You may have seen some articles over the last few weeks that claim that the F-35’s gun will not work until 2020 or that its optical targeting system is obsolete.
The following is a statement from Joe DellaVedova, the F-35 JPO spokesman, and should dispel the baseless rumours:
“Greetings: Hope your year is starting off well. If you have a moment, I’d like to help clear the air on some nameless/sourceless/baseless reporting you may have seen over the holidays that focused on two issues – the F-35 gun and EOTS. The information is below is a bit long, but it presents the facts and can be used on the record if you decide to write more informed articles.
Contrary to recent media misreporting, F-35 25mm gun system (also known as GAU-22) was established in 2005 as a Block 3F weapon for all F-35 variants and its capability will be delivered in 3F software in 2017 (on LRIP 9 aircraft).
The General Dynamics GAU-22 gun system completed its ground qualification testing in July 2008. Comprehensive flight test on the F-35A variant GAU-22 25mm gun system is scheduled to begin mid-year at Edwards AFB, Calif., and will include ground fire tests, muzzle calibration, flight test integration and in-flight operational tests. The 25mm missionized gun pod carried externally, centerline mounted on the F-35B and F-35C also begins testing this year to deliver the 3F full warfighting capability software in 2017.
In December 2014 during computer lab tests of 3F software we identified a minor low-level issue with aircraft software that impacted the interface with the gun. This discovery was part of normal software development and testing and a plan is in place to resolve this issue by Spring 2015. There is no anticipated impact to scheduled Gun testing or fielding.
The F-35 program remains in its developmental phase and as software and capabilities are tested and cleared through rigorous flight testing those capabilities are delivered to the warfighter.
In 2015, for its IOC, the U.S. Marine Corps will receive initial warfighting capability software (known as 2B) that will provide basic close air support and interdiction and initial air-to-air and enhanced data-link capability, for weapons including AMRAAM/JDAM/GBU-12, all internally carried. The U.S. Air Force will attain its IOC in 2016 with the 3i software and same weapons capability. At the end of the development program, we will deliver full warfighting capability software (known as 3F). The U.S. Navy will attain IOC in 2018 with 3F software. This will provide all warfighters with multi-ship destruction of enemy air defense capability, advance air-to-ground and air-to-air capability and have full complement of internal and external ordnance — including use of the GAU-22 25mm gun. Delivering the gun capability in 3F software is well-known to the military services, International Partners and our Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers.
That has always been the stated requirement and plan and it hasn’t varied since the technical baseline review in 2010.”