A major contractor and the Pentagon’s top management office came in for criticism from an inspector general for cutting corners in assuring that the massive Joint-Service F-35 stealth fighter is equipped with ready-for-issue parts.
In a report dated June 13, the Defense Department watchdog found that parts for the department’s largest acquisition—with an estimated $406 billion price tag and sales planned to foreign allies—were not being received, according to the contracts and performance incentives.
The parts contracted for delivery by Lockheed Martin Corp. include wheel, seat, and window assemblies, said the audit addressed to the Defense Secretary for Acquisition, the Air Force Secretary, the Air Force Inspector General, and the Defense Contract Management Agency. The federal contracting offices and the corporate teams working on the plane are supposed to ensure the sustaining parts are delivered “ready for aircraft maintenance personnel to install on the aircraft,” as well as have an Electronic Equipment Logbook assigned that spells out each part’s history and remaining life.
Too often, however, the parts arrived not ready in accordance with contracts and incentive fees on the sustainment contracts because of “inflated and unverified F‑35A aircraft availability hours. This occurred because the [Joint Program Office] did not conduct adequate oversight of contractor performance related to receiving F‑35 spare parts and aircraft availability hours,” the report said, calling the inflation of hours unintentional.