posted on Jan, 18 2013 @ 02:24 AM
LM has responded to the report, in the usual fashion. They say 2012 was their best year yet for the program. They completed 5,000 flight hours, the
A and B both completed engine air start tests, etc. The problems outlined are known issues, and they're on schedule for a 2016 completion of
The Block 2A software is at Edwards for testing, and should be delivered to Eglin later in the year. That means the instructors can finally use their
radar, EW equipment, and infrared sensors.
Lockheed Martin says it is not disputing the facts laid out in the Pentagon's Director of Operational Test Evaluation (DOT&E) report on the
company's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), but says that many of the issues raised have already been addressed.
"The challenges that are identified in the report are known items, normal discoveries," says Steve O'Bryan, Lockheed's F-35 business development
director. "When you look at it from a holistic sense, when you really talk about beginning OT [operational test] in 2017, these are known
discoveries, known challenges, and the kind of normal discoveries you'd see in a flight test programme of this size and complexity." Despite the
problems highlighted in the report, O'Bryan says 2012 went very well for the stealthy tri-service fighter. "In my humble opinion, it was our best
year on the programme," he says.
There have been a number of significant achievements over the course of the year-more than 65% of the F-35's total of 5000 flight hours have been
accumulated in 2012, O'Bryan says. "If you look at flight test overall, we remain about 5% ahead of plan," he says. The F-35 has had its first
weapons release and the A-model has flown to its maximum speed, altitude and angle-of-attack. Also, both the A and B model jets have completed engine
air-start tests. O'Bryan adds that at this point, the F-35 is more than one-third of its way through its flight test programme. "We are on track to
finish development in 2016," he insists.
They also say that the problem of damage by the afterburner and high speed flight is caused by a "coating problem" and a new coating has been
applied to the A model that should fix it. The B and C are being tested to see if the same coating will have the same effect.