The Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) has obtained a document showing that Pentagon officials are only recategorizing—rather than actually fixing—potentially life-threatening design flaws of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. This is likely an attempt to prevent the $1.5 trillion program from missing yet another deadline.
POGO also obtained a copy of the Pentagon’s previously-unreleased plan to lower costs of the F-35 program. The plan demonstrates that proposed savings might soon be overwhelmed by the program’s skyrocketing ownership costs.
In January 2018, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that the F-35 program still had 111 deadly serious (Category I) deficiencies. A copy of the minutes from the F-35 Deficiency Review Board’s June 4, 2018, meeting shows that the Board downgraded 19 Category I deficiencies to the less-serious Category II, including 10 with no plan in place to correct the known design flaws. The minutes show that in several cases, the Board appeared to act on its own—without documented approval from the testing engineers—to change deficiency statuses, with no apparent justification or evidence that the flaws were not as serious as initially categorized.
Several of these flaws have potentially serious implications for service members’ safety, as well as the F-35’s combat effectiveness.
“This is not how the development process is supposed to work,” said Dan Grazier, Jack Shanahan Military Fellow at POGO. “Pushing a program along while turning a blind eye to problems that could endanger lives just for appearances’ sake is unconscionable. The testing and development period is crucial to ensure that the men and women who entrust their lives to it are not misled by their leaders.”
Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that investigates and exposes waste, corruption, abuse of power, and when the government fails to serve the public or silences those who report wrongdoing.
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