back to article F-35 firmware patches to be rolled out 'like iPhone updates'

Initial software development for the F-35 fighter jet is coming to an end, while future tweaks to the aircraft’s onboard systems will be rolled out like smartphone app updates, according to reports. “Envision a little window that pops up that says, ‘Your latest [electro-optical distributed aperture system] software update is …

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Unhappy

"it seems to imply that they didn't anticipate needing more than 26 interim versions between

each major release."

Yeay...

And yet strangely I find myself un reassured by the fact they expect only 26 minor bug release versions before major roll outs.

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"download: yes or no’?"

Not over the Internet, no. No way. Not in a million years.

I do hope this download functionality means from a secure site to a local, secure server, then control and validation of the package and then distribution to the planes via sneakernet.

The last thing you want for multi-million dollar jets is to let them open to man-in-the-middle attacks and all the other joys of Internet insecurity. The only way to be sure that these very expensive tools are not vulnerable is to not have them link up.

Period.

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FAIL

Re: "download: yes or no’?"

Don't be daft, they will be updated from a "secure" Windows* laptop that's been surfing a Russian porn site.

*any version

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Black Helicopters

Re: "download: yes or no’?"

USB!

If it's deemed good enough for the Wildcat in-lieu of a TDL...

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/02/17/lynx_wildcat_has_no_tactical_data_link_royal_navy

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WTF?

Re: "download: yes or no’?" @Pascal

Secure site, secure server??

Don't think I've ever met one of those .....

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Re: "download: yes or no’?"

"Not over the Internet, no. No way. Not in a million years."

There is an awful lot of military traffic that goes over the Internet. I suspect that it's probably "most" military traffic. And the Internet isn't a million years old yet. Then there's all the military traffic that is broadcast over a huge geographical footprint.

Can you work out why no one cares about this?

"The only way to be sure that these very expensive tools are not vulnerable is to not have them link up."

Bullshit.

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Re: "download: yes or no’?" @Pascal

Secure site, secure server?? Don't think I've ever met one of those .....

I think that at this point we are exploring the ignorance of the commentators rather than the lack of capability of the military.

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Childcatcher

“Even with the final version of 3F, the Air Force will not be able to use the newest aircraft in combat,”

That's okay, it still performs its primary function quite well, burning through boatloads of tax money.

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Which does seem odd as the USMC have been flying theirs over South Korea recently, which is hardly the place you want to be taking a non-combat capable aircraft. Unless they're saying it's not reached FOC (Full Operational Capability) yet, which isn't quite the same as being non-combat capable.

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@SkippyBing - Part of the testing process will involve flying the plane around various parts of the world to see what sorts of problems will crop up. They won't be looking for just problems with the plane itself, but also problems with the training, base facilities, communications systems, spare parts supply and inventory system, ground equipment, etc., etc.

The plane software is also localised, in terms of having to download new software components to support features in specific parts of the world. The details of this are not public, but apparently if you buy the plane for use in one part of the world you have to get a software update from the US to use it in another part of the world. The issue is apparently related to limited data storage which prevents them from downloading a global data set to all the planes.

The end result is that they can't know if the plane, including all its support infrastructure, is going to work in Korea until they actually test it in Korea. The presence of the F-35s there is only making the news because of all the other things happening are causing the press to report whatever other military news they can find.

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The planes flying over Korea are already forward based in Japan and have reached Initial Operating Capability, they were taking part in a show of force with F-15s and B-1s. It was literally doing operational tasking.

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/www.popularmechanics.com/military/aviation/news/amp28034/b-1-f-35-north-korea/

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The end result is that they can't know if the plane, including all its support infrastructure, is going to work in Korea until they actually test it in Korea.

"Are we ready for Operation Overlord?"

"We have a slight snag, Prime Minister. We don't know if our planes are going to be able to operate in France. We have to take them over there to do some testing first. Can the Foreign Office arrange that with the Germans?"

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Unhappy

Limited data storage?

No SD card slot, then?

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Mushroom

@SkippyBing

...which is hardly the place you want to be taking a non-combat capable aircraft

It's ok - Everyone is hoping that the North Koreans have non-combat capable Nukes

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Stop

Dear God, no ...

It's bad enough when your sat nav* crashes/freezes/reboots. But the whole vehicle (OK airplane here, makes it worse)

*Or sat-nav app. I've had both fail at 70 on a motorway.

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Re: Dear God, no ...

"It's bad enough when your sat nav* crashes/freezes/reboots. But the whole vehicle (OK airplane here, makes it worse)"

Oh don't worry, the headless chicken rush into needless complexity shoehorned in to road vehicles simply to have marketing tickbox features that only appeal to people to young to actually hold a driving license continues unabated. Very soon you'll be able to look forward to OTA updates of your cars core software just as you're entering a tunnel.

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Happy

Re: Dear God, no ...

"*Or sat-nav app. I've had both fail at 70 on a motorway."

Oh no! What happened then?

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Anonymous Coward

Will the updates be deployed from the cloud?

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No... over the air... in the air.

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Same old.

It looks to me like ye olde Pentagon tap dance has started again.

Project officers are always keen to assure their superiors that all is going smoothly and that things will be delivered on time. After all there are promotions to be considered.

This way if anyone comes along and says "This aspect of the software isn't working." the contractor or project officer can turn around and say "Don't worry about that it's all fixed in the next version that will be rolled out real soon."

That way timelines are made just a bit more elastic and help give those in authority the impression that things are in hand and there is nothing to worry about.

I recommend Col. James G Burton's book The Pentagon Wars as an insight into how things are arranged and managed in the procurement of weapons at the Pentagon.

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Re: Same old.m

I was thinking about that movie. 20 years to get the bradely into service. Over 7 major revisions ,Isreal would not take it as configured for the Americans( Death trap). Oh and the comments in the notes were funny.

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Re: Same old.

"I recommend Col. James G Burton's book The Pentagon Wars as an insight into how things are arranged and managed in the procurement of weapons at the Pentagon."

I'm sure something was lost/goofed in adaptation to another format, but the movie is also quite entertaining.

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Re: Same old.

"I recommend Col. James G Burton's book The Pentagon Wars as an insight into how things are arranged and managed in the procurement of weapons at the Pentagon."
I usually recommend Fred Reed's Au Phuc Dup and Nowhere to Go: The Only Really True Book About Viet Nam as a primer on US military management.

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Give them some credit

They've figured out a way to have each plane crash twice.

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Error 0x00000245

Water exposure detected. Your warranty is now void. Please contact an authorised service centre for repair.

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Re: Error 0x00000245

Better yet, Microsoft specialty: "Process failed, unknown error."

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Re: Error 0x00000245

Better than 0x0000009A SYSTEM_LICENSE_VIOLATION - the system will now self-destruct.

Still probably better than 'Something happened.'

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Re: Error 0x00000245

ENOTTY - Not a typewriter.

Except it wouldn't be an error i this case but an accurate statement of fact.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Error 0x00000245

That's a General Failure.

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Re: Error 0x00000245

Nah, just a grey screen with a "sad face" smiley.

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This is going to be great.......

......when someone else gets control of the update server.

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SOW

Did all the buyers forget to get a Statement Of Works before the order was placed ?

There is a lot of leeway if they carry on 'making it up as they go'. Cost plus obviously.

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Going from 3i to 3F, seems like the software updates are going backwards. Must be a military intelligence thing.

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Alert

Error 0x0000020C

Fingers crossed an F-35 does not get many of these errors when downloading updates

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The current version, Block 3i, is due to be superseded by Block 3F once development on the latest version is completed

The whole F-35 project looks more 4-F to me....

(For those who are unfamiliar with that designation, see http://directionsindentistry.net/4f-unfit-for-service-because-of-teeth/ ).

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Giving them Ideas

I remember myself and others making jokes in these columns about Patch Tuesday regarding the F-35,

I'm quite dismayed that it has more or less become reality and that anyone should think that is a valid way to sell the most expensive non-functioning warplane ever.

All I can imagine is the team of pond dwelling lawyers that wrote the contract for Lockheed Martin are the best pond life out there.

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Update Process

The only way updates should be applied to this sort of stuff is by user intervention. Someone needs to have physical access to the aircraft and flip a switch, insert a key or other positive action that allows the upgrade to occur, in conjunction with detecting that the aircraft is on the ground and otherwise powered down. IT should only accept a signed image, and also inhibit all functions related to movement until the upgrade interlock is removed.

The same is true for cars, too (especially the 'on the ground' bit).

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Re: Update Process

@Number6

"Weight on wheels" is a reasonably good signal to use for this and is already available to ensure the radar stops transmitting/frying ground personnel.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Update Process

Re: Weight-on-Wheels switch" - just make sure the switch CANNOT be left in the 'on' position once the aircraft is in the air!

AC because I know who did it... :-)

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When an update fails the pilot can just call 1-800-OH-SH1T. "Thank you for calling. Your call is very important but we are experiencing a higher than normal volume of calls. Please visit our web site or stay on the line to talk to a support representative. You are number 137 in the queue."

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Hope they don't

get into a boot-loop after an upgrade.

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FAIL

What a fine advertisement for writing large real time combat systems in C/C++

Because, y'know, Ada was so tough to find developers in, according to LM and BAe systems.

"“Even with the final version of 3F, the Air Force will not be able to use the newest aircraft in combat,” "

So not the actual last-positively-the-last-cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-be-spanked-very-hard-on-the-bottom-if-I-go-back-on-this-promise version then.

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Anonymous Coward

About our spiffy new aircraft carrier....

Quote: "“Even with the final version of 3F, the Air Force will not be able to use the newest aircraft in combat,” reports Aviation Week. This applies equally to the F-35Bs bought by the UK as it does to USAF F-35As. The plan is for a future version, Block 4, to be the first combat-capable version."

*

Right now, the Royal Navy has a spiffy, expensive, brand new aircraft carrier....with no aircraft!!

*

This news item seems to suggest that next year, when the F-35 aircraft are delivered, we will still have an non-operational aircraft carrier....because the Royal Navy " will not be able to use the newest aircraft in combat".

*

Once again "keeping us safe" seems like an expensive lie. What am I missing?

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Re: About our spiffy new aircraft carrier....

"What am I missing?"

A few bob out of your pocket, taken in taxes to pay for all this.

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Re: About our spiffy new aircraft carrier....

"Once again "keeping us safe" seems like an expensive lie. What am I missing?"
That it's one less weapon the government can deploy against its own citizens.

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Philosophilcally

Could a combat aircraft said to be or not to be - if it's not combat ready ?

Cesi n'est pas une F35

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Excellent Top Gun Sequel Material.

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/may/24/top-gun-2-is-definitely-happening-says-tom-cruise

Mr Cruise is getting his butt fucked by multiple opposition aircraft.

Clippy: "You appear to be getting your butt fucked. May I suggest the latest unstable release?"

Cruise: "Fuck Yeah!"

OK... maybe not such a good idea.

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Re: Excellent Top Gun Sequel Material.

Cruise: I feel the need.... the need for Service Pack1

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So these would be ITA updates? That will be fun at 20,000ft...

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Anonymous Coward

...software support cheerily provided by (outsourced) Asian locale. Please be aware of the different time zones.

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