Norway has joined Australia in issuing misleading public statements about the health of the F-35 program. The following quote from Norway shows some serious deceptive behaviour.
“In brief, the new revision as we understand it, is that the test programs for the three variants of the F-35 are disconnected from each other. Further testing of the different variants is to be implemented independently, so they do not slow mutually each other.
In particular the testing of the F-35B (STOVL) has demonstrated problems, but this is a variant that we do not plan to acquire. Further development is extended by a few months (about 10 months for the version that we do plan to acquire).”
Norway, like Australia is trying to push the idea that the major problems announced by the U.S. government are mostly specific to the F-35B short take-off and landing variant wanted by the United States Marine Corps.
Both gloss over problems that are part of all variants of the F-35 program by trying to make the public believe that since it is the A model they are trying to procure everything will work out fine. A report from the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test & Evaluation shows that things aren’t all that simple.
In it are mentioned not only problems with the STOVL B model but issues that will have an effect on all variants. Things such as engine power, aircraft handling, and a lot of software.
“The DOT&E also reports that the latest date for the completion of development testing on the F-35A and F-35C, in early 2016, will not be met unless Block 2 and 3 software is delivered on time and other “critical” problems, including issues with the JSF’s helmet-mounted display system, are resolved. But the mission systems flight test schedule “still contains significant uncertainty”.
Rather than the rapid software development schedule originally planned, the DOT&E report now says that “the F-35 mission systems software development and test is tending towards familiar historical patterns of extended development, discovery in flight test, and deferrals to later increments.
Flight testing so far has revealed problems with handling in the transonic and medium angle-of-attack regimes, and a problem with screech – destructive high-frequency combustion instability in the F135 afterburner – which is preventing the aircraft from achieving maximum power.
For all variants, earlier plans to achieve flight test goals by raising the sortie rate to 10-12 flights per month per aircraft “are not achievable”, the report says, until reliability and maintainability are improved.
Mission system software is the biggest problem. Currently, the only software for which a test program has been approved is Block 0.5 – but the Block 0.5 effort has failed, since the program office has deemed it unsuitable for training.”
Leading all of this spin is out-going U.S. Secretary of Defense Gates. He stated the following last week.
“In short, two of the JSF variants, the Air Force version and the Navy’s carrier based version, are proceeding satisfactorily.”
Spin report complete.