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Flight Tests Show F-35 Program Gaining Momentum

Defense Tech friend and F-35 Joint Striker Fighter program watcher Bob Cox says a recent jump in the number of flight tests show that development of the combat jet may be back on track. By the end of last week, the test program had completed 146 flights this year compared to 128 planned.

If the program is able to continue flight tests at that pace, it should reach the year-end goal of 394 flights, says Cox, who has often been critical of the JSF. That would put the F-35 program about where it was supposed to be at the end of 2009. Lockheed has now flown nine of the initial 13 flight testing jets and is prepping the remaining four for flights, Cox reports.

Good news for the F-35 program which has been taking a bit of a beating lately for delays and cost overruns. Yet, as our own Colin Clark reported last week, the F-35 won’t be making the trip to next week’s massive Farnborough Air Show; nobody from the program office will be there either. Is that a big deal? It means a lot more flight testing is needed before the F-35 is ready for such a prime time venue; as they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Colin writes:

“The first time a new military aircraft appears at an air show is always a major news event and is a palpable demonstration to the world that the plane is ready to demonstrate its stuff in front of a potential audience of millions. The F-22 made its first appearance at Farnborough in 2008 and it was the talk of the show.”

– Greg Grant

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Thud105 July 13, 2010 at 2:45 pm

This is one of Sec Gates' pet projects so it's not going to go anywhere. I don't have a lot of faith in this particular program, but it appears we're stuck with it.

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@Earlydawn July 13, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Regarding cost, or capability?

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LeoC July 13, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Canceling test flight for the sake of PR is irresponsible. It would be as bad as the POTUS taking time off to play golf in the midst of a major environmental disaster.

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Charles Lambert July 13, 2010 at 6:56 pm

"Now watch this drive!"

I remember when Bush took 487 vacation days at Camp David and another 490 days at his Crawford ranch and all these comment pages were rightfully filled with howls of protest. Oh, wait, they weren't, you say? Hmmm, I wish I could figure out why a black Democrat would be judged more harshly than white Republican on the issue. I guess we'll never know.

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praetorian July 13, 2010 at 10:01 pm

You have got to be kidding right ? Bush took far more abuse from the media then Obama. It has nothing to do with being black or Democrat. You can try to turn it into a race issue,but the fact is it took Obama 60 days to talk to the people of the United States. If that was Bush or Clinton the American people would have the same response. Bush was far better in his response to Katrina and 9/11. Obama is judged
more harshly by who ?? this military blog?? Certainly not by the media.

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E_Khun July 13, 2010 at 9:03 pm

If you can qualify the Farnborough Air Show as a test flight then I'll count golfing as cleaning up oil.

Or didn't you read the article and just wanted to have a shot at your "POTUS"?

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windex July 13, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Or chairman of the BP taking boat racing.

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SMSgt Mac July 13, 2010 at 6:20 pm

BP boss activities are only comparable iif he also promised he would "not rest" until the disaster was brought under control AND he went sailing as many times as the 'wun' went golfing.

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blight July 15, 2010 at 3:20 pm

So its okay if you make no promises, and have no expectations of you because you're just a CEO who "wants my life back"?

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Blight July 13, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Curious, but is there parts commonality between the raptor and Jsf? With all the press on costs of aircraft on one hand and the tenuous logistical supply chain on the other, shouldn’t we try and have as many core bits be common as possible? Standardization is not a bad thing..

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SMSgt Mac July 13, 2010 at 6:31 pm

The F-35 program already leverages more commonality bewtween 3 different airframes than any aircraft design family in history. Having said that, there are a lot of common components berween the F-35 and a lot of other aircraft,and alot of components with high commonality with predecessor parts. Commonality exists wherever it makes sense. Please excuse the 'PDA' triggered typos.

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slntax July 13, 2010 at 6:18 pm

im tired of lockheed's bs. instead of wasting money on stupid ads telling us how they are gonna protect us and connect the world. spend that money on getting your over budget, 2nd rate aircraft on time and budget. if i was the dod i would charge them 1 million dollars per day they are late with the f-35 plus interest. im sure that would get someone attention and all the sudden everything is on time and on budget.

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Wombat July 13, 2010 at 7:21 pm

If you did that then the DoD would suddenly find themselves without their largest supplier of high-tech gear. Buying new fighters isn't like shopping for a new couch. When you are developing something new, there is no way to know what the real budget or schedule is going to be, all you can do is make a decent optimistic guess to get the contract. I've seen that the F-35 avionics software alone is over 15 million lines (way more than say Windows), developing, testing and debugging that alone would take years, not to mention the new hardware that needs to be developed and all the integration (which is the hardest part). This all has to be done by highly skilled Americans/Allies which demand a large paycheck. To sum up: making something like the F-35 is extremely difficult and budget and schedule slips are par for the course.

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@Earlydawn July 13, 2010 at 9:26 pm

Where is Lockheed going to go? Most of the technology they develop belongs to the U.S. government. It's not like they can get up and and start supplying China.

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Brian July 13, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Out of business if you hammer them too hard.

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greg July 14, 2010 at 4:01 am

Lol way more? how many lines do you think windows is? Windows 95 had 15 million lines of code. That grew to 18 million lines by the time Windows 98 launched, above. Windows XP, released in 2001, has 35 million lines of code. Not including service packs. Vista has over 50 Million lines of code? You have 0 clue what your talking about when you say way more lines of code. What you are actually saying is 15 million lines of code on modern multi core architecture, meaning for the trivial that the processing power in this is superb…imagine running windows 95 on a core 5i. Suffice to say that the software with sufficient engineers can meet expectations. I have no affiliation, just noting the obvious, if you have 1000 2000 10000 programmers on this project then yes it can be completed on time, duh.

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Brian July 14, 2010 at 12:41 pm

No argument that the f-35 has less code than Windows. Of course, Lockheed doesn’t have as many programmers as Microsoft. Plus, when windows crashes, it doesn’t literally *crash*. You don’t want a blue screen of death to pop up while you’re flying at Mach 2. End result: it’s hard to build.

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greg July 14, 2010 at 7:17 pm

Agreed, I'm just commetning on wombat's comment who said the f-35 had more code then windows xp. That is just plain old false.

Jake July 13, 2010 at 8:36 pm

lockmart should introduce the f-35 en force next year with a display of 3-5 birds to show that it really is the volume tactical jet for the west

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@E_L_P July 13, 2010 at 10:28 pm

Yeah picking up, We are now somewhere where we should have been in mid FY2009. Great work.
http://tinyurl.com/yeujhzr

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