DOT&E Report on F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
Jan. 31, 2019
This year's DOT&E report on the F-35 fighter brought its share of revelations about this troubled program.
Although the F-35 program completed SDD flight testing in April, the test centers continued to work on Block 3F technical debt by addressing known deficiencies. The extent that the open deficiencies will affect combat capability will be assessed during IOT&E, which began in early December.
For all variants, this testing has led to discoveries requiring repairs and modifications to production designs, some as late as Lot 12 aircraft, and retrofits to fielded aircraft.
Based on durability testing, for example, it reported that "the service life of early-production F-35B aircraft is well under the expected service life of 8,000 flight hours, and may be as low as 2,100 flight hours," which implies that F-35B presently in service with the Fleet are expected to start reaching their service life limit in CY26, based on design usage.
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