Radar Problems Plaguing F-35

The F-35’s current software continues to be plagued with problems, including one that makes the jet’s radar shut down once every four hours, said the Joint Strike Fighter program officer on Wednesday. The jet’s pilots are reporting a difference “in nanoseconds” of communication between the radar and the jet’s main computer, which is forcing the radar to regularly shut off, Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan said at a House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee hearing. The radar eventually recovers, but “it takes a few minutes to regain picture,” Bogdan said, comparing the process to pressing Control-Alt-Delete on a Windows computer. Lockheed Martin has done a root cause analysis on the issue, which will begin testing soon. The program office has convened a team of Air Force, Navy, and outside experts to go to Lockheed Martin and evaluate the proposed fix before testing. If all goes well, software patches should come in about a month, said Bogdan. The issue should not impact Air Force initial operational capability, he added. The instability is in the jet’s Block 3i capability, and while there was a similar issue in the previous version, that occurred less often, at a rate of once per every 30 flight hours, said Michael Gilmore, Pentagon director of operational test and evaluation. (See also F-35A IOC Creeping Right.) (Bogdan’s Prepared Testimony.)