A looming issue for the F-35 program is the process of reconfiguring already constructed aircraft to the final configuration needed to achieve initial operating capability, said F-35 Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan. “The mod program is a monster … and you can quote me,” he told Air Force Magazine in a Sept. 15 interview. The challenge is that parts suppliers are “stressed” because they’re producing parts in three configurations: one version for new production; one version to sustain aircraft already bought, and another version to support modification kits. More suppliers have been brought in, said Bogdan, and that has “done a decent job” in reducing parts shortfalls. But to produce the 10 airplanes the Marine Corps needs in a common configuration to achieve initial operating capability by next year “requires 58 modifications” to each jet, broken down into several groups, some of which have to be performed at depot, and others that can be accomplished at their operating base, he said. It’s a “full time job” for one of the F-35 deputies to manage the modification effort, said Bogdan.
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force recently, as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S., as the bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.