Back in March, we broke the news that the Pentagon’s oversight office was taking a gander at the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, estimated to cost potentially $1.5 trillion to develop, buy and operate over several decades (the Pentagon is so desperate to bring down the estimated cost to operate the plane they’re even hiring contractors to work on that!). The plane is the future of Air Force, Marine and Navy aviation, who plan to buy close to 2,500 of them: it’s the lone fighter in the pipeline.
The auditors’ report — on F-35 quality assurance management (essentially how they identify and prevent problems) – isn’t out yet, but some of their findings were contained in a one-paragraph summary in a report to Congress that came out this week. Turns out it wasn’t all rosy:
In February 2012, DoD IG initiated the F-35 AS9100 Quality Management System assessment to review conformity to specified quality management system(s), contractual quality clauses, and internal quality processes and procedures for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. As of September 2012, more than 190 findings were identified and four notices of concern sent to the F-35 Program Office. All findings were accepted and will be addressed and implemented to the maximum practicable extent.
While it’s not good news that problems were found, we don’t know how serious they are. Whatever the case, it’s good that the Defense Department inspector general is taking a look at this mammoth and important program.