In its Conference Report Summary for the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act issued on Thursday, the House Armed Services Committee listed a number of documentation and clarification it is requesting before it approves the Block 4 upgrade of the F-35 aircraft.
Below is the relevant excerpt of the Report Summary here. --Ed.
SEC. 159. Documentation Relating to the F-35 Aircraft Program
The Secretary of Defense shall submit to the congressional defense committees, not later than 15 days following Milestone C approval for the F-35 aircraft program pursuant to section 2366c of title 10, United States Code, or entering into a contract for the full-rate production [FRP] of F-35 aircraft, the documentation with respect to the F-35 aircraft program as follows:
(1) A certification by the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment that:
(A) all alternative supply contractors for parts, required for the airframe and propulsion prime contractors of the F–35 aircraft program as a result of the removal of the Republic of Turkey from the program, have been identified, and all related undefinitized contract actions have been definitized (as described in section 3 7401 of part 217 of the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement);
(B) the parts produced by each such contractor have been qualified and certified as meeting applicable technical design and use specifications; and
(C) each such contractor has reached the required rate of production to meet supply requirements for parts under the program.
(2) A cost analysis, prepared by the joint program office for the F-35 aircraft program, that assesses and defines:
(A) the manner in which the full integration of Block 4 and Technical Refresh 3 [TR3] capabilities for each lot of Block 4 production aircraft beginning after lot 14 will affect the average procurement unit cost of United States variants of the F-35A, F-35B, and F-35C aircraft; and
(B) the manner in which the establishment of alternate sources of production and sustainment of supply and repair parts due to the removal of the Republic of Turkey from the program will affect such unit cost.
(3) All reports required by section 167 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (Public Law 116–92; 133 Stat. 1250).
(4) An independent cost estimate, prepared by Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, that defines, for each phase of the F-35 aircraft program, the cost to develop, procure, integrate, and retrofit F-35 aircraft with all Block 4 capability requirements that are specified in the most recent Block 4 capabilities development document.
(5) A plan to correct or mitigate any deficiency in the F-35 aircraft, identified as of the date of enactment of this Act that:
(A) may cause death, severe injury or occupational illness, or major loss or damage to equipment or a system, and for which there is no identified workaround (commonly known as a ‘‘category 1A deficiency’’); or
(B) critically restricts combat readiness capabilities or results in the inability to attain adequate performance to accomplish mission requirements (commonly known as a ‘‘category 1B deficiency’’).
(6) A software and hardware capability, upgrade, and aircraft modification plan for the F-35 aircraft that defines the cost and schedule for retrofitting F-35 aircraft that currently have Technical Refresh 2 capabilities installed to ensure compatibility with Block 4 and Technical Refresh 3 capabilities.
(7) The following reports for the F-35 aircraft program, as prepared by the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation:
(A) A report on the results of the realistic survivability testing of the F-35 aircraft, as described in section 2366(d) of title 10, United 13 States Code.
(B) A report on the results of the initial operational test and evaluation conducted for program, as described in section 2399(b)(2) of such title.
(8) A mitigation strategy and implementation plan to address each critical deficiency in the F-35 aircraft autonomic logistics information system that has been identified as of the date of enactment of this Act.
(9) A certification that the F-35A aircraft meets required mission reliability performance using an average sortie duration of 2 hours and 30 minutes.
(10) A certification that the Secretary has developed and validated a fully integrated and realistic schedule for the development, production and integration of Block 4 Technical Refresh 3 capabilities for the F-35 aircraft, that includes a strategy for resolving all software technical debt that has accumulated within the F-35 operational flight program source code during development, production, and integration of Technical Refresh 1 and Technical Refresh 2 capabilities.
(11) The following:
(A) A complete list of hardware modifications that will be required to integrate Block 4 capabilities into lot 16 and lot 17 production F-35 aircraft.
(B) An estimate of the costs of any engineering changes required as a result of such modifications.
(C) A comparison of those engineering changes and costs with the engineering changes and costs for lot 15 production F-35 aircraft.
SEC. 162. BRIEFINGS ON SOFTWARE REGRESSION TESTING FOR F-35 AIRCRAFT
During the quarterly briefing required by section 155 of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (Public Law 115–232; 132 Stat. 241672) covering a quarter in which mission systems production software for the F–35 aircraft was released to units operating such aircraft under the F-35 aircraft continuous capability development and delivery program, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment shall, in consultation with the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, brief the congressional defense committees with the following with respect to the missions systems production software for the F-35 aircraft:
(1) An explanation of the types and methods of regression testing that were completed for the production release of the software concerned to ensure compatibility and proper functionality with:
(A) the fire control radar system of each variant of the F-35 aircraft; and
(B) all weapons certified for carriage and employment on each variant of the F-35 aircraft.
(2) An identification of any entities that conducted regression testing of such software, including any development facilities of the Federal Government or contractors that conducted such testing.
(3) A list of deficiencies identified during regression testing of such software, or by operational units, after fielding of such software, and an explanation of:
(A) any software modifications, including quick-reaction capability, that were completed to resolve or mitigate such deficiencies;
(B) with respect to any deficiencies that were not resolved or mitigated, whether the deficiencies will be corrected in later releases of the software; and
(C) any effects resulting from such deficiencies, including:
(i) any effects on the cost and schedule for delivery of the software; and
(ii) in cases in which the deficiencies resulted in additional, unplanned, software releases, any effects on the ongoing testing of software capability releases.