Is the F-35 About to Be Delayed (Again)? — The Motley Fool

By Lou Whiteman
June 10, 2018

The Pentagon could go ahead with a huge F-35 order before all the problems with the plane are resolved. An important government watchdog says that’s a bad idea.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has advised the Pentagon to hold off moving into full-rate production with the F-35 fighter until the plane’s crucial issues are resolved, a potential new delay before lead contractor Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) is able to fully cash in on the long-troubled program.

The GAO, in an annual report on the program, lists 966 open deficiencies in the F-35 as of January, and said that about 20% of them will not be resolved before full-rate production under the Pentagon’s current schedule. The Department of Defense is currently testing the F-35s that have been built, and is scheduled to decide on whether to formally move the program into full production in October 2019.

“In its rush to cross the finish line, the program has made some decisions that are likely to affect aircraft performance and reliability and maintainability for years to come,” the GAO wrote, referring to plans to resolve crucial deficiencies after full-rate production begins. “Resolving these deficiencies outside of the developmental program may contribute to additional concurrency costs, which also carries affordability implications.”

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Marine F-35B forced to land over fuel issue

By Shawn Snow
May 4, 2018

An F-35B out the Marine Corps air station at Cherry Point, North Carolina, was forced to make an emergency landing on April 23 when the aircraft fuel light came on.

Officials provided few details of the incident and referred to the event as a “precautionary” and “uneventful landing.”

The pilot landed his F-35B after “receiving a fuel-related warning light from the aircraft” and returned to Fleet Readiness Center East located aboard Cherry Point, John M. Olmstead, a spokesman for FRC East told Marine Corps Times in an emailed statement.

However, Marine Corps Times has learned the F-35 was leaking fuel when it landed, and the engine abruptly shut off before coming to a complete stop because the aircraft was out of fuel.

The F-35B can carry nearly 14,000 pounds of fuel.

The F-35B involved in the incident had “recently undergone airframe modifications,” Olmstead explained.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Marine F-35B forced to land

By Shawn Snow
May 4, 2018

An F-35B out the Marine Corps air station at Cherry Point, North Carolina, was forced to make an emergency landing on April 23 when the aircraft fuel light came on.

Officials provided few details of the incident and referred to the event as a “precautionary” and “uneventful landing.”

The pilot landed his F-35B after “receiving a fuel-related warning light from the aircraft” and returned to Fleet Readiness Center East located aboard Cherry Point, John M. Olmstead, a spokesman for FRC East told Marine Corps Times in an emailed statement.

However, Marine Corps Times has learned the F-35 was leaking fuel when it landed, and the engine abruptly shut off before coming to a complete stop because the aircraft was out of fuel.

The F-35B can carry nearly 14,000 pounds of fuel.

The F-35B involved in the incident had “recently undergone airframe modifications,” Olmstead explained.

[FULL ARTICLE]

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]

Defense Department halts F-35 deliveries amid repair bill disagreement with Lockheed

By Valerie Insinna
April 11, 2018

The Pentagon has suspended acceptance of most F-35 deliveries as manufacturer Lockheed Martin and the F-35 program office debate who should be responsible for fixing jets after a production issue last year.

“While all work in our factories remains active, the F-35 Joint Program Office has temporarily suspended accepting aircraft until we reach an agreement on a contractual issue and we expect this to be resolved soon,” a Lockheed spokeswoman confirmed in a statement, adding that the company remains confident that it can meet its delivery target of 91 aircraft for 2018.

News of the delivery pause was first reported by Reuters.

The dispute is rooted in a quality control issue that caused F-35 deliveries to stop from Sept. 21 to Oct. 20. At the time, corrosion was found in fastener holes of F-35As being repaired at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.

[FULL ARTICLE]

F-35 deliveries resume as DoD, Lockheed clear up financial disagreement

By Valerie Insinna
May 7, 2018

The Pentagon is now accepting deliveries of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter again, after resolving a disagreement with Lockheed Martin over who should pay to fix a couple hundred jets, the company confirmed Monday.

However, it’s still unknown who will ultimately be left with the repair bill.

Spokesmen from Lockheed and the F-35 Joint Program Office declined to comment on whether the company or government will be held financially responsible for the production escape. The decision to resume deliveries was first reported by Reuters.

On April 11, the Defense Department confirmed it had stopped accepting some F-35 deliveries beginning March 28. The problem, sources said at the time, is that the department and Lockheed had agreed upon a plan to repair about 200 jets that were impacted by a quality lapse — but not who should pay for it.

The initial quality control issue, which had caused a stoppage in F-35 deliveries from Sept. 21 to Oct. 20, involved corrosion found in fastener holes of F-35As being repaired at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. A Lockheed investigation had found that the company had not applied the corrosion-preventing primer to fastener holes.

[FULL ARTICLE]

Certifying the Nuclear Fleet in a Cyber World

By Amy McCullough
May 1, 2018

The Air Force is already thinking about how it will certify its nuclear systems in a cyber environment. That’s a significant challenge considering the last time it certified such a system—the B-2 in the early 1990s—the internet didn’t exist, at least not as it does today.

“We built a plan on how to execute that because the time to worry about nuclear certification of our systems is not 2020, it’s 2018. You plan for it now,” said Lt. Gen. Jack Weinstein, deputy chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration, during an AFA Mitchell Institute event on Capitol Hill on ​Tuesday. ​

Nuclear certification is the final step before a nuclear weapon system can reach initial operational capability. In 2017, the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board conducted a study on “Nuclear Surety and Certification for Emerging Systems,” in which the board offered several recommendations, including ensuring the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, Air Force Safety Center, and the NWS Program Offices were properly resourced “to support modernization.”

[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.

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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]

GAO: Bad Communication on F-35 Problems Threatens Future Deployments

By Oriana Pawlyk
April 25, 2018

The Marine Corps may struggle to support the ongoing deployment of its F-35B Joint Strike Fighter to the Pacific if the Defense Department won’t properly share the service’s operational challenges to the Navy or Air Force, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

The GAO issued a report Wednesday saying that the Marine Corps relies too heavily on “personal relationships” with Air Force and Navy counterparts to share lessons learned from not only its first operational F-35 deployment, but also training exercises.

The Defense Department “has emphasized the need for the services to collect and share lessons learned not only at a service-specific level, but across all services, and it established the Joint Lessons Learned Program in 2000 to enhance joint capabilities through knowledge management in peacetime and wartime,” the 15-page report said.

[FULL ARTICLE]

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