“I’ve worked in flight test and acquisition for 16 plus years and have never seen a program this advanced in its development at this stage.” The subject was the stealthy F-35 Lightning II, and the speaker was USAF Brig. Gen. Charles Davis, deputy program executive officer for the fighter program. Davis, who is due to become head of the program soon, told media at the Farnborough Air Show that he believes that the program has made real progress, despite criticisms. According to Davis, testers are seeing problems much earlier and fixing them faster than “any legacy program I’ve known,” he added. Dan Crowley, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program general manager, said he believes the fighter is ready for low rate production, since the systems are mature well beyond those of legacy systems. The Air Force is counting on the F-35 for modernization of its multirole fighter force, currently dominated by the F-16.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.