The F-35 still has hundreds of unresolved technical problems and in some cases Pentagon administrators are simply downgrading deficiencies in the jet rather than fixing them, according to the Project on Government Oversight, a nonpartisan group in Washington that focuses on government waste.
POGO says that a document obtained from the F-35 Deficiency Review Board shows that 19 “Category I” deficiencies in the jet were downgraded in June, with no plans to fix 10 of the 19 flaws. The deficiencies include problems with the pilot ejection system, the tail-hook used for emergency landings and the target-coordinating system used with precision-guided bombs.
The failure to fix these problems puts lives at risk, POGO said, and increases the cost of the program while producing a less reliable and capable aircraft.
“Despite any proclamations from the Pentagon, the F-35 program’s development phase will not be complete in any meaningful sense this year, or for many years to come,” the POGO report concludes. “The F-35 Deficiency Review Board document reveals that F-35 Joint Program Office officials are not even attempting to deal with serious design flaws, just so they can claim to have finished this phase without busting the budget and the schedule yet again. Instead, without admitting it, they will complete development work and fixes later, that is, within their newly devised, amorphous ‘modernization’ phase, free of the restrictions and accountability imposed by a budget and milestone baseline.”
Read the full POGO report here.