The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter continues to be plagued by quality and reliability problems, with as many as 550 of the jets to require refits, including two dozen already handed to Australia.
The US Government Accountability Office warned in a report this week that JSF suppliers were failing to “meet predefined design standards” in thousands of manufacturing processes, and that already-built aircraft “do not meet the program’s reliability and maintainability goals”.
The GAO said 870 “open deficiencies” with the aircraft had been identified as of December, including nine “category one” problems that could “jeopardise safety (or) security”. It found only 30 per cent of more than 10,000 “critical processes” identified in the assembly phase “are currently able to produce a product within predefined design standards”.
“Due to the concurrency of testing and production, according to an F-35 program official, as many as 550 aircraft delivered through 2020 will need retrofits to fix deficiencies and design issues found during testing,” the GAO said.
Lockheed Martin has so far delivered 24 of 72 F-35A Lightning II aircraft to the Australian Defence Force, at a cost of about A$140m each. (end of excerpt)
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