Toth says it is unclear whether a mini-OUE will be needed in the future for additional software releases.
The F-35s employing the 1A software at Eglin are slated for retrofit to the 1B package, a process that should not take more than two weeks per aircraft, he says.
Though expected in December, a trove of LRIP 3 aircraft carrying the 1B package is slated for delivery to the Florida base this month, says Venlet. All 17 of the LRIP 3s have been assembled; nine are flying and awaiting acceptance by the Pentagon, says Michael Rein, a Lockheed Martin spokesman. This type of delay is “not unnatural early in a program,” says Venlet, adding that a “healthy delivery” is expected soon, once the paperwork is complete. LRIP 3 includes seven F-35As for USAF, seven F-35Bs for the Marine Corps, two F-35Bs for the U.K. and a single F-35A for the Netherlands.
Challenges with the multilevel security required on the 1B software pushed the effort behind, Martin acknowledges. She says Lockheed intends to reduce the three-month slip as much as possible. And an additional laboratory established as part of the $4.9 billion restructuring last year is helping. It is now being converted to testing the 2B software, which will be the package used by the Marines to declare initial operational capability following flight testing.
The 2B release will allow for basic close-air-support and interdiction activities as well as initial air-to-air and data-linking capabilities. Weapons included will be the AIM-120C7, Joint Direct Attack Munitions and the GBU-12 laser-guided, 500-lb. munition.
Overall, the software requires 9.3 million lines of code, 8.5 million of which is already being tested on the aircraft or in the laboratory, says Martin.
In addition, the Pentagon has broken the Block 3 increment into two pieces—Block 3I (initial capability) and Block 3F (full capability), says Venlet. “We don't want to throw too much in it so that it can't be done,” he says, noting that Block 3 may also include some regression work from Block 2B. The 3I package, to be installed on aircraft in LRIPs 6-8, will include the 2B release rehosted on new computer hardware, selected to handle obsolescence issues. The 3F tranche will feature new capabilities that are key to the F-35's core mission‚ such as multi-ship suppression and destruction of enemy air defenses as well as new air-to-air and air-to-ground modes. This package also will include the full complement of weapons carried internally and externally on the aircraft, says Venlet. It is slated for inclusion on the LRIP 9 aircraft, and defines the capability that will be available at the end of the development phase of the program in 2017, he notes.
Once the process is stable, Venlet says the program office hopes to issue a software refresh every two years.
Talks with allies on what capabilities and weapons will be included in Block IV are in the early phases, he says. This block is likely to be approved in 18 months, with initial capabilities slated for delivery in 2020. The U.K. is pushing for inclusion of the Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile, and Norway is promoting inclusion of the Joint Strike Missile into this package—though country-unique requirements must be paid for by the participant wanting that capability.
Lockheed Martin, meanwhile, is making measured headway on two snags that came to light in testing: jitter, latency and night acuity in the Vision Systems International (VSI)helmet system, and lackluster performance of the original F-35C tailhook design.