February 13, 2013
Credit: Credit: USAF
LONDON—Lockheed Martin executives say there are no “showstoppers” in the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E) report on the Joint Strike Fighter.
“All the issues raised in the report are known, and have been known for some time, and fixes and solutions are in place or in work,” Steve O’Bryan, Lockheed Martin’s vice president of F-35 business development, told Aviation Week in London.
O’Bryan’s comments come just weeks after negative reports on the aircraft’s performance and the grounding of the short-takeoff-vertical-landing (Stovl) F-35B variant in late January due to faulty fueldraulic lines.
“I look at the DOT&E report and I look at the progress, and we are 5% ahead of the plan,” O’Bryan says.
Some test points have been delayed, however, while fixes are devised. Among them is a new tailhook design for the F-35C after the original design was unable to grab the arresting wire. The company is also behind in delivering software to allow for use of weapons on the F-35.
“What I see is a very flexible flight test program that is able to pull ahead test points that were to be further out and can be pulled into the plan,” O’Bryan says.
O’Bryan spoke in London as part of a European tour of JSF partner nations, along with Tom Burbage, retiring VP and general manager of the F-35 program. The pair highlighted the company’s plans for 2013 as it pushes to get the aircraft into service. The plan includes 1,153 test flights during 2013 and completing 9,300 test points by year’s end.
Lockheed also plans to deliver 36 low-rate, initial-production aircraft in fiscal 2013 — an increase of 20% over last year. Other milestones include the beginning of U.S. Air Force pilot training at Eglin AFB, Fla., as well as the delivery of LRIP 4 aircraft to Nellis AFB, Nev., and Edwards AFB, Calif., for operational testing by the Air Force.
Through-life durability testing on both the STOVL (F-35B) and the CV (F-35C) models will also be completed later this year. F-35Bs are also expected to be re-embarked on the USS Wasp amphibious assault vessel for a second round of deck operation trials following initial trials held in October 2011. The company will also mark the opening of the Italian Final Assembly and Check-Out (FACO) facility at Cameri AB near Milan in conjunction with the Italian government this summer.