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Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Milestones


F-35C-ordnance
Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lightning II



April 5, 2008: The Lockheed F-35 Lightning II is $15 billion over budged and delayed 24 months.

Oct. 10, 2008: F-35 noise quadruple that of the F-15.

Sept. 16, 2009: "L" band radar sees through F-35 stealth.

Oct. 23, 2009: No improvements noticed in Lockheed F-35 program.

Nov. 2009: Ship decks will buckle unless F-35B exhaust fixed.

Jan. 7, 2010: First testing of F-35B.

Jan. 11, 2010: U.S. government gives Lockheed US$2.8 billion to cover cost overruns.

Jan. 19, 2010: Revelation that in 2009 the F-35 was scheduled for 168 test flights; only 16 made.

Feb. 1, 2010: General in charge of Lockheed F-35 Lightning II project fired.

Feb. 1, 2010: Lockheed doesn't get US$614 million bonus.

Feb. 2, 2010: Fifth F-35 prototype test flown.

Feb. 25, 2010: Third F-35 model B starts tests.

Feb. 25, 2010: A second source of the F-35 engine "will not add to project cost" and may lower cost through competition is announced.

Feb. 25, 2010: Full F-35 production start delayed until November of 2015.

March 10, 2010: Pratt & Whitney F-35 engine costs projected to be $4.8 billion over budget.

March 11, 2010: Lockheed F-35 program $97 billion over cost and 30 months late.

March 17, 2010: F-35B has first successful hover flight.

March 18, 2010: F-35B first ever vertical landing.

April 8, 2010: First successful flight of avionics simulated weight loaded F-35.

April 12, 2010: First F-35 model B naval version free fall tests imitating shipboard landings.

May 20, 2010: U.S. government gives Lockheed an additional $143 million in hopes of meeting latest revised schedule.

May 20, 2010: Armed Services Committee budgets additional development funds for General Electric/Rolls Royce second engine source in 2011.

May 24, 2010: The Netherlands pulls out of the F-35 program development.

May 24, 2010: U.S. D.O.D. discloses F-35 aircraft only share about 1/4 of their parts and are actually three distinct aircraft.

June 1, 2010: Pentagon estimates Lockheed F-35 program is $150.4 billion over budget, 48 months late.

June 7, 2010: First F-35 model C flown.

June 15, 2010: First Mach 1+ flight of F-35B during which parts of aircraft fall off and excessive vibration experienced.

Jan. 18, 2011: Pentagon reveals LockheedF-35 Lightning II unstable during low and transonic speed flight tests; engine fails full power performance tests; avionics do not meet specifications; parts failing at high rates.

Feb. 4, 2011: The Pentagon announces that the F-35 program needs $4.6 billion dollars more in 2012 to address engine problems and necessary upgrades.

Feb. 10, 2011: Announcement that Congress "saves" U.S. taxpayers $450 million by terminating the competitive engine program by General Electric that may have helped keep costs down. The Lockheed F-35 program now depends only on the Pratt & Whitney engine, that thus far has not performed to specifications and is billions over budget, that will have no competition.

March 11, 2011: F-35 flight tests stopped due to leaking oil and on board power failures.

March 15, 2011: GAO announces that F-35 computer programs are more than three years behind development schedule.

March 18, 2011: Pentagon says that the anticipated price tag to manufacture and support the F-35 is "still unacceptable". Meanwhile the USAF and USN tell Congress that costs are "credible".

March 22, 2011: USAF admits before Congress that deployment of the F-35 will again be delayed, this time at least another two years.

March 24, 2011: Turkey cancels plans to purchase 100 F-35 aircraft (see Jan. 6, 2012).

May 5, 2011: First refueling of the F-35 by an operational U.S.A.F. tanker aircraft.

Nov. 4, 2011: F-35 achieves a maximum speed of 1,062.6 mph.

Nov. 9, 2011: Pratt & Whitney says their engine in the F-35B has been tested successfully for short take off and landing from the deck of a ship at sea.

Dec. 14, 2011: Pentagon Lockheed F-35 report shows:



F-35 Helmet
F-35 Pilot's Helmet

Pilot's helmet display has night vision and blurring problems.

Fuel dump leaves deposits on aircraft.

Arresting hook on the F-35 does not work. The problem appears to be the short distance (about 10 feet less than other jet carrier aircraft) between the landing gear and tail hook.  The hook apparently skips across the arresting cables on the carrier's deck without catching them.

The U.S. Navy says it will be too costly to raise the position of the arresting cables on its carriers, requiring changes to the tail hook system of the F-35C.  Thus far higher tension dampeners have been installed to make the tail hook skip less, and the tail hook has been reshaped.

Premature failure of airframe components.

Premature electrical systems failures including redundant systems, pilot oxygen, and cockpit pressurization.

Severe shaking while maneuvering at supersonic speeds.

Overheating of electrical systems in primary displays.

Inability to fly aircraft under loads to fully test thermal management.

Inability to fly air-to-air or air-to-ground test flights.

Fuel system susceptible to fires.

Aircraft easily damaged by lightning strikes resulting in directive not to fly within 25 miles of thunder storms.

Frequent failure of integrated power pack system.

Range and maneuverability affected much more than anticipated as aircraft payloads increase.

F-35 software development is now five years behind schedule.

Overall Lockheed F-35 program costs have increased by about US$3 billion to now total about US$385 billion since last estimate.

Lockheed responded to the Pentagon report by stating that they have exceeded their 2011 development goals.

Dec. 20, 2011: Japan announces that it may acquire up to 43 Lockheed F-35 aircraft while negotiating the purchase of six of the aircraft.

Dec, 22, 2011: Robbin Laird, Lockheed F-35 program supporter, wrote that Japan's decision to purchase the F-35 is an excellent decision. According to Laird, the F-35 will be equipped with the latest systems. With other aircraft those systems would need to be added. Laird further states that it is intended that anti-ballistic missile systems, such as the Aegis, used by the U.S. Navy, will be able to link to systems on the F-35 for over-the-horizon guidance, once developed. The sensor systems being developed for the F-35 are "unique" and "world-class" for the delivery of air to air and air to ground ordnance. If other U.S. allies in the area all purchase the F-35, Japan's aircraft will more easily be able to fly joint missions with them.

Jan. 6, 2012: Turkey announces they will conduct talks with Lockheed regarding the purchase of two F-35 aircraft.  On March 21, 2011 Turkey canceled their plans to purchase 100 of the aircraft. At this time it is unclear if they are considering revising their decision.

Jan. 18, 2012: Tom Burbage, Lockheed's program manager says, "Based on the original spec, all three of the airplanes are challenged by that spec. The cross-sectional area of the airplane with the internal weapons bays is quite a bit bigger than the airplanes we're replacing." The sharp rise in wave drag at speeds between Mach 0.8 and Mach 1.2 is one of the most challenging areas for engineers to conquer. And the F-35's relatively large cross-sectional area means, that as a simple matter of physics, the jet can't quite match its predecessors. "We're dealing with the laws of physics. You have an airplane that's a certain size, you have a wing that's a certain size, you have an engine that's a certain size, and that basically determines your acceleration characteristics," Burbage said. "I think the biggest question is: are the acceleration characteristics of the airplane operationally suitable?"

Jan. 19, 2012: Lockheed announces that they will start testing of a new fuel dump system that doesn't deposit fuel on the aircraft in April of 2012.

Jan. 20, 2012: Pentagon says all 63 Lockheed F-35 Lightning II aircraft delivered to date need major air frame and electronics upgrades to become operational.

Feb. 15, 2012: Pentagon delays purchases of 179 F-35 aircraft through 2016 to decrease number of aircraft delivered needing air frame and electronic upgrades.

Feb. 16, 2012: Italy announces reduction in F-35 purchases from 131 to 90 aircraft.

Feb. 17, 2012: Lockheed says cost of the F-35 will be increased an unspecified amount, due to purchase delays and reductions.

March 20, 2012: U.S. GAO announces first 63 Lockheed F-35 airplanes cost US$1 billion more than anticipated. All of the aircraft will need major rebuilding before being able to fly combat missions. The cost for rebuilding has not been included in the GAO report.

March 29, 2012: The Pentagon announces the latest F-35 program costs increased another US$16.3 billion and is now at US$395.6 billion.

Oct. 18, 2012: In a press release today it was announced that the F-35 tested its ability to drop an approximately 2,000 lb. bomb from its internal bomb bay. The drop was accomplished as intended.

Dec. 4, 2012: Lockheed announces combined total flight hours of all F-35 test aircraft has exceeded 5,000.

Dec. 12, 2012: Canada cancels plans to order 65 F-35 aircraft.

Dec. 14, 2012: U.S. orders additional 32 F-35 aircraft in advance of 2013 military budget reductions.

Jan. 28, 2013: Pentagon reveals that due to additional software development delays it will be at least 2017 before any F-35 is able to fly combat missions.

May 23, 2013: The Pentagon announces that estimated costs for the development and production of the Lockheed F-35 Lightning II has decreased by 1.1% for savings of about US$4.5 billion under previous estimates and a new total cost of US$391.2 billion.

May 29, 2013: U.S. Navy announces numerous modifications needed for their LHD/LHA ships to accommodate the F-35B STOVL aircraft due to its intense exhaust temperature. Moving parts and/or additional shielding is required to keep decks from corroding and buckling, plus damage to antennas, fuel stations, missile launchers, netting, rafts, railing, and ship weapons systems. The nozzles of the F-35B are undergoing a redesign to spread their output in order to minimize the concentration of exhaust gasses, thus limiting the damage they can cause.

May 30, 2013:  The F-35B is not able to carry a center gun pod. The U.S. Navy admitted that they do not yet have a mission for it due to none of its current weapons being suitable for use "against quick moving targets or a situation in which the risk of collateral damage is high".

The U.S. Navy had decreased F-35 model B and C production rate by about one-fifth, and is planning on using their 134 Harrier Jump Jets, which have received continuing upgrades, through at least 2027.

As of this writing it is unclear if the additional expenses necessary to modify U.S. Navy ships will exceed the savings claimed in prior statements.

May 31, 2013: The Pentagon announces that at least 10 F-35 model B aircraft for the U.S. Marine Corps will achieve an Initial Operational Capability (IOC) by December 2015; at least 12 F-35 model A aircraft for the U.S.A.F. will achieve an initial operational capability by December 2016; and the U.S. Navy will achieve an initial operational capability for about 12 F-35 model C aircraft by February 2019. The official definition of Initial Operational Capability by the U.S. Government for the F-35 is
here.

June 10, 2013: U.S. Dept. of Defense admits to more unspecified engine testing and development delays, gives Pratt & Whitney $648.9 million more to cover expenses, and for two more test engines.

June 19, 2013: The Defense Department's chief weapons-tester, Michael Gilmore, reported to the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee that radar and electro-optical system problems are further delaying weapons integration in the F-35. Buffet and transonic wing drop "continue to be a concern to achieving operational combat capability."

Software delays caused by continuing problems with the Helmet Mounted Display System, plus additional tests necessary to insure that program changes made to correct past issues will not interfere with existing software, have added 366 test points to 2013 goals.

About 65% of in-flight testing of the latest non-combat software is yet to be accomplished.

U.S.M.C. F-35 model B Block 2B software was due for delivery during August 2013, but has been delayed an additional eight months.

Final testing must be completed for operational evaluation due in 2015 in order for the Marine IOC scheduled for completion by December of 2015.

According to Gilmore, even full Block 2B aircraft will "likely need significant support from other (fighters) . . . unless air superiority is somehow otherwise assured and the threat is cooperative."

The most significant source of uncertainty" regarding F-35 combat capability in 2018, is that the program has to deliver an operational Block 3i while concurrently developing Block 3F, which is intended to meet the key performance parameters "set in 2001".

In the report it shows that the Helmet Mounted Display System has less jitter, but now has "swimming of the symbology". Also, to compensate for light leakage or "green glow" pilots must do "fine-tuning adjustments" of display brightness while flying. RCESA is the manufacturer of the helmets. It is a combined venture of Rockwell Collins in the U.S.A. and Elbit of Israel. The latest cost estimate of a helmet is over $500,000. It had been reported that BAE was also working on a helmet to solves its issues. It was reported that the BAE helmet price was up to $150,000 less each than the RCESA helmets. It now appears that RCESA will be the only source for the helmets.

Gilmore reports, "The final Block 3F weapon integration tests are likely to be completed in late 2017, instead of 2016. This will make beginning operational testing of Block 3F in January 2018 a challenge."

Buffet and transonic roll-off of the F-35 have not been resolved. Gilmore reports that the program has now reached a limit on what can be done with control laws. More changes would affect maneuvering or tax the airframe.

Lightning-tolerance testing is yet to be completed. The F-35's airframe will have to be inspected after known lightning strikes. According to Gilmore, the F-35 does not use lightning-tolerant fasteners. Conventional fasteners were selected to save weight.

Gilmore reports that the F-35B lift-fan system "might fail catastrophically before the pilot can react" during transition to vertical landing due to lack of a working detection system. Lockheed-Martin says "in the remote chance of a failure, the pilot would auto-eject."

Nov. 27, 2013 The F-35 is even more vulnerable to lightning and anti aircraft fire than previously reported.

Maximum g forces for continuous turns are now projected to be 4.6 g for the F-35A, 4.5 g for the F-35B, and 5.0 g for the F-35C. Most fighter aircraft are capable of 9.0 g continuous turns.

The F-35C takes 43 seconds longer than an F-16 to accelerate from Mach 0.8 to Mach 1.2, the F-35B takes 16 seconds longer, and the F-35A takes 8 seconds longer.

According to Gilmore the F-35B and F-35C use almost all of their internal fuel before being able to achieve their maximum speed of Mach 1.6.  We have been unable to find mention of the F-35A.

Test pilots said that poor visibility from the F-35 cockpit will get them "consistently shot down in combat."

The F-35 systems lack complete software in order that pilots can be trained safely.

Ejection seats are subject to numerous failures.

Avionics are unreliable and fail to respond to inputs.

Radar may not work properly, if at all.

Heat on the skin of the F-35, generated by supersonic flight speeds, causes the stealth paint covering of the aircraft to wear out prematurely.

Engines that are supposed to be replaced in two hours have thus far taken about 52 hours to be replaced.

Tools assigned to maintain the aircraft fail to provide proper functionality.

Dec. 4, 2013: Elgin Air Force Base announced that on that date a U.S.A.F. F-35A flew 10 flights, a USMC F-35B flew 32 flights, and a U.S.N. F-35C flew three flights. It is the most amount of total flights for Lockheed F-35 aircraft ever in a single day. The duration of each flight was not announced, nor was the collective total time of the flights.

Dec. 19, 2013: Lockheed announced that the cost of the F-35A, USAF version, will be reduced to US$85 million by 2019, including its engine and weapons systems.

Jan. 31, 2014: The U.S. Pentagon says that the initial operational capability for ten USMC F-35B aircraft will most likely be delayed from December of 2015 to January 2017 (see May 31, 2013 above).

The F-35B has continuing reliability and maintenance issues.

The problem with fuel igniting if the F-35 is hit by a missile remains outstanding.

The AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile system is plagued by unknown computer programming errors.

The missile threat warning system interprets flares disbursed by the F-35 as incoming threats.

The F-35B is extremely vulnerable to small arms fire that can disable its vertical landing system.

Lockheed F-35 Lightning II aircraft are leaving the assembly line with valves reversed and spots in their stealth covering.

Two thirds of all F-35 aircraft currently deployed are not airworthy.

Aircraft inertial navigation systems do not function.

Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, in charge of the Lockheed F-35 program for the U.S. government responded, saying that he feels that the F-35B aircraft will be ready without any additional delays. He added that program risks are "understood and manageable."

In the U.S. 2015 budget, the F-35A for the U.S.A.F. will cut four aircraft, from 30 to 26.

The U.S.M.C. will stand fast with 69 F-35B aircraft ordered.

The U.S. Navy will cut 29 F-35C aircraft, from 49 to 20.

Feb. 2, 2014: U.S.A.F. Lieutenant General Charles Davis, former F-35 program Executive Officer, states that the JSF program "was doomed the day the contract was signed."

Feb. 14, 2014: U.S. Air Combat Command chief Gen. Mike Hostage states, "If I do not keep that F-22 fleet viable, the F-35 fleet frankly will be irrelevant. The F-35 is not built as an air superiority platform. It needs the F-22."

March 24, 2014: The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report stating a need by the U.S. Department of Defense to "drastically increase spending in the next five years" on the Lockheed F-35 program, particularly with regard to mission systems software. If they do not, it is unlikely that the program can meet current schedules.

The additional expenses involve the inability to accomplish software goals, especially in regard to retesting numerous sequences of program copies.

Should additional spending not be approved, delays of this importance "will likely limit the war fighting capabilities" of the F-35.

Due to ongoing testing, the extent of the diminished capabilities is still unknown. However, delays may further increase program costs.

The DOD will be redetermining program benchmarks and, as recommended by the GAO, reporting realistic goals to the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and Congress by July of 2015.

April 21, 2014 Lockheed announces another price increase in development costs of the F-35 by US$7.4 billion.

April 21, 2014 Lockheed announces that they have re-calculated lifetime cost of aircraft and have reduced the amount by US$89.4 billion. Lockheed says the new amount will more than offset the price increases in development costs.

We understand that the basis of the new lower operating cost calculation is lower labor rates. The Dept. of Defense now says that they will save money by having military personnel do the bulk of Lockheed F-35 repair and maintenance work rather than independent contractors as originally announced. This flies contrary to what the DOD has been saying to justify the increasing amount of non-military contractors taking over jobs that were formerly performed by the military as a cost saving measure. One of the reasons that countries have agreed to purchase the F-35 is that private companies were supposed to benefit from doing maintenance and repair work on the aircraft.

The DOD also announced that only ten percent of the missions flown by the Marine F-35B aircraft will be in stealth configuration to save money. Presumably the surface of the aircraft will not have to be perfectly maintained to avoid radar detection. Maintaining the stealth covering of aircraft is a large cost factor in their operation and maintenance.

April 23, 2014: Australia will buy 58 F-35A aircraft for US$12.4 billion.

April 25, 2014: Lockheed announced that test hours flown by all of its F-35 aircraft have exceed 15,000.

April 25, 2014: South Korea may buy 40 Lockheed F-35 aircraft for US$6.8 billion. They may sign a contract before the end of 2014.

May 6, 2014: Turkey bought two F-35 JSF aircraft for US$320 million. They may order 98 more by 2016.

May 10, 2014: U.S.A.F. Col. Michael W. Pietrucha tells us, "Viable alternatives to the Lockheed F-35 exist if we have the courage to examine them."

May 29, 2014: F-35A flies with Block 3i hardware and software for almost two hours.



F-35 missile launch
F-35 Launching Missile

May 30, 2014: F-35B launches two AIM-120 air-to-air missiles.

June 2, 2014: F-35C simulates aircraft carrier landings on a runway at NAS Patuxent River, MD.

June 6, 2014 U.S. Air Combat Command chief Gen. Mike Hostage in an interview says, "I’m going to have some F-35's doing air superiority, some doing those early phases of persistent attack, opening the holes, and again, the F-35 is not compelling unless it’s there in numbers." Furthermore, "Because it can’t turn and run away, it’s got to have support from other F-35s. So I’m going to need eight F-35's to go after a target that I might only need two Raptors to go after. But the F-35s can be equally or more effective against that site than the Raptor can because of the synergistic effects of the platform.” He goes on to say, "The F-35′s cross section is much smaller than the F-22′s. "The F-35 doesn’t have the altitude, doesn’t have the speed, but it can beat the F-22 in stealth."

June 13, 2014: The British government announces that they will be spending about the equivalent of US$12.6 million to build three special F-35B landing pads at RAF Marham to withstand high exhaust temperatures.

June 23, 2014: F-35A engine fire during takeoff destroys aircraft while pilot is unharmed. All F-35 aircraft are grounded through July 15, 2014.

July 14, 2014: F-35B does not make scheduled appearance at 2014 Farnborough Air Show. F-35 testing will be extremely limited until cause and cure of engine fire are found.

Sept. 16, 2014: U.S.A.F. Lt. Col. Dan Ward writes about the Lockheed F-35 program:
"Complexity, cost, and development timeline all pointed to an ill-advisedly large, pricey, and slow effort that was immediately on track to cost more, take longer, and deliver less than promised."

Sept. 22, 2014: The U.S. Government Accountability Office says that long term costs of the Lockheed F-35 may "not be affordable".  The GAO states that the annual maintenance expenses for the majority of aircraft that the F-35 is supposed to replace, those being the Harrier, F-15, F-16, and F-18, amounted to US$11 billion in 2010. The GAO estimated that to maintain the same number of replacement F-35 aircraft it would cost US$19.9 billion annually in 2012 dollars.

It is estimated that the cost to fly a F-35 production aircraft for an hour will be around $77,000. In 2012 the Harrier cost per hour of flight was $18,926, F-15 $41,921, F-16 $22,514, the A-10 $17,716, and F-18 $32,044. The costs will probably grow higher as the aircraft age.

A large part of the cost difference is the mean time between critical failures of legacy aircraft and the F-35. In 2014 the F-35 was averaging 42 percent below its requirement anticipated at program maturity. The GAO also said that the time necessary to repair F-35 aircraft is growing longer.

Sept. 25, 2014: South Korea orders 40 F-35 "B" models at a cost of around US$177.5 million each for deliveries from 2018 to 2024.

Nov. 3, 2014: U.S. Navy F-35C aircraft makes first successful arresting hook landing aboard carrier at sea.

Nov. 4, 2014: It was announced today that a joint investigation by the U.S. Dept. of Defense and Pratt & Whitney to find the cause of the engine fire that destroyed the F-35A aircraft on June 23, 2014 has concluded that, "a hard rub between the rotor 3 and the polyimide stationary seal on stator 2 led to excessive heating and fracturing of the rotor in the fan section of the engine."

Nov. 12, 2014: The U.S. Naval Air Forces Public Affairs Office reported that the two F-35C aircraft undergoing at-sea trials aboard the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier have completed a total of 57 successful landings without a single failure to catch an arresting cable.

The U.K. has committed to the purchase of four F-35B aircraft of a potential 14 aircraft purchase, less engines, but including Lockheed "support costs", for about US$3.94 billion. The U.K. hopes to eventually have 48 F-35B aircraft ready for combat by the mid 2020's.

Nov. 24, 2014: Israel rejects buying an additional 31 Lockheed F-35 aircraft and cuts the second batch of F-35's to 13. A senior Israeli official said, "For maintaining stealthiness, this aircraft has compromised maneuverability, shorter operational range and significantly less payload capability. We shouldn’t be buying so many of them when it is unclear whether the stealth is effective, or there is a countermeasure that would negate it. There are vast gaps in performance between the F-35 and fourth-generation fighters."

Nov. 27, 2014: Dummy British ASRAAM air to air missiles, duplicating the weight and shape of the actual missiles, are fitted to the outboard pylons of the F-35B to test the aircraft's abilities to carry the weapons. It is anticipated that actual weapons will be tested and fired in early 2015. The ASRAAM is a short range missile using infra-red homing.

Dec. 4, 2014: The U.S. Pentagon announced that it is possible that the air-to-air missiles arming the F-35, such as the AIM 120, are susceptible to jamming by aircraft that they may face in combat. Also, Russia has developed missiles with a longer range that are far less susceptible to jamming, according to U.S.A.F. officials. The officials believe that it is possible that "some" missiles would avoid jamming, but that the F-35 just doesn't carry enough missiles to be effective, especially while flying in stealth with only internally carried missiles. At present the F-35 only carries four air to air missiles internally, and it is hoped that it can be increased to a total of six missiles. Air Force intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula, retired, said it’s “critical” that the F-35 moves “air-to-air weapons into a future where they can effectively deal with adversary electronic attack."

Dec. 5, 2014: USAF reveals that the F-35 can "shut down" when fuel gets too hot. Fuel trucks for F-35 aircraft are being painted white as a temporary solution

Dec. 11, 2014 A Canadian government report states that the F-35 "has no clear edge" over any other currently produced aircraft being considered for future purchase by Canada. However, were Canada in the exceptionally unlikely position of having to go to war with another country, if the F-35 were to perform as advertised by Lockheed, it could have an advantage.

Dec. 23, 2014 A USAF F-35 program official says that F-35 air-to-ground sensors are over ten years old and obsolete. The F-35 also can not carry the infra red marker used by today's aircraft to illuminate targets. The compromise was made to fit into the stealth aircraft design. Currently flying aircraft can carry pods that have higher definition images which can be seen at greater distances than those of the F-35. The F-35 does not have he ability to send the images in real time to ground troops, as do currently operating aircraft. Eventually more funds will have to be appropriated to bring the F-35 up to date.

Jan. 6, 2015 In response to recent news stories regarding the F-35 gun not being operational until 2019, Lockheed spokesman Mike Rein said, "The requirement for the gun was established in 2005. It’s always been in the block 3F weapons to be delivered in 2017, not 2019." Further, the services know "that when they declare IOC [initial operating capability] they aren’t going to have all their weapons on their airplane at that time. Some of the additional capabilities for consideration include items such as Higher Definition Video, longer range target detection and identification, Video Data Link, and Infrared (IR) Marker and Pointer. All of the services and international partners are aware of the block upgrade plan and have endorsed its timeline."

June 18, 2015: The Air Logistics Complex, Ogden, Utah, announced the completion of 24,000 hours in modifications to two F-35B aircraft so they could be made ready for USMC IOC.


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