The fleet of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) is operating at a fraction of its readiness, according to a report published Aug. 6 by the Project on Government Oversight’s Center for Defense Information.
The non-partisan organization, which investigates possible government fraud, waste and abuse, found evidence that the 23 F-35s now in the test fleet could reach a fully capable rate of 8.7 percent between last December and mid-July of this year.
Reasons include the lack of spare parts, and failure of onboard systems such as radar, electronic-warfare instruments. Problems also exist with the plane’s Distributed Aperture System, which links up to the $400,000 helmet its pilot must wear. The F-35 can still use data links to continue flying, but in a degraded capacity, the report stated. The report cited an explanation Air Force officials provided to Air Force Times, which cited the age of the fleet the F-35 is replacing.
The Defense Department will decide by October whether the F-35 would move into full production, the report stated.