The egregiously expensive and notoriously unreliable F-35 Joint Strike Fighter are even more of a disappointment than you previously thought, according to a new Department of Defense assessment obtained by Bloomberg News.
The 2018 report from the Pentagon's operational testing and evaluation arm, set for public release this week and obtained early by Bloomberg's Tony Capaccio, indicates that ongoing reliability issues have drastically shortened the service life far below expectations, so far that there's "no improving trend in" available aircraft for training and combat missions — a dangerous combination for a perpetually buggy aircraft.
The service life of the F-35B variants adopted by the Marine Corps "may be as low as 2,100 [hours]," an eye-popping shortfall compared too the expected service life of 8,000 hours.
"Interim reliability and field maintenance metrics to meeting planned 80% goal not being met," which means fewer aircraft available to actually train on and, therefore, increased barriers to improving readiness among aviators.
Cybersecurity testing indicated that several vulnerabilities revealed in previous years "still have not been remedied," an alarming tend in an age of cyberattacks.
Testing on the Air Force weapons systems used in air-to-ground attack indicates "unacceptable" accuracy, a detail which might explain why someone opted to leak a video of an F-35A hitting 5 precision targets at once earlier in January.
U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter crew chief, Tech. Sgt. Brian West, watches his aircraft approach for the first time at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., July 14, 2011. Aircraft 0747 is the Department of Defense's newest aircraft.(U.S. Air Force/Samuel King Jr.)
News of the OT&E report's contents came just a day after Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan stated the that F-35 "had a lot of opportunity for more performance" in an apparent jab at the aircraft's shortcomings.
"I am biased toward giving the taxpayer their money's worth," Shanahan said on Tuesday. "And the F-35, unequivocally, I can say, has a lot of opportunity for more performance."
Lockheed Martin's CEO pushed back on the criticism during a call with investors, stating that, "If they chose to have an order on F-15 … it won't be at the expense of F-35 quantities," per the Washington Post: "I'm hearing that directly from the leadership in the Pentagon … not just our suspicion, but I've been told that directly. So I'm not concerned about that."
The F-35 program is expected to cost most than $1.5 trillion over the course of its 55-year lifespan, although the cost of each aircraft is expected to fall to $80 million by 2020.
The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chris Roys)
The Navy is investigating reports that a female Marine discovered a hidden camera in one of the women's restrooms aboard the USS Arlington, an amphibious transport dock that's currently on at port in Greece, NBC News originally reported.
It's been 30 years since an explosion inside the number two gun turret on the USS Iowa killed 47 American sailors, but for Mike Carr, it still feels like yesterday.
"I knew all 47 guys inside that turret because as part of the ship's policy we had rotated between all three turrets," Carr, who served as a gunner's mate in the Iowa's aft 16-inch turret, told Task & Purpose. "We all knew each other rather intimately."
On April 19, 1989, the day of the blast, the ship was preparing for live-fire training at Vieques, Puerto Rico Naval Training Range.
Carr was wearing headphones that allowed him to hear what the crews in the other turrets were saying.
"At 10 minutes to 10 a.m., somebody came over the phones and said, 'We're having a problem, Turret 2, center gun,'" Carr recalled. "Then approximately two minutes later, I recognized Senior Chief [Reginald] Ziegler, who was the chief in charge of Turret 2, yell into the phones: 'Fire, fire, fire! Fire in center gun, turret 2. Trying to contain it.'"
Then came the blast, which was so strong that it ripped the headphones right off Carr's head.
As a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a newly minted second lieutenant, I felt well-prepared to tackle the challenges facing a junior field artillery officer in the U.S. Army. When the time came to leave the Army, however, I was much less prepared to make the transition into the yet-unknown civilian sector.
One of the primary issues facing veterans after we transition is that we lack the same sense of purpose and mission that we had with our military careers. Today, more than ever, our service members volunteer to put themselves in harm's way. They are defending our freedom across the globe and should be recognized as our country's true heroes. It's critical that employers educate veterans and provide viable options so we can make informed decisions about the rest of our lives.
The two-star general in charge of the roughly 15,000-strong 2nd Marine Division has turned micromanagement into an art form with a new policy letter ordering his Marines and sailors to cut their hair, shave their faces, and adhere to a daily schedule that he has prescribed.
In his "Policy Letter 5-19," Maj. Gen. David Furness lamented that he has noticed "a significant decline in the basic discipline" of troops he's come in contact with in the division area, which has led him to "FIX IT immediately," instead of relying on the thousands of commissioned and non-commissioned officers below him to carry out his orders.