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Will the F-35, the U.S. Military’s Flaw-Filled, Years-Overdue Joint Strike Fighter, Ever Actually Fly? | Vanity Fair


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Seven pages, I'm picking through.  Definitely worth the read, IMHO.

"When I spoke with Lockheed’s vice president for program integration, Steve O’Bryan, he said that the company is moving at a breakneck pace, adding 200 software engineers and investing $150 million in new facilities. “This program was overly optimistic on design complexity and software complexity, and that resulted in overpromising and underdelivering,” O’Bryan said. He insisted that, despite a rocky start, the company is on schedule. Pentagon officials are not as confident. They cannot say when Lockheed will deliver the 8.6 million lines of code required to fly a fully functional F-35, not to mention the additional 10 million lines for the computers required to maintain the plane. The chasm between contractor and client was on full display on June 19, 2013, when the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester, Dr. J. Michael Gilmore, testified before Congress. He said that “less than 2 percent” of the placeholder software (called “Block 2B”) that the Marines plan to use has completed testing, though much more is in the process of being tested.

(Lockheed insists that its “software-development plan is on track,” that the company has “coded more than 95 percent of the 8.6 million lines of code on the F-35,” and that “more than 86 percent of that software code is currently in flight test.”)

Still, the pace of testing may be the least of it. According to Gilmore, the Block 2B software that the Marines say will make their planes combat capable will, in fact, “provide limited capability to conduct combat.” What is more, said Gilmore, if F-35s loaded with Block 2B software are actually used in combat, “they would likely need significant support from other fourth-generation and fifth-generation combat systems to counter modern, existing threats, unless air superiority is somehow otherwise assured and the threat is cooperative.” Translation: the F-35s that the Marines say they can take into combat in 2015 are not only ill equipped for combat but will likely require airborne protection by the very planes the F-35 is supposed to replace."

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