F-35 Aircraft Sustainment: DOD Needs to Address Substantial Supply Chain Challenges
April 25, 2019
DOD needs to address supply chain issues with the F-35 advanced fighter jet, the country's most expensive weapons system with projected operating costs of more than $1 trillion.
-- DOD has spent billions of dollars on F-35 spare parts but does not have records for all the parts it has purchased, where they are, or how much they cost.
The U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy share a pool of spare parts with partners around the world.
But shortages, repair backlogs, and mismatched parts are keeping F-35s on the ground.
For example, F-35 aircraft were unable to fly nearly 30% of the time from May through November 2018 because they didn't have the parts they needed.
Another example: 44 percent of purchased parts were incompatible with aircraft the Marine Corps took on a recent deployment.
Without a process to modify the sets of parts for deployments, DOD may be unable to meet the services' operational needs.
GAO also implicitly describes a crucial failure of the F-35's ALIS logistic system by noting that "DOD is not maintaining a database with information on F-35 parts the U.S. owns, and it lacks the necessary data to be able to do so" -- the very job ALIS was supposed to do.
While DOD has taken steps to address these challenges and others, we’ve made 8 recommendations that address these specific issues.
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