Software, Cost Problems Raised in F-35

Software and cost issues continue to trouble the F-35 program.

Software and cost issues continue to trouble the F-35 program.

A Government Accountability Office report to the U.S. government is warning of more delays in the development of the F-35 fighter but the software problems cited likely wouldn’t have any impact on any future Canadian order.

The GAO says the software packages that control the basic flight parameters and warfighting functions will take at least an extra 13 months to build. There are more than 24 million lines of code to run the various systems in the aircraft and software development has been an often-mentioned challenge.

There are about 100 F-35s flying but most of those outside Lockheed Martin’s test fleet are used for demonstration and training and have basic software that allows limited utility. The manufacturer has said the final software versions should be ready in 2015 but the GAO says that’s in question.

The GAO is also concerned about escalating costs of the program and says the Pentagon will have to pour more development money into the project over the next few years.

“Annual funding of this magnitude clearly poses long-term affordability risks given the current fiscal environment,” said the review.“The program has been directed to reduce unit costs to meet established affordability targets before full-rate production begins in 2019, but meeting those targets will be challenging as significant cost reductions are needed.”

Canada is still listed as one of nine nation partners in the development of the F-35 but the Harper government has not said whether it will remain in the program or allow an open bid for the replacement of the RCAF’s old fleet of well-used CF-18s.