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Report: F-35 JPO Determined to Meet July 2019 Deadline of Operational Tests

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The F-35 joint program office aims to complete necessary modifications to the F-35 aircraft to remain on track for initial operational test and evaluation in November, Defense News reported Thursday.

Air Force Col. Varun Puri, test director for the F-35 JPO, noted on Sept. 14 that the Pentagon needs to rapidly pass test points and accept risks if it wants to conclude operational assessments for the fighter jet by July 2019, despite a two-month delay.

The F-35 JPO recently announced that a majority of the Lockheed Martin-built fighter jets are ready for mission deployment after being inspected for a faulty fuel tube.

Pratt & Whitney is working on purchasing additional parts to clear the remaining F-35 planes for operational flight in the coming weeks.

The Joint Strike Fighter Operational Test Team also aims to avoid or at least reduce repeated tests to meet the July 2019 deadline and lessen potential causes for flight cancellations.

Puri added that the IOT&E process could be initiated in as late as Sept. 2019, which poses as a risk because the F-35 JPO has not determined if its needs additional funding if tests are further delayed.