Tuesday, October 1, 2013

F-35: Software update

AIN has an article out which informs us that "software is the biggest risk" as pertains to the F-35.  Well that depends on which critic you listen too, but for those who've been following the program I think this is pretty much a given.  It is new, at the present, only partially complete as well as partially tested.  And, software is always the biggest risk in a netcentric system like the F-35.  That's not to say, however, that the testing isn't making progress.  Last week it was noted that the AirForce has gotten it's first F-35 at Hill AFB which will primarily be focused on OT&E for the block 2B software.  That's the software version that makes the F-35 combat capable (albeit somewhat limited).

AIN tells us:
Lockheed Martin’s scheduled delivery of the full-capability Block 3F software in 2017 “highly depends” on the performance of interim Block 2B and 3I software releases, Bogdan said. Block 2B is the “initial warfighting” software that adds sensor capabilities missing from the current training software releases, plus the AIM-120 AAM, GBU-12 laser-guided bombs, and the GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM). Block 3I is the same software, but hosted on new processors.
And what will follow is:
The U.S. Air Force plans IOC of the F-35A version by December 2016, which is before the Block 3F software is available, Bogdan noted at AFA. Block 3F adds weapons such as the AIM-9X AAM and AGM-154 Joint Standoff Attack Weapon (JSOW), and sensor capabilities such as full radar synthetic aperture radar mapping (SAR), plus expansion of the flight envelope. The Navy plans to declare IOC of the F-35C carrier variant in February 2019.
So that's the schedule.  The AirForce, as I understand it, will begin its OT&E of 2B in 2015, well ahead of its IOC date.  As for the Marines:
[T]he Marine Corps said it will achieve initial operational capability (IOC) with the F-35B equipped with Block 2B by only six months later, in December 2015. In his AFA presentation, Bogdan said he is “confident” that the Marine Corps would achieve its planned IOC date. 
If it all tests out well, I see no reason that IOC date can't be met either.


1 comment:

  1. Software may be the biggest risk, it is also the easiest and cheapest to fix.

    While hardware issues require the jet to be taken offline for a varying length of time (depending on what is being fixed), the F-35’s software can be updated during the normal maintenance & upgrade process.