Pentagon's top weapons tester doubts F-35A capabilities 24 August, 2016 BY: Leigh Giangreco
A recent memo from the Pentagon’s top weapons tester throws cold water on the US Air Force’s initial operational capability announcement earlier this month, which declared the Lockheed Martin F-35A equipped with Block 3i software could provide basic capabilities.
Instead, the director of Operational Test and Evaluation argues in a scathing 9 August memo that many significant limitations remain on the aircraft.
“The program is actually not on a path toward success, but instead on a path toward failing to deliver the full Block 3F capabilities for which the Department is paying almost $400 billion by the scheduled end of System Development and Demonstration (SDD) in 2018,” Michael Gilmore writes. “If used in combat, the F-35 in the Block 3i configuration, which is equivalent in capabilities to Block 2B, will need support to locate and avoid modem threats, acquire targets, and engage formations of enemy fighter aircraft due to outstanding performance deficiencies and limited weapons carriage available.”
Meanwhile, the F-35 Joint Program Office remains confident that the capability gaps will be fixed on the aircraft in time and under the current budget parameters. In an email statement, Lt Gen Chris Bogdan, executive officer of the joint programme office, stated development and technical challenges are to be expected, but that the office is acting on DOT&E's recommendations. Lockheed Martin F-35 spokesman Mark Johnson concurred with the JPO, stating SDD will complete in late 2017.
"There were absolutely no surprises in the recent memo from the DOT&E," Bogdan says. "All of the issues mentioned are well-known to the F-35 JPO, the U.S. services, international partners and our industry team.The JPO continues to provide DOT&E with our full cooperation and unfettered access to information."
Much more at https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/pentagons-top-weapons-tester-doubts-f-35a-capabilit-428786/