In yet another chapter of the blunderous F-35 saga, a recent exercise found five out of six of the F-35A aircraft were unable to take off due to software glitches.
According to Fortune, a mock deployment at Idaho’s Mountain Home AFB was the scene of the fiasco, where only one of the $100 million-plus fighter aircraft was able to successfully boot its software and get airborne. Ironically, the exercise was to test the readiness of the F-35, which the USAF plans on declaring combat-ready later in the year.
Pentagon chief weapons tester J. Michael Gilmore released the following testimony to Congress earlier this week.
“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 only one of the six aircraft was able to complete the alert launch sequence and successfully takeoff,” Gilmore wrote. “Problems during startup that required system or aircraft shutdowns and restarts -a symptom of immature systems and software- prevented the other alert launches from being completed.”
This is not the first instance where the USAF’s ‘problem child fighter’ has fallen flat. Multiple glitches have plagued the F-35s software, allegedly growing worse with each update. The most ‘reliable’ F-35s in circulation -the F-35Bs of the Marine Corps- can usually operate for a total of eight hours before glitches plague operations in the aircraft.
The F-35A’s radar software (known as “Block 3i”) requires periodic reboots, often in the air- not a situation a fighter pilot wants to experience. While F-35 program head Lt.General Christopher Bogdan insists the programming has gotten better, the plane is anything but ready for battle.
Despite this, the USAF seems adamant in their plans to declare the F-35 combat ready this year. Though the declaration could come as early as August and as late as October, it is anyone’s guess when the winner of the Joint Strike Fighter program -which began in the nineties and concluded in 2001- will be truly “combat ready”.
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