Friday, October 5, 2012

F-35 software progress report

From a recent Air Force magazine article:
There are three major blocks of software associated with the F-35. The Block 2 software, flying now, allows for safe operation of the jet to the edges of the test envelope. The Block 2A software will include basic weapons capability—what Venlet called "initial warfighting" capacity. The full-up software is called Block 3 and will include "full capability" of weapons and electronic warfare, he said. Block 3 "will finish development testing in 2016 and be released to the fleet in 2017." A Block 4 version, which will include both software and hardware changes to improve the aircraft’s performance, will constitute the first major upgrade for the F-35. The content of that upgrade is classified, but will likely include increased internal carriage of AIM-120 AMRAAM radar guided missiles, among other changes. 
So there you have the schedule of the upcoming software blocks.

Just as important was something VADM David Venlet said about the program in general:

Venlet told the airland panel that experts from Air Force Materiel Command and Naval Air Systems Command have "looked me in the eye and confirmed for me they believe we have what it takes in time and money" to adapt to any new discoveries in flight test without derailing the program. 
"Every issue that we have in view today is very much in the category of normal development for a fighter tactical aircraft," Venlet said in testimony. "Good old-fashioned engineering is going to take care of every one of those."

Given that statement, it would appear those associated with the F-35 program feel they've identified most of the possible future problems and are pretty certain they'll be able to tweak or fix them with "good old-fashioned engineering."
Something Venlet said, however, that critics ought to pay attention too is where he points out that what's going on with the F-35 isn't at all unique or unprecedented.  It is, instead, issues that are "very much in the category of normal development for a fighter tactical aircraft."

That's the point that many have been trying to point out for years to those critics who have been hysterically claiming the program was a failure.


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