via Breaking Defense.
Perhaps the most significant issue facing the program over the next two years lies with something that has dogged it for at least a year, since Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, head of F-35 integration, told me in his first interview about it: It’s development of the mission data files or “threat library.” The data on missile launches, frequencies, opponents’ weapons and their sensors come from the Intelligence Community (IC). The Office of Secretary of Defense’s Intelligence Mission Data Center gathers the data from across the IC. Then the $300 million United States Reprogramming Laboratory at Nellis Air Force Base turns that information into threat data for all three versions of the F-35, as well as for its international partners. (That lab will be joined by three more over the next few years, Bogdan said this afternoon.)JESUS! Every time you turn around its something new with this airplane. The level of incompetence should land someone in jail at the least. Why we aren't seeing criminal charges is beyond me.
This looks like a case where someone simply goofed. “Despite a $45 Million budget provided to the Program Office in FY13, the required equipment was not ordered in time and the USRL is still not configured properly to build and optimize Block 3F Mission Data Files (MDFs). The program still has not designed, contracted for, and ordered all of the required equipment – a process that will take at least two years for some of the complex equipment – after which significant time for installation and check-out will be required,” Michael Gilmore, the head of Operational Testing and Evaluation, said in prepared testimony. When I asked him about this, Bogdan confirmed the situation: “He is right that we didn’t buy this in time.”
Does this really matter? Yes. Gilmore put it simply in his written testimony: “If the situation with the USRL is not rectified, U.S. F-35 forces will be at substantial risk of failure (emphasis added) if used in combat against these threats.”
Finally, Kendall told Alaska Sen. Angus King during the hearing that there wasn’t a great chance of the Navy and Air Force developing an aircraft together any time soon, as happened with the F-35. Both services are in the early stages of developing sixth generation fighters.
“We’re now thinking about the follow-on aircraft for the Navy and the Air Force, and I don’t think we’re going to repeat this [joint acquisition],” Frank Kendall said. “The design parameters are going to be quite different for the follow-on aircraft of the two services. We did get some benefit from the commonality, but there’s very little commonality in the [airframe] structure,” Kendall said.
At the same time, Kendall told King that the Pentagon “could still get some of those benefits without having to have a single program,” by building cockpits and sensors with a great deal of commonality.
Now we have the "threat library" being totally bungled, the USMC Deputy Commandant for Aviation and the former Commandant, current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs telling us that the plane is combat ready now, and a bunch of yellow colored liquid falling on all our heads and they're telling us its raining.
The only good news in this story is that Kendall is talking about the next gen fighter. No, the talk about a fighter to do what the F-35 can't (even though we haven't canned the program) isn't the good news. The good news is that they have embraced the Sweetman idea of doing an "Airbus" for it. Sweetman advocated long ago that different airframes with common avionics was the way to build a REAL joint fighter that all the services could use. That's basically whats happened with the F-35...after a bunch of wailing and gnashing of teeth that is.