Why the Pentagon Isn’t Happy With the F-35

By Anthony Capaccio
January 23, 2018

Efforts to improve the reliability of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 are “stagnant,” undercut by problems such as aircraft sitting idle over the last year awaiting spare parts from the contractor, according to the Pentagon’s testing office.

The availability of the fighter jet for missions when needed — a key metric — remains “around 50 percent, a condition that has existed with no significant improvement since October 2014, despite the increasing number of aircraft,” Robert Behler, the Defense Department’s new director of operational testing, said in an annual report delivered Tuesday to senior Pentagon leaders and congressional committees.

The F-35 section, obtained by Bloomberg News, outlined the status of the costliest U.S. weapons system as it’s scheduled to end its 16-year-old development phase this year. Starting in September, the program is supposed to proceed to intense combat testing that’s likely to take a year, an exercise that’s at least 12 months late already. Combat testing is necessary before the plane is approved for full-rate production — the most profitable phase for Lockheed.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Lockheed’s F-35 Fighters Will Cost $1.2 Trillion. After 16 Years, Only 50% Are Ready to Fly

By BLOOMBERG
January 24, 2018

Efforts to improve the reliability of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 are “stagnant,” undercut by problems such as aircraft sitting idle over the last year awaiting spare parts from the contractor, according to the Pentagon’s testing office.

The availability of the fighter jet for missions when needed — a key metric — remains “around 50 percent, a condition that has existed with no significant improvement since October 2014, despite the increasing number of aircraft,” Robert Behler, the Defense Department’s new director of operational testing, said in an annual report delivered Tuesday to senior Pentagon leaders and congressional committees.

[FULL ARTICLE]

F-35 problems

By Chris Pocock
February 2, 2018

The annual report from the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) again contains serious criticism of the F-35 program. Unresolved problems in the development, plus availability and reliability issues, are all of concern. “The operational suitability of the F-35 fleet remains at a level below service expectations and is dependent on work-arounds that would not be acceptable in combat situations,” the report said.

There are “many open deficiencies” in the definitive Block 3F software, the report said. As DOT&E chief Gen. Bob Behler notes by way of introduction, the F-35’s combat effectiveness relies on software mission data files (MDFs) to identify and correlate threat versus friendly radar signals. But the Pentagon’s reprogramming laboratory that creates the MDFs “continues to operate with cumbersome software tools and outdated or incomplete hardware.” The report does note that this is the fault of the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO), not Lockheed Martin.

Testing of the F-35’s weapons has revealed various deficiencies in both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions, the report alleged. These include an aiming bias on the 25 mm internal gun on the F-35A.

[FULL ARTICLE]

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program Had A Pretty Rough Week

BY JOSEPH TREVITHICK

OCTOBER 27, 2017

Whatever you might think of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, it’s safe to say that the Joint Program Office hasn’t had a particularly good week. Reports of hypoxia, cyber security concerns, and the need for a major cost review followed the appearance of a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit, detailing significant and increasingly expensive maintenance issues, which leaked its way to the press ahead of an official public release.

By far the biggest story is the GAO report, which Bloomberg was first to reveal on Oct. 23, 2017, paints a distinctly unflattering picture of the U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps abilities in particular to keep their existing F-35s flyable, breaking down its findings into five core challenges. There’s a major delay in getting depot-level maintenance facilities up and running and a massive spare parts shortage. Beyond that, the Joint Program Office hadn’t even figured out what technical data it would need to support the aircraft going forward and the U.S. Navy and Marines didn’t have vital intermediate maintenance capabilities in place to support planned operational deployments. Lastly, there were serious concerns with the status of the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), the cloud-based computer network that is central to keeping the aircraft going on a day-to-day basis.

[FULL ARTICLE]

GAO recommends measures to US DoD for F-35

By Srivari Aishwarya

November 1, 2017

A review conducted by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has recommended that the US Department of Defense (DoD) must address the challenges affecting readiness and cost transparency of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter sustainment programme.

The DoD is sustaining more than 250 F-35 aircraft, with plans to triple the fleet by the end of 2021.

The GAO found that the DoD’s capabilities to repair F-35 parts at military depots are six years behind schedule.

[FULL ARTICLE]

GAO report shows a rough week for the F-35

By Joseph Trevithick
October 27, 2017

Reports of hypoxia, cyber security concerns, and the need for cost review, followed the leak of highly critical review.

Whatever you might think of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, it’s safe to say that the Joint Program Office hasn’t had a particularly good week. Reports of hypoxia, cyber security concerns, and the need for a major cost review followed the appearance of a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit, detailing significant and increasingly expensive maintenance issues, which leaked its way to the press ahead of an official public release.

By far the biggest story is the GAO report, which Bloomberg was first to reveal on Oct. 23, 2017, paints a distinctly unflattering picture of the U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps abilities in particular to keep their existing F-35s flyable, breaking down its findings into five core challenges. There’s a major delay in getting depot-level maintenance facilities up and running and a massive spare parts shortage. Beyond that, the Joint Program Office hadn’t even figured out what technical data it would need to support the aircraft going forward and the U.S. Navy and Marines didn’t have vital intermediate maintenance capabilities in place to support planned operational deployments.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Northrup’s fix to the F-35 and F-22 communications problem involves Global Hawk drones

By Valerie Insinna
August 23

 Northrop Grumman has a pitch to solve communications problems between the F-35 and F-22: Put a new radio on a Global Hawk drone and have it act like a translator between the two assets.

The U.S. Air Force’s two most advanced fighter jets, the F-35 and F-22, cannot currently transmit and receive information between each other because both use different secure data links: the Multifunction Advanced Data Link, or MADL, on the F-35; and the Intra-Flight Data Link, or IFDL, on the F-22. Both MADL and IFDL allow for stealthy communication that has a low probability of detection, but that information cannot be transferred to aircraft using different waveforms.

Northrop’s proposed fix involves integrating its Freedom 550 radio aboard the RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV — which is already used as a communications node in the Middle East and elsewhere — thus providing a near-term way to allow both jets to talk to each other, said Mike Lyons, the company’s head of Global Hawk business development.

“We’ve got a solution that we’ve identified and made a pitch to the Air Force. We’re just waiting for the requirements to basically say: ‘Go do [that],’ ” he said during an interview at Northrop’s facilities in Palmdale, California.

[FULL ARTICLE]

F-35 altitude restrictions lifted at Luke Air Force Base

By Valerie Insinna
August 30

A wing commander at Luke Air Force Base on Wednesday lifted an altitude restriction on F-35 flights at the Arizona base, but Air Force investigators are no closer to understanding what prompted five incidents of pilot oxygen deprivation earlier this summer.

Between May 2 and June 8, five different Luke pilots experienced symptoms similar to hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation, while conducting F-35A training flights. That prompted Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard, commander of the 56th Fighter Wing, to order a pause in flight operations in June while officials from the Air Force and the F-35 Joint Program Executive Office analyzed each incident. Although they had hoped to find a common thread linking the incidents together, no root cause has emerged.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Pilot breathing issues prompt changes to F-35 mask and vest

By Lara Seligman 
September 18, 2017

The U.S. Air Force is making changes to F-35 flight equipment to make breathing easier for pilots, as the Pentagon continues searching for a root cause of five hypoxia-like cockpit incidents in the new fighter at an Arizona Air Force base…

[FULL ARTICLE]

F-35 flight suspension at Luke AFB ends; cause of hypoxia not found

By Perry Vandell
June 19, 2017

F-35s at Luke Air Force Base will scream across the sky again on Wednesday.

Officials at the Glendale base announced Monday that they will lift the flight suspension that grounded its 55 F-35s since June 9 after five pilots complained of hypoxia-like symptoms over a five-week span. Symptoms ranged from dizziness to tingling in their extremities.

The 11-day suspension was initially expected to last one day, but Luke Commander Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard extended it to give investigators more time.

Investigators have not found the specific cause of the problems, but they have narrowed down the possible causes.

[FULL ARTICLE]

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