(Reuters) – The U.S. Air Force is on track to declare Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 fighter jet ready for initial combat use by August or September 2016, and officials are already looking at possible future upgrades to its weapons, propulsion and avionics.

Major General Jeffrey Harrigian, the two-star general named in January to oversee all things F-35 for the Air Force, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday the program was making good progress, but he was keeping close tabs on key items required to meet the target date.

Those issues include software development, modification of existing jets to incorporate design changes, further work on a complex automated logistics system called ALIS and ensuring a sufficient number of technicians are trained to service the jet. […]