An August declaration of initial operational capability for the F-35A fighter with the Air Force is becoming less likely, according to comments made by Joint Strike Fighter program manager Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan. Bogdan said two things are putting August IOC at risk. One is the final 3i software build, and the other is with the Autonomic Logistics Information System, or ALIS, he said during a McAleese and Associates seminar in Washington Thursday. Right now, “we’re probably 40-60 days” behind, Bogdan said. “That puts you in the September-October timeframe, and the US Air Force has said anytime between August and December is okay for IOC, so I do not see the threshold date of December at risk at all. But for my team, we’re still looking at 1 August.” The problem with ALIS is that the next increment—required for USAF IOC—requires an update that tracks the life of certain parts that get swapped from one jet to another. “Both systems,” Bogdan told reporters afterwards, referring to the logistics systems of Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney, “are proving to be really difficult in connecting with ALIS. That’s where the risk is in ALIS.” The shift requires some “serious changes to Lockheed’s … system.”
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.