back to article US military finds F-35 software is a buggy mess

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) remains the problem child of the US military, with some operational tests abandoned in 2014, and buggy software proving a headache. The US military's Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E) has released its latest annual report, and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter chapter …

Maybe they could ask the Chinese for a copy of their code

They seem to have theirs working pretty well.

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Re: Maybe they could ask the Chinese for a copy of their code

ppl dont understand F35 is a heldback design for export. whtever be done with it the cross-section is fat enough to provide only a half hearted stealth.. U.S also want to keep economy running. A very deep thought news cam few weeks back that canada will buy F35 after 2 yrs. If u read between the lines .. it means a block-2 is in works. Also the crappy code certainly is not a fail. look how much drones have matured... Also the bugs identified certainly would also be improving F22's code... So first no matter how much stealth coating applied to F35 and no matter how much sourcecode is matured... it will not stand chance against FLIR (Fwd Looking InfraRed sensor) ... so the era from now on is just not manned.. hell even darpa is going for unmannad buggy shaped fast running tanks.

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Re: Maybe they could ask the Chinese for a copy of their code

"whatever be done with it the cross-section is fat enough to provide only a half hearted stealth.."

Not to mention that it can be outmaneouvered by A4 Skyhawks, let alone something more modern like F14, F15, F16s

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Re: Maybe they could ask the Chinese for a copy of their code

But it doesn't need to out dog-fight 1960s era fighters. Its role is to protect us in Canada from ISIS

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Skipping tests?

On a $110+ Million dollar piece of hardware? And one that can carry a 340 Kiloton nuke? Are they goddam suicidal? Hopefully they do a better job testing the software (when they get around to it) than they did for the F-22 Raptor where they lost Avionics by crossing the International Date Line and had to get to dry land using only their eyes and dead reckoning...

We can't even get by with skipping a single test on a $1 million dollar project at work, how in the hell are they allowing tests to be skipped on a $1 Trillion project?

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Re: Skipping tests?

>>>We can't even get by with skipping a single test on a $1 million dollar project at work, how in the hell are they allowing tests to be skipped on a $1 Trillion project?

It's the government. They prefer live testing over that computer mumbo jumbo.

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Unhappy

Re: Skipping tests?

How familiar is that then?

We're running late, what's next of the schedule?

Testing.

Oh, let's skip that we don't want to miss a project date.

What happens if this critical system doesn't work then?

Oh, that'll be a new project

So we'll have to fix it later then?

Well someone will, I'll have got promoted because I brought this project in on time and on budget, so fixing it will be someone else problem.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Skipping tests?

When you already know there are a shed load of gnarly cat 1 bugs in the system that are going to cause the test suite to abort in seconds, whats the point in even starting? Particularly with hardware involved where deliberately running the system into a known, 100% guaranteed bug is liable to physically destroy/damage stuff you need to verify the fix once you have one.

We had a test scheduled last week. The outcome was guaranteed to be: "PSU overheats and fuses in 9 minutes, potentially giving off toxic fumes". We skipped the test.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Skipping tests?

Once upon a time, my project schedule was being reviewed by my boss's boss's boss. He ask me why the schedule included a two week post-test rework and retest segment. I replied that test failures were likely and it made sense, in a realistic schedule, to allow time to deal with them.

He said that "We Can't Plan for Failure!" ™

So I replied that I would remove the rework and retest segment, as well as the testing phase itself. I explained that if we were going to assume a Pass, then there was no need to test in the first place. Right? [pretend-innocent blink-blink] [smile]

I got my two weeks back, but we had to bury it under a false description.

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Mushroom

Re: Skipping tests?

re: "how in the hell are they allowing tests to be skipped on a $1 Trillion project?"

By the time something goes horrifically wrong (see icon), those who OK'ed the test skipping will have retired, changed jobs, or otherwise moved on and away leaving the pail of fail to some hapless successor.

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Huh?

"... would create significant operational risk to fielded units” They've already fielded it? I know they were conducting carrier testing since I have some footage, but .... I'm glad I'm out of uniform and well away from this!

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Coat

Eject!

So, jettisoning of the tests will leads directly to jettisoning of the pilot, I take it?

Coat, door, on my way...

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Re: Eject!

Uh... not if the software controls the ejection seat too*. Right now, I'm betting that the air and ground crews will be calling this thing the "Widow Maker" as they have on certain other aircraft.

* I realize that ejection seats and ancillary equipment like the charge that blows the canopy should be mechanical in nature and failsafe.. but given the way this POS has worked to date, nothing would surprise me. In spite of this, I'm still betting on the new nickname especially since they've canceled so many of the tests.

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MJI
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Should be OK

Martin Baker ejection seat.

Pilots trust them

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RPF

Re: Should be OK

But unfortunately Armourers** take them apart and "service" them completely unnecessarily all the time.

The death of at least 1 Red Arrows pilot(on the ground) was the result......

**The fabled Amrourer's song:

"A....I'm an armourer,

B...I'm an armourer.", etc.

(they're not the sharpest tools in the box).

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Anonymous Coward

Maybe they've adopted Agile/SCRUM

either that, or they hired a new Project Manager from Google.

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Re: Maybe they've adopted Agile/SCRUM

That is an interesting idea - nuclear weapon delivery system in an endless beta...

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Joke

Re: Maybe they've adopted Agile/SCRUM

On the up side, they may just give up and start again with a submarine.

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Re: Maybe they've adopted Agile/SCRUM

I look forward to (running away and hiding on the moon) a drone/weapon system/aircraft system developed using Agile. what about all those Features and Stories still in the backlog, that add no Business Value, like exception handling, navigating around buildings, how to hover.

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JLV
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Remember when the F35 was supposed to be cheap and cheerful?

Wonder when that thing will fly and wonder if non-US forces will take the hint in time and bail on that disaster. Canada for one doesn't seem to be able to say no and our government has been caught lying about lifetime costs.

Besides the waste, one problem is that this is gonna plug up procurement for decades. 20+ year dev cycles are a lunacy nowadays. Who knows what the air threat will be like 25 years from now? But this thing will be in its "prime". It has the potential to be as if Britain had a whole massive fleet of obsolete biplanes going into WW2 and refused to take up Spits and Hurricanes because of sunk costs.

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It's the military-industrial complex

I think this just shows that it's only about filling the pockets of the military-industrial complex. There's not even a hint of trying to come up with something that just works.

On top of that, what's the actual use of an "advanced" fighter plane? As other people have noted, what you actually need in this day and age is something that is relatively cheap, sturdy and can deliver ordnance effectively. The A-10 Warthog is just such a plane, but the Top Gun loving Air Force really hates it.

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MJI
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Dumping Harrier == huge mistake

Possibly this governments biggest fail.

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Biplanes

JLV

' obsolete biplanes going into WW2'

I give you the Fairey Swordfish

http://www.militaryfactory.com/aircraft/detail.asp?aircraft_id=571

and the Gloster Gladiator

http://www.militaryfactory.com/aircraft/detail.asp?aircraft_id=624

Interestingly, both often carrier launched :-)

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Anonymous Coward

They probably are cheap and cheerful, but the number of snouts in the miltary industrial trough means a piece of perspex ends up as a "stealth pilot/environment ocular interface device".

Meanwhile in the UK we've got pointless £6billion aircraft carriers with no aircraft to carry. Should have bought a fleet of Rafales instead.

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JLV
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Happy

Re: Biplanes

Ah, but a Swordfish did nick the Bismarck :)

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Re: Biplanes

And don't forget Taranto.

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Re: It's the military-industrial complex

>what's the actual use of an "advanced" fighter plane?

It's very difficult to run for congress on your heroic war record as a drone programmer in the 6th Afghan war.

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Only military logic

Could conclude that the way to fix a program that's behind schedule due to lots of bugs is to skip some testing to save time.

Imagine if the same logic was used when building skyscrapers and bridges.

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Re: Only military logic

It wouldn't be the pilots who said "skip the tests"... it's probably some paperpusher who thinks the schedule is more important than anything else.

I would hope that they just cancel the damn thing, eat the cost, roll a few heads, and figure something else out, like maybe upgrade the F-15/F-18/F-117 and perhsps buy a few more. But then again, these are the same chuckleheads who believe that the F-16, etc. are better at close air support than an A-10.

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FAIL

Re: Only military logic

If it doesn't work, then you skip the test so that you don't have to report that it doesn't work.

Let everyone believe that it does work and get cracking on the 'new' Mk II project that hopefully will work.

This is how £10 million contracts end up as £60 million final cost projects which by the time it is ready to enter service as a Mk VI. Hey It's obsolete! and you realise that instead of trying to get the original design to actually work, you should have been designing a new project to catch up with how the world has moved on while you weren't looking.

THAT'S Military logic and nobody really gives a damn because the tax payer is footing the bill and as it's covered by National Security nobody will ever know.

Now, on to the new computer system, the 2016 spec has decided to adopt the tried and tested 486 SX core and work on improving the capacity of the floppy disk so as to be able to handle the access keys. ... Well, maybe we'll re-designate it as the Mk VIII project and introduce the laser disk system in time for the 2017 release...

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JLV
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Re: Only military logic

>these are the same chuckleheads who believe that the F-16, etc. are better at close air support than an A-10.

I agree, but to be fair, the A-10 is very good at what it does partially because of its 30mm cannon's depleted uranium shells.

Firing those shells might still be acceptable in a full-out war with armored targets, but they seem to cause enough environmental and collateral health damage that they don't fit well with current low-intensity warfare/counter insurgency deployments.

On the other hand, those counter insurgency wars also call for aircraft that can fly slowly, close by, and assess the situation before shooting up possible civilians. The A10 can't help but fly slowly and it is tough enough that it can survive doing so.

My guess is that the A10 is just not an aircraft the USAF has that much interest in flying. It's just not sexy!!! Enthusiastically delivering close air support for the grunts? Requires more inter-service altruism than I suspect the USAF is capable of, at the top of the military hierarchy (pretty sure the troops look out for each other more than the the Pentagon desk jockeys).

The main other dedicated ground-attack assets, the Apaches, are flown by the Army.

This might also be the reason why the Marines insist on their own pet VTOL F35 version - they just don't trust the Navy or the Air Force to deliver the goods on their behalf.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Imagine if the same logic was used when building skyscrapers and bridges.

I don't have to, I'm living it right now.

OK, technically it isn't a skyscraper or a bridge, but it is a public building. It's supposed to be a transit center (combination taxi, bus, passenger train, light train with limited commuter parking). At the moment it is 4 years behind schedule, 54% over budget (current cost $141 million) and it still isn't clear that the county is going to accept possession of the facility from the builder without it being torn down and rebuilt.

According to the article I can find at the moment The deficiencies in the facility include poor-quality concrete and lack of steel supports for roadways that are expected to support hundreds of buses arriving and leaving each day.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/cost-of-silver-spring-transit-center-repairs-jumps-another-21-million/2014/12/04/a87cf0bc-7bee-11e4-b821-503cc7efed9e_story.html

My recollection from a dead tree article I read about a year ago is that it is worse than described in this article. In some places the concrete was not only improperly reinforced, it was also too thin. So to make the concrete numbers work out correctly, they made it thicker in other areas. I'm not an ME, but I've been told by someone who works with similar issues that is the worst of all possible worlds.

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Re: Only military logic

"I agree, but to be fair, the A-10 is very good at what it does partially because of its 30mm cannon's depleted uranium shells."

As you mention, DU is nasty stuff, so tungsten is increasingly used.

The cannon can also fire anything else put up its spout, however the reality is that whilst it looks impressive going in against a bunch of insurgents it fires too fast and in too concentrated an area to be of much use.

Afghan fighters on the receiving end reported it completely missed the targets more often than not.

The AC-130 gunship is generally more effective, at much greater range and can carry a LOT more munitions for longer on-station times, with the ability to select different munitions for different targets. (Yes, someone really was nuts enough to turn a Hercules into a gunship, but it actually works) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_AC-130

It would be interesting to see if a A400M version ever shows up.

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JLV
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Re: Only military logic

Interesting about the cannon narrow-beaming. Wikipedia's entry stated that the gun originally had 2 selectable rates of fire - 2k/rpm or 4k/rpm but that was dropped to high rpm only. Wonder if that could help with the problem.

AC-130 is an evolution of an even older beast, the AC-47 Puff the Magic Dragon, IIRC.

In both cases, I wonder how well the planes would fare on a hi-intensity battlefield against well-armed opponents with SAMs and AA guns? The A10 could benefit from flying low, but wouldn't an AC-130 be one big sitting duck? Also, I would guess that an A10 could be scrambled somewhere faster than an AC-130.

Not to criticize your post, it raises very valid points.

And in a way, retiring the A10, which is due to budget pressure, is a positive sign: the US keeps way too many weapon systems alive due to congressional pork, manufacturer lobbying and the like. Unfortunately, there is one system crying out for a cull which is verrrry safe.

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Re: Only military logic

>battlefield against well-armed opponents with SAMs and AA guns?

Which is why it was generally used against unarmed villages to prevent them becoming bases for insurgents. Nothing like having your village wiped out by a gunship to convince you of who is the right side to join.

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RN "shitting themselves"

Good job we haven't sunk £6bn into a design of aircraft carrier than can ONLY carry the F35B. That would have been a disaster....

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Gold badge

Re: RN "shitting themselves"

Relax. We're a rich country and 6bn probably wouldn't even pay the consultancy fee for the next round of NHS reforms.

Oh, hang on...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: RN "shitting themselves"

I doubt very much that one of these Aircraft will ever land on either of the White Elephant class carriers.

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MJI
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Re: RN "shitting themselves"

Do we have enough mothballed Harriers to overhaul?

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Re: RN "shitting themselves"

Nope - I believe we sold the lot to the US Marines who nabbed them up instantly at a bargain price. Planes, spares, the lot.

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Re: RN "shitting themselves"

Nope. We sold them all to the US Marines who still recognise that harriers are an awesome asset.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: RN "shitting themselves"

They were sold to the US Marine Corps, who value effectiveness.

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Joke

Re: RN "shitting themselves"

And the one or two that were held back were grabbed up by Arnie for True Lies.

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This makes you realise:

Just how great the F-4 and the F-16 really were. I do not expect another design ever to be this good again. F/A 18 might come close.

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Re: This makes you realise:

F-4 was a bit crap actually. A poor design, initially, which they tried to remedy by add-ons and kludges. End up just good and cheap enough to be a successful product (in terms of sales volume).

F-16 is a piece of art though....

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Re: This makes you realise:

I wonder, do the downvoters mean they think that F-4 was good or that F-16 is bad?

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FAIL

Microsoft

Word has it that Microsoft wrote the code. If this is true, and it would not surprise me it it were correct, then what else do you expect?

However: If not, and, knowing the job ALWAYS goes to the lowest bidder, then one can be assured, that, as is ALWAYS the case, if you pay peanuts you get monkeys.

I would look closely at the features of the programmer's face (just make sure he is not of another country), that is, of Chinese decent, made up up to look as if he-she is of Japanese decent.

There again, if the Chinese can look about inside the CIA; MSA: the Pentagon; the White-House and play about, then uploading duff software to replace the original would be child's play to a good Chinese hacker. Well done China, You topped America again.

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Australia has ordered 72

Meanwhile, we keep buying more Super Hornets, just in case.

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Re: Australia has ordered 72

Also have the advantage(?) of having no aircraft carriers thus the need for short take-off is limited.

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Joke

Bloat?

#American code:

if

$wheels_up

$altitude > 100

$weather = sunny

$ipod_track = VanHalen

$coffee_mug_heater = on

$speed = ludicrous

then

$weapons_armed = true

----------------------------------------------

#Chinese code:

if

$airborne

then

$weapons_armed = true

---------------------------------------------

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