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Friday, December 21, 2018

Happy Holidays from the Ken Larson Free Q&A Reference Library





Quora Questions with Answers by Ken that have undergone over  1 Million Views on Small Business Government Contracting and the U.S. Military Industrial Complex Ken Larson Reference Library on Quora

Saturday, December 01, 2018

U.S. Veterans Hospitals Quality Ratings FY 2018


"U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS"

"The Veterans Health Administration uses a comprehensive performance improvement tool called Strategic Analytics for Improvement and Learning (SAIL). SAIL is developed for the VA to drive internal system-wide improvement.

Many of the metrics on SAIL are not publicly reported by non-VA hospitals and health systems.  Therefore, it is not appropriate to directly compare evaluation findings derived from SAIL with results from public and private sector hospitals. "

The metrics are organized into 9 Quality domains and one Efficiency and Capacity domain.  The Quality domains are combined to represent overall Quality.  Each VA medical center is assessed for overall Quality from two perspectives: (1) Relative Performance compared to other VA medical centers using a Star rating system from 1 to 5 and (2) Improvement compared to its own performance from the past year.  Both relative performance and size of improvement are used to guide improve efforts.

In 2018 66% (96 out of 146) of VA Medical Centers Reported on SAIL Showed Improvement Compared to Their Baseline One Year Earlier.

The table below displays relative performance in star rating in the third column and size of improvement in arrows in the fourth column that indicate whether medical center performance has improved, stayed the same or declined over the past year.
VISNMedical CenterRelative Performance
Star Rating (1 to 5)
Improvement From
Baseline Scores 2017
2Albany3 ↑↑
22Albuquerque2 ↑
16Alexandria2
4Altoona4
17Amarillo4↑↑
20Anchorage3
10Ann Arbor3
6Asheville5↑↑
7Atlanta 1
7Augusta 2
5Baltimore3
2Bath5
10Battle Creek2↑↑
8Bay Pines3
5Beckley2
1Bedford5
17Big Spring1↑↑
7Birmingham4
20Boise3
1Boston4
2Bronx4
2Brooklyn3
2Buffalo4↑↑
4Butler5
2Canandaigua4↑↑
23Central Iowa4
7Charleston4
19Cheyenne2
12Chicago3
10Chillicothe4
10Cincinnati5
5Clarksburg4↑↑
10Cleveland5
4Coatesville5
15Columbia MO3
7Columbia SC2
10Columbus4
1Connecticut5
17Dallas2↑ 
12Danville3
10Dayton3
19Denver2
10Detroit3
7Dublin3↑↑
6Durham3
2East Orange2
17El Paso1↑↑
4Erie5
23Fargo4
16Fayetteville AR3
6Fayetteville NC2
23Fort Meade3
10Fort Wayne2
21Fresno2
8Gainesville3
19Grand Junction4
16Gulf Coast HCS2
6Hampton2
17Harlingen2↑↑ 
12Hines3
21Honolulu2
23Hot Springs5↑↑
16Houston3
2Hudson Valley3
5Huntington4↑↑
10Indianapolis3↑ 
23Iowa City3
12Iron Mountain5
16Jackson2↑↑
15Kansas City2
8Lake City2
21Las Vegas2↑↑
15Leavenworth4
4Lebanon5
9Lexington4
16Little Rock3↑↑
22Loma Linda1
22Long Beach2
22Los Angeles3
9Louisville3
12Madison5
1Manchester3
15Marion IL2
5Martinsburg2
9Memphis1
8Miami3
12Milwaukee3
23Minneapolis4
19Montana2
7Montgomery1
9Mountain Home4
9Murfreesboro2
19Muskogee2
9Nashville2
16New Orleans3
2New York4
12North Chicago4
1Northampton5↑↑
2Northport3
19Oklahoma City2
23Omaha4
8Orlando3
21Palo Alto2
5Perry Point3↑↑ 
4Philadelphia3
22Phoenix1
4Pittsburgh4
15Poplar Bluff3
20Portland3↑↑ 
22Prescott2
1Providence3
20Puget Sound2↑ 
21Reno3
6Richmond4
20Roseburg2
21Sacramento3↑↑
10Saginaw5↑↑
6Salem5
6Salisbury3
19Salt Lake City3
17San Antonio3↑↑
22San Diego3
21San Francisco3↑ 
8San Juan2
19Sheridan4↑↑
16Shreveport3
23Sioux Falls4
20Spokane3↑↑ 
23St Cloud5
15St Louis3
2Syracuse3
8Tampa4
17Temple3
1Togus5↑↑
12Tomah3
15Topeka3
22Tucson1
7Tuscaloosa3↑ 
20Walla Walla2↑↑
5Washington1
8West Palm3↑↑
20White City3↑↑ 
1White River3↑ 
15Wichita4
4Wilkes Barre3
4Wilmington3↑↑
*Note: Improvement From Baseline: ↑↑ - Large Improvement; ↑ - Small Improvement; →: Trivial Change; ↓: Large Decline

VA Hospital End of Year Ratings

"MILITARY TIMES"


 Veterans Affairs officials claimed improvements at 66 percent of their medical centers across the country last fiscal year, with 18 earning the highest level of excellence in the department’s internal ratings system.

But nine others remain on the VA’s list of underperforming facilities after getting the lowest possible rating. They include the embattled Washington VA Medical Center, which sits just a few miles from the White House and has seen a series of leadership shake-ups in recent years.

The VA ratings — made public in 2016 after a USA Today report on the internal scorecards — grade each of the locations on metrics like patient mortality, patient length of stay, reported accidents and patient satisfaction. Officials have said the system is used to collect best practices from high-performing facilities to use in underperforming ones.

In a statement, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie touted improvements across the 146 medical centers.
“With closer monitoring and increased medical center leadership and support, we have seen solid improvements at most of our facilities,” he said. “Even our highest performing facilities are getting better, and that is driving up our quality standards across the country.”

The number of one-star facilities dropped by six from the start of fiscal 2018 to the end. Of the nine medical centers still at that level, four were cited for significant improvements: El Paso and Big Spring in Texas, Memphis in Tennessee, and Loma Linda in California.

The five others — Washington, Phoenix and Tucson in Arizona, Montgomery in Alabama, and Atlanta in Georgia — saw no overall change.

Earlier this year, VA placed 12 medical centers on a high-risk list for “aggressive” management intervention. Of those, eight were removed from the program after showing sufficient improvement by the end of last month.

Wilkie said while he is pleased with the results thus far “there’s no doubt that there’s still plenty of work to do.”
Here are the Best and Worst VA Medical Centers

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Minnesota Veterans Home Hastings and The State's Growing, Progressive Program for Veterans Care



Veterans
Photo:  Dakota County Tech College
Panoramic Photo Tour - MN Vets Home Hastings - Use "Open Index Feature"


Editors Note:  I enjoyed participating in the following podcast featuring the veterans community in which I have resided for the last 12 years.  With 3 more homes on the horizon in Bemidji, Monticello and Preston, adding to the existing 5 vets homes in  the state, Minnesota is at the forefront of health care for its military veterans.  

Ken Larson 


"Minnesota Military Radio"

"This week we meet with the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs and learn about the Minnesota Veterans Homes, discuss Military and Absentee Voting with Secretary of State Steve Simon, find out about the upcoming Nearly Naked Ruck March and get an update from our County Veteran Service Officer. Guests include:
Podcast link: (Turn On Your Computer Sound) Minnesota Military Radio





Monday, October 01, 2018

Who’s Really Accountable For Interoperability Between DOD And The VA On E-health Records System?


“FEDSCOOP”

“The departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs both have billion-dollar modernizations in progress for their electronic health record systems. And they’ve each identified who is accountable for the success of those programs.

But the more important question might be: Who is ultimately accountable for seeing that the EHR systems, when fully developed, work together seamlessly as members of the military retire and becomes veterans?”

________________________________________________________________________

“House lawmakers pressed this point this week during the first hearing held by the Veterans Affairs’ Subcommittee on Technology Modernization. They examined the role of the DOD/VA Interagency Program Office (IPO), stood up in 2008 for the exact purpose of ensuring seamless transfer of records. So far, though, that office has no real authority over the interoperability of the two programs —VA’s EHR Modernization and DOD’s MHS GENESIS, both of which are based on Cerner’s commercial EHR platform.

Lauren Thompson, the head of the office, told lawmakers that despite the intention of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act to make the IPO the single point of accountability for the interoperability of the two departments’ EHRs, “at this point in time, we make recommendations. We do not have the decision-making authority.” IPO is based within DOD.
According to the law, said Carol Harris, director of IT management issues for the Government Accountability Office, “the IPO is supposed to be the single point of accountability. So that would include responsibility, authority and decision-making responsibilities. I think that [the office’s current operation, as described by Thompson], is in conflict with the expectation set out by law.”

The departments and the IPO are trying to sort out the interoperability governance now that VA and DOD each has a massive EHR in development. Though they both are developing instances of the same Cerner platform so that interoperability will be easier to achieve, there are still myriad technical and functional decisions that must align so that the data ultimately matches as it flows from one system to the next. VA, DOD and the IPO are in the process of developing new governance bodies and a new structure with the hope that things can be dealt with at the lowest level possible.

“Clinicians talking to clinicians, technicians talking to technicians,” said John Windom, VA’s acting chief health information officer and program executive officer for the new Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization. When disagreements happen, the issues are elevated to new governance boards, but the goal is to avoid that, he said.

Windom explained that the governance process is “evolving,” and it will take time to get there. “The as-is state of the enterprise with the VA is different than the as-is state of the enterprise within DOD. … Now we’re understanding the gaps between how we sought to implement and how DOD is implementing. And so those gaps have to be reconciled, and they have to be reconciled through governance.”

But even with that model, lawmakers were unhappy because there is no single person or organization accountable. “There’s really no one there to break the ties or resolve the differences,” Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., said, pushing for action from the president or Congress to spark the change. “The only person both agencies report to now is the president of the United States.”

Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., said perhaps there’s a place for the IPO in the process, but either the DOD or VA should be given the ultimate decision-making authority.

Harris agreed that a “single executive-level entity that is the point of accountability” with decision-making authority and that binds both departments at the deputy secretary level or higher is “essential.”

She doesn’t have much faith in the IPO, though, at least in its current form — and really for no fault of its own.

“They never had to clout to mediate and resolve issues between DOD and VA,” Harris said. “The IPO was never set up to succeed there because neither of the departments were willing to relinquish control.”

Harris called the IPO’s ability to drive the necessary interoperability “lackluster” in the past decade. “In the past situations, what we’ve seen historically is that when everyone is responsible, no one is responsible. I think that’s what has led us to where we are today,” she said. “Accountability has been so diffused so that when the wheels fall off the bus, you can’t point to a single entity who’s responsible. And that’s a problem.”

https://www.fedscoop.com/dod-va-ehr-interoperability-hearing/

Saturday, September 01, 2018

MJ Hegar Sued the Pentagon and Won. Now She's Running for Congress

"Shoot Like a Girl"  and "Doors" Pilot MJ Hegar
MILITARY.COM"
Hegar was one of four female veterans who signed on to a lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in 2012 against then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Panetta reversed the combat ban in for women in January 2013. 

She earned the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross with "V" device for her actions, which helped save the lives of those aboard her helicopter.   Running as a Democrat against John Carter, an eight-term Republican, she won the democratic primary runoff in May."

"In a powerful campaign video, "Doors," that debuted in June and quickly went viral, Hegar showed the world her story of surviving childhood domestic abuse and the negative effects of gender inequality in her military career. As the ad shows, she'd go on to make her mark on history despite it all.



"We need a new freshman class of servant leaders who are used to working with people we disagree with," Hegar said in a telephone interview with Military.com on Monday.

Hegar, an Air Force and combat veteran, believes her prior service aligns with the type of leadership the U.S. needs at a time of "hyper-partisan" politics that affects the way Americans deal, interact and empathize with one another. Her new mission is to work with her prospective lawmaker colleagues to back a stable, national security environment while fighting for better jobs and medical care back home.

"I see an uncomfortably flippant attitude toward putting our men and women in uniform at risk, by how we treat our allies, or how we treat a nuclear power or how we treat countries that are actively attacking our democracy. I think there are a lot of things that we need a lot more veterans in Congress because of that," she said.

Carter, she said, once denied her a meeting years ago when she was looking for congressional support to pressure the Pentagon to allow women to serve in combat.
Hegar was one of four female veterans who signed on to a lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in 2012 against then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, calling existing restrictions against women serving in ground combat units unconstitutional. Resolution ultimately did not come through the courts -- the case remains open. But amid mounting pressure, Panetta reversed the ban in January 2013, paving the way for women to serve in previously closed units.

It is one of the reasons she wanted to put her story out there. Eventually, she said, it became the motivation behind her current campaign.

"In the military, we are thrown into a melting pot of cultures and communities and we disagree a lot on how to accomplish the mission, but when it comes time to get the work done, we focus our energy on accomplishing the mission," Hegar said. "We've got to tell our stories to influence culture, and we have to get more people elected who have faced challenges like domestic violence, working minimum-wage jobs, wondering how to get food on the table ... regular people."

OPENING 'DOORS'

Hegar describes herself a private, introverted person who doesn't seek attention. But she says she's concerned about the inadequate representation she's seen throughout her life as a service member, mother and proud Texan.

The "train had already left the station" for getting pretty personal during her powerful commercial, she said.

"Doors" had garnered more than 5 million combined views on YouTube and Facebook as of Tuesday, and in recent weeks has grabbed the attention of fellow veterans, lawmakers and even celebrities.

In the video, Hegar walks viewers through her life: Dreaming, as a young girl, of flying for the Air Force, to lobbying lawmakers to reverse outdated policies, to moments of pain that shaped her life story.

It "was very out-of-character for me, especially with anything to do with my kids [in the public eye] … but this is really who I am," said Hegar, who partnered with Putnam Partners, a political advertising firm, for the commercial.

"This district that I grew up in is a part of who I am, and I love my home, and I feel we deserve better representation," she said.

She won the primary runoff in May. She goes up against Carter in November.
"I got so sick of hearing, 'This is a state this or this is a state that, or I don't have to have a campaign or town hall' " to deal with issues, Hegar said. "If we elect people who have never been to public school, never had to worry about counting on Social Security, then how can they effectively legislate?"

WOMEN AS WARRIORS

Hegar served in the U.S. Air Force first as an aircraft maintenance mechanic working on F-16 Fighting Falcons and then B-2 Spirit bombers between 2000 and 2004.
Her memoir, "Shoot Like a Girl," which contains the occasional F-bomb, was published last year.

"There were very personal, private things like the domestic violence in my life," among other challenges, she said.

"I got this question once where someone asked me, 'How do you resolve the conflict of your warrior heart and your mothering, nurturing nature?' And it's the same thing. I don't know why the American culture separates the two for some reason, when in other cultures throughout history, women have been utilized in various military roles," she added.



MJ Hegar appears in uniform in this undated Air Force service photo.
MJ Hegar appears in uniform in this undated Air Force service photo.
Hegar experienced sexual assault in the Air Force. Her commanding officer helped her file the paperwork in order to deal with the crime internally, but justice never came. It was one of the reasons she left active duty when an opportunity to fly HH-60 Pave Hawks in the Air National Guard opened up in 2004.

On her third tour in Afghanistan in 2009, Hegar, co-piloting a helicopter during a combat search-and-rescue operation, came under direct enemy fire from the Taliban outside Kandahar.

She was shot, but hung on as the helicopter went down a few miles away. Two Army helicopters rescued the downed crew. Hegar returned fire as they circled over 150 Taliban fighters below. She earned the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross with "V" device for her actions, which helped save the lives of those aboard her helicopter.
"I feel like everyone always focuses on the shootdown," she said. "Being a pilot was a lot of hard work … and I had to demonstrate a skill set that I think will come in handy in D.C. and that was … to study and be an expert on a multitude of systems and things like that."

Hegar spent the first half of her career as an aircraft maintenance officer, an experience she said helped her develop management and business leadership skills.

"That's definitely more of the experience I lean on," she said.

Hegar served 12 years before separating as a major. Now, she wants those who exemplify "exceptional fortitude and courage under pressure" and "an inability to accept intimidation and bullying" to step up in Congress.

"The people who are sending our men and women in uniform into conflict need to understand that there are some things worth fighting for, but also understand the high cost of war," she said.

CATALYST FOR CHANGE

Regarding the 2012 lawsuit, filed with the aid of the American Civil Liberties Union, Hegar said her primary concern was for military effectiveness and the impact the exclusion policy had on recruiting and retention.

"We were losing women like myself because those women couldn't move on to jobs that were a natural progression or a natural fit for their skill set because they were women. Which was ridiculous," Hegar said, calling the lawsuit an extra boost to amplify the needed change.

"I was trying to provide a catalyst for change," she said, to "help push the administration over toward the other side of the fence to go ahead and take the very monumental and historic steps to actually repeal the policy."

Hegar helped co-found the Women in International Security's Combat Integration Initiative, a program that supports connecting female veterans through partnerships, conducts independent research to provide lawmakers, and meets with them or their staffers.
"I hate talking about women as a group -- I hate talking about any group as a group, because there are unique attributes to each individual, and that was really my whole argument for opening jobs and competition for women," she said. It should be about, "Let the best soldier win."

Hegar was supposed to sit down with Carter in 2013 to discuss these ideas, but he never showed up, she said. Carter has denied this account.

Hegar said she realized in the end that Carter's no-show wasn't just about trying to repeal one policy. It meant that better representation was needed across the U.S.

STOPPING THE DIVIDE

Over the next few weeks, Hegar anticipates more town halls with community members and door-to-door visits with potential constituents.
It means "there's a real race on our hands," not just going to the ballot box and checking a name of someone district voters wouldn't know, she said.

"I'm doing my part to show the district that we deserve present representation who will listen to the different communities ... and not just stay in D.C. the whole time, but actually stay in the district, talking to and helping people in this district. Helping bring jobs here, helping people bring opportunity here."


MJ Hegar is running against Republican incumbent John Carter in Texas’ 31st Congressional District. After winning her primary in May, Hegar will face off against Carter in the November general election. Courtesy MJ Hegar’s campaign
Hegar is running against Republican incumbent John Carter in Texas' 31st Congressional District. Courtesy MJ Hegar's campaign
She continued, "I think this toxic, hyper-partisanship is part of a gridlock that keeps us from getting anything done in D.C. It disgusts people and makes them tune out, turn off their TVs and stop reading the news. And that's dangerous."

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/08/08/mj-hegar-sued-pentagon-and-won-now-shes-running-congress.html







Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Management of Our Leaders Must Come From Within the American People

Photo Credit: (Taken from a magnetized seal on the door of an F-150 Truck in Hastings, MN - driver would not disclose where he acquired it).

Geopolitical expert, George Friedman at STRATFOR and Columnist Aaron David Miller have maintained that the office of the American Presidency is designed to disappoint and that the time of great US Presidents is past. 

Friedman:

“Each candidate must promise things that are beyond his power to deliver. No candidate could expect to be elected by emphasizing how little power the office actually has and how voters should therefore expect little from him. So candidates promise great, transformative programs. What the winner actually can deliver depends upon what other institutions, nations and reality will allow him.”


Miller:

"Greatness in the presidency is too rare to be relevant in our modern times and - driven as it is in our political system by big crisis - too risky and dangerous to be desirable. Our continued search for idealized presidents raises our expectations and theirs, skews presidential performance, and leads to an impossible standard that can only frustrate and disappoint. To sum up: We can no longer have a truly great president, we seldom need one, and, as irrational as it sounds, we may not want one, either." 

 PUTTING THE CITIZEN BACK IN GOVERNMENT

As we approach the National Mid Term Elections we must examine the true strength that springs from our form of government. That strength is in each of us. It simply needs to be projected in managing our leaders.  We must manage our government by becoming involved, conveying to our officials what we individually value and making sure they understand our views continually, not just during an election season.



Technology has made the above objective easier more communicative and effective.

It is not only our vote that is golden but our opinion via surveys and direct input to our government as well. Collectively we must replace the lobbyist, the Super PAC and the stagnated political process by getting through to the pols with focused precision. Social networking, pressure via the collective use of email, public meetings, the press and the media is possible on an individual basis. It is a  matter of becoming motivated to use what is ours and what we pay for with our taxes.

BECOMING OUR OWN MEDIA SOUND BITE, LOBBY AND "IPAC" (INDIVIDUAL PERSON POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE)

It is generally accepted that money drives politics. We must change that outlook by putting ourselves as individuals in the driver seat, tuning out the ludicrous media ads, pulling out our bull horns and expressing how we feel. Where others speak with their money we must convey our values with technology, persistence and management.

Let's examine our daily life, our hopes for the future for ourselves and our families and succinctly provide guidance to those who represent us – locally, at the state level and particularly in Washington.




Letters to the editor, blogging, social networking, and physical visits to town hall meetings, representative's offices and similar individual activities exercise strength and grow robust participation. Collectively, the rest of the presently stagnated structure will follow our lead. 

If we believe we need training in communication we must get it, practice and nurture it. If we know someone who is good at oral and written conveyances we must team with he or she and "Bull Horn" the views we personally believe must be addressed. 

In an election year and throughout the year we cannot say we have not the time. We must take the time to exercise our rights or others will sell them. 











Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Foreign Governments Receiving Obsolete Export F-35s Until 2023





Standard
F-35-Money-4-copy AR15 dot com
Click on Image or Download to Enlarge
DEFENSE-AEROSPACE.COM
“Three-quarters of all the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters delivered to foreign customers until 2023 are [or will be] obsolete and will require major retrofits before they can deliver their promised performance.  
[10] Foreign “partners,” [See table] who have already paid a portion of the F-35’s development costs as well as paying for their own aircraft, will realize that they have been abused by Lockheed and the Pentagon.”
___________________________________________________________________________________________
“An analysis of F-35 contracts awarded to date shows that fully 343 – or 74% — of the 460 export F-35s that Lockheed is to deliver until end 2024 will be in the current, obsolete Low-Rate Initial Production configuration.
These 343 aircraft are limited both in terms of operational capabilities and of the weapons they can use. They are, and will remain, obsolete because their software is incomplete and because their sensors – designed over 20 years ago – have been overtaken by several generations electronics progress.
Lockheed and the F-35 Joint Program Office have quietly decided that all of the planned sensor and avionics upgrades needed to bring the F-35 to full capability will be deferred until 2023, when the first Full-Rate Production (FRP) aircraft (Lot 15) will begin to roll off the production lines.
All this, however, is a best-case scenario, and assumes that the F-35 will pass its Initial Operational Test & Evaluation (IOT&E). Due to be completed in 2019 or 2020, IOT&E will allow the Pentagon to take the (Milestone C) decision to launch Full-Rate Production (FRP).
If it doesn’t – and the GAO reported on June 5 that “As of January 2018, the F-35 program had 966 open deficiencies, of which 111 category 1 (critical)” – then all bets are off, and the program will have to undergo a major restructuring.
Fully-capable F-35 only after 2023
Aircraft of the first Full-Rate Production batch (Lot 15) will be the first to benefit from the new package of sensors, electronics and software bringing them to full capability, and which will notably include:
— a new TR-3 (Technology Refresh 3) computer supplied by Harris Corporation that is key to allowing integration of the new capabilities planned for the Block 4 standard. This will include computing infrastructure for new panoramic cockpit displays, advanced memory systems and navigation technology, according to Brad Truesdell, Harris Corp.’s senior director of aviation systems.
— Raytheon’s new Electro-Optical Distributed Aperture System, which Lockheed announced June 13 would replace Northrop Grumman’s current AN/AAQ-37.
— a new Advanced Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) to replace the current system, also made by Lockheed. The company says the current EOTS meets all the contractual specifications, but that the new system – which offers a significant increase in terms of target recognition and detection capability – “would be a further upgrade option purchased at the discretion of the DOD and international F-35 partners and customers,” Lockheed told FlightGlobal at the time.
— a new Panoramic Cockpit Display System (PCDS) made by Elbit Systems of America. In June 2017, Elbit announced a contract from Lockheed Martin to develop a panoramic cockpit display unit to replace the current one, made by L3 Aviation Products.
These new sensors are crucial for the F-35 to achieve the capabilities it was designed to deliver, but which are still not available today, after 17 years of development. Lockheed says, for example, that the new DAS will have five times the reliability and twice the performance of the current system, despite being 45% cheaper to buy and 50% cheaper to operate.
However, Lot 15 deliveries will only begin in early 2023 and, meanwhile, deliveries will continue with the current electronics and sensors.
The US services will also receive obsolete aircraft, but their problem is less severe because they all operate other kinds of combat aircraft, and because they already have indicated they may use the early aircraft for flight-training or as spare parts banks if the cost of upgrading them to Block 4 standard is too expensive.
This is not an option for export customers, however, as for several – notably Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands — the F-35 will be the only combat aircraft, while for all others it is the primary strike aircraft.
Allies to receive obsolete aircraft until 2022
Until 2023, all the Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) aircraft ordered by the program’s foreign partners (Australia, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Turkey and the United Kingdom) and Foreign Military Sales customers (Israel, Japan and South Korea) will be delivered in the current configuration.
Click on Image or Download to Enlarge
They will require substantial — and expensive — upgrades to bring them up to the latest Block 4 standard, after the new sensors and electronics become available in 2023.
The cost of developing and implementing the Block 4 configuration is as yet unknown, and figures have been quoted of between $3.9 billion and as much as $16.4 billion.
In any case, it is high enough that the F-35 Program Executive Officer, Vice Admiral Mat Winter, “said his office is exploring the option of leaving 108 aircraft in their current state because the funds to upgrade them to the fully combat-capable configuration would threaten the Air Force’s plans to ramp up production in the coming years,” according to an October 2017 report by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO)
To our knowledge, European operators of the F-35 also have “overlooked” mentioning the cost of upgrading their older aircraft to Block 4 standard when reporting to their respective Parliaments, to which they will now have to go cap-in-hand to request the necessary funds. One can imagine the welcome they will receive from their lawmakers.
And Block 4 is non-negotiable because unless upgraded, all F-35s delivered before 2023 will be severely limited in their capabilities and will only be able to use very few weapons.
Lockheed is currently delivering aircraft with the latest Block 3F software, the first “combat-capable” standard. Block 3F should (but maybe will not) be retrofitted to earlier aircraft. Block 3F allows the use of the Small Diameter Bomb, Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and the AIM-9X short-range air-to-air missile, in addition to the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) and various kinds of laser-guided bombs used with earlier software.
Only Block 4 allows most capable weapons – after 2023 
But only Block 4 will allow the F-35 to use the most capable air-to-air missile in the Western inventory – MBDA’s Meteor – as well as two new long-range missiles being developed specifically for the F-35: the Joint Strike Missile (made by Kongsberg, Norway) and the SOM-J air-launched cruise missile (Roketsan, Turkey) as well as the Small Diameter Bomb II and other cutting-edge weapons to come.
If 74% of all export F-35s will be obsolete when delivered, some export customers will receive an even higher proportion: Australia will receive 63 of its 72 aircraft (87%) in LRIP configuration, while the proportion of LRIP aircraft will attain 100% for South Korea, 81% for Japan and 77% for Norway. (see Table 1 above).
Foreign operators will receive a few of the state-of-the-art Lot 15/Block 4 aircraft after 2023, except for South Korea, whose deliveries will be completed in 2021. Quantities will be limited, however, as for example Norway will receive only 12 Block 4 aircraft out of 52, and Australia only 9 out of 72.
These foreign operators are caught up in a dilemma: the F-35 needs new sensors, but cannot integrate them without new computers and memories that will only be available with Block 4 software, in 2023 at the earliest.
In other words, pray there’s no shooting war in the next 6-7 years.
Assuming they do decide to retrofit Block 4 improvements, export customers will have to pay for it themselves, on top of acquisition and post-delivery upgrade costs.
This is when foreign “partners,” who have already paid a portion of the F-35’s development costs as well as paying for their own aircraft, will realize that they have been abused by Lockheed and the Pentagon who, in their rush to produce as many F-35s as fast as possible, have delivered “fifth-generation” aircraft that do not meet contractual performance and cannot match the capability of “legacy” aircraft like Typhoon, and the latest F-15 and F-16s.”