Wednesday, 27 July 2016

When Will F-35 Be Ready for Battle?


F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – Most Expensive Weapon in History

The fifth generation fighter plane, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is said to be the most expensive weapon in history and in spite of costing $400 billion for 2,457 planes, it has been afflicted with problems. A new report has stated that the craft could eventually be ready for battle later this year.

According to Defence One, Gen. Herbert `Hawk’ Carlisle, the head of Air Combat Command, at the Royal International Air Tattoo, in England, had stated that they are getting very close to initial operational capability. He added that he will make the call and coordinate with the Secretary, (Deborah Lee) James and Gen (David) Goldfein – the Air Force chief of staff and make the decision on when they intend declaring IOC.

To be ready for battle, around a dozen single F-35 need to demonstrate their capability to drop bombs and shoot down other planes. Each jet should be progressed to an explicit software package and persevered in the intricate logistic cloud which tends to accomplish maintenance.

The target date had been set for August 1 by the F-35 project office and it is believed a squadron at Utah’s Hill Air Force Base, north of Salt Lake City would now be the declared battle ready somewhere between August and December.

Project Weighed down with Delays

The project has been weighed down with delays. Senator John McCain had informed senior Pentagon officials earlier in the year that the record on cost, schedule as well as performance of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter had been a scandal and a tragedy.

McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee had stated that the development schedule of the aircraft had extended to 15 years, deliveries of the F-35 has been delayed while the cost had hit the roof. Recently the problems with its logistics software system had grounded the complete fleet.

 The problem lies with what the Department of Defense officials call the `brain’ of plane, also called the Autonomic Logistics Information System – ALIS. A report from a Government Accountability Office states that a failure `could take the complete fleet offline’, since there seems to be no backup system.

Runs on Ground Computers

Moreover, the report has also stated that a lack of testing done of the software would mean it is not ready for its disposition by the Air Force in August and the Navy in 2018. The brains of the F-35 are said to be one of three main components, with the other two being the engine and airframe.

 It has been pointed out by CNN that the software tends to run on ground computers instead of operating the same on the plane. It has been designed to assist operations, mission planning as well as to spot any issues of maintenance with the vehicle.

 The report also stated that the program officials had informed that if ALIS is not fully functional, the F-35 would not be operated as often as planned.However, a DoD specially made plan observed that schedule slippage and functionality issues with ALIS could result in $20-100 billion as extra costs’.

The software till now has been so defective that the maintenance crews had to resort to labour intensive substitutes. In one instance, according to National Interest, maintainers had to physically burn data onto the CDs and send the huge files across a national Wi-Fi network.

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