F-35 Aircraft: DOD Should Assess and Update Its Engine Sustainment Strategy to Support Desired Outcomes

What GAO Discovered

The Section of Defense’s (DOD) F-35 engine sustainment system does not fulfill the preferred results of the military services companies. DOD’s existing technique, if executed as planned, allows for 6 percent of its F-35 aircraft to be non-mission able, or not able to carry out assigned missions, because of to motor troubles. The armed service providers wish results comparable to their other tactical fighter aircraft, which considering that 2017, have generally knowledgeable 1 % or significantly less of aircraft becoming unable to work owing to motor challenges, in accordance to officers. Till DOD assesses its F-35 sustainment tactic, like its aims, and reaches settlement on any needed alterations, the software will slide small of the wanted results of people.

DOD has not satisfied several critical performance targets for sustaining the F-35 motor. 1st, DOD only satisfied its 6 percent or fewer non-mission able owing to engine difficulties aim in a person month from January 2021 by February 2022. As a consequence, the amount of F-35 aircraft not able to fly due to the deficiency of an running engine has been escalating since January 2020 with a slight lessen from July 2021 as a result of February 2022. 2nd, DOD has fulfilled three of five of its reliability and maintainability goals—metrics aimed at making sure that the F-35 engine will be offered for functions as opposed to out of service for maintenance. The plans that DOD has not met have resulted in bigger-ranges of upkeep.

F-35 Plane without having an Working Engine, January 2020–February 2022

DOD has formulated and is implementing corrective-action options due to the fact tumble 2020 to strengthen the capacity of its engine-fix servicing depots. DOD’s plans have resulted in improvements, this sort of as lowering the time to repair service a essential module of the motor from 207 times in Oct 2020 to 119 times in January 2022. Nevertheless, DOD’s options are highly dependent on assumptions about acquiring funding and its capability to deal with future dangers. Just one region that has not been completely dealt with is an settlement involving DOD and the prime contractor on a design for forecasting spare parts requirements. The prime contractor and DOD are employing various knowledge inputs to estimate spare components demands. Until addressed, the software risks long term areas shortages that could impact its ability to mend engines and guarantee F-35 plane have operating engines.

Why GAO Did This Review

The F-35 plane, with its highly developed abilities, represents a rising part of DOD’s tactical aviation fleet—with around 400 aircraft in use to date. DOD designs to procure about 2,000 far more F-35s with approximated lifetime-cycle expenditures of the software exceeding $1.7 trillion $1.3 trillion of these fees are linked with sustaining the aircraft. GAO previously reported that issues sustaining the F-35 motor could pose its biggest sustainment hazard above the following 10 decades.

Dwelling Report 116-442 included a provision for GAO to critique F-35 engine sustainment troubles.

This report evaluates the extent to which (1) the F-35’s motor sustainment strategy has been aligned with military services service wished-for outcomes (2) DOD has achieved effectiveness objectives for sustaining the F-35 engine and (3) DOD has developed and applied plans to deal with any worries. GAO reviewed software documentation, analyzed sustainment information, and interviewed officials from DOD and the primary contractor for the F-35 motor, Pratt & Whitney.