Nogle forbinder marts måned med forår, Superligaopstart eller noget helt tredje. På nytkampfly.dk forbinder vi primært marts måned med en årlig spanking af F-35 Joint Strike Fighter-projektet.
Den amerikanske rigsrevisionens statusrapport om F-35 JSF er således en tilbagevendende begivenhed hvert år i marts (bortset fra sidste år, hvor den kom i juni, red.). I dette års rapport er den amerikanske rigsrevision, Governments Accountability Office (GAO), mere positiv end de har været siden jeg startede med at læse med i marts 2008. (Læs her en opsummering af GAO’s udmeldinger gennem årene, som jeg lavede sidste år). GAO skriver i konklusionen i dette års rapport:
“Overall, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is now moving in the right direction after a long, expensive, and arduous learning process. It still has tremendous challenges ahead. The program must fully validate design and operational performance against warfighter requirements, while, at the same time, making the system affordable so that the United States and partners can acquire new capabilities in the quantity needed and can then sustain the force over its life cycle.”
Og i indledningen kommer GAO ind på hvilke af de 10 opstillede mål for 2012, som projektet har nået.
”The F-35 program achieved 7 of 10 key management objectives for 2012 and made substantial progress on one other. Two objectives on aircraft deliveries and a corrective management plan were not met. Also in 2012, the program conducted more developmental flight tests than planned and made considerable progress in addressing critical technical risks, such as the helmet-mounted display. With about one-third of development flight testing completed, much testing remains to demonstrate and verify F-35 performance. Software management practices are improved, but with significant challenges ahead as software integration and testing continue to lag behind plans.”
Lad os zoome ind på hvad GAO skriver om softwareudviklingen:
“(…) software development activities in 2012 lagged behind plans. Most software code has been developed, but a substantial amount of integration and test work remains before the program can demonstrate full warfighting capability. Software capabilities are developed, tested and delivered in three major blocks and two increments—initial and final—within each block. The status of the three blocks is described below:
Block 1.0, providing initial training capability, was largely completed in 2012, although some final development and testing will continue. Also, the capability delivered did not fully meet expected requirements relating to the helmet, ALIS, and instrument landing capabilities.
Block 2.0, providing initial warfighting capabilities and limited weapons, fell behind due to integration challenges and the reallocation of resources to fix block 1.0 defects. The initial increment, block 2A, delivered late and was incomplete. Full release of the final increment, block 2B, has been delayed until November 2013 and won’t be complete until late 2015. The Marine Corps is requiring an operational flight clearance from the Naval Air Systems Command before it can declare an initial operational capability (IOC) for its F-35B force. IOC is the target date each service establishes for fielding an initial combat capable force.
Block 3.0 providing full warfighting capability, to include sensor fusion and additional weapons, is the capability required by the Navy and Air Force for declaring their respective IOC dates. Thus far, the program has made little progress on block 3.0 software. The program intends initial block 3.0 to enter flight test in 2013, which will be conducted concurrently with the final 15 months of block 2B flight tests. Delivery of final block 3.0 capability is intended to begin nearly 3 years of developmental flight tests in 2014. This is rated as one of the program’s highest risks because of its complexity.
In particular, the development and testing of software-intensive mission systems are lagging, with the most challenging work ahead. About 12 percent of mission systems capabilities are validated at this time, up from 4 percent about 1 year ago. Progress on mission systems was limited by contractor delays in software delivery, limited capability in the software when delivered, and the need to fix problems and retest multiple software versions.”
Ergo, så venter der en stor og kompleks udfordring forude på softwarefronten.
Et andet element er at teste og godkende flyets design og operationelle evner. Herom skriver GAO:
“The critical work to test and verify aircraft design and operational performance for the F-35 program is far from complete. Cumulatively since the start of developmental flight testing, the program has flown 2,595 of 7,727 planned flights (34 percent) and accomplished 20,495 of 59,585 test points (34 percent). For development testing as a whole, the program has verified 11.3 percent of the F-35 development contract specifications (349 of 3,094 specifications) through November 2012.”
GAO slutter sin årlige JSF-rapport af med en opsang:
“DOD and the contractor now need to demonstrate that the F-35 program can effectively perform against cost and schedule targets in the new baseline and deliver on promises. Until then, it will continue to be difficult for the United States and international partners to confidently plan, prioritize, and budget for the future; retire aging aircraft; and establish basing plans with a support infrastructure. Achieving affordability in annual funding requirements, aircraft unit prices, and life-cycle operating and support costs will in large part determine how many aircraft the warfighter can ultimately acquire, sustain, and have available for combat.”