tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN October 23, 2015 2:00am-4:01am EDT
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histories. julian bond who passed away in august. on a interview growing up in the south and get our complete weekend schedule at c-span.org. the f-35 joint strike fighter program was the subject of the subcommittee hearing yesterday. the director, and integration office director, major general, outlined the program's risks. however, general boggdon assured the subcommittee that the program is on track.
>> we will receive testimony on the current status of the f-35 joint strike fighter program. i'd like to welcome our witnesses, lieutenant general christopher bagdanf-35 program executive officer. and major general jeffrey l.harigian, director of the air force f-35 integration office. thank you both for your service and we look forward to your testimony today. this hearing continues the committee's ongoing oversight of the f-35 program since the program officially began in 2001. we all know that the f-35 is a complex program that has experienced issues with cost, schedule, and performance throughout its development. the subcommittee has held numerous hearings and briefings to better understand the critical need for the fifth generation strike fighter capability and to understand the issues facing the program. most recently the subcommittee visited eggland air force base where we were able to meet with both pilots and maintenance
personnel for the joint strike fighter. it's through this ongoing committee oversight that we've identified issues related to the program and in turn have worked with the department to help development corrective actions to ensure the program remains on track. for example, in the fiscal year 2014 the subcommittee learned of software development problems and recommended legislation that would establish a team to review the f-35 software development program and make recommendations to fix these problems. for fiscal year 2015 the committee recommended legislation that would continue the gao's assessments and analysis of the development, testing and production of the f-35 program. during our visit, the subcommittee learned of issues with the f-35 maintenance system known as the logistics information system or alis. as a result the subcommittee included a provision in its mark of the national defense authorization act for fiscal
year 2016 that would require the gao to review the alis program and provide a report to the congressional defense committees by april 1, 2016. the committee also recommended a provision that would require a review of the f-35's engine program by a federally funded research and development center to ensure that future engines will not be subject to the failure that caused an f-35 engine fire on takeoff just last june. each of the subcommittee's legislative recommendations over the past three years have been adopted in the annual national defense authorization acts. in the past month the subcommittee learned the ejection seat does not meet the specifications for lighter weight pilots. the specification is that it needs to be able to accommodate a safe escape at pilot weights of 103 to 245 pounds. we understand that until this deficiency is corrected pilots weighing less than 136 pounds will not fly the f-35 due to a high risk of serious injury that could result from having to
eject. we look forward to our witnesses addressing this issue today and the plans to get this problem corrected. in closing, while strong oversight of the f-35 remains necessary, the value of the fifth generation stealth aircraft is absolutely assured, like the f-35 in future conflicts is absolutely critical to successfully address these emerging threats and maintain air dominance in any overseas contingency operation. i look forward to all of our witnesses today and expect to hear from them what follow-up actions the program is undertaking to address the issues identified as a result of our delegations visit. before we begin, i would also like to thank all of our colleagues, miss loretta sanchez but as ranking member when she returns if she would like at that point to offer her opening statement, we will get to her opening statement. with that, we will begin with you, general. >> thank you, sir. chairman turner and
distinguished members of the committee, thank you for this opportunity to address you regarding the f-35 lightning 2 program. i'm pleased to be joined the air force's f-35 integration office lead. the f-35 lightning 2 is of vital importance to our national security and as the program executive officer and program director, i'm committed to delivering an affordable, reliable, and sustainable fifth generation fighter to our war fighters. the f-35 will form the backbone of u.s. air combat superiority for decades to come. it will replace legacy tactical fighter fleets of the air force, navy, marine corps with a dominant, multirole fifth generation aircraft capable of projecting u.s. power and deterring potential adversaries. for our international customers who are participating in the program the f-35 will become a linchpin for future coalition operations and will help to close a crucial capability gap
that will enhance the strength of our security alliances. the f-35 program today is executing well across the entire spectrum of acquisition to include development and design, flight test, production, fielding and base stand-up, sustainment of our fielded aircraft and building a global sustainment interprice. the program is at a pivot point where we are moving from slow and steady progress to a rapidly growing and accelerating program. however, the program is not without risks and challenges as these come with any program of this size and complexity. i'm confident that the current risks will be resolved and we will be able to overcome any future problems and deliver the full f-35 combat capability including the u.s. air force and navy initial operating capability declarations in the future. since the last time i appeared before this committee, the program has successfully completed a number of important events, not the least of which was helping the u.s. marine corps declare initial operating
capability this summer. a few of this year's accomplishments include -- the beginning of our block 3-f the final version of software inflight test. two successful ship trials one for the u.s. marine corps above the "uss wasp" and one for the u.s. navy on the "uss eisenhower." we delivered the first ioc aircraft to the air force at hill air force base last month and delivery of the uk and dutch aircraft at edwards air force base for participation in operational test this summer. the rollout of the first flight and flight of the italian f-35a from our faco, which is our fabrication and checkout facility in italy last month. we also rolled out our first norwegian aircraft. we've also completed the
we still have technical deficiencies to correct. including the ejection seat which wel talk about today, the logistics information system or alis, which i plan on talking about today. and various fuel system and structural shortfalls, but we have corrections in place for all of these issues and we'll be able to implement the solutions in the near future. with respect to aircraft production, the production line is becoming more efficient each and every day and the price of
you'll three variants continues to drop lot after lot. i expect this trend to continue well into the 2020s and still price target of an f-35 -- f-35a model with an engine, with fee, in fy '19 dollars. we're monitoring the supply base as we begin to prepare for a ramp-up in production from 59 airplanes in lot eight to 104 airplanes in lot 9 to 123 airplanes in lot 10 up to a final production rate of nearly 170 airplanes per year in the early 2020s. we're also seeing some improvements in the reliability and maintainability of the aircraft as a result of focused efforts on the supply chain, the repair cycle time of spare parts, spare part availabilities and improved maintenance procedures. we're also on track with our
organic depot stand-ups both in the united states and in the pacific and european regions. we've begun the requirements validation and the initial acquisition planning for a follow-on modernization program that will begin at the end of our current development program in october of 2017. i am committed to establishing a lean, effective, modernization program with the appropriate government control and oversight to ensure that it remains both affordable and transparent while at the same time effectively enhancing the f-35's capability for decades to come. with respect to risks and challenges, i see the completion of mission system software development, alis development, and the previously mentioned fuel system and ejection seat deficiencies as our most prominent, current technical risks. our ability to stand up four separate reprogramming labs that create mission data files in time for all of our customers and our ability to complete all
the weapons envelope testing for a block 3-f as well as our ability to start o.t. on time are the major schedule risks to the program today. i'll close by saying that i believe the program is in a better position today than it was one, two, or three years ago. it's a growing and accelerating program that is making solid progress. the weapons system design is sound. the program is fundamentally on track. we remain confident that we'll be able to deliver the full f-35 capability within time and the money we have been given. as with any big, complex program, new discoveries, challenges and obstacles will occur. however, we believe the combined government/industry team has the ability to overcome our current deficiencies and deal with future issues should they arise in order to successfully deliver on our commitments. the joint program office will continue executing with integrity, discipline, transparency, and
accountability. holding ourselves accountable for the outcomes on this program. we recognize the responsibility the program has been given to provide the backbone of future u.s. and allied fighter capability for generations to come. we also recognize that our sons and daughters and our grandsons and granddaughters may someday take this weapons system into harm's way to defend our freedom and way of life. it is a responsibility that we never forget in the program office. thank you, again, for this opportunity, and i look forward to answering all your questions. >> thanks, general. >> thank you, sir. chairman turner, distinguished members of the tactical air and land forces subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to provide an update on the united states air force's progress toward delivering initial operating capability, ioc, for the f-35a.
the combination of f-35 lethality, survivability and adaptability make it our platform of choice for operations in highly contested threat environment. the aircraft's state-of-the-art sensor fusion, network interoperability and broad array of advanced air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions enable unmatched lethality well into the 21st century. the f-35's exceptional survivability is achieved with a combination of observable technologies and advanced electronic attack and electronic protection, and shared situational awareness. it will form the backbone of future joint and combined air operations enabling future joint force commander success. today, sir, we have 79 f-35as delivered and they have flown over 21,000 hours in our air force. the program is on the road to ioc for the air force. specifically within the last two months we received our first three aircraft at hill air force base and are flying them now at a high rate.
this month air force operational testers are flying with our ioc software load and building f-35 tactics, techniques and procedures. we have work to be done, though, specifically we're concerned about the software capability we will get in our ioc load, alis software delivery, and the modification schedule for our jets at hill. all that notwithstanding, we expect to declare ioc as planned in 2016. however, this is still a program in development and challenges remain. we will continue to work closely with the joint program office, lockheed martin, to assure we achieve full war fighting capability. while ioc's an important milestone for the program, we must not lose sight of the goal of full war fighting capability. the program must develop and deliver 3-f software on time and we need to invest now in block four follow-on modernization to provide the war fighter with the most current and relevant
capabilities required to meet the future threat. the capability advantage that the air force had enjoyed over potential adversaries is closing fast. in modern warfare, if the air force fails the joint air force fails. thank you again for this opportunity to discuss the f-35. i look forward to answering your questions. >> we have a number of members with degrequestions. the ejection seat. obviously this is not performing. this is supposed to be life-saving, not life-threatening. can you share more information about this? what is the problem, how is it being fixed, what does it take to implement the correction? >> yes, congressman. if you'll indulge me, it's a complex problem so i'll spend a little bit of time trying to clear up some of the misinformation that you might have.
first and foremost, safety is always paramount in the program for me and my team. i would never, ever ask a pilot to do anything that i wouldn't do myself. and it airworthiness authorities that work with me on the navy side and the air force side feel and act the same way. so we take this deficiency with the ejurisdiction seat and the safe escape very, very seriously. and let me explain what the problem and is what we're doing about it. so as we began, as you said, congressman, the ejection seat we have in this airplane was designed to cover the widest range of pilot weights and sizes that we've ever had in a fyiighr airplane. the seat and ejection system das signed to deal with pilots down to 103 pounds all the way up to 245 pounds, as you said.
it's also designed from the small pilots to the largest pilots. a combination of the weight and the size means that we will be able to put more pilots in this airplane than any other legacy airplane before it. we do have deficiencies. we have found those deficiencies through the normal testing process wide receiver we have a number of deficiencies with the ejection seat, not all of which were found just recently. we have been testing the ejection seat for many, many years. and when you start testing a system like the ejection seat what you do is you start from what we call the center of the envelope of that ejection seat, meaning the average weight, the average speed, the average altitude. then you work your way outside to the edges of the envelope. when you get to the edges of the envelope in terms of speed an
the weight of the pilots, things become more severe. and are harder to achieve in terms of safety. the test that occurred on 27 august of this year that resulted in the air force and the navy restricting pilots below 136 pounds if you drew that envelope would be on the very, very corner of it. it's a difficult place to be able to design the ejection seat for. having said that after that test we recognized there was a deficiency. that is a different deficiency than a few of the other deficiencies i'm going to talk about which encompass all the problems we're having with the ejection seat. so let me start and talk about a few of the other issues that we've had on the seat that we
are in the process of fixing. then the last problem that resulted pilots less than 136 pounds. all the other problems i'm going to talk about came with no restrictions. we continued to fly with all sizes and all weights of pilots. so in the ejection sequence, there are three important portions of that process. first is catapult, when the seat gets blasted out of the airplane. for a lightweight pilot today, less than 136 pounds, when he or she goes up the rails of the airplane in that catapult, his or her neck gets pushed down like that. when we initially did the testing on that condition, what we found was if the pilot has the helmet on his head or her head and that helmet weighs most of than 4.8 pounds, then the neck loads for that lightweight
pilot, by a very little bit, exceed what we would consider to be per detectively safe. perfectly safe. what the first thing we did was we began taking weight out of the helmet to ensure that every helmet we have is going to be weighing less than 4.8 pounds. today our helmets weigh about 5.1 pounds. the we're developing that new helmet that weighs less than 4.8 pounds today. we never had to restrict lightweight pilots for that catapult phase because the neck loads that they would experience with that, even with that heavier helmet, were so close to the safety limits that the air worthiness authorities thought that risk was quite acceptable. and i agreed with that. now, i did the risk assessment with my team and i give to it the airworthiness authorities and they decide. so that was problem number one which we are fixing with a lighter-weight helmet today that
resulted in no restrictions on who could fly the airplane. the second problem is once the ejection seat leaves the airplane, you get wind blast. because the ejection seat is moving at hundreds miles an hour, almost as if you put your hand out of your car as you're driving and you feel that wind blast. in this instance here the pilot's head gets forced backward instead of forward. once again in our testing what we found out was, if a lightweight pilot less than 136 pounds has a helmet that weighs more than 4.8 pounds, then that neck stress going backwards is higher than what we'd like it to be. but not so high as that we would need to have restricted pilots from flying the airplane. so the solution to both those problems, the catapult problem and the wind blast problem, are to reduce the weight of the helmet. we have been ongoing with the development of the new helmet and the new weight for about six months. it will take about another year for us to finish that to ensure
that every helmet is less than 4.8 pounds. we did have one pilot at this period of time that was flying the airplane that was less than 136 pounds. and the reason why that pilot could continue to fly even with those known risks was because we hand-built him a helmet that weighed 4.7 pounds. we cannot manufacture on the production line in any mass quantity a helmet that weighs less than 4.8 pounds. that's why we're redesigning it. for that particular pilot we fabricated a helmet that weighed less than 4.8 pounds. that was why that pilot, even during this known risk area, was able to continue to fly. those are two problems being solved with one solution that we should have done in about a year. the third problem we found during normal testing occurs in what we call the opening shock phase of the ejection.
when the parachute on the back of the seat comes out. in this instance here, when that parachute comes out, once again, the pilot's head moves forward. in this instance the only pilots being affected by the opening shock being too strong and causing the neck loads to be above what we would consider safe is once again that lightweight pilot. the risk of that happening though was low enough the airworthiness authorities felt it was not significant enough to have to restrict anybody from flying the airplane when we found that problem. but when we did find that problem and we found that one probably about eight or nine months ago in normal testing, we already began a solution. the solution to that problem for the lightweight pilot is just to delay that parachute coming out by a fraction of a second. because as the seat comes out and hits the wind blast, it
begins to decelerate. if you wait just a fraction of a second before you put that main chute out, the seat has decelerated enough so that the force when the parachute comes out isn't as severe. to get to that solution, we are putting a little switch, a switch on the side of the ejection seat that when the pilot climbs up into the cockpit, can set that at heavyweight or lightweight. this were a number of ways we could have solved that problem. we could have put an automatic sensing system into the seat, much like when you sit in your car on the passenger side and the seat knows you're there and the air baguettes energized. we could have put a switch on the seat that would have had the maintainers put it in the heavy or lightweight position. we went to the war fighters and we said what solution do you want? we can solve this problem in a number of ways. and they said, we want the pilot to be responsible for moving
that switch, we want he or she to be responsible for ensuring that it's in the right position for their safety. thus we're building that switch on the side of the seat as the pilot climbs up, they can go light or heavy. >> okay, general, as i said, we have a number of people who want to ask questions. i'm going to cut you off at that point. thank you for the in-depth description of that issue and problem. obviously there are two aspects of it. one, finding a solution. two, its implementation of a solution. we're looking forward to both your confirmation of the -- all the problems identified, and two, the implementation of those solutions so our committee can be satisfied that those really will address the issues. >> yes, sir. >> now, general horrigan, the -- everybody in the committee recognizes the need for the f-35 capability. everybody recognizes that not having the f-35 capability goes to an issue of our having air
dominance. it's we win versus we lose. everybody recognizes that one of the difficulties and problems with this program has been the concurrency, that we're both inventing at the same time we're producing, and that as a result of that, we will have delays, cost overruns, and at times there will be problems that will have to be identified that then need to be fixed as general bogdan was testifying. the biggest them we have is an assurance when we get to the end that this f-35 capability we all know we need is the actually the capacity we demanded, that that plane performs as it's supposed to. january 25th, flight tests demonstrated the f they'35 was s maneuverable as an f 16. can you comment on the conclusions of that test and the
implications of f-35 in combat? >> yes, chairman. as a reminder that was one of the very first developmental test sorties flown to better understand the slow flight characteristics of the airplane. since that initial sortie we have now been able to put the airplane in the hands of our operational testers so these are the folks that are now ringing out the tactics, techniques and procedures for how we will fly the airplane in combat. in fact, sir, over the course of the last month, they have been developing some specific exercises to better understand the characteristics of the airplane. that would include post-stall acceleration, how the airplane turns, to prepare them to do what we would call basic fighter maneuvers which is where they fight one against one. d to see how the airplane performs in both an offensive and defensive perspective. the results of that, i can share with you i just talked with them
last friday, they've been very pleasantly surprised on how the airplane's performing. it's been very positive. and what they're finding is that as they arrive in the post stall regime, the airplane is extremely stable. so stable, in fact, that as they began the testing, they initial hi had 150 knot minimum air speed requirement. they have since removed that and that's how we're going to go out and train, with no minimum air speed requirement. which is really a testament to how well the airplane's performing. in that environment, we will continue to learn. what i would offer to you is that we are still in the nascent phases of fully understanding how the airplane will employ in that environment. but that capability, in my mind, is going to be there. and i would offer to you that as one of the early f-22 pilots that i was, we had some of the same letteriarning curve issues.
across the regime of where we were going to deploy it how to get the most out of the airplane. that's what we're going to do and i think the airplane's going to deliver, sir. >> appreciate your reference to that. even the wright brothers after they invented the plane had to learn to become pilots. we appreciate that pros. i want to ask you non-committee members be allowed to participate in today's hearing and mr. cooper, after all subcommittee members have had an opportunity to ask questions, if i hear no objections, non-subcommittee members will be recognized at the appropriate time for five minutes. turning now to the next questioner which will be -- mr. waltz. >> thank you, mr. chairman. generals, thank you for taking the time to come and for continuing to update us on this. i think it's critically important. i want to go back to april's hearing because i think it's important for us to build on what we asked and to get on. in that hearing, i asked what is
our next hearing going to look like when we come? at that point in time secretary stackly said, we'll have the united states marine corps version, completion of 3-f and 3-f testing, and see the end of r&d costs. are those things panning out? >> the marine corps has declared ioc and is flying operational missions at yuma today, sir. so i would put a check in that box. we are completed with all mission system testing for 3-i. we intend on delivering 3-i software to the field in january. as general said we have handed that software to the o.t. testers to ring it out so i put a check mark there. for 3-f i'm not sure if mr. stackly was referencing when we would have 3-f done but i have always contended and told this committee that i thought that the schedule for 3-f had four to six months of risk in it. i just recently did another
schedule risk analysis and took a look at our schedule and our plans. what i will tell you is that four to six-month risk is now down to three to four months. and we believe that the full three-f software capability on this airplane for the "a" model will be out into the the field in august of 2017. that's a good year before the navy needs it for ioc, a good six months before the sectef has to certify the airplane is going to be fully 3-f capability. i think that risk is working its way down. as we get out of the business of testing 2-b, which we're done with, and 3-i, the entire test fleet is being transferred over to 3-f and therefore i think we're going to catch it up. >> thank you, general, that's helpful. i think it is important for us to see where we're at, and we know that these are -- it's hard to get it exactly right. can you explain what the concurrence is with the marine corps on -- where i'm getting
the folks that there's a little controversy on what they're saying. they're flying theirs, their ioc. that's for their mission? it's good with them. >> yes, sir. in fact, i would say that they are now flying the airplane operationally. they're out employing the airplane in the missions that they had described for their ioc. and i think the result has been very positive and the feedback from them has been well received. >> i might add that the services define for me what they need to declare ioc. and the u.s. marine corps takes a look at the legacy airplanes that they have and how they intend on employing the airplane and they created a list of criteria that they needed to make to declare ioc. the air force has done the same thing. they are different lists because the air force intended on using the f-35 differently than the
marine corps. my promise to the air force is i will give them everything they need to declare ioc by august of 2016. but they will fly the airplane differently and use it in a different way than the marine corps. >> okay. and general bogdan, you did a nice job last time explaining to a layman what happened to that june 23rd fire, the heat issue and all of that. where is that at at this point in terms of corrections? >> sir, we have already validated the full correction to the engine problem. every engine coming off the production line since about seven months ago had the fix in it. so we're producing fully capable engines right now on the production line. we have 134 airplanes out in the field today. 61 of them have been retrofit with the new parts so that there's no longer a restriction on them. that's about 44%. by june of 2016, all 134 fielded airplanes will have the same fix in them that the production
airplanes are now going down the production line with. so in my mind, it was a problem, it was unfortunate, but we're putting it behind us. >> did we learn anything that goes beyond the specific issue in that in terms of the testing standard in that of what we can extrapolate going forward from that incident? >> one of the thins that we did learn was that the design of that portion of the engine is very similar to other fighters that we have. and there was an assumption made that since those other fighters didn't have this problem, that the f-35 wouldn't have this problem. so some of the engineering analysis, i won't say it was shortcut because that's not the right word, but some of the assumptions they made in the original engineering analysis assumed the engine was going to react as if it were in the other airplane and that was not the case. that was not the case because the f-35 maneuvers differently than that other airplane and the
engine actually shifts and moves and bends differently than that other airplane, causing that -- >> will that change now as we go forward? i hate to use the term we will not -- we assume that they will not do that in the future. that they will go back to the beginning. >> so part of what we did was we ensured that the models that both the government and the engine manufacturer pratt and whitney was using incorporated the new knowledge about the f-35 and the assumptions that we made when we first designed it. so at least for this engine, sir, we're not going to make that same mistake and pratt and whitney has learned that lesson. >> i yield back, mr. chairman. >> thank you. mr. cook. >> thank you, mr. chairman. generals, there was an election this week in canada. and it appears mr. trudeau is going to be the winner of that election.
correct me if i'm wrong. but i believe he made some preelection statements that canada would not purchase the f-35s. and i think they were in for 65. and so the question is about affordability. if a partner drops out of that, and i don't even know -- aim not a lawyer. i'm dangerous enough as a marine at one time is that going to have an impact on cost or what have you? >> i'm pretty sure this is my question. so let me start off by saying, it wouldn't be appropriate for me to speculate what canada will or won't do. so i won't provide any opinion about that. and i will also tell you that i have received no official motivation f
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