The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter reportedly still doesn’t work right, according to the latest annual report from the Pentagon’s chief weapons-tester.
Anthony Capaccio at Bloomberg got an early look at the report from Robert Behler, Director, Operational Test & Evaluation. Behler’s report cites 873 software flaws related to the F-35 plus 13 “must-fix” issues, including problems with the 25-millimetre gun on the U.S. Air Force F-35A model.
With regard to the gun, Behler’s office “considers the accuracy, as installed, unacceptable” due to “misalignment” in the gun’s mount, Capaccio quoted the report as saying.
None of the problems in the DOT&E report actually are new, according to Capaccio, but they do underscore the difficulty Lockheed Martin and the F-35’s sponsor governments have had in developing the plane.
Trade publication Defence News in early June 2019 revealed lingering flaws in the F-35’s design. At high angles of attack, the F-35B and the carrier-compatible F-35C have a tendency to depart from controlled flight, Defence News reported.
“Specifically, the Marine short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing variant and the Navy’s carrier-launched version become difficult to control when the aircraft is operating above a 20-degree angle of attack, which is the angle created by the oncoming air and the leading edge of the wing,” Defence News explained.
The Pentagon wants Lockheed to fix the 13 most-critical problems before the company starts work on the JSF’s latest Block 4 software. The 873 software bugs that DOT&E listed in the recent report actually represent an improvement. The test office in late 2018 cited 917 flaws in the F-35’s code.
The F-35, which first flew in production form in 2006, is on track to become one of the world’s most numerous warplanes. Lockheed so far has delivered nearly 500 F-35s in three models: the conventional F-35A, the vertically-landing F-35B and the big-wing F-35C for aircraft-carrier operations.