By Dan Grazier
November 16, 2016
When F-35 Joint Strike Fighter pilots take to the air in coming years, not only will their plane not be suitable for combat, it won’t even be fully developed. Indeed, performance in multiple essential mission areas will be “unacceptable,” according to the Pentagon’s top weapon testing official.
In a memo obtained by the Project On Government Oversight, Dr. Michael Gilmore, Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), warns that the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office (JPO) has decided to cut short the F-35’s development phase in order to pretend that schedule and cost goals are being met.
Truncating Development Breeds Further Cost Overruns
Contractors, the JPO, and Pentagon acquisition officials have failed for years to deliver on their grandiose promises of program success. Now the program appears to be out of money, with lots of development testing and re-engineering left to be done. Instead of admitting to these failures, F-35 program officials are kicking the development can into the future by arbitrarily cutting short this process now with the intention of eating into funds set aside for operational testing and production later.
Taking incompletely developed F-35s into combat will, Dr. Gilmore says, place pilots at “significant risk.”