F-35B “Exceptional” Performance, But Parts Lag

The F-35B turned in “exceptional” performance during a week-long operational readiness inspection last week, but there’s apparently still a parts issue for the jet. Marine Corps air boss Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, in a statement on Friday’s declaration of initial operating capability with the F-35B, said the ORI was a great success and the jet “performed well in all five IOC operational scenarios: close air support, air interdiction, armed reconnaissance, offensive, [and] defensive counterair. This included live ordnance deliveries.” The F-35B, “if required, could respond to a contingency,” said Davis, who is deputy commandant for aviation. However, he also said, “We must remain vigilant in the forging of a sustainment system which supports readiness rates required to train for and conduct sustained combat operations.” He said, “If I have any concern at this point, it is that the spare parts available to extract maximum value from this exceptional warfighting asset will be shy of what we truly need.” A Lockheed Martin spokesman said the company is working with the USMC “every day to alleviate this concern.” Davis also made a pitch to raise the current readiness standards of USMC aviation, which are “between 70 and 75 percent” of full mission capability. “I think we have that wrong, and I want to see if we can do better with this new platform,” he said.