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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

'Flying White Elephant' - Still huge problems with F-35 program - details and Joint Program Office statement.

'Flying White Elephant' - Still huge problems with F-35 program - details and Joint Program Office statement.  (IMRA). By Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan.

IMRA EDITOR’S NOTE: Interestingly, the Joint Program Office has this year released its response before the OTE 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.) Read the full report here (PDF).

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