forward-deployed combat conditions. Aircraft availability and utilization varied widely among the seven different aircraft used in total on the deployment, with the top performing aircraft flying 20 missions, and the least performing aircraft flying only 2 missions, not including a one-time ferry flight to shore to be swapped. The ALIS data transfers also relied on combat-unacceptable workarounds, including using commercial Wi-Fi access to download aircraft files. Several factors limited the ability to draw more conclusions about shipboard integration of the F-35B from this deployment demonstration. These included the lack of the rest of the Air Combat Element (ACE) aircraft onboard ship except for the required Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopters; the use of developmental Support Equipment (SE), vice the production-representative SE the Marine operational squadron is now equipped with; and no employment of ordnance.

USMC austere site test

The Marine Corps conducted an assessment of F-35B austere site deployed operations at Twentynine Palms, California, from December 8 – 16, 2015, with eight F-35B aircraft assigned. The Marines intended to fly four aircraft a day from an expeditionary landing field made of aluminum matting and with minimal permanent infrastructure, representing the type of temporary airfield that can be quickly built near the forward line of troops. The demonstration included the use of inert ordnance and production representative support equipment. Aircraft availability for this detachment was again in the 55 to 60 percent range, which led to a significant number of missed flights on the planned flight schedule. The detachment flew 41 out of 79 planned missions; however, 22 of the 38 missions not flown were due to high crosswinds which made landing and taking off from the aluminum matting too risky. Overall, 16 missions were lost due to either lack of aircraft availability, difficulties in transferring and accepting aircraft data into the deployed ALIS, or ground aborts. Propulsion system maintenance was particularly burdensome. Two F-35B aircraft received foreign object damage to their engine fan stages, a result from operating in rugged conditions with jet wash likely blowing small rocks into aircraft intakes. This prevented those aircraft from further participation in flying activities until repairs were completed just prior to the ferry flights home. A contractor technician was called in from the East Coast and was able to repair the engine damage on site, as opposed to having to perform a full engine swap. A further engine system discrepancy required an aircraft swap around mid-way through the detachment. Routine flight operations, such as aircraft start-up and basic troubleshooting, also relied heavily on contractor maintenance.

US Air Force simulated combat deployment

The Air Force sent a detachment of six F-35A operational test aircraft from Edwards AFB to Mountain Home AFB from February 8 to March 2, 2016, to simulate a combat deployment of this variant in preparation for Air Force IOC later this year. This demonstration employed both inert and live ordnance in the CAS and Aerial Interdiction roles, in conjunction with legacy platforms. Results from this demonstration are still too preliminary to report on in full, although some early observations were made. The detachment discovered a major discrepancy in the technical data for loading free fall ordnance after a released bomb hit the weapons bay door and then impacted and gouged the horizontal stabilizer. The aircraft returned to base safely and was eventually repaired on station, and the detachment coordinated with Lockheed Martin to correct the appropriate ordnance loading instructions. The deployment also successfully transferred aircraft data files within the autonomic logistics infrastructure (i.e., using ALIS, the Central Point of Entry, and the ALOU); however, there were some difficulties in establishing ALIS on the host Air Force network on Mountain Home AFB. Finally, the relatively frequent requirement to shut-down and restart an aircraft on start-up before flying due to software instabilities in vehicle and mission systems hampered the detachment’s ability to conduct alert launches.

Test range capability improvements required for IOT&E

Key test range capability improvements are required for IOT&E, on which we have been working with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Service staff for several years. In particular, these include the Air-to-Air Range Infrastructure-2 (AARI2) system, the instrumentation that allows the many engagements during complex test trials to be accurately assessed and shaped in real time; and the integration of the Electronic Warfare Infrastructure Improvement Program (EWIIP) emitters, that will simulate current, advanced threats on the range. For an adequate IOT&E, the integration of AARI2 with the F-35 should allow the F-35 Embedded Training modes to realistically emulate and display weapons employment data and threat indications to the pilot, and include the shot validation method that is being developed for this purpose. The planned schedule for AARI2 integration, however, does not align with the current plans for IOT&E and does not include these features. Therefore, the product will either be inadequate or late to need. The new EWIIP emitters, that will simulate current, advanced threats on the range start arriving in fall of this year. However, Air Force integration plans fall short of what is needed for an adequate IOT&E, both in how the emitters are integrated with the range infrastructure and the degree of incorporation with the AARI2 battle-shaping instrumentation. We continue to work with the Air Force in an attempt to correct these problems, and ensure we get the most of the investment made in these emitters. There is no alternative to correcting these problems if IOT&E is to provide a representative threat environment – an environment that has been in existence, and robustly so, in the real world for several years. Not incorporating these assets will result in a test of the F-35 only against decades-old threats, which do not represent the intended operational environment for this fifth generation system. I assess the technical challenges to the integration requirements I mention here as relatively minor; this test concept is not new. Unfortunately, the issues seem to stem primarily from cultural resistance to change and to the adoption of modern technology.
Of all the issues mentioned earlier that threaten IOT&E spin-up and start, the most significant are the modifications needed for operational test aircraft, Block 3F completion (including flight test, weapons deliveries, and envelope release), and completion of ALIS 3.0. The program has an executable plan to pull completion of the modifications back from 2019 to 2018; however, the Services must commit to executing that plan, which has not yet occurred. The Block 3F schedule, even with significant improvements in software stability, deficiency resolution, and flight test rates, still appears to extend into 2018 before the capabilities will be ready and certified for IOT&E. Inadequately tested mission data and failure to provide the Verification Simulation will likely not delay the start of IOT&E, but will affect the results and adequacy of the test, respectively, and the former will likely limit significantly the ability of the F-35 to be used in combat against existing, modern, stressing threats. Therefore, a mid-2018 start for IOT&E appears to be the earliest viable date based on when the mods, Block 3F and ALIS 3.0 will be ready. Based on the issues above that will not likely be resolved or ready until 2018 or later, I am concerned that the program may not have adequate resources to complete the required System Development and Demonstration activities prior to IOT&E.

Block Buy

In my annual report, I raised several questions regarding the program’s proposed “block buy” to combine three production lots comprising as many as 270 U.S. aircraft purchases to gain near-term savings. My understanding is that the program and the Services have decided to delay the consideration of the block buy for at least another year, possibly starting in FY18. Nonetheless, in that case, all of the questions I pose in my annual report remain valid, since IOT&E will not start until FY18, at the earliest, and will not be complete until later that year

Follow-on Modernization

The program’s proposed “F-35 Modernization Planning Schedule” is overly optimistic and does not properly align with their current software development schedule, which is also unrealistic. There is a four-year gap between the final planned Block 3F software release in 2016 and fielding of the first proposed modernization increment, labeled Block 4.1, in late 2020. The proposed schedule also does not depict any incremental software releases to correct open Block 3F deficiencies and new discoveries, likely to be found during IOT&E, prior to adding the proposed new Block 4.1 modernization capabilities. Such a schedule greatly increases risk to development and testing of Block 4. Despite the significant ongoing challenges with F-35 development, including the certainty of additional discovery, the proposed modernization schedule is very aggressive; it finalizes the content of Blocks 4.1 and 4.2 in early 2016. Then, before or during IOT&E, the program would award contracts to start simultaneous development of Blocks 4.1 and 4.2 in 2018, well prior to completion of IOT&E and having a full understanding of the inevitable problems it will reveal. Also, the proposed Block 4 modernization plan and schedule does not clearly depict acquisition milestones, despite the large amount of capabilities and funding required. Finally, the follow-on modernization plan and schedule still do not allocate schedule and resources for operational test and evaluation of each increment consistent with the approach being used for F-22 follow-on development.

Source: Source: U.S. Department of Defense; 23-Mar-2016

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Mrt 24 2016

JPO chief tells congress: F-35 Program Making Progress

Gepubliceerd door JSFNieuws.nl onder Global F35 News

WASHINGTON — The chief of the F-35 program detailed “the good, the bad and the ugly” aspects of the Joint Strike Fighter during testimony March 22 before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher C. Bogdan said that overall the once-troubled fighter is “executing fairly well across the entire spectrum of acquisition to include development and design, flight test, production, fielding, base stand-up, maintenance and support and building a global sustainment enterprise.”

The F-35 program is at a pivot point and is changing and accelerating, the general said. The development portion of the aircraft will end late next year and will transition to a modernization program.

Anticipated production ramps up

Production will grow from 45 aircraft in 2015 to more than 100 aircraft in 2018 and up to 145 aircraft per year by 2020, Bogdan said. The program office will continue standing up 17 operating bases globally and developing the supply system to keep them all flying, he said.

Still, it is a complex program, not without its troubles, Bogdan said. “I’ve often said that the mark of a good program is not that it has no problems, but that it discovers problems, implements solutions, improves the weapon system and at the same time keeps the program on track,” he said.

The Air Force is now receiving F-35As at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Training is underway and the service should have its first combat-coded squadron this year, the general said.

The Marine Corps is flying the F-35B from austere air bases and is dropping and shooting live weapons, the general said.

To date, he said, 172 aircraft have been delivered to test, operational and training sites.

On the cost front, the cost of an F-35 continues to decline steadily lot over lot,” Bogdan said. “This is a trend that will continue for many years. I expect the cost of an F-35 with an engine to decrease from about $108 million this year to about $85 million in 2019.”

He added, “The program is moving forward — sometimes slower than I’d like — but moving forward and making progress nonetheless.”

Source: Source: U.S. Department of Defense; 23-Mar-2016

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Mrt 23 2016

F-35 status update by JPO before US Congress

Gepubliceerd door JSFNieuws.nl onder Global F35 News

Statement of the honorable Sean J. Stackley (assistant secretary of the US Navy (Reseach, Development and Acquisition) and Lt. General Christopher C. Bogdan, Program Executive Officer, F-35

Before the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee of the US House Armed Services Committee.

Reporting summary- Despite steady progress
- Ejection seat problems solved in 2017
- Fuel system problems solution designed and tested
- most significant technical concern is the software
- 55 to 60 percent availability rates
- Recent report Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) is factually accurate

I Introduction

Chairman Turner, Ranking Member Sanchez and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the F-35 Lightning II.

The F-35 Lightning II is the Department of Defense`s largest acquisition program, matched by its importance to our Nation’s security. The F-35 will form the backbone of United States (U.S.) air combat superiority for decades to come, replacing or complementing the legacy tactical fighter fleets of the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps with a dominant, multirole, fifth-generation aircraft, capable of projecting U.S. power and deterring potential adversaries. For our International Partners and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers, who are participating in the program, the F-35 will become a linchpin for future coalition operations and will help to close a crucial capability gap that will enhance the strength of our security alliances. Accordingly, delivering this transformational capability to front-line forces as soon as possible remains a top priority.

II Accomplishments

The F-35 program is executing well across the entire spectrum of acquisition, to include development and design, flight test, production, fielding and base stand-up, sustainment of fielded aircraft, and building a global sustainment enterprise. In February 2016, the F-35 reached 50,000 flight hours, including approximately 26,000 for the F-35A, 18,000 for the F-35B and almost 6,000 hours for the F-35C. We are pleased to report many accomplishments by the F-35 team during the past year, since we last addressed this committee. Of note, we have seen declaration of Initial Operating Capability (IOC) for the F-35B by the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) last summer, providing our Combatant Commanders with a 5th generation strike fighter capable of operations from expeditionary airstrips or sea-based carriers, the delivery of first seven F-35A aircraft to Hill Air Force Base (AFB) in preparation for the U.S. Air Force’s (USAF) declaration of IOC later this year, and delivery of Block 3F software to flight test in support of Navy F-35C IOC in 2018. The F-35 team remains committed to sustaining and expanding these fielded capabilities.
Accomplishments in flight testing in recent months include completion of F-35B Block 2B Operational Test aboard the USS WASP and successful completion of the second round of sea trials with the F-35C aboard the USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69). We have now completed a total of five sea trials with the F-35B and F-35C. The developmental test program is progressing steadily with a focus on wrapping up testing of the Block 3i software this spring. This last iteration of Block 3i software will give the F-35A the combat capability required for USAF IOC. The team also completed F-35A high angle of attack and performance testing and continued flight envelope expansion for all aircraft variants. High angle of attack flight testing will complete this spring for F-35C and fall for F-35B. For the F-35A, we have performed a series of successful AIM-9X air-to-air missile launches and airborne test firings of its GAU-22 internally-mounted 25-millimeter cannon. Air-to-ground accuracy testing of the GAU-22 is now underway and expected to complete in summer 2016. Additionally, we successfully conducted the first operational fleet weapons drops for the USMC and USAF, and completed all Block 3i weapons delivery accuracy events.
Our overall assessment is that the program is making solid progress across the board and shows improvement each day while continuing to manage emerging issues and mitigate programmatic risks. We are confident the F-35 team can overcome these challenges and deliver on our commitments. In this testimony, we present a detailed update on the progress that has been made over the past year, providing a balanced assessment of the current status of the program, highlighting both the accomplishments and the setbacks, as well as articulating where we believe risks remain.

III Development

Steady progress continues toward completion of the F-35 System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase in fall of 2017. Last year, we testified before this subcommittee and said the program was nearing completion of Block 2 software development and was closing in on completing all flight testing necessary to field our initial warfighting capability, also known as Block 2B. We are now in the same position for our next increment, Block 3i. We should complete all 3i testing this spring and convert all the fielded aircraft with earlier versions of Block 3i to the latest version starting this summer.
The final block of F-35 development program capability, known as Block 3F, provides a fully capable F-35 aircraft and marks the end of the SDD program. Block 3F Mission Systems software is currently undergoing Developmental Test (DT), and many of the deficiencies discovered in Blocks 2B and 3i software will be corrected in Block 3F. However, since both 2B and 3i testing took longer than originally planned, the program estimates there is a risk to completing Block 3F on time – it is now projected to be about four months late and will be delivered in late fall of 2017. This delay is an improvement over our projection from one year ago, and it is not expected to impact U.S. Navy (USN) IOC for the F-35C in 2018 or the other U.S. and coalition partner’s capabilities. There are still some stability issues with both the 3i and 3F software that we are currently working through.
Looking beyond the SDD program, the Follow-on Development or Modernization effort, also known as Follow-on Modernization, will be the means to deliver improved capabilities to the weapon system to ensure its relevance against advanced and emerging threats. The program anticipates the Joint Requirements Oversight Council will approve the Follow-on Modernization / Block 4 Capabilities Development Document this summer. Work continues with the U.S. services and International Partners to ensure the Modernization Program will be “right-sized” for affordability and sustainability. In addition, the Department will ensure that separate cost, schedule, performance and earned-value data will be available to provide detailed insight into program execution. To this end, we awarded the initial Planning and Systems Engineering contract in June 2015, and execution remains on track to conduct a comprehensive System Requirements Review this fall. Two additional contract actions are planned. The first will allow for the decomposition of system level requirements through a rigorous systems engineering effort, and the second will continue that work through Preliminary Design Review planned in spring 2018 and will support a Defense Acquisition Executive decision point to move forward with the Block 4 development program in mid-2018.

Nuclear capability

F-35A Dual Capable Aircraft (DCA) continues to be aligned with and included in the Block 4 Follow-on Modernization effort. This past summer a series of test flights were conducted to assess the vibration, acoustic, and thermal environments of the F-35A weapons bay with the B61-12 weapon. Nuclear Certification planning efforts have been initiated as part of the Block 4 contracting activity in anticipation of beginning B61-12 integration on the F-35A in 2018.
Commensurately, we have begun to “right size” the Development Test fleet of aircraft in preparation for Follow-on Modernization. As part of this process, the services and program office are working together to determine the correct mix of capacity and capabilities to allow us to operate a flight test fleet that is representative of the warfighter’s fleet. This will provide the needed capability at a lower cost, allowing the services to put more resources toward capability enhancements.
Although solid progress is being made — we are now 80 percent complete with all of SDD — F-35 development is not without technical discoveries and deficiencies, which are common for a system that is still in development.
On August 27, 2015, the U.S. Services and International Partners restricted F-35 pilots weighing less than 136 pounds from operating the F-35 after safe escape tests indicated the potential for increased risk of injury to this pilot population. Currently, no F-35 pilots are impacted by this restriction. The restriction is focused on this population, as lighter pilots are assessed to have lower neck strength and are therefore more prone to injury as a result of neck loading observed during testing.
There are three technical solutions that when in place will reduce the risk of neck injury to all pilots and will eliminate the restriction to any pilot population. Two of the solutions pertaining to the ejection seat, have been verified through testing, and will be ready to incorporate into production aircraft and retrofit to delivered aircraft by the end of 2016. These solutions are a head support panel between the parachute risers that prevents neck over-extension and a pilot-selectable weight switch, which adds a very slight delay in the opening of the main parachute, thus reducing opening shock loads. The third solution applies to the helmet and involves reducing its weight. This lighter helmet is expected to field by the end of 2017, but the program intends to accelerate this timeline.
Another deficiency the Program is solving involves the Ground Data Security Assembly Receptacle (GDR), which is part of the Off-board Mission Planning system and is used to encrypt and decrypt the mission and maintenance data carried on the Portable Memory Device to and from the airplane by the pilot. In 2015, the program faced significant challenges with the pilot debrief timeline, because the GDR required approximately 1.5 hours to download a 1.5 hour flight — far too long. We have now developed an improved GDR that will decrease the timeline to download mission data by a factor of 8, meaning a 1.5 hour flight will be downloaded in about 15 minutes. The new program successfully completed a CDR for the redesign in September 2015. Test units are now being built for qualification and integration testing. We will deliver the new GDR in summer 2016 with the first ten units delivered to Hill AFB in Utah in support of USAF IOC. Further GDR deliveries to back-fill other units will begin in fall 2016.
As previously reported, in September 2013, during F-35B full-scale durability testing, we experienced a significant bulkhead crack at 9,056 equivalent flight hours (EFH). The root causes have been established and redesign effort for the bulkheads is well underway. A laser shock peening process is being developed to address specific locations requiring additional material improvement to meet full life. The qualification of this process is progressing satisfactorily and is expected to be available for both production and retrofit of fielded aircraft by the end of 2017. The F-35B durability test restarted in February 2015 and progressed to 11,915 EFH by August 2015. At that time, cracking had developed at a previously identified short life location and
required repair. That repair work is nearing completion now. The F-35B durability test is expected to complete its second life of durability testing during summer 2016.
In October 2015, the F-35C test article experienced cracking in the wing front spars at 13,731 EFH. The root cause has been established and redesign efforts for the spars has begun. Standard redesign techniques, such as local material thickening and cold-working are expected to be used to achieve full intended life. This finding does not affect the F-35A or B variant spars because the F-35C spars are designed differently to account for the aircraft’s larger wings. In addition, at 13,931 EFH additional cracking was found in the left side of a main fuselage bulkhead. Once an investigation got underway, a similar, though smaller crack was also found on the right side. This new cracking is under investigation and analysis in on-going. There is no near-term airworthiness concern for fielded or test aircraft due to either case of cracking because these aircraft can fly for approximately 10 years or more before these structural issues require a fix. The F-35C is expected to complete its second life of durability testing in late 2016.
The F-35 Program Office is making progress in resolving two technical issues involving the fuel system: fuel tank overpressure at elevated g-loading and fuel tank inerting for lightning protection. The technical solution for the fuel overpressure has been designed, tested and is in the process of being fielded. This will allow all F-35 variants to reach their full structural capability. Additionally, the F-35 team recently qualified the improved fuel tank inerting system, and the operational restriction to avoid lightning in-flight was lifted for the F-35A in late 2015. The fuel systems differences among the three aircraft variants require additional measures to qualify the new inerting system for F-35B and F-35C. The F-35B requires the next software release, which is expected this spring, and the F-35C will be corrected with a hardware change beginning summer 2016. Implementation of both overpressure and lightning corrective actions will provide full g-envelope and full lightning protection for all three variants prior to SDD closure and is expected to meet all IOC requirements.

IV Cost, Schedule, and Performance Metrics and Production Status

Affordability remains a top priority. We continue to make it clear to the program management team and the F-35 industrial base that the development phase must complete within the time and funding allocated, continue to drive cost out of aircraft production, and reduce life-cycle costs. To that end, the program has engaged in a multi-pronged approach to reduce costs across production, operations, and support. The government/industry team is reducing aircraft production costs through “blueprint for affordability” initiatives and reducing F135 engine costs via ongoing engine “war on cost” strategies. These efforts include up-front contractor investment on cost reduction initiatives, mutually agreed upon by the government and contractor team. This arrangement motivates the contractors to accrue savings as quickly as possible in order to recoup their investment, and it benefits the government by realizing cost savings at the time of contract award. The goal is to reduce the flyaway cost of the USAF F-35A to between $80 and $85 million dollars by 2019, which is anticipated to commensurately decrease the cost to the Marine Corps F-35B and Navy F-35C variants. The program has also set a goal of decreasing overall operating and support life-cycle cost by 30 percent.
The price of F-35s continues to decline steadily Lot after Lot. For example, the price (including airframe, engine, and contractor fee) of a Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lot 8 aircraft was approximately 3.6 percent less than an LRIP Lot 7 aircraft, and an LRIP Lot 7 aircraft was 4.2 percent lower than an LRIP Lot 6 aircraft. LRIP Lots 9 and 10 contract negotiations are nearing completion, and LRIP 9 contract award is anticipated no later than May of this year. LRIP 10 will award when the Secretary of the Air Force certifies that F-35As delivered during FY18 will be full Block 3F capable.
The program met its 2015 production goal of delivering 45 aircraft and is on track to meet the goal of delivering 53 aircraft in calendar year 2016, with 48 of those aircraft produced in Fort Worth, Texas and another five produced in the Italian Final Assembly and Check Out facility at Cameri, Italy. As of March, 2016, a total of 171 aircraft have been delivered to our test, operational and training sites. The delivery schedule for aircraft also continues to improve. LRIP Lot 6 aircraft averaged 68 manufacturing days behind contracted delivery dates, and LRIP Lot 7 aircraft have improved to an average of 30 manufacturing days behind contract dates. We expect that gap to continue to reduce as we approach the first LRIP Lot 8 deliveries in the March-April 2016 timeframe. We continue to work with both Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney to prepare the program for the production ramp increase over the next few years.
The F-35 enterprise is exploring the possibility of entering into a Block Buy Contract (BBC) for LRIP Lots 12-14 (FY18-20). A BBC would enable significant program cost avoidance by allowing the contractors to utilize Economic Order Quantity purchases, increase cost reduction initiatives enabling suppliers to maximize production economies of scale through batch orders. To substantiate the potential savings of a BBC concept, the F-35 Program Office contracted with RAND Project Air Force (a Federally Funded Research and Development Center) to provide an independent assessment, which is expected in March 2016. Due to budget timing and uncertainty, the Department of Defense intends to begin the Block Buy in Lot 13 rather than Lot 12. However, we are considering an option to allow the F-35 Partners and FMS
customers to begin a BBC in Lot 12, followed by U.S. participation in LRIP Lots 13 and 14. This option will still result in significant cost savings.
Overall, we believe the risk of entering into a BBC in LRIP Lot 12 (FY18) to the F-35 International Partners and FMS customers is low. By the time it is necessary to commit to a Block Buy many aspects of the program will be stable including completion of durability testing for all three variants, near completion of all hardware qualification, completion of the majority of 3F software and weapons delivery testing, and stable production processes and ramp.
Earlier this year, the program reached agreement with Pratt & Whitney on the next two lots of F135 propulsion systems. The F-35A/F-35C propulsion system reduced 3.4 percent from the previously negotiated LRIP Lot 8 price to the negotiated LRIP Lot 10 price. The F-35B propulsion system (including lift systems) reduced 6.4 percent from the previously negotiated LRIP Lot 8 price to the LRIP Lot 10 price. For calendar year 2015, all F135 production deliveries met contract requirements. However, recurring manufacturing quality issues have created issues with delivered engines. Recent quality escapes on turbine blades and electronic control systems resulted in maintenance activity to remove suspect hardware from the operational fleet prior to delivery, but Pratt & Whitney still met their timeline for the Lockheed production line. Pratt & Whitney has taken action to improve quality surveillance within their manufacturing processes and is executing a rigorous quality program with their supplier. Additionally, the program office manufacturing quality experts have engaged both Lockheed and Pratt & Whitney to ensure quality improvement processes are in place to meet production ramp requirements. We are also continuing to conduct stringent Production Readiness Reviews with hundreds of suppliers to ensure the production ramp will be achievable and smooth.

V Sustainment

As of the beginning of March 2016, there are 151 operational (fleet and operational test) and 20 DT F-35s in the inventory operating at eight sites. Together, the entire fleet has logged more than 50,000 flight hours since our first flight in 2006. F-35A deliveries to Eglin AFB in Florida are complete, and the program continues deliveries to Luke AFB, which is the main training base for the USAF and Partners, including Australia’s and Norway’s first two F-35As. During 2015, the program began delivering F-35As to Hill AFB in support of the USAF’s first operational F-35 wing. The program has also started F-35B pilot training at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina. In the next four years, we will add another seventeen operating bases to the F-35 enterprise across all three regions: North America, the Pacific and Europe.
As additional aircraft come off the production line, the program is working to ensure sites across the globe are ready to accept the F-35. Since January 2015, the program has sent out fifty-one site activation teams supporting detailed planning at twenty-five different locations around the globe. These sites include stand up of F-35 capability for six of the Partner Nations, all three of the foreign military sales customers, as well as additional sites for USAF, USMC and USN. Planning commenced in 2015 for base standups in Norway, the Netherlands, Turkey, United Kingdom, Israel, Japan and Korea. The site activation highlight for 2015 was the successful preparation and arrival of the F-35 at Hill AFB, forming the foundation for a projected 2016 USAF IOC.
Aircraft availability rates continue to be a focus area for the program and various program initiatives are now showing a positive trend in this area. A disciplined Reliability & Maintainability program, improved maintenance procedures and manuals, continued improvement in Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), better forecasting of spares requirements, improved repair turn around times from supplier, and incorporation of aircraft design improvements have resulted in excellent gains in mission capability rates and aircraft availability rates. Today, across the fleet, we are seeing 55 to 60 percent availability rates with units performing at 63 percent mission capability.
Last year the program provided information regarding its efforts toward the establishment of the Global Sustainment posture across Europe, Asia-Pacific, and North America. In 2015, the program made progress in standing up regional Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul, and Upgrade (MRO&U) capabilities for airframes and engines in the European and Pacific regions. These initial MRO&U capabilities will support overseas F-35 airframe and engine heavy-level maintenance for all customers, including the U.S. Services, and will continue to provide the best-value to the enterprise. Italy will provide initial airframe MRO&U capability in the European region in 2018. Turkey will provide engine heavy maintenance in the European region in 2018 with The Netherlands and Norway providing additional capability a few years later. F-35 airframe MRO&U capability in the Pacific region will be provided first by Australia in 2018 and then by and Japan. Australia will also be providing initial engine heavy maintenance, followed by Japan about five years later.
In 2015 the program also kicked-off initial planning efforts for expansion of component repair into the European and Pacific regions. Efforts began to identify ‘best value’ repair sources in each region for approximately 18 key depot-level repairable items. International Partners and their respective industries will be requested to propose component groupings which leverage their strongest industrial competencies to deliver optimum repair capability at best cost to the global sustainment solution.
The program will continue this process in 2016 and 2017 with the Department of Defense assigning to our Partners and FMS customers repair capabilities such as wheels and brakes, electrical and hydraulic systems, maintenance of support equipment, and warehousing for the global supply chain. These same capabilities either currently exist or are being developed at the U.S. Services’ CONUS depots in accordance with current U.S. law.

VI Risk & Challenges

Although improving, the Program is not without risks and challenges. Currently, our most significant technical concern is the development and integration of mission systems software.
The aircraft has approximately eight million lines of code, with another 16 million lines of code on the off-board systems. This is an order of magnitude greater than any other aircraft in the world and represents a complex, sometimes tricky, and often frustrating element in the program. Several years ago the program instilled discipline in the way software is developed, lab tested, flight tested, measured and controlled by the program office. This has produced much better and more predictable results over the past two years. However, both the fielded Block 3i software and the 3F software in flight test are not as stable as they need to be to support our warfighters. We are experiencing instability in the sensors — particularly the radar – leading it to shut off and “reboot” in flight. Currently, this problem occurs about once every four hours of flying, and we expect to improve this to once every eight to ten hours of flying. We believe we have identified the root cause of these stability problems to be the timing of software messages from the sensors to the main F-35 fusion computer, and we have tested solutions in the lab environment. We will be flight testing these fixes in the March-April timeframe. If the fixes are successful, we will add them to a new version of 3i software and field that in time for USAF IOC. We will also incorporate the fixes in the 3F software we are developing and flight testing. To ensure we completely understand these issues the program office has launched an in-depth look at this issue in the form of a software stability “Red Team.” This team, made up of a group of experts from the Navy and Air Force, will conduct its study beginning in March and report back to the Program Office.
The final software version, Block 3F, has the most software risk facing the program for a number of reasons. First, 3F testing started later than planned because we had to spend more time fixing Block 2B and 3i software. Second, 3F has the same stability issues as Block 3i as described above. Third, the Block 3F software must take information from other sources, such as other non-F-35 aircraft, satellites, and ground stations and fuse this information with F-35 information, giving the pilot a complete and accurate picture of the battlespace. Additionally, the remaining flight loads, buffet, and weapons delivery accuracy flight testing needs to be accomplished. We estimate there is about four months of risk to this schedule, placing full 3F capability to the warfighters in the late fall of 2017.
The next version of ALIS, version 2.0.2, which includes new capabilities to support USAF IOC, also has some schedule risk. This version of ALIS combines the management of F135 engine maintenance within ALIS and tracks all the life-limited parts on each and every F-35 aircraft. The development of these capabilities is proving to be difficult because they require integration with Lockheed Martin’s and Pratt & Whitney’s Enterprise Resource Planning systems, or the “back end” of ALIS.
We are also working closely with the Joint Operational Test Team to finalize its F-35 FY16 Cyber Test Plan. This testing is scheduled to begin in April 2016 and will perform end-to-end Vulnerability and Adversarial Testing on ALIS and the F-35 Air Vehicle. Hundreds of penetration and cyber security test have already been accomplished on the system, enabling us to connect the F-35 systems to the DoD Global Information Grid (DoD and Services networks).
We have also instituted an ALIS initiative aimed at fixing prior deficiencies and rapidly fielding them to the warfighter. As we continue to develop new capabilities, the Program has set up a parallel effort — known as “Service Packs” — to fix many of the deficiencies the maintainers in the field have brought to our attention. These deficiencies usually result in workarounds and add workload to our maintainers’ already busy jobs. Service Packs are developed, tested and fielded on a much quicker timeline than our larger increments of ALIS. We fielded the first Service Pack in January, and feedback from the field has been encouraging. We will continue to rapidly field Service Packs to improve the usability of ALIS for our maintainers, the next of which will be fielded this spring.
One final comment concerning risks and issues on the program deals with the recent report issued by the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E). This report is factually accurate and was written entirely based on information that came from the F-35 Program Office – there is no information in the report that was not already known by the Program Office, the U.S. Services, and our Partners. While not highlighted by the DOT&E report, for each issue cited the F-35 Program has a dedicated effort underway to resolve or otherwise mitigate the issue. We are prepared to provide further details on any of these issues and our actions to address them.

VII Delivering Combat Capability

Following the declaration of IOC in June of 2015, the USMC has continued to train and exercise its combat capable F-35B aircraft. At the beginning of December 2015, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 deployed eight F-35Bs to Twentynine Palms in California for Exercise Steel Knight. The team executed 32 sorties in support of the combined arms live-fire exercise, taking an important step toward integrating the F-35B into the Marine Corps Ground Combat Element and demonstrating their capability to execute close air support and strike missions from an austere operating site.
The USAF also showed their increasing capabilities with the F-35A, executing a deployment of six Operational Test aircraft from the 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron at Edwards AFB, California to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. The squadron executed 54 sorties over twelve days of flying as part of a joint training exercise with U.S. Navy Seals, F-15Es, A-10s, and Apache and Blackhawk helicopters, delivering 10 GBU-31 and 20 GBU-12 precision guided inert munitions. This is the first time the F-35A has deployed to and operated from a base with no organic F-35 support or presence.
The F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office’s top priority is now meeting USAF IOC at Hill AFB, Utah with Block 3i capabilities between August and December 2016. Hill’s active-duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing will be the first USAF combat-coded units to fly and maintain the Lightning II. In support of meeting the USAF’s IOC date, Hill AFB has already received its initial F-35As and is now training with them, including the first weapons employment from an operational F-35A.
The USN has set August 2018 as its IOC objective date with the F-35C. In support of meeting the USN IOC, sea trials will continue this year and culminate in the third and final DT period afloat. This test is expected to last approximately 21 days and will test and certify the remaining embarked launch and recovery environmental envelopes, including those with various ordnance and fuel load combinations expected in fleet use. The test will also complete all initial shipboard flight deck and hangar deck supportability procedures and processes, paving the way Operational Test and Fleet use.

VIII International Partner and FMS Participants

International participation on the program with eight Partners and three FMS customers remains solid. The program has now delivered the first Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35 to Luke AFB expanding the International Partner pilot training currently ongoing there. The first Italian Air Force F-35A was also delivered from the production facility in Cameri, Italy, and then subsequently completed the first F-35 trans-Atlantic flight in February, landing at Naval Air Station, Patuxent River in Maryland. After completion of some program testing, this aircraft will also join the pilot training effort at Luke AFB. F-35A has also conducted aerial refueling flight testing with a Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A tanker and completed aerial refueling flight testing and certification with an Italian Air Force KC-767 tanker.
In 2015, as part of initial site planning, we commenced standup of maintenance capabilities in Norway, Netherlands, Turkey, United Kingdom, Israel, Japan and Korea. Also, the Japanese Final Assembly and Check Out assembly facility is now complete with both Electronic Mate Assembly Stations tools installed and accepted. Construction and installation activities remain on schedule, and the major components are now being shipped. The first Japanese F-35A is scheduled to rollout of the facility in November 2016.
We anticipate that Denmark will make its final decision on its fighter replacement late spring 2016. Additionally, although Canada has indicated that it will conduct a new fighter replacement competition, it still remains a full partner in the F-35 program. We continue to provide the Canadian government with the most up-to-date and accurate information to aid them in their future selection process.

IX Conclusion

In summary, the F-35 program is making solid progress across all areas including development, flight test, production, maintenance, and stand-up of the global sustainment enterprise. As with any big and complex program, new discoveries, challenges and obstacles will occur. The F-35 is still in development, and it is the time when technical challenges are expected. However, we believe the combined government / industry team has the ability to resolve current issues and future discoveries. The team’s commitment to overcoming these challenges is unwavering and we will maximize the F-35’s full capability for the Warfighter.
We will continue executing with integrity, discipline, transparency and accountability, holding ourselves accountable for the outcomes on this program. The team recognizes the responsibility the program has been given to provide the pillar of the U.S. and allied fighter capability with the F-35 for generations to come, and that your sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters may someday take this aircraft into harm’s way to defend our freedom and way of life. It is a responsibility we take very seriously.

Thank you again for this opportunity to discuss the F-35 program. We look forward to answering any questions you have.

Source: US House Committee on Armed Services; 23-Mar-2016

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Mrt 08 2016

Lockheed F-35 production : 1000 jobs will be cut

Gepubliceerd door JSFNieuws.nl onder Global F35 News

Bloomberg reports:

Lockheed Martin Corp. plans to cull about 1,000 jobs from its aeronautics division, which makes the F-35 fighter and other military aircraft, amid constrained defense spending. The company is aiming to trim overhead steeply amid continued budgetary pressures from the Pentagon and U.S. Congress.

Read more……..
Bloomberg; 8-Mar-2016; Lockheed Plans to Cut 1,000 Jobs From Unit That Makes F-35s

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Mrt 08 2016

F-35 to touch down at air shows during 2016

Gepubliceerd door JSFNieuws.nl onder Global F35 News

Aviation and F-35A Lightning II fanatics have something special to look forward to this 2016 air show season.

The Lightning II qualified March 6 at the Heritage Flight Conference at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, to take part in the Air Combat Command Air Force Heritage Flight program.

The program features modern Air Force fighter aircraft flying alongside World War II, Korean and Vietnam-era aircraft in a dynamic display of our nation’s airpower history.

Being a part of these heritage flights allows the world to learn more about the F-35 and at the same time see just how far airpower has come over the years,” said Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, the 56th Fighter Wing commander. “The F-35 will be the backbone of the Air Force fighter fleet and represent the future for the U.S., our partners and allies. This will be a great opportunity for everyone to see how amazing the F-35 is.”

The F-35 heritage flight team includes one pilot and 10 maintainers, all selected from the 61st Fighter Squadron at Luke AFB.

My team and I are very excited for this year,” said Maj. William Andreotta, an F-35 heritage flight team pilot. “We’re so honored to be the first ever F-35 heritage flight team. We are really laying the foundation for years to come. We know it’s going to be a great season and we’re ecstatic about talking with different communities and showcasing the F-35.

The team practiced their entire routine at the conference. The maintainers were able to show off their coordinated take-off and landing procedures while Andreotta practiced and perfected flying in formation with heritage aircraft. In the backseat of one of those heritage aircraft held a very interested passenger.

I got to jump into the back of a P-51 Mustang and view an F-35 off the wing,” said Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, Air Education and Training Command commander. “Our F-35 team is ready to hit the road for the show season. It was awesome to see it up close and personal. I feel very confident in what the Luke team is doing here, and I’m excited for them to show this aircraft off to the world.”

From the opposite perspective, Andreotta experienced flying in formation with heritage aircraft for the first time during the conference.

It’s surreal to be flying the latest and greatest fighter aircraft in the world and look over to see fighter aircraft from World War II, Vietnam and Korea right next to you that were at one point the greatest fighters of their generation,” Andreotta said. “It’s like passing the torch in the lineage.”

Heritage flights are just as incredible on the ground as they are from the air.

Viewers are going to get to see a remarkable show,” said Master Sgt. Ed DeLeon, F-35 heritage flight team superintendent. “They will see America’s newest technology and compare the advances first hand. We’re going to showcase the past, present and future of the Air Force.”

The team will travel to 16 air shows around the U.S. and abroad.

We’re very excited about demonstrating this capability to the world,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said in January when the service first announced the F-35’s participation in the Royal International Air Tattoo this summer at Royal Air Force Fairford, England. “The F-35 represents a new way of thinking about data integration, weapons and tactics. We’re thrilled to highlight the program and the amazing Airmen who support this cutting-edge fighter.

The F-35 heritage flight team gets to officially start their historic first season at home.

Our first show is at Luke,” DeLeon said. “It’s nice to be able to start at home and showcase what we’re all about in front of our friends and families. After that, I’m so excited to get on the road and show the world what we’re all about.”

Luke AFB will present the “75 Years of Airpower” air show to the Arizona community April 2-3.

The F-35 Heritage Flight Team schedule:

- April 2-3: Luke AFB
- April 22-24: Langley AFB, Virginia
- May 7-8: Ft Lauderdale, Florida
- May 28-29: Jones Beach, New York
- June 18-19: Ocean City, Maryland
- June 25-26: Hill AFB, Utah
- July 8-17: RIAT/Farnborough, England
- Aug. 19-21: Chicago, Illinois
- Sept. 3-5: Cleveland, Ohio
- Sept. 14-18: Reno, Nevada
- Oct. 14-16: Baltimore, Maryland
- Nov. 12-13: Nellis, AFB, Nevada

US Air Force; 8-Mar-2016; press release 56th Fighter Wing

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Feb 24 2016

België start selectieproces opvolging F-16

Gepubliceerd door JSFNieuws.nl onder Global F35 News

De Belgische Luchtmacht is gestart met het selectieproces voor de opvolging van de F-16. De Standaard schrijft hierover:

Zoals bekend wil de regering 34 nieuwe gevechtsvliegtuigen kopen om de verouderde F-16’s te vervangen. Voor de aankoop is een budget van 3,5 miljard euro voorzien. Er is nog niet beslist welke vliegtuigen er aangekocht worden. Vijf vliegtuigbouwers hebben zich kandidaat gesteld om de opdracht binnen te halen.

Naast de aankoop zijn er echter nog een heleboel kosten, aldus Van Pee. Het totale prijskaartje over veertig jaar zou volgens hem uitkomen op 14,967 miljard euro. Per jaar geeft dat ongeveer 470 miljoen euro, of zowat 15 procent van het huidige budget van Defensie.

Bovendien zal de luchtmacht niet van de ene dag op de andere overschakelen, erkende Van Pee. Tijdens de transitieperiode zullen de kosten dus nog hoger liggen. Het begin van de betalingen is voorzien voor 2020-2021, met leveringen tussen 2023 en 2030.

Lees meer hier……..
De Standaard; 24-02-2016; Opvolger F-16’s zal België in 40 jaar tijd 15 miljard euro kosten”

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