recommended reading

Program Chief: Software Problems Could Delay F-35’s Delivery Beyond 2017

United States Air Force

Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, program executive officer for the $397 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, told Senate lawmakers yesterday he has concerns that software development challenges could further delay delivery of combat ready aircraft slated to complete final testing by 2019.

Contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. is developing the software in blocks, with the final version for combat-ready planes due in 2017, followed by a two-year period of initial operational tests and evaluation.

Bogdan told the Senate Armed Services Committee’s panel on tactical air and land forces yesterday that he is “moderately confident” that Lockheed will deliver Block 2B software, which manages weapons delivery, in 2015; and Block 3i software, the first version of software to be used in combat aircraft, in 2016. The first major block of software, which supports training flights, was completed in 2012.

But he is worried about the software that underpins the aircraft’s combat requirements: “I see more risk to the delivery of Block 3F, our full warfighting capability, by 2017.”

Bogdan said he would have a better picture of the situation after a critical design review and at least six months of flight tests are completed on the Block 2B software. Both the review and the tests are scheduled for early this summer.

The F-35 is one of the most software intensive projects in the Pentagon’s history, requiring 9.5 million lines of code. In January, J. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation, submitted a report to Congress that said there has been virtually no progress in the development, integration and laboratory testing of software for production versions of the aircraft.

The F-35 program office has instituted what Bogdan called “robust” systems engineering and technical reviews of software development to determine if the system configuration under consideration is mature enough to proceed to the next phase.

“This, coupled with automated tools and processes, has resulted in an almost tenfold reduction in software release build time, and we have seen corresponding improvements in configuration management, test automation and error detection and resolution, Bogdan testified.

Despite these improvements, Bogdan said, “We still have challenges and the prime contractor and its subs still need to improve both the speed and quality of software development to be able to catch up from previous software delays.”

The F-35 is the most expensive weapons project in history and combat ready aircraft will not complete tests until 2019 -- 23 years after the Pentagon signed a contract with Lockheed Martin in 1996 to produce nearly 2,500 aircraft for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.