Air Force Cautiously Confident on New Fighter
By Sandra I. Erwin and Stew Magnuson
Only months before the Air Force is scheduled to fly the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the service’s top officer gave a less-than-glowing assessment of the program. Of most concern are the aircraft’s intricate software systems, says Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Air Force chief of staff. “The primary challenge is software integration. Not the hardware side,” he told reporters. But he said he remains confident that the contractor, Lockheed Martin, will make it work. “We are asking a lot,” Moseley said. According to Eric Branyan, avionics engineer at Lockheed, the F-35 is the most software-intensive combat airplane ever built, with 5.3 million lines of code. He said the company is on track to finish software development by 2011.