Pratt Says GAO, IG Don’t Tell Whole Story

Reacting Monday to two damning reports about the F-35 fighter’s engine—one fro?m the Government Accountability Office and one from the Pentagon Inspector General—Pratt & Whitney defended the F135 engine as doing well, but merely suffering from the ups and downs typical of engine development. The data in the two reports are “completely accurate,” P&W military engines president Bennett Croswell told reporters in Washington, D.C., “but it fails to tell the rest of the story.” The GAO, in a report released last week, said F135 engine reliability is “very poor” and said needed changes may increase costs enough that the Pentagon’s F-35 procurement plan isn’t workable. Moreover, GAO said Pratt has a “long way to go” to get up to par. Croswell said he found the characterization “surprising,” since mean time between removals for the F135 are “68 percent better than the 2020 spec” and mission readiness is exceeding 90 percent. The GAO’S metric, however—mean time between failures—is below predictions, Croswell admitted. Most of the deficiencies cited by the GAO have to do with problems that have already been corrected with new designs or bench tests, he said, and will be inserted on the production line as quickly as possible. If the current configuration was installed on all the F-35s now flying, Pratt said the engine would be performing at 119 percent of its required reliability. Croswell acknowledged, however, that “it will take time to get the fleet retrofitted and build hours” so that MTBF averages get up to spec.