Air Force certifies F-35As produced in FY-18 will have full operational capability

By Courtney Albon / September 12, 2016 at 11:46 AM

The Air Force last week certified to Congress that F-35As delivered in fiscal year 2018 will have full combat capability -- to include Block 3F software and weapons carriage.

The service confirmed in a Sept. 9 statement that Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James had certified the program will meet its current plan to deliver fully combat-ready aircraft in FY-18 -- a validation required by the FY-16 National Defense Authorization Act.

"The Secretary of the Air Force considered program status, planning and program risks and was informed by the F-35 Joint Program Office's plan to complete F-35 development as reviewed by Air Force functional experts, Air Combat Command, and an independent review team," according to the statement.

The FY-16 provision limited procurement to no more than $4.3 billion until the certification was completed.

The Air Force declared initial operational capability for the F-35A in August, following a similar declaration from the Marine Corps last summer. The F-35 joint program office is currently in extended negotiations for low-rate initial production lots 9 and 10.