Saturday, November 26, 2016

F-35 readiness concerns persist: Pentagon weapons tester

The Chief Pentagon weapons tester has againsignalled his concerns over the progress and readiness of the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter for initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E).
In a memo sent to US Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall (who spoke at this year’s ADM Congress), the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) J Michael Gilmore was critical of continued schedule delays, insufficient testing progress and other major systems challenges.
Gilmore has concluded that the program will not be able to deliver the full combat capability within the planned System Development and Demonstration (SDD) period, citing delays in delivery of the Block 3F missions systems software, inadequate aircraft availability, shortfalls in the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), inadequate preparations for IOT&E, and the need to complete all planned and agreed-to developmental testing, to name but a few.

“Gilmore has concluded that the program will not be able to deliver the full combat capability within the planned SDD period.”


As a result, DOT&E stated the program will not be able to commence IOT&E in August 2017 and the Block 3F final warfighting software load will not be available before May 2018.
 “The F-35 program clearly lacks sufficient time and resources to deliver full combat capability and be ready for operational testing and deployment to combat if it is unwisely constrained to operate within its currently planned budget and schedule,” Gilmore said.
He called for additional resources to deliver the full Block 3F warfighting capability and warned that failure to adequately finish SDD, “will result in far greater risks and costs than completing it now”.
Joint Program Office (JPO) spokesperson Joe DellaVedova told Aviation Week the JPO estimates the program will need an additional $US530 million to complete the $US57 billion SDD program, primarily to pay for new requirements and unforeseen delays. He said most of the funding would come from other F-35 JPO funding sources to minimise the impact on the US Services and US DOD overall budget requirements and that no additional funding would be required from international partners, such as Australia.

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