Quality Assurance Assessment of the F-35 Lightning II Program
Source: US Department of Defense Inspector General
Ref: Report No. DODIG-2013-140
Published Sept. 30, 2013
136 PDF pages

This detailed report offers some insight into why the most costly weapon system in U.S. history has so many problems and defects.

The Pentagon failed to supervise the design and construction of its new fleet of F-35 stealth warplanes adequately, the DODIG concluded on Sept. 30, placing the blame squarely on military brass for performance and safety problems in the largest and most expensive weapons program in history.

Previous government audits of the $1 trillion military program have criticized its contractors or focused on technical flaws in the plane itself. But this report, probably the deepest dive so far into the origins of the fighter jet’s performance troubles, is the first to focus intensively on the Pentagon’s mismanagement of what a Senator has depicted as a “textbook” example of poor procurement.


The F-35 Program did not sufficiently implement or flow down technical and quality management system requirements to prevent the fielding of nonconforming hardware and software. This could adversely affect aircraft performance, reliability, maintainability, and ultimately program cost.

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company (Lockheed Martin) and its subcontractors did not follow disciplined AS9100 Quality Management System practices, as evidenced by 363 findings, which contained 719 issues.

The Joint Program Office did not:
• Ensure that Lockheed Martin and its subcontractors were applying rigor to design, manufacturing, and quality assurance processes.
• Flow down critical safety item requirements.
• Ensure that Lockheed Martin flowed down quality assurance and technical requirements to subcontractors.
• Establish an effective quality assurance organization.
• Ensure that the Defense Contract Management Agency perform adequate quality assurance oversight.

In addition, the Defense Contract Management Agency did not:
• Sufficiently perform Government quality assurance oversight of F-35 contractors.

Full text
(PDF format)


Official reports See all