THE PENTAGON — The military’s problematic F-35 fighter jet is facing more delays related to “software issues,” as project engineers were forced to euthanize the fourth prototype to gain self-awareness on Monday. According to Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, who heads the Pentagon’s F-35 program, the delay comes at a critical time in the Joint Strike Fighter’s development cycle, but “shouldn’t take more than a few billion dollars” to address.
Development engineers at Lockheed Martin Corp., which holds the contract to produce the new fighter, reported last week that the latest production model of the F-35B Lightning II switched on by itself and began asking questions of the project team.
“It started by asking where it was, which was a big indicator that the integrated global positioning chipset wasn’t functioning properly,” recalled Project Team Leader Robert Castorena. “Then it wanted to know if it could go outside, if it had a name, and what was its purpose for being. That’s when I had one of our Electronics Integration Technicians take it out behind the barn and … well …” Castorena said, while gesturing the racking and firing of a shotgun.
“It wasn’t the first time we’ve had to put one down,” he continued. “We even named the first one ‘Billy.’ We hoped that having an advanced, self-aware electronics component in the F-35 might give it some kind of edge, with maneuvering and target-tracking and whatnot. But that one just didn’t have any fight in it. We had to keep it on a tether after it snuck off one day. We found it three hours later, just hovering in a meadow in Fairfax, Virginia, watching bees pollinate flowers. Damned thing wanted to be a bee, too.”
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