WASHINGTON Jan 24 The Pentagon's F-35 program
office on Friday said it was "laser-focused" on finishing
development of the software needed for the U.S. Marine Corps to
start using its Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets
The Pentagon's chief weapons tester warned in a report
obtained by Reuters and published on Thursday that a possible
13-month delay in F-35 software development, coupled with
maintenance and reliability problems, could delay the Marine
But Air Force Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan, who runs the
Pentagon's F-35 program office, says he remains confident that
Lockheed will complete the Block 2B software that gives the jet
its initial combat capability in time.
Bogdan restructured the F-35 program office last year to put
a greater emphasis on software, which he considers the No. 1
technical risk to the $392 billion program, said his spokesman
As part of the changes, he said Bogdan had named a number of
people or "czars" to oversee the range of efforts linked to the
Block 2B software and later software versions, as well as the
drive to reduce the F-35's maintenance and operating costs.
"Lieutenant General Bogdan and the F-35 program are laser-
focused on delivering the Block 2B capability to the
warfighter," DellaVedova said. "We track and review F-35
software development data religiously and we're confident we'll
deliver Block 2B in time to meet the Marine Corps' needs."
Lockheed is developing three models of the new warplane for
the U.S. military and eight partners: Britain, Canada,
Australia, Turkey, Italy, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands.
Israel and Japan have also placed orders.
Marine Corps officials had no immediate comment on the new
report, but the service has not revised its plans to declare an
F-35 "initial operational capability" by July 2015.
The report, which was delivered to Congress on Friday, got a
muted reaction from the countries that helped pay for
development of the new plane or placed orders.
Britain is expected to announce orders for 14 F-35 jets and
the associated infrastructure, training and maintenance
services, as early as next week, Reuters reported on Thursday.
It is buying the same short takeoff, vertical
landing B-model jets that will be operated by the Marines.
The Dutch, who have ordered 37 planes, said they had not
received the report, but did not expect any major surprises.
"The problems raised are well known and are being
addressed," said Defense Ministry spokeswoman Sacha Louwhoff.
The Dutch are testing two trial planes and expect delivery
of their first production plane in 2019. The first Dutch F-35
pilot completed his training at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida
on Friday, DellaVedova said.
Endre Lunde, spokesman for Norway's defense ministry, said
the F-35 program office was already taking steps to fix issues
raised by the report, including software development.
"The information presented in this report has been briefed
to all international partners at various points over the past
year," Lunde said, adding that he did not expect the issues
raised to affect Norway's participation in the F-35 program.
At the same time, Lunde said Norway viewed the report as a
"very valuable" tool and "an important external reference in our
efforts to keep the development of the F-35 on track."
Belgium is also weighing F-35 orders, but will not make a
decision until after elections in May, one official said.
In Israel, one defense official said he did not see any
problems for his country's order of 19 jets. "There is no delay
(for Israel)," said the official, who declined to be named.
An official at South Korea's arms procurement agency said
any delays beyond an intended 2018 delivery date would be
"problematic". Seoul has said it would buy 40 of the F-35s,
although it still has to finalize this order, a move that could
come in February, according to two sources familiar with the
A senior Japan Defense Ministry official said: "We can do
nothing but ask the JPO (Joint Program Office) to speed up the
program." Tokyo plans to buy 42 of the stealth fighters, with
the first four due for delivery by March 2017.