HomeNewsArticle Display

F-35 program accelerating, at 'pivot point,' program chief tells Congress

An F-35A Lightning II taxies from the runway onto the flightline after successfully completing a sortie Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The F-35 is being adopted internationally by eight partner nations, including Norway, Italy and Australia. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)

An F-35A Lightning II taxies from the runway onto the flightline after successfully completing a sortie Dec. 14, 2015, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The F-35 is being adopted internationally by eight partner nations, including Norway, Italy and Australia. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The program executive officer of the F-35 Lightning II aircraft program said the rapidly changing, growing and accelerating program is at a "pivot point" as officials address a number of challenges.

The F-35 program, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter program, is of vital importance to U.S. security, Lt. Gen. Christopher C. Bogdan told the Senate Armed Services Committee during an April 26 hearing on the program.

Progress is being made, he said, noting development and flight tests will finish in late 2017. Efforts will then transition to a "leaner, more efficient follow-on modernization program," the general added.

Production will grow from delivering 45 aircraft in 2015 to delivering more than 100 airplanes in 2018, and up to 145 by 2020, he said. In addition, in the next four years, the program will continue a standup of 17 new operating F-35 bases across the world.

"However, the program is not without risks and challenges, as these come with any program of this size and complexity," Bogdan said. "But I'm confident the current risks and issues we face can be resolved, and we'll be able to overcome future problems and deliver the F-35's full combat capability."

Steady progress

The F-35 program has made "steady progress" over the past four years under Bogdan's leadership, according to Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

F-35 costs and development have remained within the baseline, Kendall said, noting that production costs have steadily decreased, meeting the independent cost estimate each year.

"While I do continue to monitor progress monthly and conduct annual program deep-dive reviews, the F-35 is no longer a program that keeps me up at night," Kendall told lawmakers.

According to Kendall, the F-35 is a "game-changing, state-of-the-art weapons system."

Since potential adversaries are not idly standing by, threat advances in areas like integrated air-defense systems, air-to-air weapons and electronic warfare must be continuously countered, he said.

Software, maintenance challenges

Both Kendall and Bogdan discussed the challenges in the F-35 program. While Kendall noted there are some design issues that need to be resolved, he said he would be surprised if a "major" design problem popped up.

The program is progressing, Bogdan said, but "sometimes slower than I'd like, but moving forward and making progress, nonetheless."

The general said risks include stability issues with the aircraft’s software. Other issues, he said, include the development of the next version of the maintenance system known as the Autonomic Logistics Information System, or ALIS, version 2.02.

"However, we believe we have identified the root cause of these problems, and have tested solutions in the lab and in flight tests, and are now completing our flight test with these solutions," Bogdan said.

Bogdan said he and his team take very seriously the responsibility of delivering the best possible weapons system.

"We never forget that someday, your sons and daughters, your grandsons or granddaughters, will take an F-35 into harm's way to defend our freedom," he said.

Engage

Facebook Twitter
DYK: Aircraft have lifespans! Like humans, they require check-ups in the form of maintenance inspections to prolong their ability to fly. These "checks" prevent in-flight system failures which ultimately protects aircrew and passengers. Learn more from the 86th Maintenance Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany on what it takes to correct issues so aircraft can stay airborne.
WATCH: United States Air Force pilots talk about the importance of Exercise Saber Strike 18 as they refuel over the Baltic Sea on June 18, 2018. Saber Strike 18 is a long-standing training exercise designed to enhance interoperability between the U.S. and our allies. The training focused on improving land and air operational capabilities between the U.S. and our NATO allies. (U.S. Air National Guard video by: Master Sgt. Wolfram M. Stumpf)
Check out some shots from yesterday's All-Star Armed Services Classic Championship softball game in Washington, D.C. This event, part of MLB’s All-Star Week, pays tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces. Washington Nationals U.S. Army
Air Force and U.S. Army coed softball teams render military honors during the playing of the National Anthem during the All-Star Armed Services Classic Championship softball game, Washington, D.C., July 13, 2018. This event, part of MLB’s All-Star Week, pays tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces. Washington Nationals
Great way to lead by example!
The United States Air Force is facing a pilot shortage. To help solve the challenge, the Aircrew Crisis Task Force was recently created to provide strategic direction and actionable recommendations to senior leaders on how to solve the aircrew manning crisis. FULL STORY: https://go.usa.gov/xUb3z
Your United States Air Force news: ✓ A B-52 crew assists in a search and rescue operation off the coast of Guam ✓ An Afghan pilot class graduates in the Czech Republic ✓ The Air Force is using innovative approaches to training pilots to make the process faster and more efficient
Now that’s how weathermen work! Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters fly weather reconnaissance missions into Tropical Storm Chris and Tropical Storm Beryl. http://www.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/1569944/hurricane-hunters-fly-tropical-storms-beryl-chris/
The F-22 Raptor's combination of stealth, supercruise, maneuverability, and integrated avionics, coupled with improved supportability, represents an exponential leap in warfighting capabilities. The F-22 cannot be matched by any known or projected fighter aircraft. Maintaining these aircraft can involve a bit of a learning curve. Airmen at KadenaAirBase use past technology to help learn how to work with the undefeated Raptor. FULL STORY: http://www.kadena.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/1567295/hard-to-raptor-head-around/
Help us out! Can you caption this photo?
The B-52 Stratofortress has sniper pods that provide improved long-range target detection/identification and continuous stabilize surveillance for all missions, including close air support of ground forces. Air Force Global Strike Command crew members on a B-52 were able to spot a historic Pacific Island style canoe so that the U.S. Coast Guard could rescue the six passengers!
For the past 60 years, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has continually helped us maintain a technological edge against our advarsaries. Together with the Air Force Research Laboratory - AFRL, a fusion of ideas is leading to newly highlighted innovations.
SOUND ON! Celebrate freedom with the sound of freedom! Happy Independence Day!
These supply #Airmen work 24/7 to ensure there is no break in the mission @RAFMildenhall because #NKAWTGhttps://t.co/biE2BPXVe1
Every #Airman has their reason for serving. Read on as these #Airmen explain what putting on the uniform everyday m… https://t.co/ubeDmY1liq
For the first time in the 63-year history of Operation Deep Freeze, #Airmen from the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Sq… https://t.co/CdeyI4HjHT
#DYK, the #MedalofHonor is the highest award for bravery that can be awarded to members of the United States Armed… https://t.co/qei2LbbD1I
.@388fw’s 4th Fighter Squadron became the first operational unit to fire the F-35A’s the #aircraft’s 25mm cannon on… https://t.co/J7hbXrCSCv
#DYK: The @22ARW is the host unit of McConnell AFB! Its mission is to conduct air refueling & airlift operations su… https://t.co/12bR9cwIuG
RT @71FTW: An aircraft crash has occurred approximately 50 miles west of Vance AFB. Pilot is conscious and with emergency responders. Follo…
.@HQUSAFEPA #Airmen & seven African partner nations strengthened relationships through the African Partnership Flig… https://t.co/FsvAK4n3i3
.@20FighterWing #Airmen learned how to be resilient by taking a leap of faith. https://t.co/WCgebfzEmj https://t.co/5JHPF7P1Px
RT @USAFHealth: A new transition cell was recently stood-up to coordinate and support ongoing transition efforts related to the NDAA and tr…
.@Travis60AMW #Airmen helped the Advanced Extremely High Frequency-4 program complete a major milestone by ensuring… https://t.co/yut12HK3M5
The School of Air Evacuation honored the history, present and future of aeromedical evacuation during their 75th an… https://t.co/5uYoyUwy9z
.@PANationalGuard #Airmen have new and improved parachutes. Read more about the lifesaving equipment:… https://t.co/QC1BGX8Fbl
At the @20FighterWing, munitions #Airmen train and work as a team to load 'em up & move 'em out.… https://t.co/9leaqRS8vI
Imagine trying to use a stethoscope on a plane. The noise makes the tool essentially useless. A new #technology aim… https://t.co/AYMf42Q0Wf
Read about this #Airman's experiences as he serves with the @Aus_AirForce through the Military Personnel Exchange P… https://t.co/6Td7p8u3ZO
RT @HQUSAFEPA: We. Are. NATO. U.S. Air Force F-22s and Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35s conducted training ops over Norwegian airspace toget…
Tune into this edition of Around the #AirForce https://t.co/SFdrh7AIIY
#DYK: Our #militaryworkingdogs are seen at veterinary treatment facilities, ensuring the #K9s are healthy and able… https://t.co/MZE22dcoZ1