Flaws in subsequent increments in software packages for the F-35 fighter jets known as continuous capability development and delivery have resulted in convening of a panel looking into the DOD’s fiscal year 2022 budget request for fixed-wing tactical and training aircraft programs.
On Tuesday, Raymond O'Toole Jr., acting director of operational test and evaluation, testified Tuesday before a House Armed Services Committee panel about the DOD's fiscal year 2022 budget request for fixed-wing tactical and training aircraft programs.
The F-35 Lightning II's Block 4 program is now underway, O'Toole said. He also said the existing development process — known as continuous capability development and delivery — is supposed to deliver a new, tested and verified increment of software every six months.
“However, each increment has been flawed, more flawed than expected," O'Toole said. "Further, software changes intended to add new capabilities or fix deficiencies have instead introduced stability problems that adversely affected certain existing F-35 functionality."
The official told the panel he is "cautiously hopeful" that the program office's decision to move to a 12-month software cycle will mitigate some of those issues; however, there remains concern that the ability to conduct adequate testing and evaluation is now at a crossroads.
"Simply put, we cannot determine the system's combat credibility nor thoroughly prepare our warfighters if our test and training capabilities are not kept up to date," O'Toole said.