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Delays in developmental flight testing of the F-35's critical software may hinder delivery of the warfighting capabilities the military services expect. F-35 developmental flight testing comprises two key areas: mission systems and flight sciences. Mission systems testing verifies that the software-intensive systems that provide critical warfighting capabilities function properly and meet requirements, while flight sciences testing verifies the aircraft's basic flying capabilities. Challenges in development and testing of mission systems software continued through 2013, due largely to delays in software delivery, limited capability in the software when delivered, and the need to fix problems and retest multiple software versions.
The National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2010 mandated that the GAO review the F-35 acquisition program annually for six years. In this, GAO's fifth annual report on the F-35, GAO assesses the program's (1) ongoing development and testing, (2) long-term affordability, and (3) manufacturing progress.
GAO recommends that DOD assess and identify the specific capabilities that realistically can be delivered to the military services to support their respective initial operational capabilities, and share its findings with the Congress and military services prior to July 2015.
- ↑ Pub. L. No. 111-84, § 244 (2009).