Steady on F-35

The F-35 strike fighter program is making steady progress in testing “despite a turbulent past,” but challenges will persist in the near term in areas such as software development and technology sharing with allies, Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, F-35 program executive officer, told lawmakers on Wednesday. “Software is the number one challenge,” said Bogdan in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s airland panel on April 24. Risk remains with the final development block of software—dubbed Block 3F—that is scheduled for delivery by 2017 to give the F-35 its full combat capability he said. “I am moderately confident the initial warfighting capability for the [F-35B variant] in 2015 will be there,” said Bogdan when discussing the software’s maturation. “I am less confident with the final capability in 2017,” he added. Beyond software challenges, technology transfer to allies and partners will increasingly be an issue as the F-35 program matures, said Bogdan. Access to information for these countries “is an impediment to the program today” due to US export control laws, which are often out of sync with the program’s progress, he said.