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PAS11: The F-35 software situation

PARIS -- Lockheed Martin vice president Tom Burbage, the company's honcho for the F-35 Lightning II, assured reporters on Tuesday that all the different flavors of test planes fly fine with the current software they have. Lockheed's ongoing software delays have to do with what the planes will be able to do in the future, not whether they can fly now, he said.

"The concerns are, there is a lot of software still to go – still code to build, still weapons to certify," Burbage said. But today, "we turn the system on, we go fly, we come back, we turn the system off – it does not become unstable at all. We have not aborted a flight for problems with missions systems. But there is a lot of work left to do. When people express their concerns, it's not about today, it’s about getting through the rest of the job."

Company officials say there are about 6 million lines of code running on the computers aboard the F-35 today; the final goal, in order for the plane to be able to fully walk and chew gum at the same time, is about 10 million lines in its third block of software. Deputy F-35 program director Maj. Gen. C.D. Moore said Tuesday that engineers had been testing the block three software at the Air Force's Northern Edge exercise in Alaska, and that when it ran aboard "surrogate aircraft," "the results were very, very promising," Moore said.

"So there's work to go, but, again, very promising results on this important facet of the program."

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