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After Implementing Fixes, F-35 Block 3i Software Stability More than Doubles

Defense Daily // April 27, 2016

The F-35 joint program executive officer (PEO) is confident that the program office has found a solution to software stability problems that induced the plane’s sensors to shut off more frequently than is acceptable, he said Tuesday.

Last month F-35 PEO Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan told lawmakers about instability in the Joint Strike Fighter’s block 3i software, which is caused when miscommunications between the aircraft’s computers and sensors build up, eventually triggering the sensor to restart mid-flight.

Now, after implementing fixes to the software and flying 44 sorties and 96 flight hours, the software is showing a marked improvement, Bogdan said to reporters after a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on April 26. The aircraft previously experienced one software instability incident—such as an automatic shut down, or having to manually restart a sensor—every three to four hours. Now those incidents occur only about once every 15 hours, much higher than the eight- to 10-hour target.

"We've seen stability problems with our block 3i software, however we believe we've identified the root cause of these problems and tested solutions in lab and in flight test and are now completing our flight test with these solutions,” he told lawmakers during the hearing. “Our initial indications of these flight testing are positive and we've see software stability improve to two to three times better than what we've seen in the past. By the end of this month I am encouraged that we will have enough data to consider this problem and issue closed

In fact, Bogdan said tests of the fixes will conclude this week. He will make a decision by Friday on whether to incorporate that version of the 3i software ahead of the Air Force’s initial operational capability, scheduled to occur as early as August.

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