The F-35 breaks too easily and takes too long to fix, Pentagon says

Military Tech

VIDEO: The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

All of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter variants adopted across the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps "are breaking more often than planned and taking longer to fix," the Pentagon's chief weapons tester told lawmakers on Wednesday.

Speaking before the House Armed Services Committee, Defense Department Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) director Robert F. Behler testified that the operational suitability of the Pentagon's F-35 fleet remains "at a level below service expectations."

"The fleet-wide monthly availability rate for U.S. aircraft, for the 12 months ending September 2019, was below the target of 65 percent," Behler said, noting that "no portion of the fleet" was close to meeting the ambitious goal of a 80 percent mission capable rate that then-Defense Secretary James Mattis set just over a year ago.

"None of the F-35 variants is meeting either the reliability or the maintainability metrics," added. "In short, for all variants, aircraft are breaking more often than planned and taking longer to fix."

This is no surprise for the perpetually-buggy aircraft. Indeed, the Pentagon's 2018 OT&E report released in February indicated that F-35's ongoing reliability issues have drastically shortened its airframe's life so far below expectations that there's "no improving trend in" available aircraft for both training and combat missions.

The following June, documented obtained by Defense News indicated that the Pentagon's F-35 variants continue to suffer from more than a dozen category 1 deficiencies that could potentially put pilots at risk during combat operations.

In July, then-defense secretary nominee Mark Esper told lawmakers that "unserviceable canopies" which an earlier GAO report had indicated "failed more frequently than expected" were preventing the DoD from reaching his predecessor's lofty readiness goal.

The Defense Department in October signed off on a $34 billion with Lockheed Martin to to purchase 478 F-35s from the defense contractor. At the moment, the Pentagon has been sending the most advnaced aircraft in modern military history into combat to blow up terrorist caves, so there's that I guess.

A Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Team Kodiak boat crew displays their new 38-foot Special Purpose Craft - Training Boat in Womens Bay Sept. 27, 2011. (Coast Guard/Petty Officer 2nd Class Charly Hengen)

A collision between a Coast Guard boat and a Navy vessel near Kodiak Island, Alaska on Wednesday landed six coasties and three sailors to the hospital, officials said.

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(U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Jamarius Fortson)

The Navy has identified the two Defense Department civilians who were killed in a shooting Wednesday at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii.

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(U.S. Navy photo)

A shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida has left four people dead, including the gunman, law enforcement officials said at a Friday news conference.

The shooter and two victims were killed at the base and another victim died after being taken to the hospital, said Chip Simmons, deputy chief of the Escambia County Sheriff's Office.

Another seven people remain hospitalized, including two sheriff's deputies who engaged the gunman, Simmons said at Friday's news conference. One was hit in the arm and the other was shot in the knee. Both are expected to recover.

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U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Victoria Fontanelli, an administrative specialist with 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, moves through a simulated village inside the Infantry Immersion Trainer as part of training for the Female Engagement Team, at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. Oct 16, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Brendan Custer)

Widespread sexism and gender bias in the Marine Corps hasn't stopped hundreds of female Marines from striving for the branch's most dangerous, respected and selective jobs.

Six years after the Pentagon officially opened combat roles to women in 2013, 613 female Marines and sailors now serve in them, according to new data released by the Marine Corps.

"Females are now represented in every previously-restricted occupational field," reads a powerpoint released this month on the Marine Corps Integration Implementation Plan (MCIIP), which notes that 60% of those female Marines and sailors now serving in previously-restricted units joined those units in the past year.

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Sailors aboard the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Columbia (SSN 771) prepare to moor at the historic submarine piers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam following a six-month Western Pacific deployment, June 6, 2018. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael H. Lee)

The troubled 22-year-old Pearl Harbor sailor identified as shooting three shipyard workers Wednesday and then killing himself may have come from a troubled ship.

Gabriel Romero, a sailor on the submarine USS Columbia, fatally shot two civilian workers and wounded a third while the Los Angeles-class vessel is in Dry Dock 2 for a two-year overhaul, according to The Associated Press and other sources.

Romero "opened fire on shipyard personnel with his M-4 service rifle and then turned his M9 service pistol on himself," Fox News Pentagon reporter Lucas Tomlinson reported, citing a preliminary incident report.

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam was not able to provide information Thursday on a report that multiple suicides have occurred on the Columbia.

Hawaii News Now said Romero was undergoing disciplinary review and was enrolled in anger management classes.

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