WASHINGTON, DC --- Scores of US-owned Lockheed Martin F-35s would remain in the fleet with a software operating system rated below combat-grade under one of several cost-saving proposals under review by the Joint Programme Office.
Delays during the development stage caused Lockheed to deliver more than 108 aircraft with Block 2B software. Each fighter requires 150-160 modifications to be raised to the combat-rated Block 3 standard, says Vice Adm Matt Winter, the F-35’s programme executive.
The looming modification bills are threatening to suck resources from a looming production ramp-up with more than 900 aircraft projected for delivery over the next five years, Winter says.
“We’re looking at solution spaces to give our warfighters options,” Winter says. (end of excerpt)
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(EDITOR’S NOTE: Contrary to what Lockheed and the Joint Program Office have steadfastly maintained until now, about half of the F-35s delivered to date are incapable of flying anything other than training missions because of their deficient software fit.
What is new, and requires further investigation, is that the cost of upgrading them is now considered unaffordable.
This will be especially worrying for foreign partners and buyers, and most notably the United Kingdom and Norway, which are waiting to bring home their F-35s to begin operating them.)