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The Navy says its F-35C is ready for a fight. The Navy's own data says otherwise
In February, the commander of the U.S. Naval Air Forces proclaimed that the Navy's F-35C Joint Strike Fighter was "ready for operations, ready for combat and ready to win" — even though the Navy's own testing data says otherwise.
Testing data obtained by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) indicates that the F-35 variant's "fully mission capable" rate — a key measure of a military aircraft's readiness — collapsed from 12% in October 2016 to zero in December 2017 before remaining flat through 2018.
The Marine Corps' F-35B hasn't fared much better: According to the POGO report, the aircraft's FMC rate fell from 23% in October 2017 to 12.9% in June 2018.
Both of these rates are far below the September 2019 target of an 80% mission capable rate for both Navy and Air Force fighter jets set by former Defense Secretary James Mattis back in October.
Two F-35C Lightning II aircraft from Naval Air Station Lemoore flown by Maj. Michael Fisher and Capt John Taliaferro from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 125 "Rough Raiders" fly in formation over the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range after completing a training mission (NASL), Calif. (U.S. Navy/Lt. Cmdr. Darin Russell)
These shortcomings come weeks after an annual report from the Pentagon's operational testing and evaluation arm highlighted the alarmingly low service life of the F-35B that "may be as low as 2,100 [hours]," well bellow the expected service life of 8,000 hours.
According to POGO, these readiness shortfalls dramatically reduce the availability of aircraft and, in turn, the next-generation's overall effectiveness downrange. From the report:
To tell how many planes can actually get to the fight requires a second measure, the sortie generation rate: that is, how many flights per day each fighter in the fleet completes. The 2018 DOT&E report makes no mention of it.
The fleet-wide sortie rates for the three F-35 variants POGO calculated from the 2017 report were extremely low, averaging between 0.3 and 0.4 sorties per day. During Operation Desert Storm, frontline combat aircraft including the F-15 and F-16 flew an average of at least one sortie per day, and the A-10 fleet averaged at least 1.4 sorties per day. Even under the pressure of recent Middle East combat deployment, the F-35's rates have not improved. According to statements from the squadron commander, 6 F-35Bs onboard the USS Essex flew over 100 sorties in 50-plus days in the Middle East. In other words, each F-35B flew a third of a sortie per day—meaning they flew an average of once every three days—in sustained combat.
Despite this, Marine Corps F-35B flew more than 100 combat sorties against Taliban and ISIS targets from the amphibious assault ship USS Essex over 50 days after its combat debut in September 2018, Lt. Col. Kyle Shoop, commander of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 previously told Task & Purpose.
And in February, the Navy declared that the F-35Cs assigned to the Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147 had achieved initial operational capability and were ready to deploy.
"We will continue to learn and improve ways to maintain and sustain F-35C as we prepare for first deployment," Joint Strike Fighter Wing commodore Capt. Max McCoy said at the time. "The addition of F-35C to existing Carrier Air Wing capability ensures that we can fight and win in contested battlespace now and well into the future."
WATCH NEXT: The F-35B Heads Into Combat
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said it had successfully conducted another test at a satellite launch site, the latest in a string of developments aimed at "restraining and overpowering the nuclear threat of the U.S.", state news agency KCNA reported on Saturday.
The test was conducted on Friday at the Sohae satellite launch site, KCNA said, citing a spokesman for North Korea's Academy of Defence Science, without specifying what sort of testing occurred.
Since the Washington Post first published the "Afghanistan papers," I have been reminded of a scene from "Apocalypse Now Redux" in which Army Col. Walter Kurtz reads to the soldier assigned to kill him two Time magazine articles showing how the American people had been lied to about Vietnam by both the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations.
In one of the articles, a British counterinsurgency expert tells Nixon that "things felt much better and smelled much better" during his visit to Vietnam.
"How do they smell to you, soldier?" Kurtz asks.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Erik Prince, the controversial private security executive and prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, made a secret visit to Venezuela last month and met Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, one of socialist leader Nicolas Maduro's closest and most outspoken allies, according to five sources familiar with the matter.
(Reuters Health) - While army suicides have historically decreased during wartime, that trend appears to have reversed in recent decades, a new study of U.S. records finds.
Researchers poring over nearly 200 years of data found that unlike earlier times when there was a decline in suicide rates among U.S. Army soldiers during and just after wars, the rate has risen significantly since 2004, according to the report in JAMA Network Open.
The Navy relieved a decorated explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) officer on Thursday due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command, the Navy announced on Friday.