Defense

Software problems slow F-35 program

Placeholder Image for Article Template

The Navy's variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35C, conducts a test flight over the Chesapeake Bay.

The Defense Department needs to increase its spending on software for the Joint Strike Fighter so the next-generation aircraft can be rolled out on schedule, a GAO report says.

The 2,500 planned F-35 Lightning II aircraft, projected to cost $400 billion by 2037, will be used by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

Inadequate capabilities and the retesting of multiple versions are causing problems in the development and testing of mission systems software, GAO auditors wrote in a report released March 24.

"Delays of this magnitude will likely limit the warfighting capabilities that are delivered to support the military services' initial operational capabilities -- the first of which is scheduled for July 2015 -- and at this time it is not clear what those specific capabilities will be because testing is still ongoing," the report states. "In addition, delays could increase the already significant concurrency between testing and aircraft procurement and result in additional cost growth."

GAO said DOD needs to drastically increase spending on the program in the next five years and average $12.6 billion in expenditures for the next 24 years in order to execute the program as planned.

Those investments could be a problem given the current fiscal environment, GAO auditors noted, particularly because the Joint Strike Fighter has been targeted for per-unit spending reductions rather than increases.

GAO recommended that the DOD secretary conduct a reassessment of which benchmarks can realistically be met and share the report with Congress and the military services by July 2015. DOD officials concurred with that conclusion.

About the Author

Reid Davenport is an FCW editorial fellow. Connect with him on Twitter: @ReidDavenport.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.

Featured

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

  • Shutterstock image.

    Merged IT modernization bill punts on funding

    A House panel approved a new IT modernization bill that appears poised to pass, but key funding questions are left for appropriators.

  • General Frost

    Army wants cyber capability everywhere

    The Army's cyber director said cyber, electronic warfare and information operations must be integrated into warfighters' doctrine and training.

  • Rising Star 2013

    Meet the 2016 Rising Stars

    FCW honors 30 early-career leaders in federal IT.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group