WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — The U.S. Department of Defense anticipates that the F-35 program will ultimately incur a lifetime cost of $1.7 trillion. However, a recent report from a government watchdog has identified several problems with these aircraft, revealing that they can only fulfill mission requirements half the time.
The Government Accountability Office has released an extensive report comprising nearly 100 pages, which found multiple maintenance issues with the F-35 fighter jets.
These issues include shortages of spare parts and other equipment, which can result in delays in the repair process. Furthermore, the report reveals delays in establishing facilities dedicated to handling these repairs.
The report also found that F-35 jets are “mission capable” only 55% of the time.
“If the aircraft can only perform 55% of the time and the goal is 85 to 90% of the time, taxpayers are not getting their money’s worth,” said Diana Maurer, who authored the report for the Government Accountability Office.
The military currently operates about 450 F-35 military jets, but the DOD plans to produce around 2,500 more in the coming years. These highly advanced jets are utilized by the Air Force, Marines and Navy.
However, the recent report raises concerns about the substantial cost associated with the program.
The report coincided with the recent incident where a $100 million F-35 crashed in South Carolina due to an onboard malfunction. The pilot ejected and did not suffer any serious injuries.
Following the crash, the military asked for public assistance in locating the jet, which had flown on autopilot for about 60 miles before being found the next day.
Amid lingering questions about the crash and circumstances onboard, NewsNation sought answers from a Pentagon spokesman but he maintained a guarded stance and did not provide additional details.
“It’s important that we not jump to conclusions that we not speculate that we don’t allow our imagination to fill gaps,” said Brig. Gen, Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary. “We have a very methodical, very deliberate, very tried and true process that will take a look at exactly what the situation was. Get the facts, and then as appropriate, apply those facts to prevent these kinds of things from happening again.”
The Marines ordered a two-day pause on F-35 flights this week. This decision was made to allow pilots to review and release their operation procedures when flying the plane.