Software Glitch Causes F-35 to Incorrectly Detect Targets in Formation

F-35As fly in formation. (AF photo)Engineers are trying to fix the F-35’s software package after it was discovered the sensors for the Joint Strike Fighter malfunction when detecting targets when the aircraft flies in formation.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, Program Executive Officer, F-35, said he didn’t have a date when the correction would be made. However, he said the problem would not delay the declaration of the Marine variant of the aircraft, the F-35B, ready for combat.

“When you have two, three or four F-35s looking at the same threat, they don’t all see it exactly the same because of the angles that they are looking at and what their sensors pick up,” Bogdan told reporters Tuesday. “When there is a slight difference in what those four airplanes might be seeing, the fusion model can’t decide if it’s one threat or more than one threat. If two airplanes are looking at the same thing, they see it slightly differently because of the physics of it.”

For example, if a group of F-35s detect a single ground threat such as anti-aircraft weaponry, the sensors on the planes may have trouble distinguishing whether it was an isolated threat or several objects, Bogdan explained.

As a result, F-35 engineers are working with Navy experts and academics from John’s Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory to adjust the sensitivity of the fusion algorithms for the JSF’s 2B software package so that groups of planes can correctly identify or discern threats.

“What we want to have happen is no matter which airplane is picking up the threat – whatever the angles or the sensors – they correctly identify a single threat and then pass that information to all four airplanes so that all four airplanes are looking at the same threat at the same place,” Bogdan said.

The F-35 is engineered to fuse relevant information from a variety of sources into one common operating picture for the pilot to view – such as digital maps, radar information and sensor information all combined into a single set of screens, JSF officials said.

The F-35’s Electro-Optical Target System, or EOTS, is an infra-red sensor able to assist pilots with air and ground targeting at increased standoff ranges while also performing laser designation, laser range-finding and other tasks.

In addition, the plane’s Distributed Aperture System, or DAS, is a series of six electro-optical sensors able to give information to the pilot. The DAS includes precision tracking, fire control capabilities and the ability to warn the pilot of an approaching threat or missile.

The F-35s also have an Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar which is able to track a host of electromagnetic signals, including returns from Synthetic Aperture Radar, or SAR. SAR paints a picture of the contours of the ground or surrounding terrain and Ground Moving Target Indicator, or GMTI, locates something on-the-move-on the ground and airborne objects or threats.

Overall, information from all of the JSF sensors is fused through the aircraft’s computer, providing the pilot with clear, integrated view of the battlefield. The aircraft also have a data link enabling them to share information with one another in real time.

The F-35 software, which shows images on display screens in the cockpit as well as on a pilot’s helmet-mounted-display, is designed to fuse results from various radar capabilities onto a single screen for the pilot.

The Marine Corps plans to declare their short-take-off-and-landing F-35B variant ready for combat by June of this year by declaring what’s called Initial Operating Capability, or IOC, with the 2B version of the software.

Software Block 2B, while still short of the full final 3F software configuration, can provide data link capabilities and early fused sensor integration, program officials have said.

Block 2B you can provide basic close air support and fire an AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile}, JDAM [Joint Direct Attack Munition] or GBU 12 [laser-guided aerial bomb], JSF program officials said.

“We will declare IOC with an older version of the software that does not have all the fixes in it. They (Marine Corps) have ways of mitigating those problems which they feel are sufficient for them to go to war,” Bogdan said.

Bogdan explained how F-35B pilots will be able to use concepts of operation to work around the sensor fusion problems until the software fixes are in place. Some of these tactics could include turning off certain sensors or flying in groups of two instead of four planes, Bogdan explained.

“We want to fix this so it is inherent in the airplane. We have always said that fusion was going to be tough. We are going to work through this,” Bogdan said.

— Kris Osborn can be reached at

About the Author

Kris Osborn
Kris Osborn is the managing editor of Scout Warrior.
  • BlackOwl18E

    “However, he said the problem would not delay the declaration of the Marine variant of the aircraft, the F-35B, ready for combat.”

    You have got to be kidding me…

    These aircraft will be declared “ready for combat” alright but if we were to actually use them in a fight they would be a greater danger to our own servicemen than they would the enemy.

    • NathanS

      So a feature that no other aircraft has is deemed faulty and there’s an easy work-around…

      How exactly does this make this aircraft a danger to our servicemen?

      • BlackOwl18E

        That’s not the real problem. The problem is that all of these faults in the jet should have been solved before it was put into production. Every F-35 we make now is a mistake jet that we will need to go back and fix.

        Keep in mind, that these are only the problems that we know have been made public. There are some pretty stupid problems with this jet that were just revealed recently and there’s no telling what deeper problems with it are yet to be revealed.

        • NathanS

          The plane is still in development and it’s normal to find issues in development. It is only being produced to development targets. It’s a long way off the one-plane-per-day production target once it further matures. To solve this issue is going to be just a software patch. Most IT companies have bigger roll-out issues than that.

          Keep in mind that this program is the most among the most scrutinized and publicized ever. Even the most smallest issue (whether real or perceived) is having critics screaming from the roof-tops. So I’m highly skeptical that the list of problems is anywhere near as severe as you’re making out. If what you’re saying is true, you would consider it a safe bet that the Marine’s won’t reach IOC this year?

          • oblatt22

            No you are just ignorant, official report after official report has shown the F-35 to be a badly mismanaged project and not ready for operations of any sort.

            This is an aircraft where even training flights are limited to 2G and 25k from rain clouds and requires on average 3 days of maintenance after every flight. A aircraft that remains an explosion hazard if struck by lightning 2 days after being flown even while on the ground.

            To call it operational is ridiculous.

          • Dfens

            It’s badly mismanged, but it has been Lockheed’s cash cow for a couple of decades. I guess now we know why their CEO pulls down $25 million a year. I wonder what “well managed” would look like?

          • Derf

            There is no such thing as a well managed government contract.

          • NathanS

            I’m the first to agree that the program was mismanaged early on. Things have vastly improved of the last couple of years.

            A lot of old stories there. Flight restrictions on test aircraft were lifted last year. Lightning simulation tests were undertaken in 2013 and electricity was distributed safely in line with the engineering models.

          • Curt

            Of course the F-18 (and virtually every other fighter aircraft) has no inerting system and is prohibited by NATOPS from flying into lightning, but hey, who cares about facts, right?

          • BlackOwl18E

            NathanS, this is not normal. No known aircraft program in history has had $80 billion dollars spent on it, reached over a hundred production models, and yet failed to reach combat capability while still receiving obscene amounts of funds.

            The F-35 is the most expensive weapons system in human history. This is not normal at all.

          • NathanS

            It is also the biggest weapons system in relation to size; which is critics conveniently leave out when discussing cost.

            But, I do not disagree; I’m critical of the cost of the program too. I think it could have been much better handled – especially in the early years of the program. It’s good to read today that unit prices are dropping in line with expectations.

          • Craigpv2d

            Just an FYI, development costs in adjusted 2015 dollars;
            Concorde = $34.25 Billion for 6 prototypes
            A380 = $25 billion for 4 prototypes
            747 = $120 million for 1 prototype
            First generation Ford Taurus/Sable $5.16 billion

            Anyone remember the 747 cruise missile bomber idea? It would have been a bargain!

          • John Baldwin

            The criticism of the F-35 reminds me of the criticism of the Army’s M1 Abraham tank when it was in the production and testing phase. Every Senator and Representative wanted to cancel the program. The Army stuck with it ,worked the bugs out and now it’s one of the best tanks in the world. Everyone was saying the M1 was a turkey and that the cost was too high.

        • Leon Suchorski

          And I suppose that you expect every new aircraft to fly perfectly the first time that it takes off? Like a toddler taking their first steps, sometimes they stumble a little before they start running. It is the same with EVERY new aircraft.

        • William_C1

          You know there was a high degree of concurrency with your beloved F/A-18E and F/A-18F right? The initial aircraft did little better than the F/A-18C or F/A-18D for half the price and the F-14D put it to shame.

          Also what problems were “just revealed recently”? The program has done a pretty good job of being transparent. Far more than you’d EVER see in Russia or China.

        • wpnexp

          They are mostly software fixes at this point requiring that only a new batch of software be uploaded. These are not problems that require new parts for all the aircraft.

      • retired462

        At this point; I wouldn’t want to be on the ground calling for air support, and have a F-35 come roaring in. I guess that is why the A-10 should be kept around ’til the F-35 gets all of the bugs out (Aren’t we talking 2022 for the CAS mission?).

        • NathanS

          I agree retiring the A-10 is a mistake. It’s got several good years of life yet.

          At the same time weapons are getting more and more lethal and one day the armour of the A-10 won’t be enough. It’s actually the F-16 that’s replacing the A-10 for CAS.

          The F-35 will take over the role in the 2020’s; with its advanced sensor suite and ability to control long endurance drones, it can prosecute targets at a distance.

        • wpnexp

          This will not affect CAS missions. The EOTS of the attacking jet does not use sensor fusion at this point, and the targets will either be laser designated or will use grids developed from the EOTS and SAR.

    • bill

      How many billions? And our boys are going to have to use work arounds!

  • Ray

    This aircraft has been far more of a major problem then an asset.

  • royrdsjr

    I’m soooooooooo glad that these will be the planes that will replace the A-10.*sarcasm strongly implied*

    • CHOPS

      Believe it or not the A F brass met this month and decided to get rid of the A10 and let F16s handle C A S until the F35 is ready to go 4 or 5 years from now. Those Brass hat morons just don’t get that C A S is best left to the armored up A10 loitering at 180mph–not a fast mover at 5000ft doing 400mph. In a previous post someone said every Army and Marine ground troop should flood congress with letters demanding that the A10 be kept in service. The needs and safety of the troops should be everyones first concern. IMHO

      • royrdsjr

        Those brass hat morons don’t care that the A-10’s save lives. As far as they are concerned,air power WINS WARS,& both the army & marines are only there to mop up what’s left. If the Air Force had their way,the A-10 would be immediately retired AND scrapped so that they don’t have to face arguments about putting them back into service. Their message to the Army & the Marine Corps,”Just sit back AND LET US WIN THE WAR.” If they had their way,they’d have control of ALL fixed wing aircraft,including both the Navy’s & Marine Corps’ fixed wing assets. They can then pick & choose what fixed wing aircraft should remain active & in service according to the Air Force’s needs & the Air Force’s needs alone.

        • Christopher

          They don’t just want control of all Fixed wing. They would also like to take over the Rotary assets too.
          The USAF needs a big trimming at the top more than any other branch.

        • sw614

          Now where in the world did you get that “if they had their way, they’d have control of ALL fixed wing aircraft, including Navy & Marine Corps’…”?

          I have never heard, read, or seen implied that dribble. Where did you get that? More anti-USAF rhetoric? Cannot discuss or comment without emotional outs=bursts that bring nothing to the discussion?

          Want the A-10 to stick around? Write you congress critter and demand an end to sequestration and to fully fund the A-10.

          I have never supported retirement of the A-10, but do understand the fact that dollars are driving the bus this time.

          • royrdsjr

            It is the only logical conclusion to Air Force action. Just imagine what the Air Force could do with the money if they had control over all air assets. They would spend the money where THEY see fit. How much money would they have control over if they,with control of ALL air assets,controlled the building of aircraft carriers & marine amphibious ships that can double as mini-carriers(& the retirement of the same ships).

          • sw614

            Oh, BS! Nothing logical about it. Just another emotional outburst to bash with absolutely no basis in fact..

          • jossie lawless

            more lear jets for air force brass to travel to sunny golf destinations… yes that is what will win wars.

      • Docsenko

        Strange, according to some, the B-1 has done more CAS than the A-10. Yet, the slower aircraft can get into the trenches so to speak. Like where are the Apaches? They are armored and can tear a place apart. Or bring out a turboprop that is floating around and put it in a CAS role. Just design it to fire the latest and greatest missiles. I know the Marines have given some thought to arming the V-22. Who knows.

  • Big-Dean

    Next Headline will read
    “F-35 Software glitch mistakes blue ocean for blue sky, software patch coming in 2021 but Navy F-35C pilots are advised to ignore cockpit “your flying upside down” warnings while flying over water”

    • Leon Suchorski

      Isn’t it amazing how the media blow things out of proportion. I remember back in the 60s, when I was working in R&D on the EA-6A, our system looked like it was working for only about 10 miles out. So we had a stand down, and brought in two antenna specialists for one week to study the problem. They figured out that NO ONE knew how to operate the system properly, and proved it by showing everyone FAR greater range than anyone had ever hoped for. I wish that the media would just stay out of the military’s business.

      • oblatt22

        Its just laughable PR to spin this disaster as as media beatup

    • Dick

      Good thing the filter took the first 4 letters out of your post for the area where the pilot sits.

  • citanon

    This is a _hard_ problem. NO previous fighter has had this capability. NONE. Not surprised that they having problems.

    Essentially, they are trying to allow a team of F-35s flying utilize their sensors in cooperative fashion to detect and track the same object. If you can do this then _even_stealthy_adversaries_ will have a hard time avoiding detection and attack because they will be pinged by radar, imaged by IRST and listened to by passive sensors from multiple angles spread across a large volume in space. The formation of F35s will act as a very advanced, stealthy, flying IADS.

    When you look around the world, competing air defense systems are just _starting_ to try to build this type of capability for platforms that are _stationary_ on the ground. The F35 is going to do this on planes moving at 600 knots in random and dynamically changing trajectories at 50000 feet.

    Once it works, it will be unbelievably lethal to adversary aircraft. This is why, paired with proper missiles, the F35’s advantages in air combat against things like the Su-35 and even the Pak FA and the J20, will be _overwhelming_.

    But they have to get it to work properly. Does that mean that IOC F-35s are not going to be more capable than legacy platforms even without this capability? Heck no, even a single F-35 has better sensors and sensor fusion than any legacy fighter. Furthermore, they will still be able to network. They just can’t all use their sensors at the same time.

    • Bobpep

      Well said Citanon. Written by someone armed with information, vice gossip.

      • Jim

        Will it?

        How long will its “budget” stealth last against advances in radar?

        I’ve read that out amraams are expected to not have the success we hope due to advances in Russian and Chinese electronic attack, so probability of hits is going to be a lot lower. The Lightning II only carried 4 in stealth mode, IIRC… So assuming it can stay stealthy long enough to get the first shot, when it shoots it’s not as stealthy anymore, allowing return shots.
        If it’s first volley doesn’t hit it stands a good chance of getting close with faster, more maneuverable fighters, where its stealth and sensor fusion won’t help much.

        The situation is worse if it goes up against a stealthy air superiority fighter.

        I’m not seeing the dominance.

    • Wowser

      Citanon is a public relations schill from one of the following: aircraft manufacturer, DOD, or aircraft subcontractor. It’s almost as if this person had written this rebuttal prior to the publication of the article(s)….. hmmmmmm

      Citanon: nothing you have said mitigates the recurring fact that this Program has been a huge government-managed boondoggle that hasn’t performed to-schedule and to-budget, since it’s inception.

      In total, state and federal agencies are so bloody politicized that they can’t manage a Project / Program because the first person to break radio silence on problems is scorched.

      Watch the schedule and budget continue to bloom like a mushroom cloud over the DoD budget…. that is, if there were actual traceability and accountability in the program budget management process (HAHAHAHA!!)

      • oblatt22

        Lockheed shills oscillate between telling us how wonderful the F-35 is on paper and saying that its too hard to do and nobody in their right mind would expect them to be actually implemented.

      • bill

        We are kicking airmen out of the Air Force to pay for these things. who the heck is going to fix them?

    • BH1

      “Once it works, it will be unbelievably lethal to adversary aircraft.” Which will be in what decade?

  • A good example of how advanced technology and new capabilities can create unforeseen problems..

    This isn’t isolated to the F35. We’ve had problems with other systems. Sometimes it takes decades ti get them fixed (we’ve been at it that long in meshing the dismounted and mounted situational awareness systems and STILL working it).

    This should be a lesson learned for the technology can solve every problem crowd but it won’t be.

    Not saying we shouldn’t pursue technology. I’m saying one should be more skeptical of all the promises until they are demonstrated.

  • Lance

    More Super Hornet and Harriers for USMC less this Stealth crap!

    • wpnexp

      More Harriers??? Are you insane. Even the A-10 has a better chance of surviving on the next battlefield than a Harrier. Even the Super Hornet is legacy technology – limited or no growth potential. Why is Boeing trying to make the F-35 like a stealth aircraft if Stealth is crap. Tell me, why are Harriers not being used against ISIS??? They are afraid they will be shot down by a terrorist organization.

  • conradswims

    Cancel it!

  • Blue1

    So what they’re trying to tell me is that the software cannot solve advanced algebra/trig? I’m over simplifying it, yes, but its really just a series of triangles. The complex part is that the triangles change size over time, so really it is a calc problem. Must be the kids from the back row doing the math.

  • guest

    F-35, not ready for prime time.

    • wpnexp

      No, it actually is ready for prime time meeting and exceeding current generaation technology, with the understanding thateven better technology is still being added. Fact is, the F-35 can do essentially anything a current F-15, F-16 or F/F-18 can do on the battlefield today.

  • fatman

    This kind of target recognition actually isn’t that hard. There is a plethora of image analysis software that can make these distinctions, and the laugh is that having multiple sensors usually makes them more accurate not less.

    This is another major design and coding problem for the program, but don’t worry, the pentagon will only waste another few million to get it figured out.

    • citanon

      Try doing that in real time against targets that are at the edge of signal to noise limit and actively trying to deceive you.

      • oblatt22

        and the F-35 cant do it for clear signals of aircraft not trying to evade.

      • Fatman

        Again, all things multiple sensors are supposed to help with, not hinder.

    • NathanS

      They’ve previously had problems with the F-35’s sensors being too sensitive. It’s purely an issue with the immaturity of the fusion software. It will get better with time, as these anomalies will build up test cases that future versions need to pass to be deemed operational.

      I’m not convinced it’s a difficult problem to solve. All aircraft would be aware of the location of the (duplicate) target. The aircraft closest to it can simply project the target to the other aircraft overriding their own signals.

      • Dylan

        A large part of the difficulty is in deciding if it’s the same target, or a ‘second’ target. The worst thing you can do is to have your software blank out additional targets because they’re close to one that has already been recognized. This is INCREDIBLY difficult to figure out. What if you have a weak or partial radar return? What’s the estimated level of accuracy of the return for each F-35 that is trying to ‘fuse’ its data? Which one will override the other? At what point do you stop overriding and declare it an additional target?

        The fact that only one ship in a formation has to make a detection for a threat to appear on everyone’s scope is, no doubt about it, absolutely game changing. If it was simple, every modern air force in the world would be pushing like hell to acquire this capability.

        • NathanS

          Are you telling me that one aircraft cannot distinguish multiple targets in one location? I see nothing in the media to suggest this.

          So my solution of the aircraft which is the closest (i.e. best signal) should make the call does adequately solve the problem. The multiple threats in one location are shared with the rest of the squadron.

          • Dylan

            You have reduced every single environmental and tactical variable in air combat to “whoever is closest has the best detect”?

            What if the closest plane is encountering local jamming and has 50 false targets painted on his scope? If you just synced that data, you have lost the battle.

          • NathanS

            So, to get this right; they’ve managed to detect a squadron of F-35’s, and rather than blow them out of the sky, they’re only going to perform an EW attack on only one aircraft? If they could do that (and I’m not sure they could), why not EW attack them all, and put the deception beyond doubt?

            And deeper than that; if only one aircraft in the squadron can see a target, and the others can’t, then there’s no longer a problem about duplicate targeting, and it could flag the target as suspect.

          • Dylan

            Jamming becomes less effective as you get farther away from the jammer…

            If only one aircraft in a squadron can see a target, is it legitimate? That’s the kind of convoluted and complicated logic that needs to go into the software. Otherwise, an adversary only has to screw up one plane to adversely affect an entire battle!

          • NathanS

            Sensors become less effective and reliable the further away from the target you are. Most jamming usually involves transmitting the inverse wavelength. It requires less energy to counteract a weak signal.

            So, let’s imagine that there is no “duplicate target” bug. What if only one plane can see a target? Or what about two? These are simply use-cases that the engineers have to consider. These sorts of questions are just par of the course in software development (it’s my job), since the real world is messy. The devil is nearly always in the details.

          • citanon

            I don’t think it’s that simple because in your proposal you’ve possibly reduced the detection/discrimination range to that of the single closest aircraft. Ideally you want to use information from additional aircraft to push that range out past what the single closest plane can do.

            Then there’s the problem that depending on where you are and which angle you are looking from, the target will have a different return, and the closest one may not the guy getting the best return and his return can have a different shape than each of his buddies’ returns.

          • TimothyJ999

            There’s a lot of Dunning-Kreuger at work here. You’ve popped off a simplistic “solution” to an incredibly difficult problem, that’s been worked on for years by teams of VERY smart PhD-level software, electrical, and networking engineers, working at the bleeding edge of our best technological means. Basically you’ve wandered into an operating room and you’re bragging about how you could do that heart transplant because you can cut the crusts off your PBJ.

            Do you really think you could walk into one of their tech meetings and make a contribution that wouldn’t get you laughed out of the room? I’m also in the same position, but unlike you I’m willing to admit how little I know.

          • oblatt22

            Smart people don’t hang around failing projects you can be pretty sure that the F-35 team is full of dead wood and time wasters.

          • NathanS

            Hi Timothy, I feel you’re putting words in my mouth.

            My only claim is that sometimes there are sometimes simple solutions to seemingly complex problems, and gave one example that sprung to mind.

            I’m a software engineer in a very different industry (oil & gas), and fully acknowledge that I know very little about aeronautical engineering.

    • retired462

      You should replace the “M” on million, to a “B” for billion!

  • Jon

    I’m not a computer engineer, but I work in a related field – wouldn’t simple geo referencing solve this? WTF kind of software program are they running for the JSF? I hope Canada doesn’t buy this suck the U.S. Govt’ dry creation. The Hercules is a great aircraft and maybe the F-35 will be, but you can only dress up a pig so much – it’s still a pig.

    • Dylan

      So, what’s your error filter for distance? Say, any contact that geo-locates to within 200 feet of another contact acquired by a different F-35 would be ‘fused’? What happens when you have a flight of two bogies flying in tight formation? Now the software says there’s only one? What’s the estimated positioning accuracy of each radar return from each F-35 trying to fuse its sensor data with others? How do you determine which F-35’s sensor detects override another’s?

      It’s a simple problem to solve…IF you know you can 100% trust the location and accuracy of each return. You have thousands upon thousands of variables that cascade into affecting the accuracy of each detection, and if you have a system that is going to start overriding detections, it has to have some incredibly brilliant parameters for determining when to do it.

    • Mark

      Here is what I see. The single F-35 detects 3 planes in tight formation. The second sees 3 planes in tight formation. Reliability probability of proper detection is weighted. Highest waited probability trumps lower. Each system then knows to use that plane’s data set till probability flips to next plane. Then the next plane’s Dara set is used on everyone’s display.

    • OldFedVet1941

      Look at who is building these Pigs, LocMart. Their only goal in life is to suck up our hard earned tax dollars. What a total Crock! When are going to stop this rape of
      the American Taxpayers.

      • blight_

        Free market, needs even less rules. Abolish the IRS, EPA, GAO…


  • Johnny cat

    This f35 is like the Ryan Leaf of jets

  • hibeam

    Why are you telling us this?… now the Chines will know about the bug in their software.

    • hiIQ

      because the higher ups in the US know that the Chinese already know what major defense contractors don’t what anyone to know.

      • Leon Suchorski

        Who do you think manufactures so much of our spare parts that they don”t already know about all of this?

  • JimmyD

    Does the cannon fire yet? Or is the software still scheduled for 2017?

    • hiIQ

      don’t know about the cannon, but the engine fires, sometimes internally and externally.

      does that count?

    • Big-Dean

      not yet, they are waiting for Windows 15 service pack

    • wpnexp

      As planned by the flight test program, gun tests should begin this year.

  • JohnD

    What a piece of crap, was this turkey ever ready in design or was all the bells an whistles added in over run monies? This is the biggest POS since the P-35! Can’t shoot, can’t detect targets can’t use special bombs, other than waste money, what can it do? The Air Farce people who pushed this POS need to be court martialed!

    • NathanS

      How so? This is a capability that no 4th Gen aircraft has. Even if you turn off the sensor sharing (and you don’t need to, to work around the problem), the F-35 squadron still has far more situational awareness than any of our 4th gen air-craft.

      The F-35 has had plenty of bomb tests. If you’re referring to the SDB II – it’s a weapon still in development and won’t be ready for some years yet. The SDB II was designed well after the F-35B variant was finalized, which is the only F-35 variant with an issue with it. So if anyone it was Raytheon who dropped the ball in the bombs design. The bomb is still in active development and its design may change yet. The SDB II (like any new weapon) is always going to be tested on our older well-known aircraft (like the F-15) first. This is standard practice.

      • realist

        stop repeating government propaganda

      • blight_

        The decision was made to save weight on JSF-B (the most overweight version) by shortening the weapon bay. Subsequently SDB2 could only be carried four per -B versus 8 per -A or per -C. Considering that the Marines are unlikely to be performing SEAD missions carrying four internally per aircraft is not a deal breaker for the time being. When used for support it will likely be carrying lots of SDB’s externally, which is fine.

      • oblatt22

        please do tell us what capability the F-35 has that no other 4th generation aircraft has. Real capability in real aircraft not some brochure promises.

        • NathanS

          You mean a real capability that isn’t on the brochures? i.e Classified information? I don’t have access to that.

          Or are you inferring that the aircraft can’t have the capabilities that have been specified? So the test results are just made up PR? Yep, you have it right. The F-35 is really just a paper aeroplane in some Lockheed Martin ‘spin doctors’ office. Oh, and the United States isn’t shaped like you see on the weather map – it really looks like a Pretzel – the cartographers have just been lying to us all these years.

          One capability that the F-35 has over even 5th gen planes is full-sphere IRST. Other planes can get similar depth with a sniper pod, but they’re uni-directional, not omni-directional. So the F-35 cannot be sneaked up on. But it’s a bigger advantage than that. A sniper podded aircraft must face the opponent after a missile is fired to relay target information to the missile until the missile is close enough for its own targeting systems to lock. This means that they must put themselves in danger of being locked themselves in return. The F-35 has the ability to fire off the missile, and turn away and exit the fight. The omni-directional IRST gives the targeting information to the missile, and the F-35 is able to do so without putting itself at risk.

    • sw614

      You do know the F-35 was a growth of a USMC program to replace the AV-8, do you not? It was not originally a USAF program. USAF got the lead because they have largest investment. The USMC and USN had no problems with the program concept. To lay this totally on the USAF is incorrect.

  • ArmyVet

    “so that groups of planes can correctly identify or discern threats.”

    So it cant properly identify targets and they still are going to release it? What a joke. The guns are not ready past 2020? Guns are over rated- just like they thought in Vietnam they wouldn’t need them either. Billions wasted on a flying turkey. This is to the Airforce what the Comanche was to the Army! Cut the funding or continue to throw tax payer money in the furnace on this one.

  • oblatt22

    Everything is hard when you are incompetent.

    That a pair of F-35s cant tell the difference between a single bogy and a pair of bogies because the F-35s are at different locations is a complete joke. In fact it says that the F-35 doesn’t do sensor fusion at all.

    But tucked away there is another problem, they cant fly more than two F-35s together because the communication between more than 2 aircraft breaks down.

    Lockheed is trying to dribble out the bad news and survive because the story as a whole is a complete disaster.

  • rat

    Not good at all…. Actually, very bad. If threats can be filtered out by the software and not presented to the pilot this can spell disaster.

  • jffourquet

    I give up! Just give Lockheed a trillion dollars and cancel the program. At least then no one will get killed in one of these things.

  • Carl

    That AF LT.Gen must think people are stupid,that sounds like a lame excuse,as much as that damn jet cost,If it can’t track a target correctly or has a problem how can it be combat ready? then if something goes wrong the service is ready to blame the pilot,problem after problem this doesn’t make any sense for an aircraft that is way too expensive to start with,people’s lives are at stake.

  • robert crawford

    All this money….and here we go again.

  • steve

    The F-35, the best argument for overhauling our procurement system that has ever been made.

  • janes smith

    as a former QA inspector on the F-35 from my experience the jet is a very poor design im just glad I don’t have to work on it any more . Lockheed got over on the gov this time you don’t even know about all the problems that this jet has when I saw all the bls I knew it was time for me to go

    • Dfens

      I’m sure there’s a reason some do design and some do QA.

  • Kirk Walker.

    The A-36 Apache was a POS until mated with the Merlin engine to become the P-51 Mustang. Not trying to compare the two, but if fighter delevopment was that easy, we’d all be building them. Why not ask Lockheed why they canned all of their top tier software engineers and hired scrubs to replace them. THAT is a relevant question. The results speak for themselves. Sounds like middle managers wanted that bonus.

  • jffourquet

    Concept of operations to overcome problems? What about rear visibility. The way the canopy is designed pilots cannot see behind them. Maybe what Gen Bogdan is really saying is that fighter pilots should transition to transport aircraft.

    • oblatt22

      what difference does it make. if you see a bogey behind you what are you going to do ? pull a 2G break ? LOL

      Its hard to imagine an enemy fighter wasting a missile on the F-35. You probably have a bit of time to eject since olnly a 25mm shell or two will turn your aircraft into a flaming wreak.

      F-35 the multirole force divider.

    • Mark

      At all times the pilot can see a 360 degree view around the plane in his visor

  • Biggles

    So so many experts on this forum. Impressive.

  • hibeam

    Can we use all these false radar returns as justification for more F-35s

  • robert crawford

    Plausable deniabilty…(Let’s get it on) Bush was right.

  • Mr_Darrell

    A single “AAA threat” could certainly contain numerous “objects” that are operating together, each performing a different function. This AAA can also be networked together (like the F-35) and operate with other AAA units geographically separated. With multiple sensors, some sensors have more validity than other sensors due to aspect angles and other aircraft maneuvers. The software isn’t adequately determining which inputs to retain and which to temporarily ignore. It isn’t exactly an easy problem to solve, but I’m sure they will solve it.

    And hopefully China hasn’t already hacked the F-35‘s design.

  • j.vargas

    so let me get this right your trying to tell me that they are saying that marine pilots altho superior fighter pilots dont have to worry because their system is different that a computer glitch could put them at risk that is not cool at all but thank god they have redundant over laps from ship radar and real time satilite radar

  • Paul Lundwall

    What was wrong with the F22 targeting? First sight, First shot and First Kiil? The Red, Green and Yellow is very clear seeing potential targets.

  • stpaulchuck

    the F-35 is a glitch – a billion dollar glitch

    • Dfens

      You pay them more to f up. What did you think it was going to be?

  • Docsenko

    i saw a program where the F-35 was designed to work with the F-22. Not sure if this will be the case. For the present, the F-22 is a superior airframe. It has proven itself on the battlefield and scared the heck out of some Iranian pilots who never saw it comimg. As a fighter, nothing is really known as yet. Someone would have to get the nerve to send up fighters against it. And if the F-15/16s do not get to them first. Then there would be no test.

  • This plane is more than a disappointment. It’s a disaster. Who forgot that one plane cannot do it all.

  • mpower6428

    WELL…… at least it fly’s…. it does fly, right…?

  • Craigpv2d

    As an old Marine avionics tech I would think that the difference in sensor angles, (offset), while flying in tight formation would be so small that the software might have a problem with it. If the aircraft talk to each other, (and know where other friendly aircraft are), maybe it as simple as setting a simple minimum distance before fusing the sensor pictures together. In other words, when two or more aircraft are within, for example, 1000 feet of each other, then only one aircraft will provide the sensor data.

  • JJMurray

    The fusion issue has always been the heart of and the largest obstacle to the F-35. Without that a large portion of the reasoning for the F-35 to exist goes away. Without it the F-35 is not much better than a Super Hornet with a few more electronic assists onboard.
    As for going IOC for the USMC – Someone there is simply not making good decisions and is forcing the drive ahead no matter what the cost or degradation in capability. Someone must have been promised a job after retirement.

    • blight_

      Not just the fusion aspect, but it is simultaneously employing multiple next-generation sensor systems and their associated R&D hurdles. It is a demonstrator for new sensor systems and sensor fusion, while being a production article.

  • txkboy

    That’s what happens when you buy an overbudget piece of metal.

  • GI dude

    “What? You wanted them to CORRECTLY identify targets? Now that’s gonna cost you!”
    ——Lockheed Martin Spokesman

  • jffourquet

    The F-35 cannot run, climb, turn, use warm fuel, cannot fit certain types of munitions in its internal weapon bays and now it cannot see. Lets just give Lockheed 1 trillion dollars and cancel the F-35 program. At lease this way no one will get killed in this thing.

  • William_C1

    The technology is still a work in progress so we might as well just scrap it and go back to relying solely on the Mk.1 eyeball, great thinking.

    If the experts like those in the comment section were in charge we’d still by relying upon biplanes with fixed landing gear. Anything else is too complicated to work the bugs out of.

  • Super Tex

    JaMarcus Russell says the F-35 is the biggest bust ever……

    • oblatt22

      That’s a bit unfair, the F-35 program is no worse than the Hindenburg, Titanic, black death and the sacking of Constantinople combined.

      • William_C1

        Did the F-35 shoot your dog too?

        • blight_

          The F-35 is the one-armed man that killed his wife?

  • oblatt22

    People think that its just an excuse but one of the reasons why the air force wants to get rid of the A-10 really is that they need the experienced maintenance staff on the F-35 program.

    The F-35 failure rate in the limited basic training being attempted is horrendous. Each flight requires 3 days of maintenance on average, The air force is looking at tripling the number of maintenance personnel to keep even the first tier IOC training the trainer being little more than pilots in the mess making whooshing noises.

    • Dfens

      Lockheed wants the A-10 dead for the same reason they want the F-35 program cancelled, so they make more free money on yet another new airplane development program. You seem to want the same thing. I still can’t believe William is giving you a pass on the whole “being a defense contractor shill” thing.

    • blight_

      The F-35 is probably so full of whizbang it’ll need more maintainers than the humble A-10 has to give.

      At some point they’ll give in and have Lockheed Martin contract the maintenance. It’ll be like the Italian States period where rulers pay for free companies of mercenaries, except tomorrow it’ll be companies providing platforms and support services for cash, with soldiers operating them.

  • Bernard Bethel

    Haven’t these guys heard of Automatic Correlation?

  • Craigpv2d

    Lack of hard deadlines and ever changing requirements is a major source of the R&D costs in many military programs today. It’s no different than building a new home where the wife keeps changing the design and colors, etc. and expecting the builder to absorb the costs. I don’t think that the contractors and engineers are purposely creating a bad product just to stretch things out. I mean, who wants to list a cancelled project on their resume? That said, I do think that many people and companies involved in government today are too “risk averse”, and are unwilling to take chances on anything less than perfect.

  • OldFedVet1941

    You can be assured Bubba that the Marines will figure a way around the glitches.
    Being a Marine you have to be creative expecially since they get mostly hand me Downs! This coming from an old SAC Zoomie!

    • Dfens

      They won’t have a chance to fix anything. The program will be cancelled before building a single operational fighter jet. And the stupid American taxpayer will rejoice. Yeah, that will show bad old Lockheed, because it’s not like they made money on every single day they were able to drag out development. It’s not like they make more money on development than they do on production. Oh wait, yes, it is just like that.

    • blight_

      What hand me downs?

      • Riceball

        Agreed, the days of the Corps getting hand me downs has long since passed. Even during the bad ‘ol days of the Clinton years when I was in we didn’t get hand me downs, at least not hand me downs from the Army if that’s what you’re implying. Granted what I was issued was largely used, but it was used by other Marines and probably came to the Marines new originally, I’m pretty sure that it’s no different in the Army, you get flaks and helmets from the guy before you.

        Let’s look at the Marine Corps hand me downs; LAVs – nope, Amtracs – nope, M16A2 – nope (originally developed by the Corps actually), F-18 -nope, AV-8B – nope. About the only thing that may have been hand me downs from the Army were some of the Corps’ first M1s but since then I think that they are all new.

        • CHOPS

          You are wrong on one count–@80 harriers from England a couple of years ago.

          • Christopher

            Mostly because the Brits, stupidly, retired them.
            Although the USMC brass is trying to the Harriers into museum pieces by trying to get the B to IOC this year. LOL!

          • blight_

            Sorry, they /bought/ the things from the UK because the UK couldn’t afford to keep them. They use them as spare parts for the AV-8B’s.

            Also, the “hand me down” game is usually played with the Army, Navy and Air Force.

    • oblatt22

      Every contractor knows that the marines are where stupid ideas go to get funded.

  • OldFedVet1941

    And these Morons want to relegate the A-10 to the Boan Yard! A real Brain Trust in my USAF these days ain’t it! Time to clean house and get rid of all of these Perfumed Princes and Obama worshipers! Lord help us these clowns have destroyed our once proud Air Force!

  • David

    The Chinese and Russian supporters on this site are right we should look to them for guidance when it comes to advanced weapon systems. I mean just look at the link above… Those T50s with their advanced technologies and tremendous numbers are going to eat us alive.

    • Dfens

      Russia’s glory days are in the past just like ours and for similar reasons. Back when they were a communist state, they could design and build weapons for a reasonable amount of money. Now that they are a fascist state, weapons cost more because much of the cost of the weapon is built into keeping the oligarch responsible for building it rich. We have the same issue here. Back when we were a capitalist state, we could build innovative, high quality weapons for even less than the communists, but now that we’re a fascist economy, we’ve got to keep the welfare flowing to the rich defense industry oligarchs and our costs are going through the roof.

  • blight_

    If only Lockheed had thought of lumping the brain control interface into F-35 R&D. It would have been good for a few more billion dollars for the company, and a few million to the shareholders.

    They should have an “idea bounty” for things to bill the government for.

    • CHOPS

      Go to and read the long list of problems we did and did not know about this L M POS.

  • superraptor

    Once the flight envelope restrictions are being lifted which has to happen by the Marine IOC date the F 35 will fall out of the sky and maybe we learn that it would make sense to start production of an upgraded F 22 instead

  • Brian B. Mulholland

    Early on the first page of this thread, NathanS asked BlackOwl if he thought the F-35B was unlikely to reach IOC with the Marine Corps on the date then scheduled. Since those posts were made, we have read that the Marine’s needed software block 2B needs additional testing. Offhand, it appears that BlackOwl is more likely to win that bet then he was even four days ago.

    I wonder if the Marine’s IOC is anything more than a political gesture to protect the F-35B from budget pressure. They need it for CAS even more than does the AF; does anyone really expect any current or near term enemy to challenge American air supremacy? And it’s precisely the ability of the platform to provide CAS that is conceded to be lacking for several years to come.

    I hope we don’t find out that the fatigue life of the infamous aluminum bulkhead is worse than expected at the cost of pilots’ lives.

    • citanon

      The marines want the f35b badly because it is better than the Harrier it is replacing in every single way and especially in safety. The harrier is notorious for killing its pilots. A list of accidents over the decades:

      More than anything, the compromises in the JSF were made so that the Marines can get a better jump jet. They will basically do anything to protect it.

  • Brian B. Mulholland

    It’s a bit late to wonder about the F-35’s long term suitability now … it’s the Marine’s CAS platform from the moment they declare IOC. If they get genuine CAS capacity out of it within five years of IOC, we’ll have done as well as it seems we’re going to do. I suspect that means block 4 software; and (worse) we might have to do “mid-life” overhauls within that time to replace that damn bulkhead.

    • citanon

      Replace that bulk head? The only thing needed to be changed to make SDBIIs fit was to move a single wire and a hydraulic line a few centimeters…..

      • blight_

        I was under the impression that they shortened the bay to make room for LiftSystem or to save weight. Didn’t realize that that was all they did..and seemingly for little reason at all.

        • citanon

          No the bay is to make room for the lift system, but the bay itself is still big enough to carry most of the weapons. The reason the SDBII doesn’t fit is not because of the bulkhead, but because a couple of simple lines get in the way if you try to fit four of them in there.

          Since they don’t consider the issue a major engineering obstacle, it’s getting punted until the software actually comes online to use the SDBIIs. This is so in case they find more fitment problems with other weapons, they can just fix it all at once.

  • “Doc”

    Sure… Let’s pump another few BILLION into a aircraft that hasn’t worked correctly since it was first put on a runway!!
    Sad that taxpayer money continues to hemorrhage because someone greased someone’s political palm to get a contract. You can bet that the discovery of misconduct, graft and bribes will “Shock” us all. HAHAHAHAHA

  • Brad Davis

    And people say that rebuilding the Avro Arrow will be a waste of time and money?