A newly issued report by the Pentagon’s inspector general found deficiencies in the management practices of the F-35 program office, F-35 prime contractor Lockheed Martin, and the Defense Contract Management Agency. These issues “could adversely affect aircraft performance, reliability, maintainability, and ultimately program cost,” states the report’s summary, dated Sept. 30. Among the issues, Lockheed Martin and its subcontractors did not follow disciplined quality management practices; the F-35 program office did not ensure that the company was applying rigor to design, manufacturing, and quality-assurance processes; and DCMA did not perform quality-assurance oversight of F-35 contractors, states the summary. The F-35 program office, in a statement, said program officials have addressed 269 of the report’s 363 findings, as of Sept. 24, with corrective plans in development for the remainder. Further, the issues that the IG highlighted and are not “new or critical issues” that affect the program’s health, stated the program office. Lockheed Martin, in its own statement, said the report’s findings are based on data more than 16 months old and reiterated that most of the issues are now resolved. Resolution of any lingering issues is expected by April 2014, stated the company.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.