[Freemanlist2] US military finds F-35 software is a buggy mess - Richard Chirgwin
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US military finds F-35 software is a buggy messThe Register Tests jettisoned to protect schedule
22 Jan 2015 at 02:28, Richard Chirgwin
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) remains the problem child of the US
military, with some operational tests abandoned in 2014, and buggy software
proving a headache.
The US military's Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation
(DOT&E) has released its latest annual report, and the F-35 Joint Strike
Fighter chapter describes the Department of Defense's efforts in trying to
get the project back somewhere close to schedule.
To avoid a cascading series of delays that would have stretched into 2016,
the project abandoned an Operational Utility Evaluation (OUE) planned in
April 2014 for the Marines' Block 2B configuration of the aircraft.
The reasoning, explained at Aviation Week, was that Lockheed Martin couldn't
put together enough units in that configuration to run the Block 2B OUE in
time. If it had proceeded, the OUE would have been pushed back until 2016,
in turn delaying the software development effort for “Block 3F”.
Instead, F-35A test aircraft will be used for a “limited assessment”, the
The Block 2B tests were also impacted by restrictions imposed after a June
2013 engine failure in an F-35A unit. That impacted software tests, because
the restricted flying hours “reduced the number of accessible test points”.
There were also unplanned software releases to fix bugs, in spite of which
“discoveries continued to occur in later versions of software”.
To try and get around software-associated delays, the test program is being
revised: some test points are being eliminated, reducing the total number of
test points remaining for Block 2B from 529 down to 243; and some fixes are
being deferred to the Block 3 program.
Mission “data load” software is also causing concern. This software is
loaded on a mission-by-mission basis, working in conjunction with the
permanent systems, to operate sensors and respond to conditions for a
particular battleground (Aviation Week gives identifying hostile radars as
The DOT&E report says “truncating the mission data load development and
conducting open-air flight testing early on a limited open-air range for the
purpose of releasing a mission data load in mid-2015 would create
significant operational risk to fielded units”. ®
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