F-35 flight tests show radar software problems -Pentagon

WASHINGTON, March 23 (Reuters) - Radar software being tested for the F-35 stealth fighter jet made by Lockheed Martin Corp is not stable enough, Pentagon officials said in a written statement at a U.S. House Armed Services Committee hearing on Wednesday.

The issue caused sensors to restart once every four hours of flying due to the timing of software messages from the sensors to the main F-35 fusion computer and the aim was to improve this to one in every eight to 10 flying hours, the statement said.

Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester, said the program would not be ready for operational testing until mid-2018, a year later than expected, due to delays in completion of the jet’s software and other issues. He said more than 300 planes would have been produced by the end of fiscal 2017, when that testing is now due to start.

The software during flight test was not as stable as it needed to be, according to the statement by Sean Stackley, assistant secretary of the U.S. Navy, and Air Force Lieutenant General Christopher Bogdan, in charge of the F-35 program.

“We will be flight testing these fixes in the March-April timeframe,” the statement said, adding that in testing the F-35C variant, cracking in part of the wing was found after a certain number of flying hours and efforts were being made to fix this. (Reporting by Idrees Ali; Additional reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by James Dalgleish)