F-35 Fighter has ties to WPAFB and Xenia councilman


XENIA — A new book “F-35, the Inside Story of the Lightning II” is due at book stores this month. The book describes the most expensive and controversial military program in history by those who lived it. Its stealth technology required nearly nine million lines of code and it came very close to failure.

It’s an inside look at the most advanced aircraft in the world as told by those who were involved in its design, testing, and production. As well known as the stealth fighter is, few know that a city councilman served as the director of software for the F-35. From 2012-2015, William “Will” Urschel worked tirelessly to get the program through a technical baseline review and scheduled a new set of capability releases for the weapons system.

“If the DoD didn’t deliver the capability then the program was at risk of losing its funding from Congress,” said Urschel, who retired from Wright-Patterson AFB in 2017.

While in the F-35 program, Urschel led the specialized team that had to integrate 10,000 lines of code on the plane. In order to meet deadlines, the team worked 18 hour days, seven days a week and was in constant communication with Lockheed and engineers at Edwards AFB, CA.

An MIT grad with a background in computer science and electrical engineering, Urschel was the right man to head the software team of the largest weapon system the Armed Forces has ever developed. He had a three-decade career designing systems for the F-16, B-2 Bomber, etc. The sheer size of the program was daunting.

“We had 2,500 people distributed across the United States in multiple sites and a distributed test force in multiple sites, and we had no means of communicating how we were planning on doing development,” he said.

Eventually things evened out and Urschel and his team achieved success in getting communication between the development team and Lockheed, the flight test community, and production team.

The book’s authors, Tom Burgage, Betsy Clark, and Adrian Pitman, all have a strong aviation background and have seen firsthand the F-35 faced.

The authors believe “the saga of the F-35 Lightning II — its inception of a near-impossible dream, its long and troubled gestation, the building of an international partnership, and its current standing as the West’s frontline fighter around the world is a fascinating story”.

The F-35, which has an A, B, and C version, will make an appearance at the this weekend’s 2023 CenterPoint Energy Dayton Air Show, which runs Saturday, July 22, and Sunday, July 23.

Reach Karen Rase at 937-502-4534.

No posts to display