Report: F-35 has 276 deficiencies in combat performance

Outgoing Pentagon official cites “significant, well-documented deficiencies,” but says Defense Department “has no plan to adequately fix and verify hundreds of these deficiencies” in current schedule • He says testing will not be complete until 2019-2020.

Ilan Gattegno and Israel Hayom Staff

The F-35 stealth fighter jet

The F-35 stealth fighter jet program is continuing to hit considerable turbulence, a new Pentagon report has found.

The damning new report, which lists 276 “deficiencies in combat performance,” estimated that it would cost half a billion dollars to extend the August 2017 Initial Operational Test and Evaluation deadline.

The report by Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s outgoing director of combat testing, cited the fighter jet’s “significant, well-documented deficiencies in critical combat capabilities.”

The U.S. Defense Department’s F-35 program office “has no plan to adequately fix and verify hundreds of these deficiencies using flight testing within its currently planned schedule and resources,” Gilmore wrote. He said deploying F-35s “with capable mission systems is critical to our national security,” but the program “is at high risk of sacrificing essential combat performance.”

Gilmore’s 62-page annual report said military services have “designated 276 deficiencies in combat performance as ‘critical to correct'” in the final version of the “3F” software that gives the aircraft its full combat capability.

“But less than half of the critical deficiencies were addressed with attempted corrections [so far],” Gilmore wrote. He said the Pentagon’s approach “guarantees the program will attempt a premature” termination of mission systems testing, “which will increase the risk of mission failures” once the aircraft enters the one-year phase of intense combat testing, “and more importantly, if the F-35 is used in combat.”

Combat testing provides the most credible way to predict combat performance, Gilmore wrote. But under the latest projections, combat testing will not be complete until “at best” December 2019 and more likely later, in 2020, he wrote. The testing is currently scheduled to start in August.

The delay in combat testing will most likely put off by as much as a year a Pentagon decision to approve the aircraft for full-rate production — the most lucrative phase for Lockheed — from the planned April 2019 into 2020, Gilmore wrote.

Lockheed is developing the F-35 for the Marines, Air Force and Navy, and eight countries that helped fund its development: Britain, Canada, Australia, Norway, Italy, Turkey, Denmark and the Netherlands. Israel and Japan have also ordered the jet.

In December, Israel received its first two F-35s (renaming them “Adir,” Hebrew for “Mighty”), and an additional seven F-35s were expected to arrive in Israel throughout 2017.

It is unclear if the additional testing required will affect the F-35 orders from Israel and other countries.

The F-35 program, which began in 2001, is around 70% over initial cost estimates and years behind schedule.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has slammed the fighter jet program as too expensive, while his aides said he intends to keep pushing to cut the costs of military hardware.

“The F-35 program and cost is out of control,” Trump tweeted in December, echoing campaign promises to cut waste in federal spending. “Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after Jan. 20.” Jan. 20 is the date Trump will be sworn into office.

Subscribe to Israpundit Daily Digest

26 Comments

  1. Look, the thing doesn’t work. But, the cost can be recovered. Rich people have paid millions of dollars to go into outer space right? http://www.virgingalactic.com/

    I met a Russian musician who said that during the waning days of the Soviet Union, he played gigs on the giant city-like subs they had built.

    Why not host really expensive cocktail parties on F35’s. Who better than Trump to implement a glamour solution to an intractable problem.

    [This portion of this Post was paid for by Cher]

  2. I know. Headed to “moderation”…
    It really pisses me off that having dedicated years working on US Department of Defense Military Avionics Programs at a senior level and after retiring warning about the white elephant which at times flies, our people keeps on buying the pseudo generals narratives. I maintained distance from the F-35 program… and received grapevine feeds. The aircraft includes a large pile of potential failures, significant operational limitations, extremely high cost of upkeep…
    Of course our superb technical people can conceivably make that machine more or less capable,(and then feed the know how to Lockheed), yet the overall is flawed.
    We must sternly request the information relevant from our less than trustworthy military command staff and collectively decide on the subject.

  3. I love to read the smart alec comments left here by comedians who are constantly testing their material in a place where little or nobody will see it. I don’t think any comedians are invited to the inauguration festivities. Maybe these comments about the f-35 will make the cut. Try it. Mr.Trump is looking for new talent.

  4. @ AMW:

    No comedian can make everyone laugh; even the best of them cannot relate to retarded and brain dead, but that’s life!!!

  5. Hola Yamit,
    Fly by wire is the gateway for backdoor control. It would nearly impossible for Lockheed or others to take over the operation of the craft if flown using the ole ways. FbW is faster than… the old ways. Killer satellites. I do not know much on the subject.
    The time line to verify and fix such list of problems extends to 2019 – 2020. The two F-35’s already here are the test bunnies. We will have to hold back and listen carefully to information that may become available as they tango with the list of 276 top layer problems. Just to formulate, budget and manage that number of CAP’s is a nightmare. And we both know that under each of the 276 lurk others unknowns. At any given time my Programs had to work on not more than seven or eight Corrective Action Plans pertaining to six different aircraft.
    That was not fun. Imagine 276…

  6. Just noticed this: “has no plan to adequately fix and verify hundreds of these deficiencies”. Wait. There are only 276. So since there are only two hundreds and plural must mean at least two, does that mean that they have a plan to fix 76 but not the remaining 200? It will take years to complete testing and they already sold how many of these, and for how much? Just who are these people and how did they get to where they are? Can you imagine pharmaceuticals being released like this? If you were the incoming CEO of a company and you got a report like this, wouldn’t your first thought be to take a look at the resumes of everybody involved to see what the qualifications were of anybody who would imagine they could blithely say something like this and keep their heads? They’re not even offering excuses! They must be so used to an environment rife with corruption and/or incompetence that they’ve even forgotten how to cover their asses. They don’t even seem to see the need! Mind boggling. There needs to be restructuring to provide accountability. Trump’s experience on “The Apprentice” should come in handy. One of the reasons we elected him. “You’re Fired!” How about a reality tv show about Trump’s restructuring based on ‘The Apprentice” with the proceeds to go towards paying down the national debt.

    Metaphor alert: I am reminded of this classic comedy

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049777/

  7. @ SHmuel HaLevi:
    Isn’t backdoor control dangerous? Isn’t it potentially a two-way street? Couldn’t an enemy hack a fleet and turn it against it’s own bases and population centers? Like 9/11 but fully automated and remotely controlled? The terrorists wouldn’t even have to risk their own lives! Or couldn’t a hostile regime in Washington over-ride the Israeli command and issue recall orders at will! Now, the latest glitch seems to be that they have to paint it bright white to keep the fuel from overheating! Nothing stealthy about it. And no, they are not allowing Israeli systems engineers access as promised. It’s a poisoned gift from obama. Trump and/or Congress should force the manufacturers to recall and issue a full refund to both Israel and the U.S. Israel is just trying to humor us. They don’t want this junk. Israel is not just the U.S.’s strongest ally in the Middle East, but the U.S.’s strongest ally, period. Nobody else has ever been this loyal and especially despite all the slaps in the face.

    http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/latest-f-35-flaw-makes-jet-problematic-for-israel/2014/12/10/0/

  8. @ Sebastien Zorn:
    :)) You do not miss much, do you?
    As a rule such gigantic failure sequels are seldom the Critical Design Review Team responsibility. At least it used to be so.
    The F-35 is the dead brain step child from a newfangled cloud. By now the cocktail is so screwed up that killing the bartender sill no solve the problems.
    I do not doubt that we have what is takes to eventually make that fly for at least, some effect. Is that what we are here for?
    I have no idea how many techs are employed just re issuing Engineering Approved drawings, Reliability Testing Plans, BOM’s, Acceptance test plans, work instructions and…
    As to why our political generals jumped into that cesspool… That would be interesting to find out.
    A few days ago I paged through my copy of a red A1! failure notice that developed while in flight from a still operational front line aircraft. And the CAP and AP presented to the D o D. That was the ONLY failure of that type we confronted and solved in 12 years. Isolated failure. No repetition or layered.
    The F-35 has had hundreds of I do not know what to call that and now comes the retiring Pentagon fellow new listing.

  9. @ SHmuel HaLevi:

    Looks like a case of the DOD and AF always adding requirements to do more things adding to cost overruns and technical problems. I favor specialized aircraft designed to do narrow and specific functions and missions.

  10. I think I do like that idea. I never thought of it before. Might even reduce the cost of a jet fighter by millions and millions.

  11. Your approach is correct.
    The F-35 is as monstrous pile up of “uniqueness” with no specialization. I have no time to get involved on the flop as I am planning to make a working visit to the US invited by my old associates. Intended to be an old timers fun fest but there will be other things to do as well.
    As I said before, we have here all that it takes to strip the whole aircraft and install our own avionics. The structural and power plant bugs are workable once the chaff is unloaded.
    Now. At that point, why not just buy the upgraded versions of the F-18, F-15 and F-16. Why dumping 110 million bucks on each aircraft and then invest a pile of dough to turn them into some perhaps usable hybrid.

  12. @ SHmuel HaLevi:

    Its hard to share the enthusiasm for relying on
    one unproven platform (F-35) – AND WHAT HAPPENS THE DAY AMERICA’S ENEMIES LEARN THAT THE ENTIRE FLEET HAS TO BE GROUNDED FOR A REPAIR???

    The original concept was that there would be enough F-35’s in the force that a sufficient # would always be available and operational while others down for maint. The cost is very expensive tro ensure that concept.

  13. @ SHmuel HaLevi:

    Egypt Rearms [implications for Israel
    Yiftah S. Shapir and Kashish Parpiani
    Strategic Assessment Volume 19 No. 3 October 2016
    http://www.inss.org.il/uploadImages/systemFiles/adkan19-3ENG_3_Shapir%20and%20Parpiani.pdf

    In turn, there are major implications for Israel. For decades Egypt has maintained its obligations under the peace agreement with Israel. Furthermore, since el-Sisi took power in Egypt, the bilateral relations as well as the level of cooperation have improved considerably. Egypt’s current rearmament, then, should not worry Israel in the near term. However, Egypt’s rearmament and its drive to become a regional power once again should be viewed by Jerusalem with caution. After all, the IDF is the only major military on Egypt’s borders, and Israel cannot avoid seeing any such
    rearmament as a potential threat.

    The acquisition of modern aircraft such as the Rafale and the MiG-29M will erode Israel’s qualitative edge in the air – even after the F-35 enters service in 2017. Egypt’s navy is already much larger than Israel’s, and when the six new corvettes and the new submarines enter service in the coming
    years, Egypt will have a truly formidable navy.

    Of particular military concern for Israel are the Antey-2500 SAMs, which could

    affect the Israeli air force’s freedom of action even over Israeli air space, and the

    Moskit missiles on board the Molniya corvettes, which could affect the freedom of

    action of Israel’s navy.

  14. The F-35 has become so reliant on its electronic sub-systems, and those electronics have become so intertwined with each other, that either all of them will work or none of them will work. Right now, it’s none of them.

    In the old days, Israel could substitute Israeli targeting systems, navigation systems, mission management computers, if they didn’t like how the stock avionics systems performed. Not anymore. Israel gets to install its own communications gear, and some plug-in electronic warfare modules, and that’s it. Everything else is take it or leave it.

    Unfortunately, there is no alternative stealth airplane for Israel to buy.

  15. Precisely.
    We do have the capability to completely retrofit the aircraft’s avionics. Contractually that is not an option. All the backdoor may remain there. The platform has more back doors than a Texan whorehouse catering to married politicians.
    But the problems are also on other parameters as well.
    As to other stealth 5th generation aircraft. I would say we could probably handle that as well in due time.
    Israel is, as far as I know, going to concentrate on the remotely piloted and drone aircraft instead. Stealth as a side show.

Comments are closed.