UPDATED: Marine Commandant Lists Top 3 Concerns; Lockheed Commits to Software Delivery In Time For Marine IOC.
Here it is, for everyone to ponder, the F-35 portion of the annual report from Michael Gilmore, director of the Pentagon’s Operational Test and Evaluation office. The only sort of public annual benchmark on the success or failure of the Pentagon’s major programs, the OT&E report is often quite dated by the time it comes out. Read the material on software delays with that in mind. The Block 2B software could be delayed by 13 months, the report concludes.
The Marines, whose version the report indicates might be delayed from achieving its initial operating capability by the end of 2015 because of that possible software delay, are sanguine. “There is no change to our plans,” Marine aviation spokesman Capt. David Ulsh said in an email.
UPDATED: “I’m optimistic but I’m paying real close attention,” Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos said at RAND Tuesday afternoon, saying the F-35B is “alive, well, and [has] withstood the scrutiny of the building” — i.e. the Pentagon.
“Software development is going better [than some] might have thought,” the Commandant went on, calling it “probably a medium risk as you look towards IOC.” His other concerns? “There are some modifications on the airplane, the actual physical airframe itself” that need to be retrofitted to the F-35Bs already delivered to the Marine Corps, he said. (Lockheed is building the changes into all new F-35Bs coming off the line).
Then there’s ALIS, the Automated Logistics Information System that “sucks all the data out of the airplane” for maintenance and supply personnel to analyze. Right now, Gen. Amos said, the ALIS hardware works in the hanger but is too bulky for easy deployment overseas.
“So,” Amos summed up, “the three things that keep me awake night: One, I want to make sure they complete the software, I think we’re going to be okay; the airframe modifications… and then the deployable ALIS.” UPDATE ENDS
For its part, Lockheed says in a statement that it plans to “release the required combat ready software to the F-35 production fleet no later than July 2015. This software will enable the Marines to identify, target and engage the opposition. It should be noted the USMC will declare IOC with 2B as they have stated the capabilities provided in 2B are superior to anything they currently fly.”
Lockheed spokesman Laura Siebert also notes that “7.4 million of the 8.4 million lines of software code required for full warfighting capability are currently or have already been flight tested.” So that’s one million lines of code still to be tested, if my math holds up.