F-35 Software Delay Won’t Hit IOC

There’s about a six-month lag in testing the version 3F software for the F-35 strike fighter, but it’s not affecting the services’ initial operational capability yet, according to program leaders. In a teleconference with reporters on June 12 following an F-35 steering committee meeting at Eglin AFB, Fla., Pentagon acquisition executive Frank Kendall said IOC for the Marine Corps and the Air Force, with the 2B and 3I software builds, respectively, is on track. The services are still expected to declare IOC on time: the Marine Corps with the 2B software in July 2015, and the Air Force with 3I software in August 2016. The 3F version, which every user will eventually have, is behind schedule. Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, F-35 program executive officer, said “if we don’t do anything better over the next two or three years,” then the 3F deployment may be late, but he said there’s still some schedule margin remaining. Kendall said it’s premature to think about whether the Navy, which intends to declare IOC with 3F software in 2018, would slip IOC or declare it with an earlier software build. “That’s a decision the Navy will make,” said Kendall, but he doubts the service will make any changes “unless forced to.”