Tuesday, May 30, 2017

F-35 Lightning II Issues

F-35 Lightning II Issues --- ===

Weapons Tester Cites Further F-35 Challenges Aug 23, 2016
 F-35 JPO has corrected a bug in a previous iteration of software—Block 3i required for Air Force initial operating capability (IOC)—that caused the jet’s systems to stall out in mid-flight and need to be rebooted. But Aviation Week reported in July that at Edwards AFB, California, the team in charge of testing each new increment of software is now seeing the same stability events and shutdown issues with the new 3F.

Where test pilots were seeing shutdown events every five flight hours, a new 3F build improved performance to a point where the team is only experiencing an issue once every 9 hr., according to DOT&E. But that performance is still much worse than it should be; the final builds of 3i and 2B, which supported the Marine Corps’ IOC in 2015, experienced inflight stability events every 25 hr., according to DOT&E. In addition, testers are continuing to see problems booting up the jet.


DOT&E is particularly concerned with December testing of the AIM-9X, which revealed “load exceedances,” or excess stress, on the Navy F-35C variant’s wing structure during landings and certain maneuvers. This will either limit the F-35C’s ability to carry AIM-9X or require a redesign and testing of the supporting wing structure, DOT&E says. [They've been putting sidewinders on wingtips since  the F-104, 1970s F-18 Hornet]

. Block 3F also will incorporate external weapons like the precision-guided Small Diameter Bomb (SDB 1) and the short-range air-to-air AIM-9X Sidewinder missile.
Block 3F also will incorporate external weapons like the precision-guided Small Diameter Bomb (SDB 1) and the short-range air-to-air AIM-9X Sidewinder missile.

F-35 Software Development | F-35 Lightning II
Underpinning the F-35's unrivaled capabilities is more than 8 million lines of software ... Mission Systems Block 3F software development is 98 percent complete.

Lockheed Martin receives contract for F-35 Block 3F upgrade - UPI.com
Apr 26, 2017 - Lockheed Martin Corp has received a $109 million contract to deliver modification kits for a Block 3F software upgrade for the F-35 Lightning II.

Air Force: F-35 3F software drop challenges resolved - Defense Systems
May 17, 2017 - Air Force leaders say developmental testing helped resolve F-35 3F ... Block 3F will increase the weapons delivery capacity of the JSF as well, ...AY 17, 2017
The Air Force expects to operationalize the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s latest “3F” software iteration by September or October of this year, a development which will integrate additional technology and equip the stealth aircraft with a wider range of weapons, service leaders said.There are more than 10 million individual lines of code in the JSF system.

Block 3F will increase the weapons delivery capacity of the JSF as well, giving it the ability to drop a Small Diameter Bomb, 500-pound JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) and AIM-9X short-range air-to-air missile, service officials explained. The AIM-9X is an Air Force and Navy heat-seeking infrared missile.

A Block Development Approach
From the program’s outset, the software team has focused on developing six key software releases known as Blocks:
  • Block 1A/1B – Block 1 comprises 78 percent of the more than 8.3 million source lines of code required for the F-35’s full warfighting capability. Block 1A was the ready for training configuration while Block 1B provided initial multi-level security.
  • Block 2A – Block 2A is currently released to the F-35 fleet. It provides enhanced training including functionality for off-board fusion, initial data links, electronic attack and mission debrief. With Block 2A, nearly 86 percent of the required code for full warfighting capability is flying.
  • Block 2B – Block 2B provides initial warfighting capabilities, including but not limited to expanded data links, multi-ship fusion and initial live weapons. The U.S. Marines declared IOC in July 2015 with Block 2B. With Block 2B, more than 87 percent of the required code for full warfighting capability is flying.
  • Block 3i – Block 3i provides the same tactical capabilities as Block 2B. The principal difference between 2B and 3i is the implementation of new hardware, specifically the updated Integrated Core Processor. The Air Force declared IOC with Block 3i in August 2016. With Block 3i, 89 percent of code required for full warfighting capability is flying. [No gun, external bomb, Sidewinder dogfighting IR missile]
  • Block 3F – Block 3F provides 100 percent of the software required for full warfighting capability, including but not limited to data link imagery, full weapons and embedded training. Mission Systems Block 3F software development is 98 percent complete. [external bombs, Sidewinder, gun] [target operational by Sept or Oct 2017 ]

Current Software Development Status
As of October 2016, 100 percent of the required F-35 airborne software is written and being tested in 3F Flight Test. Additional ground based software, such as ALIS and Training Systems, is 95 percent complete.

The F-35 'Radar Bug' Isn't News And It's The Least Of The Program's Troubles
Tyler Rogoway 3/08/16 4:28pm Today, news outlets are reporting on what seems like a new F-35 development revelation: that the jet’s radar system is not reliable and has to be restarted regularly. Poor stability in the radar, however, required multiple ground and flight restarts, a condition that will reduce operational effectiveness in combat.

Weapons bay overheats with doors closed on ground and even in flight restrictions:  excessive during ground operations in high ambient temperature conditions and in-flight under conditions of high speed and at altitudes below 25,000 feet. As a result, during ground operations, fleet pilots are restricted from keeping the weapons bay doors closed for more than 10 cumulative minutes prior to take-off when internal stores are loaded and the outside air temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  In flight, the 10-minute restriction also applies when flying at airspeeds equal to or greater than 500 knots at altitudes below 5,000 feet; 550 knots at altitudes between 5,000 and 15,000 feet; and 600 knots at altitudes between 15,000 and 25,000 feet. Above 25,000 feet, there are no restrictions associated with the weapons bay doors being closed, regardless of temperature. The time limits can be reset by flying 10 minutes outside of the restricted conditions (i.e., slower or at higher altitudes). This will require pilots to develop tactics to work around the restricted envelope; however, threat and/ or weather conditions may make completing the mission difficult or impossible using the work around.”

Concurrency of Production and Development Is Disaster

Now you must also read this :
"The F-35 program is once again in trouble, with full flight tests delayed until at least 2018"
"Due to concurrent development and production, which resulted in delivering operational aircraft before the program has completed development and finalized the aircraft design, the Services must send the current fleet of F-35 aircraft to depot facilities. This is to receive modifications that have been designed since the aircraft were originally manufactured and are now required for full capability. Some of these modifications are driven by faults in the original design that were not discovered until after production had started, such as major structural components that do not meet the requirements for the intended lifespan, and others are driven by the continuing improvement of the design of combat capabilities that were known to be lacking when the aircraft were first built. These modifications are a result of the concurrency of production and development and cause the program to expend resources to send aircraft for major re-work, often multiple times… Since SDD will continue at least to the middle of 2018, and by then the program will have delivered nearly 200 aircraft to the Services in other than the 3F configuration, the depot modification program and its associated concurrency burden will be with the Services for years to come. "
>>>> How surprising!!!!

he Joint Strike Fighter (F-35) has been in SDD since 2001 and was expected to complete that process this year. That’s no longer going to happen. Instead, the report indicates the F-35 ” will not be able to start IOT&E with full combat capability until late CY18 or early CY19, at the soonest.” Here are some of the new reasons why:
  • Technology and system improvements have been rolled out to the F-35 program in what are known as “blocks.” Block 3F mission systems and development testing aren’t expected to be complete until July, 2018. Block 3F weapon testing and integration is also well behind schedule. The F-35B variant (that’s the short-takeoff and vertical-landing version developed for the Marines) won’t receive its flight envelope Block 3F full upgrade until the middle of 2018 if the current production schedule manages to hold;
  • There have been further delays to gun testing on all three platforms and recently discovered “gunsight deficiencies” have delayed this testing as well. The four-barrel, 25mm GAU-22/A cannon that the F-35 relies on also carries a laughable amount of ammunition — just 182 rounds for the F-35A, or 220 rounds in an external pod for the F-35B and F-35C. The A-10 Thunderbolt II carries 1,174 rounds for its 30mm GAU-8/A, while even the F-16’s 20mm M61A1 Vulcan 6-barrel rotary cannon packs 511 rounds;
  • The F-35 has an extremely sophisticated computer system for managing mission payloads and hardware swap-outs, and estimating when various components have reached end-of-life. The system mostly doesn’t work yet. The Autonomic Logistics Information System is now expected to be ready by mid-2018. Similarly, Mission Data Loads — mission-specific target and sensor information loaded for particular types of operations — aren’t expected to be available until June, 2018.
The next few points are worth quoting in their entirety:
  • Significant, well-documented deficiencies; for hundreds of these, the program has no plan to adequately fix and verify with flight test within SDD; although it is common for programs to have unresolved deficiencies after development, the program must assess and mitigate the cumulative effects of these remaining deficiencies on F-35 effectiveness and suitability prior to finalizing and fielding Block 3F (emphasis added);
  • Overall ineffective operational performance with multiple key Block 3F capabilities delivered to date, relative to planned IOT&E scenarios, which are based on various fielded threat laydown;
  • Continued low aircraft availability and no indications of significant improvement, especially for the early production lot IOT&E aircraft;
  • Delays in completing the required extensive and time-consuming modifications to the fleet of operational test aircraft which, if not mitigated with an executable plan and contract, could significantly delay the start of IOT&E.

Reaping the whirlwind of concurrency

Part of the reason the F-35’s development costs and deployment times have exploded into such a boondoggle is because the Pentagon was smoking crack when it approved the aircraft’s development strategy. Ordinarily, we develop military hardware by building prototypes and fine-tuning capabilities and systems before we build those systems into aircraft. With the F-35, the government embraced the idea of building hardware while we had no idea how to implement its capabilities. Imagine breaking ground on a 200-story skyscraper if you had only a vague idea how to build anything above 120 stories. You’d be assuming that whatever techniques are required for constructing a 200-story building can be easily retrofitted into your 120-story model. If it turns out they can’t be, you’re going to eat the mother of all development overruns and delays while you retrofit the 120-story building for whatever improvements are required to finish it.

The F-35 program is, as of this writing, nearly 24 years old from first preliminary study formation in 1993 to the present day. That's unprecedented as far as I can tell, save for the F-22 Raptor (The B1 had a stop-start in its production and mission focus).
3). Despite slow-walked progress, the F-35 isn't going to hit full mission certification and uptime goals until sometime after mid-2018, since so many aircraft require so many rounds of refitting. It doesn't save time to rebuild a fleet of 200 aircraft, and the report makes clear we have already had to rebuild some of them multiple times.