back to article ALIS in Blunderland: Lockheed says F-35 Block 3F software to be done by year's end

F-35 software development will be finished by the end of this year, Lockheed Martin has said – which contradicts the view of various American government audit agencies. "We are well positioned to complete air vehicle full 3F and mission systems software development by the end of 2017," said exec veep Jeff Babione, in a …

  1. Steve K Silver badge

    ALIS, ALIS, who the F*ck is ALIS?

    Mark my words, it'll take Lockheed 24 years even if they were living next door to ALIS....

    1. Mine's a Large One
      Thumb Up

      Re: ALIS, ALIS, who the F*ck is ALIS?

      ALIS?

      Who the f*ck is ALIS?

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: ALIS, ALIS, who the F*ck is ALIS?

        Who the f*ck is ALIS?

        The owner of ALIS's Restaurant.

    2. Gavin Jamie
      Thumb Up

      Re: ALIS, ALIS, who the F*ck is ALIS?

      Its an Automatic Lock In Situation

  2. sal II

    The gift that keeps on giving

    " Block 4 is said to be already in development, in spite of the delays to Block 3F. New software "drops" will be rolled out about every two years, with Block 4 scheduled for the beginning of the 2020s."

    Aaah the gift that keeps on giving, a subscription model with never ending software updates with no need to spend cash on engineers, while still milking the F35 project for decades to come.

    1. Horridbloke

      Re: The gift that keeps on giving

      Wait until the season pass is on sale.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: The gift that keeps on giving

        I was beginning to wonder if due to the budget overrun they were going to be using bundles of the install DVDs from the older versions as munition to drop on targets...

      2. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: "subscription model"

        and if it can't get a connection to the Lockheed servers to renew the subscription, it falls out of the sky*

        * oh, it's an F35 - probably does that anyway.

    2. Daniel von Asmuth Bronze badge

      Re: The gift that keeps on giving

      Block 4? Does that contain the code needed for landing the aircraft?

  3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    "We are well positioned to complete air vehicle full 3F and mission systems software development by the end of 2017"

    That doesn't mean a lot really. And it definitely doesn't mean "yes, the software will be ready by the end of this year".

    Anyone up for starting a pool on which excuse they'll use?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      "Grounded because you washed it and it needs to dry? You engineers didn't think that it had to fly in the rain?"

  4. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    Thinking about the aircraft that are currently in (or used to be until recently) in the RAF fleet...if/when the F35 does arrive, what does it bring to the party that we couldn't have achieved by maintaining Harrier, Tornado, et al (maybe even the EE Lightning) and spending an equivalent amount of money on updates to avionics and weaponry.

    I know that at some point you need to renew aircraft (otherwise they'd still be buzzing around in Sopwith Camels) but given that F35 is such a basket case the question "why bother?" does come to one's mind.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Simple answer. US marketing wonks talked to the MoD MBAs who thought it would be jolly good to spend more UK taxpayers money so they could have triples all round.

      I very much doubt that any engineers, maintenance staff or pilots were involved in the decision

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        "Simple answer. US marketing wonks talked to the MoD MBAs who thought it would be jolly good to spend more UK taxpayers money so they could have triples all round."

        I sincerely hope they did better than triples all round or indeed, even a villa on the coast.

        Given the scale of damage the F35 will do to HMG's bank account this is worth a hollowed out volcanic island, Blofeld must be spinning in his grave with jealousy.

        1. TDog

          No

          He's just retiring from Test Match Special.

    2. JamesPond

      @Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese

      "given that F35 is such a basket case the question "why bother?" does come to one's mind."

      Exactly, why not build the carriers with cats'n'traps and go with proven F/18's ? And if the RAF really needs stealth jets, why purchase F35C's that are slower and have less payload than the A's.

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Go

        Answers for why the F-35...

        OK I'll bite.

        The F35 is currently the main new aircraft coming out of the US. Although thats a bit of a misnomer as huge amounts of the work (mainly production, but some design) are taking place all across the world in all of the countries which are purchasing it. That's part of the reason for the high costs. You need to give land A x amount of work, and whether what they produce is good or not, you have to take it. It often means you take it, throw it out and build it somewhere more reliable, which means you've just doubled the cost of that part, but the purchasing land A are happy.

        You cant just buy new F/A-18's because there not in production anymore. Lockheed are building the F35, they're not going to undercut their new aircraft. So all you can get are second hand ones which mean reduced life compared to the new aircraft. In addition the F-35 will be a better aircraft than the older ones, if for no other reason then the advancements in Aerospace Engineering taking effect. Better materials, electronics, etc. all have a huge effect. Rebuilding the Harriers would not be the equivalent of the new F-35's because of these developments. Also trying to simply upgrade old designs with new parts/materials etc. is a huge cost. you may as well just design a new aircraft, the cost will be almost identical.

        So why not, just start designing new UK built jets. Cost. It's that simple. Developing a new fighter Jet is a huge cost. With the F-35, the costs are split. It might not be as good as developing it yourself, but the cost is a LOT less (where talking billions of Dollars difference!). Look at the costs of the F-22. It is the best fighter out there by a mile, but the cost makes the F-35 look like you're buying a toy plane in comparison. Thats why despite it being the best, the majority of the US fleets will still be made up of the much cheaper and less capable F-35.

        The F-35 wont be a bad aircraft, it will be at about the same level as the russian equivalent jets, about the same as the Eurofighter, a bit more capable then the (much cheaper) gryphon and should be ahead of the Indian and chinese native jets for at least a generation or two. But the cost might make it look like worse value for Money then a lot of the other options out there. But since when has value for money been important to the Military?

        1. tedleaf

          Re: Answers for why the F-35...

          And precisely why is it now so pricey to design,develop and build modern aircraft.

          Will the f35 ever deliver even 50% of its supposed abilities ?

          Will it ever be allowed into real "hot" combat zones where other could accessed failed examples ?

          For the same price you could redesign and build updated aircraft of several types San have better capabilities,we don't need 12 planes that can do everything badly,we need lots of cheap planes that can do one thing properly.

          A new version EE LIGHTNING,with,older type engines that are cheap to build,that w3 can build by the hundred is fa4 better idea.

          F35 is so good that the tanks are keeping their A 10 warthogs,what are we going to use to break up massive tank columns rooming west,don't care how good a plane is,it cannot be in two places at once,so while the f35 s are being chopped out of the air by massive numbers of just good enough Russian planes,what is doing the tank busting ?

          Harold bloody Wilson sold us out to the tanks in the 1960's,others have just continued his traitorous behaviour to line tgeirbown pockets..

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. ZanzibarRastapopulous

      What does it bring to the party...

      > that we couldn't have achieved by maintaining

      > Harrier,

      Supersonic speed, increased situational awareness, manoeuvrability, payload.

      > Tornado

      Not being shit.

      Admittedly there's a fair way to go on that last one, but given how shit Tornado was, they're probably there even if they couldn't get it off the ground.

      Perhaps the real question is; What does it offer over F18s?

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Trollface

    "Block 4 is said to be already in development"

    Don't you just love it when the next version of a software is "already in development" while the current version is still not finished ? How's that for agile development ?

    Okay, I have no idea how these kind of projects are managed, and I am quite sure that a lot of competent people are working on this, but it still doesn't feel right when I read those words.

    In the normal world, you finish a project and get a report on performance and stability before you draw up a new version to that project - because you simply cannot say you're improving things when you don't know what to improve.

    But hey, I'm 15 years from retirement so what do I know ?

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: "Block 4 is said to be already in development"

      I have no idea how these kind of projects are managed

      I think that you're making a rather bold assumption in thinking that they're managed at all

    2. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: "Block 4 is said to be already in development"

      Typically the Apache gets a software update every 18-24 months*, so it's more of a rolling update programme that adds capability. I suspect different sub-systems are improved in different updates, e.g. defensive aid suite one update, targeting system the next, rather than everything each time. Kind of like windows update, but for a known hardware setup.

      Incidentally the Apache is a good example of why a bespoke UK solution isn't a great idea, due to the extra programming and testing required due to the Westland versions different engines it cost the MoD ~£1.8M every few years. It costs the Dutch about £1.80 for the blank CDs.

      *it's one of the two as they've had a while to get good at it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Block 4 is said to be already in development"

        "It costs the Dutch about £1.80 for the blank CDs."

        Yes, but the approved supplier's MOQ is one million pieces.

    3. DougS Silver badge

      Re: "Block 4 is said to be already in development"

      The same is true for all large/complex software. You don't think developers only start working on new features to add to Linux when Linus opens up the new version to merges? Or that Microsoft's developers didn't start development work on the Creator's Update until last year's update was released?

    4. Field Commander A9

      Re: "Block 4 is said to be already in development"

      Does the pilot gets to choose whether his/her plane should be on the Fast Ring or the Slow Ring, or even stays with an LTS version?

    5. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: "Block 4 is said to be already in development"

      Of course the next version is already being developed.

      Adding Feature P is not reliant on Feature H already being present.

      It is very common for large software projects to be simultaneously working on (parts of) the next two or three "important" releases.

      Even when it's just one person, there is continual planning for the next version - "I can't fix that now, note it for later" - and partial implementations (eg the most useful 20% of the feature) to be expanded on in a later version.

      I think the only exception is games, where there's no intention that there will ever be a next version.

      Ignoring the future is stupid.

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    "F-35 software development will be finished by the end of this year, "

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    Final task description, maybe.

    Now this.

    "Meanwhile, the Pentagon's director of operational test and evaluation told a US Congress committee earlier this year that the aircraft won't be ready before 2019, mentioning 158 "Category 1" software flaws that could cause death, severe injury or illness unless fixed."

    158 Cat 1. IE It fails people and planes start falling out the sky (assuming none of them are in the software controlling takeoff of course).

    It's true what they say C/C++ lets you make errors faster (even with a 158 page style guide).

    1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

      Re: "F-35 software development will be finished by the end of this year, "

      It'll get done - meet our new Chinese outsourcing partner...

    2. Nolveys Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: "F-35 software development will be finished by the end of this year, "

      158 "Category 1" software flaws that could cause death, severe injury or illness unless fixed.

      That's overstating the severity of the problems, at least 75% of them can be solved by simply turning the F35 off and on again.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "at least 75% of them can be solved by simply turning the F35 off and on again."

        Unfortunately quite a lot of those will need you to do that while flying.

        This may be quite tricky.

  7. Chris G Silver badge

    F35. Multi-role, multi-task, agile warplane

    Air superiority, Ground strike, Air combat, Stand off and exceptional loiter, unique pilot environment (gasp!)

    Proven reliability and easy to maintain (if you are in Turkey).

    Note: Don't forget to enable automatic updates.

  8. Danny van der Weide

    About big .gov IT projects

    "After all, since when did any Big Government IT Project run on time and within budget?"

    You might as well remove the word "Government" from this sentence. And maybe the word "Big" also!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    that could cause death, severe injury or illness

    Isn't that a plus for a warplane?

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      that could cause death, severe injury or illness. Isn't that a plus for a warplane?

      Not when it's the pilots it isn't.

  10. Alistair Silver badge
    Mushroom

    F35

    Military boondoggles have been around for ages, it just seems that they're getting bolder and bolder.

    (commence turn for final approach to landing)

    Greetings, I see you're trying to land, there's an update for the landing code, I'll apply that now. Please wait while your aircraft rebo...*see icon*

  11. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    And if they are really needed they'll won't get off the ground again after the first sortie. Because the opposition has hacked ALIS*, diverting just a few small, but essential, spare parts.

    * Which probably could be replaced with 4 dozen or so of seasoned NCOs, working with microfiches and telephones, and they'd do a better and more efficient job.

  12. PeterM42
    Trollface

    And absolutely nothing can...

    go wrong

    go wrong

    go wrong

    go wrong

    go wrong

    go wrong

    go wrong

    go wrong

    go wrong

    go wrong

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ...and about our spiffy new UK aircraft carrier...

    ...which won't have any aircraft till the F-35 is ready. Which will be when?

    And about project management:

    - get rid of Harriers

    - build aircraft carrier

    - wait for new aircraft

    - wait for new aircraft

    - .......

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    " C/C++ lets you make errors faster (even with a 158 page style guide).

    Ooops.

    The coding standard is in fact only 140 pages long

    It also turns out that quite a lot of the Flight Control System, ECM and EW and weapons system stuff is being written by Blighty's very own BAe.

    I'm sure British readers hearts will be swelling with national pride at that thought.

    I'll leave the C/C++ devs in the house to decide if they'd be comfortable with these sorts of rules, although I would expect that modern IDE's can be configured to enforce most of the simpler ones directly.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019