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F35B JSF Software

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Tonight on Australian TV there was an investigation into the beleaguered X35/F35B Fighter plane and I couldn't believe my ears at the words of one of the most senior US military officials involved.  The context was such that it wasn't simply an error of detail.  It shows he really has no idea about software development at all.  Whatsoever.


The following is from the formal released transcript:


"LT. GENERAL CHRIS BOGDAN: This is a very software-intensive airplane. There's over 10,000 lines of software code just on the airplane itself and there's another 10 million lines of code for all the off-board systems, the maintenance systems and the mission planning systems that go with it." (By off-board he was talking ground component.)


I have a non-embedded banking software background, but that number is so wide of the mark for one of the most software dependent planes in existence that I laughed out loud.  This is circa a half trillion dollar project and the top military official directly involved doesn't understand software development at all.  I would be disappointed if a sidewinder missile didn't have 10,000 lines of code, let alone a new plane to be finally released 2018 ish.


Some versions of the plane are capable of VTOL, thrust vectoring, entirely computerized console with what appears to be touch screen interface.


PS The Stellaris Launchpad has 256kb flash so shelve those non ambitious, non Jet Fighter projects now. 


Dennis Nedry from Jurassic Park:


"Do you know anyone who can network 8 connection machines and debug 2 million lines of code for what I bid for this job?"

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I think he made a mistake in speech.  That said, the great engineering minds these days aren't working for the old-school defense industry firms.  That's the reason why they can't make a modern plane within even a normally-bloated budget.  If the US DoD is serious about being the best, they need to change the contract process.

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Hmmm.  I really don't think it was a glancing mistake and watched it several times again. He seems very non-technical.  I watched his body language repeatedly and I think he is reciting numbers that are practically meaningless to him.  I like the way he even says "lines of software code"...which is tautological.


This isn't meant to be a huge mockery of him personally, more mild amusement at the decision to use non-technical bureaucrats to head extremely technical projects, and the predictable and repeating software dramas that result.  He even seems like a nice guy...just has never programmed in his lifetime, and has been tasked with stepping in to fix the ailing, bug plagued project.



 ABC is Australia's national, non-commercial boadcaster. 31:45 is where the fun starts



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just my two cents, but the possibility is there that this is correct, because a lot of military hardware is totally solid state in design and not using "lines of code" run by a processor for the majority of its functions, but just raw circuitry so it is faster and more corruption proof.  A hardwired circuit cannot be corrupted by data loss.  and anything that can be done in software can be built into the circuit inherently, remember cost isn't a barrier so they can custom design every chip and component in the plane.  So while I agree that 10,000 seems low, it may be right because a military jet hardened against data loss, and EMP would likely not run like a computer platform on your desk.

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The JSF's pretty heavy on software as far as I know. I recently stumbled on this interesting bit of trivia about it - not only is the JSF's software written in C++, but they got Bjarne Stroustrup to work on the coding standards document! :smile:


Here's the document in all it's sleep-inducing glory ;-):



And here's a presentation giving the overview of why they chose C++ and how they went about trying to make it safe:



EDIT: As for the "10,000 lines of code", I think he simply meant to say 10 million (onboard, with another 10 million offboard). A quick google suggests that's the correct number.

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