The F-35 fighter jet is starting to outlive its reputation as a $428 billion bundle of flawed hardware and buggy software: Lockheed Martin Corp. and the military have eliminated all of the deficiencies believed to endanger pilots and about 90% of other serious flaws that could hamper missions.
That’s down from 111 “Category 1” safety-of-flight and mission-impeding deficiencies in January 2018, according to Defense Department data compiled by the Government Accountability Office.
The improvements may be critical to reassuring lawmakers and U.S. allies buying the F-35 that the costliest U.S. weapons system is worth its price tag, especially as pressure builds to reduce government spending after the response to the Covid-19 pandemic escalates budget deficits. The aircraft is already being operated by forces in the U.S., U.K., Israel, Japan, South Korea and Australia. (As well as Norway, the Netherlands and Italy—Ed.)
The Defense Department’s F-35 program office has “done a good job at working” with the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps “to really prioritize what needs to get fixed versus what would be just a helpful thing to the pilot -- getting to the actual things they need to get at,” Jon Ludwigson, the GAO’s top F-35 analyst, said in an interview. He said “they have procedures in place to work around” the remaining flaws. (end of excerpt)
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