No Insomnia Here

Technical problems that have emerged with the F-35 strike fighter—a jittery helmet display, a fuel-dump issue, and a redesigned arrestor hook, among others—”do not keep me up at night,” said Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, F-35 program executive officer. “I have confidence” that program engineers will resolve these issues; it’s just that the solutions are not coming quickly, said Bogdan at an Aviation Week-sponsored conference in Arlington, Va., on March 5. Bogdan said these issues are what flight testing is intended to reveal; but after 12 years, he understands that people are impatient. “Only one-third of flight test is complete,” he said. “You gotta figure we’ll find things” as testing continues, he said. However, the program has already learned a lot about “the great sin” of the program: concurrency, said Bogdan. It’s most expensive to rework an aircraft already delivered; it’s significantly less costly to correct one still on the production line, he said. The vast majority of rework-related issues have to do with items discovered during durability testing of the jet, he said. (For more from Bogdan, see The Half-Full F-35 Glass and It’s Not a Trillion-Dollar F-35, and Let the Competition Begin.)