The F-35 has now entered an unprecedented seventeenth year of continuing redesign, test deficiencies, fixes, schedule slippages, and cost overruns. And it’s still not at the finish line. Numerous missteps along the way—from the fact that the two competing contractors, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, submitted “flyoff” planes that were crude and undeveloped “technology demonstrators” rather than following the better practice of submitting fully functional prototypes, to concurrent acquisition malpractice that has prevented design flaws from being discovered until after production models were built—have led to where we are now. According to the latest annual report from the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E), 263 “high priority” performance and safety deficiencies remain unresolved and unaddressed, and the developmental tests—essentially, the laboratory tests—are far from complete. If they complete the tests, more deficiencies will surely be found that must be addressed before the plane can safely carry our Airmen and women into combat.
F-35: Still No Finish Line in Sight
March 26, 2018
Another year has passed, and the F-35 program is still failing to live up to expectations. The Project On Government Oversight wades through the complicated and sometimes vague language of the latest annual report by the Pentagon’s testing office, and provides the larger context.
Dan Grazier is a senior defense policy fellow at the Center for Defense Information at POGO.
Center for Defense Information
The Center for Defense Information at POGO aims to secure far more effective and ethical military forces at significantly lower cost.