Turn it on…turn it off…turn it back on again… It’s nice when simply restarting your tech makes it recycle and behave itself. It’s not so nice when the procedure reboots a $1.5 trillion airplane.
The Air Force has reportedly sunk more money into this one program than any other military innovation, but there’s a pesky problem with the shiny new toy. More specifically, the problem is with the software that powers it, called Block 3iR6.21: it requires rebooting in order to actually take off. The software literally requires turning it off and turning it back on, which is fairly problematic considering the intended purpose of this pricey aircraft is to be ready to go at a moment’s notice. Hold off on the deployment, guys, we gotta reboot our plane.
In a recent “scramble test” of six of the aircraft–a simulation in which the planes are sitting ready to go, having already conducted preflight checks and are just awaiting the go-ahead–only one plane actually made it off the ground. The other five suffered from the software issue that has plagued this project from day one, and had to be powered down and restarted in order to continue.
It gets worse. According to a report on the current abysmal state of this project by Michael Gilmore, DOD Director of Operational Test and Evaluation,”During the first 30 flights with Block 3iR6.21, which accumulated 75.6 hours of flight time, no less than 27 power cycles were required to get all systems functioning between initial startup and takeoff. These power cycles varied in degree – from ‘cold iron’ resets, where the aircraft had to be shut down and then restarted, to component or battery power recycling.”
Now, the project is anticipated to be complete bu 2019, although senior military officials stand by the current state of the F-35, claiming that the recent results are still better than what they had to work with before.