F-35 program on track, set to deliver 100 aircraft in 2018: US officials
WASHINGTON - Anadolu Agency
AFP photoThe Pentagon did not expect “a major design problem” coming from the in-testing stealth F-35 aircraft, an American defense official said on April 27, noting that some 90 percent of the program was complete.
“The F-35 is no longer a program that keeps me up at night,” said Frank Kendall III, the U.S. undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.
“I do expect additional discovery, but I will be surprised if a major design problem surfaces at this point,” he added.
Kendall’s comments came at a U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee panel, where he answered lawmakers’ questions alongside Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the program executive officer for the F-35 Lightning II joint program, and J. Michael Gilmore, the U.S. defense department’s director of operational test and evaluation.
Last month Gilmore told a house committee that the program would be delayed for one year because of problems with stability systems, sensors and other issues with the aircraft.
He said April 26 the program had issued corrections and “we are cautiously optimistic that these fixes will resolve the current stability problems, but are waiting to see how the software performs in an operational test environment.”
Bogdan also expressed optimism about the billions-of-dollars program, saying it was at “a pivot point.”
“It is now rapidly changing, growing and accelerating. We will be finishing our development program in late 2017 and begin a transition to a leaner, more efficient follow-on modernization program,” he said.
According to the general, the program will be able to deliver more than 100 aircraft to consortium partners in 2018 and up to 145 by 2020.
It has been able to produce just 45 F-35 fighters thus far, the general noted.
“Additionally, in the next four years, we will continue a stand-up of 17 new operating F-35 bases all over the world,” he added.
Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II with its fifth generation advanced stealth and firepower technology is one of the Pentagon’s costliest projects, alongside 11 partner countries including Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, South Korea and the U.K.