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JSF Brain – A Cause for Concern?
F-35 PEO General Bogdan concurred with the recent GAO report that stated software integration remaining the highest risk of the F-35 program. “My first priority is to preserve the development of [software] Block 2B and 3I capabilities.” Bogdan said in his testimony. He said the current Block 2B is progressing well, and is expected to be ready to support the initial operational capability of the first F-35B squadron of the US Marine Corps in 2015. 3I is scheduled to field a year later. “I am less optimistic about Block 3F, our final capability.” Bogdan said that without some form of payback of the System Design and Development (SDD) money lost to Congressional mandated cuts and sequestration, this phase will not be able to deliver in time to support the F-35 full operational capability in 2017.
“I see more risk to the delivery of Block 3F, our full warfighting, capability by 2017.” Bogdan cautioned, saying he expects to be more informed by this summer, after the Critical Design Review, and after at least six months of flight tests with the 2B software, both of which are currently scheduled for early summer, 2013.
Bogdan said the JPO has implemented significant changes in the oversight and management of software development. Additional checks and balances resulted in reduced times to develop and integrate software, reduced errors in the software code developed, and a marked increase in the cooperation and understanding between the prime contractor and the program office.
An integrated roadmap called ‘Capability Block Plan’ was implemented, defining the incorporation of capabilities for the F-35 program. Every change in configuration, capability, or schedule of the software development is subject to a Block Review Board. Robust systems engineering and technical reviews are also implemented for all development work, providing greater knowledge and defining decision gates to determine if the system configuration under consideration is mature enough to proceed to the next phase.
“This, coupled with automated tools and processes, has resulted in an almost tenfold reduction in software release build time” Bogdan said, adding that corresponding improvements were realized in configuration management, test automation and error detection and resolution. Lockheed martin and its subcontractors have yet to meet this level of compliance, “the prime contractor and its subs still need to improve both the speed and quality of software development to be able to catch up from previous software delays.” Bogdan added.
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Other topics addressed by Bogdan were: