The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II has 873 unresolved deficiencies and new problems are being discovered regularly, making reducing the number of issues with the aircraft difficult.
That's the conclusion of the latest scathing assessment of the stealth fighter from the Annual Report for the US Department of Defense's (DoD) Office of the Director of Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E), released to the US Congress on 30 January.
"Although the programme is working to fix deficiencies, new discoveries are still being made, resulting in only a minor decrease in the overall number of deficiencies," says the report.
The F-35's problems include 13 Category 1 deficiencies. Such problems "may cause death or severe injury; may cause loss or major damage to a weapon system; critically restricts the combat readiness capabilities of the using organisation; or results in a production line stoppage," according to the US Air Force's (USAF) definition.
The F-35's deficiencies are compounded by maintenance problems which hobbled the aircraft's mission capable rate below the DoD's goal of 80%. The mission capable rate is the percentage of aircraft capable of performing at least one mission, excluding aircraft in depot maintenance or undergoing major repairs.
"No significant portion of the fleet, including the combat-coded fleet, was able to achieve and sustain the DoD mission capable rate goal of 80%," says the DOT&E. "However, individual units have been able to achieve the 80% target for short periods during deployed operations."
Lockheed Martin did not respond to questions about when deficiencies with the F-35 would be fixed, saying it is still reviewing the DOT&E report.
"The F-35 continues to mature and is the most lethal, survivable and connected fighter in the world," the company says. "Reliability continues to improve, with the global fleet averaging greater than 65% mission capable rates and operational units consistently performing near 75%." (end of excerpt)
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