America’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is reportedly expensive and challenging to repair without assistance from the original maker, so much so that the Department of Defense is unable to do it on its own.
F-35s are only frequently available for missions about half the time, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a bipartisan watchdog organization in Washington, D.C.
Many of these pricey jets are currently in storage while they await repair components.
The GAO has been monitoring the troublesome F-35 for many years.
The maintenance and care of F-35s are currently contracted out to outside parties.
When something on an F-35 breaks, a defense contractor, not military engineers, often fixes it.
This contributes to the jet’s high price, in part. “DOD has estimated overall costs for the program at more than $1.7 trillion over its life cycle, with the majority of the costs, about $1.3 trillion, associated with sustaining the aircraft,” the GAO stated.
The Pentagon needs 141 days on average to fix an issue with an F-35 aircraft.
The GAO estimates that the Pentagon is 12 years behind schedule in opening its repair facilities.
The military must be able to fix 68 different parts on its own.
Ejection seats, landing gear, and the power thermal management system are among the items on the list.
Currently, it can only fix 44 of the parts. The rest must be done by contractors.
A Marine pilot ejected from an F-35B last week, which went missing over the skies of South Carolina. After the jet crashed, the Pentagon temporarily lost sight of it before eventually finding it.
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