In the ten years since the start of the F-35 fighter program there has been nothing but cost overruns and delays. From a project management standpoint it’s been a disaster.
Back in 2010 the GAO said “Managing an extensive, still-maturing global network of suppliers adds another layer of complexity to producing aircraft efficiently and on-time” and that “due to the extensive amount of testing still to be completed, the program could be required to make alterations to its production processes, changes to its supplier base, and costly retrofits to produced and fielded aircraft, if problems are discovered.”
That’s because they are still testing while aircraft are on the production line and in the field. Any changes have to be implemented across the whole spectrum.
By 2012, the total estimated lines of code for the entire program (onboard and offboard) had grown from the previous year’s estimate of 8 million lines to 24 million lines.
As a result, further problems have arisen:
A Day in the Life of An F-35 Test Pilot
The problem revolves around a recurring glitch in the F-35 software, where the jets’ systems shut down and need to be rebooted — sometimes even midair. This “choking” effect is caused in essence by a timing misalignment of the software of the plane’s sensors and the software of its main computers, officials have said.
“The best analogy is you are starting up your computer and you want to use Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, and you are trying to get your work done for the day, and PowerPoint and Outlook came up but you are having an issue with Excel,” said Brendan Rhatigan, director of engineering and test operations for the F-35 ITF. “So you say, I don’t know what’s going on, so let me X out of that, let me restart it again.” View the full story… defensenews.com
A 2015 Defense report states “the program’s attempts to save money now by reducing test points and deferring crucial combat capabilities will result in costly retrofits and fixes later down the line, creating a future unaffordable bow wave that, based on F-22 experience, will add at least an additional $67 billion in acquisition costs”.
I guess ‘on time’ and ‘on budget’ are just not part of the Department of Defence’s project management vernacular.