Congressional testimony from the DOD's top tester Michael Gilmore has indicated a minimum one-year delay in F-35 operational testing. Starting F-35 initial operational test and evaluation in mid-2018 (or later) makes a Milestone C production and deployment decision impossible at the objective date of April 2019, and improbable for the Milestone C threshold date Oct 2019.
This is the most important milestone in systems acquisition development, one that is never mentioned by the project office because it bumps up against the foolish JSF concurrency strategy, i.e. producing planes during development which results in hundreds of useless planes deployed to units illegally (and converting them to non-capable units).
Gilmore also reported significant problems in F-5 software (8 million lines), reliability, maintainability and the autonomic logistics system.
The GAO has recently reported that the F-35 engine is only about half as reliable as it is expected to be, and the unit cost in 2018 is still expected to be high at $154 million. Also there needs to be a three billion dollar modernization program on software at that time to make the F-35 fully combat-capable.
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