The Australian head of the Joint Strike Fighter Program, air vice-marshal Leigh Gordon, has said that the next batch of the F-35 aircraft are on track despite glaring problems with the planes’ software, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Gordon said that the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) will get all of the next batch of planes by the December 2020 deadline despite issues raised in a Pentagon report. The report said that the fighters have “more than 270 … unresolved, high-priority performance deficiencies”.
“We expect those aircraft [for Australia] will have the 3F software, which is the load we’re after for IOC [initial operating capability]. As long as those aircraft have that 3F software when they come to Australia by 2020, that’ll be fine … and I don’t see a lot of risk in that,” Gordon said.
The air vice marshal also said the F-35 could stay ahead of competitors because it was built to be upgraded. He cast doubts on other competing fighter jets ability to perform as well as the F-35s.
Australia has committed to buying 72 of the planes by 2023 at a cost of A$17 billion at the moment.