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An F-35A Lightning II test aircraft AA-1 undergoes flight testing over Fort Worth, Texas. Courtesy photo by Liz Kaszynski.

The Pentagon’s top weapons tester gives the F-35 program credit for sustaining test flight operations “at nearly the planned pace” through November 2014, despite restrictions placed on the fleet in the aftermath of a June 2014 engine failure. However, the program was not able to accomplish its goal of completing Block 2B flight testing by the end of October 2014. Software development continues to lag behind other aspects of testing, Director of Operational Test and Evaluation Michael Gilmore states in his office’s annual report, and this affects testing events. “Completion of weapons delivery accuracy events lagged the plans for (calendar year 2014),” it states. The program must soon transition development and flight test resources to Block 3 in order to ensure completion of the system design and development phase as planned in 2018, and Block 2B will finish “with deficiencies remaining that will affect operational units” because fixes will be deferred to Blocks 3i and 3F, states the report. Among its recommendations, the report states the program office updates schedules to note that the start of “spin-up training” for IOT&E, which is slated to begin in May 2018, will occur no earlier than the planned operational test readiness review, scheduled for November 2017. (DOT&E full report; Caution, large-sized file.)