POGO: Pentagon report suggests new troubles for F-35 program

“Five issues were found where major consequence issues have been identified, but root cause, corrective action or fix effectivity are still in development,” states the Pentagon report, made public by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO).

Three other issues “were found where potentially major consequence discovery is likely pending outcomes of further discovery,” states the DOD report. And five more “were found where consequence or cost is moderate, but the number of moderate issues poses a cumulative concurrency risk.”

“More problems threaten to exacerbate the already spiraling costs of the F-35, which has already been set back by years of delays and double-digit cost growth,” said POGO’s Nick Schwellenbach, who has reviewed the report. “The F-35 is the world’s most expensive weapons program, currently estimated to cost some $385 billion for development and production, and about $1 trillion to maintain and operate F-35 aircraft over decades.

“Given that the F-35 is in an early stage of flight testing, the QLR team believes it is likely more problems will come to light,” Schwellenbach said.

While models were being purchased from June 2010 to November 2011, 725 change requests for the fighter rolled into the program office, the DOD report found.

“Of the 725 change requests that have been at the engineering kickoff stage, 577 are still not yet available to implement,” the DOD report stated. “These figures are indicative of the large volume of change traffic on this program and low design maturity.”

“The QLR team essentially urged the F-35 program to go slowly and make production decisions based on how the aircraft does in testing," Schwellenbach said.