GAO.gov: F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: Development Is Nearly Complete, but Deficiencies Found in Testing Need to Be Resolved

June 5, 2018

DOD is getting closer to completing the F-35 program, but DOD’s plan to move into full-rate production without fixing key deficiencies brings into question the reliability and affordability of the aircraft.

DOD has already requested $9.8 billion for 2019 and will ask for about $10.4 billion more per year over the next two decades.

Congress should consider withholding funding from the next increment of F-35 development until DOD provides an independent cost estimate, a technology assessment, and takes other actions. In addition, we recommended that DOD resolve critical aircraft deficiencies before moving to full-rate production.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Will nukes accompany F-35s to Vermont? No one’s saying

By Jasper Craven
June 3, 2018

In an undated internal analysis of press coverage tied to the proposed basing of F-35 fighter jets at Burlington International Airport, Vermont Air National Guard leaders detailed five potential media questions “We Hope We Don’t Get.”

The first four dreaded questions were often asked throughout the years-long debate over the controversial plane’s basing, and included “Why is the F35A four times louder?” and “Why would you be in favor of bringing a plane here when the Accident Potential Zone extends two miles into Winooski?”

But the fifth and final question is one that has been rarely discussed, and is almost impossible to answer: “Where are you planning on storing the nuclear weapons that are part of the F-35 arsenal?”

Opponents of the F-35 in Burlington have long raised the specter of nuclear weapons coming to Chittenden County along with the F-35, and the plane was designed with nuclear payload capability. In May 2013, when the plane’s opponents asked the Vermont Air Guard about nuclear bombs being based in Burlington, even military officials seemed unsure of the answer.

“We haven’t talked about nuclear capabilities of the F-35A yet so this may take us some time,” wrote an Air Force public affairs officer at the Pentagon to her Vermont counterpart. “We’re asking about it.”

[FULL ARTICLE]

Report finds toxic chemicals at Burlington air base exceed state limits

May 24, 2018

The Air Force has released a report detailing chemical contaminants at the Burlington International Airport above Vermont regulatory limits.

These chemicals were found at multiple locations on the Vermont National Guard installation, but not in the base’s drinking water, or the water supply of nearby communities. Now, the Air Force is continuing the investigation, along with the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, to determine the extent of the contamination.

[FULL ARTICLE]

DoD: At least 126 bases report water contaminants linked to cancer, birth defects

By Tara Copp
April 26, 2018

The water at or around at least 126 military installations contains potentially harmful levels of perfluorinated compounds, which have been linked to cancers and developmental delays for fetuses and infants, the Pentagon has found.

In a March report provided to the House Armed Services Committee, the Pentagon for the first time publicly listed the full scope of the known contamination. The Defense Department identified 401 active and Base Closure and Realignment installations in the United States with at least one area where there was a known or suspected release of perfluorinated compounds.

These included 36 sites with drinking water contamination on-base, and more than 90 sites that reported either on-base or off-base drinking water or groundwater contamination, in which the water source tested above the Environmental Protection Agency’s acceptable levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate or perfluorooctanoic acid, also known as PFOS and PFOAs.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Pentagon Classifies Study of F-35 Jet’s Challenges in Pacific

By Anthony Capaccio
April 25, 2018

The Pentagon classified an assessment of the major challenges the Marine Corps encountered in deploying the U.S.’s first F-35 jets to the Pacific, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

An unclassified version of the study released on Wednesday suggests the problems with the Lockheed Martin Corp. fighter — which would bolster U.S. capabilities in case of a conflict with North Korea — could be significant, touching on both critical software and supply chain issues.

“While the Marine Corps recognizes the advanced warfighting capabilities the F-35 will bring to the Pacific, it is facing challenges operating in the area,” according to the unclassified version. “In particular, it is uncertain how long the F-35 can effectively operate” if its software-intensive maintenance diagnostic system — critical for keeping the jets flying — “becomes disconnected from the aircraft,” according to the report.

[FULL ARTICLE]

With Older F-35s ‘On Life Support,’ Wing Struggles to Train Pilots

By Oriana Pawlyk
May 7, 2018

One of the busiest F-35 Joint Strike Fighter training units is hoping the U.S. Air Force can help relieve some of the pressures of training student pilots with ineffective resources.

The 33rd Fighter Wing, the leading training wing for F-35 student pilots, hopes it will receive additional F-35A aircraft, along with considerable upgrades to its existing fleet, to keep up with training demands, said Col. Paul Moga, commander of the 33rd Fighter Wing here.

“Right now, production is king. We’ve got to find ways to solve this aircrew crisis, and our contribution to that is getting our students through the training program as quickly as possible,” Moga said, referring to the service’s ongoing pilot shortage.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Airport expansion into neighborhood

By Taylor Young
May 1, 2018

The Queen City is one step closer to building a hotel at the Burlington International Airport.

Monday night city officials approved the BTV Hotel ground lease. Alpha Inn Management is partnering with DEW Properties on the project. In the agreement, the two businesses will lease the property to the city of Burlington for up to two years and give the city a $100,000 deposit.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Pentagon stops accepting F-35 jets from Lockheed over repair cost dispute

By Mike Stone
April 11, 2018

The U.S. Department of Defense has stopped accepting most deliveries of F-35 jets from Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) because of a dispute over who will cover costs for fixing a production error, three people familiar with the matter said.

Lockheed confirmed on Wednesday that the Pentagon had halted deliveries of the jet over a contractual issue, but did not give further details.

Last year, the Pentagon stopped accepting F-35s for 30 days after discovering corrosion where panels were fastened to the airframe, an issue that affected more than 200 of the stealthy jets. Once a fix had been devised, the deliveries resumed, and Lockheed hit its target aircraft delivery numbers for 2017.

But deliveries were paused again over a dispute as to who will pay for what will likely be a complex logistical fix that could require technicians to travel widely to mend aircraft based around the world, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Air Force Risks Losing Third of F-35s If Upkeep Costs Aren’t Cut

By Anthony Capaccio
March 28, 2018

The U.S. Air Force may have to cut its purchases of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 by a third if it can’t find ways to reduce operations and support costs by as much as 38 percent over a decade, according to an internal analysis.

The shortfall would force the service to subtract 590 of the fighter jets from the 1,763 it plans to order, the Air Force office charged with evaluating the F-35’s impact on operations and budgets, in an assessment obtained by Bloomberg News.

While the Defense Department has said it has gained control over costs for developing and producing a fleet of 2,456 F-35s for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps — now projected at $406 billion — the internal analysis underscores the current and looming challenges of maintaining and operating the warplanes.

It may cost as much as $1.1 trillion to keep the F-35s flying and maintained through 2070, according to the current estimate from the Pentagon’s independent cost unit.

[FULL ARTICLE]

F-35: Still No Finish Line in Sight

By: Dan Grazier
March 19, 2018

Jim Roche, then-Secretary of the Air Force, made an announcement on October 26, 2001, that all aviation enthusiasts had been waiting for: a winner had been picked to design and build the Joint Strike Fighter. The American people were assured the new jet would enter service in 2008 and be a high-performance replacement for the military’s aging airframes while only costing between $40 million and $50 million.

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

[FULL ARTICLE]

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