Monday, January 25, 2016

DoD Weapons Tester Concerned about F-35 Software Development

Although the Joint Program Office maintains the F-35 program remains on track, the Pentagon’s top weapons tester recently raised concerns that the fifth-generation fighter jet’s software development could fall behind.
In a Dec. 11 memo, Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department’s director of operational test and evaluation, described as being “not realistic” the JPO’s current plan to finish work on the F-35’s Block 3F software — the final software block required for full warfighting capability — by July 31, 2017. Rushing the testing schedule and weapons deliveries in order to meet this deadline “constitutes a very high risk of failing” Initial Operational Test and Evaluation — the final phase of testing before a full-rate production decision, Gilmore said.
The JPO recognizes there are about four months of “potential risk” in the 3F testing schedule, but maintains testing will be completed by the summer of 2017, according to spokesman Joe DellaVedova. He stressed that the JPO will not take any “shortcuts” to meet that deadline.
“The JPO does not intend on ‘short-cutting’ any required test points,” DellaVedova wrote in a Jan. 22 email to Defense News. “Removal of test points by the combined JPO, industry and warfighting team occurs only after a thorough and disciplined review of what is required to deliver the promised capabilities.”
The goal is to deliver full Block 3F capabilities in the fall of 2017, he said.
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