US cannot begin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter full-rate production

WASHINGTON — The full-rate production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is delayed to the end of 2023 as the Joint Simulation Environment [JSE] tests are extended, learned BulgarianMilitaryt.com, citing several sources.

US military's fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighter shot itself
Photo credit: Lockheed Martin

The main reason is caused by numerous delays due to technical problems and the COVID-19 pandemic. However, according to F-35 program executive officer Lt. Gen. Eric Fick, the Pentagon has already begun validating JSE components. According to the general, this validation should be completed in May, as half of the required 88 packages are completed. The tests to verify the system are scheduled to take place this fall, allowing the F-35 to finally conduct its 64 JSE tests in the summer of 2023.

Joint Simulation Environment is a virtual testbed that allows the F-35 to go up against the most high-end Russian and Chinese threats. Only after the Lockheed Martin-made F-35 conducts 64 test runs in the JSE will it be allowed to proceed from operational tests to a “Milestone C” decision, where the Pentagon’s top acquisition authority declares the jet ready for full-rate production.

Asked whether the program schedule is likely to go into full-rate production in fiscal 2023, Lieutenant General Fick said: “I don’t think it’s impossible. However, if there is a significant shift in the program schedule, we may not have much time to prepare a report and get ‘Milestone C’ approval during the year” he also said.

BulgarianMilitary.com reminds us that the full-rate production decision scheduled for December 2019 was postponed many times. Lieutenant General Fick stated that they are working “aggressively” for the approval, validation, and accreditation of the simulation components of the JSE tests.

In addition, Fick stated that there are scenarios with varying threat densities, different types of aircraft, and various ground threats in the simulation, but they rely on the combat capabilities of the F-35s if they have to fight in Europe before the JSE can be completed.

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