We know readers love F-35 news, and we’ve got two cracking updates for you. So: the plane’s software, supposedly central to its superiority over rival aircraft — after all, being a plane that can’t fly, can’t shoot and can’t dogfight, obviously there must be something it’s good at — has been, alas, somewhat troubled, like pretty much everything else about the Lockheed Loser. Two weeks ago, the US Government Accountability Office released a report on the F-35 warning of a looming disaster. It found “the Department of Defense (DOD) is aware of risks that could affect the F-35’s Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), but does not have a plan to ensure that ALIS is fully functional as key program milestones approach.” The GAO concluded that “ALIS may not be deployable … ALIS does not have redundant infrastructure: ALIS’s current design results in all F-35 data produced across the U.S. fleet to be routed to a Central Point of Entry and then to ALIS’s main operating unit with no backup system or redundancy. If either of these fail, it could take the entire F-35 fleet offline.”

The entire fleet … offline. Then again, since the F-35 has trouble taking off without its engines catching fire, perhaps that’s not such a major problem. But “by continuing to respond to issues on a case-by-case basis rather than in a holistic manner, there is no guarantee that DOD will address the highest risks by the start of full-rate production in 2019, and as a result, DOD may encounter further schedule and development delays, which could affect operations and potentially lead to cost increases,” said the GAO. Oh, and just in case you were wondering — “schedule slippage and functionality problems with ALIS could lead to $20-100 billion in additional costs.”

No wonder that, overnight, GOP Senator John McCain, who as a former navy pilot knows a thing or two about jet fighters, attacked the entire program as “both a scandal and a tragedy with respect to cost, schedule and performance”. How many of these suckers are we wasting money on again?

Peter Fray

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