[Freemanlist2] JPO Again Moving Goal-posts In F-35 Testing: Gilmore - Defense-Aerospace.com
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Sustainment relies heavily on...workarounds... that will not be acceptable
JPO Again Moving Goal-posts In F-35 Testing: Gilmore
(Source: compiled by Defense-Aerospace.com; posted March 24, 2016)
PARIS --- The Joint Strike Fighter Joint Program Office (JPO); which manages
the F-35 program, have in the past moved the goal posts several times to
ensure the aircraft met its performance criteria.
This happened for example when the JPO lengthened acceleration times, and
reduced sustained turn rates, to levels which allowed the aircraft to meet
its performance goals.
This time, Pentagon OT&E Director Michael Gilmore found the JPO had gone
even further, and simply ignored “many mission systems test points” which it
reclassified “as no-longer-required.”
Gilmore was testifying March 21 before the Tactical Air and Land Forces
subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee. A link to his full,
31-page written statement can be found at bottom, but we have selected below
some of the more interesting points he mentions:
Selected excerpts from Gilmore’s statement:
…/…In fact, the program did not accomplish the amount of test points planned
in several flight test venues, and the program continued to add testing via
“growth points” while deleting many mission systems test points as
Despite ongoing severe problems with avionics stability, sensor fusion, and
other issues, the program terminated Block 3i developmental flight testing
in October 2015, and released Block 3i software to the fielded units. This
decision was made, despite the unresolved Block 3i deficiencies, in an
attempt to meet the unrealistic current official schedule for completing
development and flight testing of Block 3F mission systems.
A recent example is an attempted four-ship Electronic Warfare “Super
Scenario” mission with Block 3F software that resulted in only two aircraft
arriving at the range because the other two aircraft ground aborted due to
avionics stability problems during startup. Also, when the aircraft operated
in a dense and realistic electromagnetic environment, the current avionics
problems caused poor detection and fusion performance, which is exacerbated
in multi-ship F-35 formations. Due to the large amount of difficult flight
testing remaining, it is likely there will be discoveries of additional
significant deficiencies that will need to be rectified before IOT&E.
Multiple tests are scheduled for spring 2016; however, the JSF Program
Office (JPO) and contractor are still reluctant to allow testing of the
actual Autonomic Logistics Operating Unit (ALOU) including its many
connections, fearing testing might disrupt its operations.
ALIS set up and data transfer during the Mountain Home deployment was more
efficient than in other demonstration, being completed within four hours for
each of the six aircraft. The Air Force attempted two alert launch
procedures during the Mountain Home deployment, where multiple F-35A
aircraft were preflighted and prepared for a rapid launch, but all failed to
accomplish the alert launch successfully due to start-up problems requiring
system or aircraft shut-downs and restarts.
Many pilots consider the Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) on the F-35
to be inferior to those currently on legacy systems, in terms of providing
the pilot with an ability to discern target features and identify targets at
tactical ranges, along with maintaining target identification and laser
designation throughout the attack.
The F-35 fuel burn rate is very high compared to legacy strike fighters, at
least 60 percent higher than the F-16C, and 180 percent higher than the
A-10. This creates a burden on the air refueling resources if used to
increase F-35 time on station.
The program continues to carry a heavy load of technical debt in open and
unresolved deficiencies. As of the end of January 2016, the program had 931
open, documented deficiencies, 158 of which were Category 1, defined as
deficiencies which may cause death, severe injury, or severe illness; may
cause loss of or major damage to a weapon system; critically restricts the
combat readiness capabilities of the using organization; or result in a
production line stoppage. Of the 158 Category 1 deficiencies, 135 were
associated with the air vehicle and the remaining 23 were associated with
the ALIS or support equipment. Furthermore, 100 of the 158 open Category 1
deficiencies were categorized as “high severity” by the program or Services.
The Marine Corps and Air Force needed several days to successfully establish
a new network in an austere expeditionary environment or to integrate ALIS
into an existing network at a non-F-35 military installation before ALIS was
able to support flying operations. Although the hardware for the SOU v2 was
much more manageable to move and set up, the processes for connecting to the
main Autonomic Logistics Operating Unit (ALOU) at Lockheed Martin facilities
in Fort Worth took time, as did ensuring the data from home station units
was transferred correctly to the deployed unit.
ALIS requires a secure facility to house hardware, including SOU modules,
mission planning workstations, and receptacles for transferring data to and
from aircraft storage devices, which must be connected to power and external
communications and integrated into a network with data exchanges occurring
at multiple levels of security. It is difficult to establish and configure a
network in the precise manner that ALIS requires, so network personnel and
ALIS administrators have needed several days to troubleshoot and implement
workarounds to prepare ALIS for operations. Although Lockheed Martin has
provided several techniques for transferring aircraft data from a main
operating location SOU to a deployed SOU, data transfers have proven time
consuming and have required high levels of support from Lockheed Martin.
Also, relatively minor deviations in file structures relative to ALIS’
specifications can cause the process to fail.
Although measurements of aircraft reliability, maintainability, and
availability have shown some improvement over the last two years,
sustainment relies heavily on contractor support, intense supply support to
arrange the flow of spare parts, and workarounds by maintenance and
operational personnel that will not be acceptable in combat.
Aircraft availability improved slightly in CY15, reaching a fleet-wide
average of 51 percent by the end of the year, but the trend was flat in the
last few months and was well short of the program’s goal of 60 percent
availability that it had established for the end of CY14. It is also
important to understand that the program’s metric goals are modest,
particularly in aircraft availability, and do not represent the demands on
the weapons system that will occur in combat. Making spare parts available
more quickly than in the past to replace failed parts has been a significant
factor in the improvement from 30 to 40 percent availability experienced two
However, F-35 aircraft spent 21 percent more time than intended down for
maintenance in the last year, and waited for parts from supply 51 percent
longer than the program targeted. At any given time, 10 to 20 percent of the
aircraft were in a depot facility or depot status for major re-work or
planned upgrades, and of the fleet that remained in the field, on average,
only half were able to fly all missions of the limited capabilities provided
by Block 2B and Block 3i configuration.
Click here for Gilmore’s full statement, on the HASC website.
Click here for the written statements of the other witnesses, and a video
podcast of the hearing, on the House Armed Services Committee website.
IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis
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