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Flying blind: F-35's radar software fails in the air

Lockheed-Martin promises patched code will soar this month

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has run into yet another software bug, according to a report in IHS Jane's Defense Weekly.

The glitch is in the software that operates the fighter's radar. During flight, Jane's reckons, the radar software becomes unstable.

The report quotes US Air Force Major General Jeffrey Harrigian as saying “What would happen is [pilots would] get a signal that says either a radar degrade or a radar fail – something that would force us to restart the radar”.

He said the problem was discovered in 2015, and that Lockheed-Martin is now running a fix through its test labs, with a patch due this month.

The USAF believes the glitch won't get in the way of it reaching “initial operational capability” for the F-35 between August and December this year.

The F-35's software has been raised again in Australia courtesy of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Background Briefing program over the weekend.

Dr Keith Joiner, former Australian Defence Force director-general for test and evaluation, told Background Briefing the F-35 hasn't yet completed its cybersecurity testing.

“The only system that has done cybersecurity vulnerability and penetration testing is the logistics software, so ordering spares. And it didn't go very well”, Dr Joiner claims.

“The most software driven aircraft ever built hasn't yet been tested against cyber security and the modern cyber warfare threats”.

The problems with the F-35's logistics system emerged in February 2016.

A key Lockheed Martin database is non-compliant with US Cyber Command requirements, meaning Department of Defense personnel can't check engine and airframe maintenance data from government networks. The bug could delay the F-35's combat testing by a year. ®

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