EDWARDS AFB, Calif. --- F-35 critics often point to the Pentagon's decision to start building the fifth-generation fighter before design and testing is complete as the root of the program's problems. Even now, as the Air Force prepares to declare its F-35A jets operational this year, so-called "concurrency" remains an obstacle.
These ongoing challenges were on full display at Edwards last week during a development test flight of an Air Force F-35A, when the jet's team was on the ground troubleshooting for nearly two hours before the aircraft finally launched.
The problem, which revolves around a glitch in the next increment of F-35 software, is a recurring one that causes the plane’s systems to shut down and have to be rebooted – sometimes even mid-flight.
Officials say development test pilots here have trouble booting up their jets about once out of every three flights, but downplayed the problem, pointing out that the goal of test flights is indeed to test, find problems, and work to fix them.
The F-35 joint program office and test team have largely resolved the software stability issue, which impacts jets loaded with the 3i software package, while the jets are airborne, but pilots are still frequently seeing shutdown events on the ground. And as the Air Force prepares to declare the F-35A operational before the end of the year, such problems are under a microscope. (end of excerpt)
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(EDITOR’S NOTE: It is true that test flights are intended to find problems, as the unidentified Lockheed and program officials say in the above excerpt, but they gloss over the fact that the aircraft has been in development for 15 years, that it attained Initial Operational Capability with the Marine Corps in July 2015, and that the US Air Force intends to declare IOC in the second half of 2016.
At this stage in the program, there can be no pretense that the aircraft’s well-documented failings are a normal consequence of flight testing.)