(Defense-Aerospace EDITOR’S NOTE: Interestingly, the Joint Program Office
has this year released its response before the OT&E report is made public,
instead of ignoring it for weeks as in previous years.
It also is worth noting that this year’s report includes 48 pages on the
F-35, over one-third more than the previous year’s 34 pages and more than
double of the 2013 report’s 20 pages, the clear implication being that each
year there are more issues to cover than previously.
While Lt Gen Bogdan claims “There were no surprises in the report,” this is
not factually true, as it contains many new issues that are not yet in the
public domain. These include:
-- continuing issues with the ejection seat:
-- problems with heat management of the weapons bays;
-- vibrations, stresses and other bomb bay problems are out of the flight
parameters of the AIM-120 missile and Small Diameter Bombs;
-- Mechanical rubbing between the gun motor drive and wall of the gun bay
require structural modifications to the bay;
-- Fleet aircraft are limited to 3 Gs when fully fueled
-- Under certain flight conditions, air enters the siphon fuel transfer line
and causes the pressure in the siphon fuel tank to exceed allowable limits
in all variants;
-- The program completed the final weight assessment of the air vehicles for
contract specification compliance; all versions are within a few hundred
pounds of contractual not-to-exceed limits;
-- Refueling from tanker wing pods was prohibited due to response anomalies
from the hose and reel assemblies and the F-35B aircraft with the air
refueling receptacle deployed;
-- For the F-35A, the airspeed at which the weapons bay doors can be open in
flight (550 knots or 1.2 Mach) is less than the maximum aircraft speed
allowable (700 knots or 1.6 Mach).
-- For the F-35A, the airspeed at which countermeasures can be used is also
less than the maximum speed allowable, again restricting tactical options in
scenarios where F-35A pilots are conducting defensive maneuvers;
-- Although over three years have already been lost to inaction, the Program
Office still does not plan to put Block 3F upgrades to the USRL on contract
until late in 2016.
-- New cracks were discovered in various components of all versions;
-- Verification, Validation, and Accreditation (VV&A) activity completely
stalled in 2015 and did not come close to making the necessary progress
towards even the reduced set of Block 2B requirements.
-- Low availability rates are preventing the fleet of fielded operational
F-35 aircraft from achieving planned, Service-funded flying hour goals.
-- A deficiency in the air vehicle’s maintenance vehicle interface (MVI)—the
hardware used to upload aircraft data files—corrupted the aircraft software
files during the upload process.)
2015 DOT&E Report - Public Response Statement
(Source: F-35 Program Executive Office; issued Jan 29, 2016)00
By Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan
The independent program review from the OSD Director of Operational Test and
Evaluation (DOT&E) is an annual occurrence, and the process was executed
with unfettered access to information and with the full cooperation of the
F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO). There were no surprises in the report; all
of the issues mentioned are well-known to the JPO, the U.S. services,
international partners and our industry team.
Click here for the report’s section on the F-35 program (48 PDF pages),
hosted by Defense-Aerospace.com)
Once again, the annual DOT&E report points out the progress being made by
the program. This includes the U.S. Marine Corps declaring Initial
Operational Capability (IOC) in July 2015. The USMC declared IOC with Block
2B software because it provides increased initial warfighting capability.
Marine F-35s have the necessary weapons to conduct close air support, air
interdiction and limited suppression/destruction of enemy air defense
missions. Currently Marine F-35s can carry the following weapons internally
in stealth mode – the AIM-120, GBU-32 JDAM, and GBU-12 Paveway II. When the
developmental program is complete in the fall of 2017, all F-35 variants
will be able to carry more than 18,000 pound of munitions internally and
2015 ended with more than 150 operational (fleet and operational test) and
18 developmental test jets operating at 10 U.S. locations and the Italian
Final Assembly and Checkout (FACO) facility in Cameri, Italy. Together, the
entire fleet has flown more than 48,000 hours.
The program delivered 45 aircraft in 2015 – the most aircraft delivered in
one year in program history. These deliveries included the first
international delivery from the Italian FACO, and bring the overall
operational delivery total to 154. Along with Italy, Norway took its first
delivery in 2015. Five partner nations - Australia, Italy, the Netherlands,
Norway and the United Kingdom - along with the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps
and Navy, now fly the F-35. Israel and Japan will take their first
deliveries in 2016.
Pilot and maintainer training increased substantially in 2015. More than 250
pilots including the first two for Australia, Italy and Norway respectively
entered training. More than 2,800 maintainers are qualified to service the
jet, with a majority graduating from the F-35 Aircraft Training Center at
Eglin AFB, Florida.
Although the DOT&E report is factually accurate, it does not fully address
program efforts to resolve known technical challenges and schedule risks. It
is the F-35 Joint Program Office’s responsibility to find developmental
issues, resolve them and execute with the time and budget we have been
given. Our government and industry team has a proven track record of
overcoming technical challenges discovered during developmental and
operational testing and fleet operations, and delivering on program
commitments. A few recent examples of issues that are resolved include the
F-35C tailhook, the F135 engine rub, and F-35B STOVL Auxiliary Air Inlet
door. The F-35C has now “caught the wire” more than 200 times at sea, the
engine rub fix is incorporated on the production line and delivered engines
are being retrofitted, and the F?35B has performed more than 1,000 vertical
Currently, mission systems software and the Autonomic Logistics Information
System (ALIS), are the program’s top technical risks. Disciplined systems
engineering processes addressing the complexity of writing, testing and
integrating mission systems and ALIS software have improved the delivery of
capability, although challenges remain. There is more work to accomplish in
both mission systems software and ALIS before the end of the development
Continuing on 2015’s results, Block 3i software was released for flight test
in May 2015 to support the U.S. Air Force IOC declaration later in 2016.
Coding for the final development software block (known as 3F) was completed
in June 2015 and the software has been released for flight testing.
Additional updates are planned throughout the year with 3F tracking for
completion by the end of the System Development and Demonstration Program
(SDD) in the fall of 2017 in order to support U.S. Navy IOC in 2018 and the
start of IOT&E.
Throughout testing, interim software test builds are provided to both the
developmental test and operational test teams allowing them to experience
the software as early as possible to provide feedback to our teams. As of
Dec. 31, the program completed 80 percent of SDD test points and is on track
for completion in the fourth quarter of 2017.
At the completion of the F-35 SDD program, the objective is to deliver full
Block 3F capabilities (Mission Systems, Weapons & Flight Envelope) for the
Services and International customers. The F-35 program will continue to
closely coordinate with the JSF Operational Test Team (JOTT) and DOT&E on
key test planning and priorities to successfully meet key SDD program
milestones and objectives.
The flight test program made significant progress in maturing the capability
of the aircraft during 2015. For example, the program:
-- Completed the third F-35B sea trial aboard the USS Wasp and the second
F-35C sea trial aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower for a total of five sea
trials since 2013.
-- Completed six-months of climatic response testing at the McKinley
Climatic Lab at Eglin AFB, Florida. During these tests, the jet operated in
ranges from 120 degrees to minus 40 degrees and various ranges of humidity
and weather conditions.
-- Completed F-35A 3F software high angle of attack and performance testing
and continued envelope expansion for all variant 3F software.
-- Achieved aerial refueling certification with the Australian tanker
(KC-30A) and Italian tanker (KC-767), including night operations.
-- Completed GAU-22 25mm ground gun fire testing and began airborne testing
on the F-35A.
-- To date, completed 90 weapon separations - GBU-12, GBU-31, GBU-32,
AIM-120, GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb, U.K. Paveway IV, and first F-35 AIM-9X.
This includes 18 for 18 successful live fires of AMRAAM, JDAM, and GBU-12s.
-- To date, completed 17 Weapon Delivery Accuracy events (GBU-12, GBU-31,
GBU-32, and AIM-120)
-- To date, successfully verified F-35 low observable stealth signature 146
times with both flight test and operational jets.
These accomplishments prove the basic design of the F-35 is sound and test
results reinforce our confidence in the ultimate performance the U.S. and
its partners and allies value greatly.
As a reminder, the F-35 program is still in its developmental phase. This is
the time when issues are expected to be discovered and solutions are
implemented to maximize the F-35’s capability for the warfighter. While the
development program is 80 percent complete, we recognize there are known
deficiencies that must be corrected and there remains the potential for
future findings. Our commitment to overcoming challenges is unwavering.
The Joint Program Office will continue to work with the F-35 enterprise to
make corrections and improvements as quickly as possible. At the completion
of the F-35 development program, the objective is to deliver full Block 3F
capabilities (Mission Systems, Weapons & Flight Envelope) for the Services
and International customers. We thank the DOT&E for their assistance as we
remain focused on developing, delivering and sustaining the world’s finest
multi-role 5th generation aircraft.