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.
Moreover, lessons learned from the Marine Corps deployment aren’t being shared in a systematic way with the Navy or Air Force, according to the unclassified report, raising questions about inter-service coordination on the world’s costliest weapons program. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Bloomberg News website.
Click here for the related report (15 PDF pages) on the GAO website.
See our analysis of this report “GAO Reports Highlight New F-35 Deficiencies,” in our Feature Stories section—Ed.