Despite challenges with software and the Autonomic Logistics Information System, the Air Force could still achieve initial operational capability with the F-35 by the Aug. 1 target date, program director Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said Wednesday, adding he’ll know in May if it can be done. Speaking with reporters at his Arlington, Va., offices, Bogdan downplayed a recent report from the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, which suggested on-time IOC might be impossible. The OT&E report said Air Force briefings show the prospects for on-time IOC as “in the red,” but Bogdan said the only required items for IOC that are in the red are software and ALIS. The other items are “all green,” he noted. The Air Force has yet to tell him “officially” that it doesn’t believe IOC will happen on time, and “I will keep working” toward the Aug. 1 date, he said. The main problem is “stability issues” with the F-35A’s 3i software build, mostly having to do with uncommanded resets of the sensor fusion programs. It’ll require more incremental releases of the 3i software to testers, but Bogdan said he’ll be happy to trade away some of the 3F objective system testing to get 3i done on time, since 3i is “the backbone of 3F” and it makes little sense to press on with the latter system if the base doesn’t work right. The must-do, or “objective” date for IOC is December, and Bogdan said there’s no question he can meet that. By December the indicators are “all green,” he said.
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.