Report To Congress Says F-35 Problems Persist

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Report To Congress Says F-35 Problems Persist

Washington, D.C. - 1/15/2013

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By Dick Myers

A report to Congress last week said that Lockheed Martin Corporation failed to meet its test goals for the F-35 even though it had 18 percent more test flights than planned. And the report from the Pentagon’s testing director, Michael Gilmore, says the F-35 still faces problems with the helmets needed to fly the plane, software development and weapons integration.

The 18-page report to Congress detailed the problems and said they demonstrated a “lack of maturity” in the $390 billion program, the Pentagon’s most expensive ever.

The program is a little more than a third of the way through its testing. Lockheed Martin continues to express confidence in the program and touted the successes in 2012 in a press release sent out shortly after the report was released to Congress on Friday.

The defense company is building three different models for the U.S. military and eight countries that helped pay for its development. The latest Pentagon plan was for the purchase of 2,443 of the warplanes although that could be scaled down with budget constraints.

While more tests than expected were conducted in 2012 on the F-35B Marine Corps variant and F-35C Navy model, less were conducted on the Air Force version, due in part, according to the report, on problems with the air refueling system.

Testing for the Marine and Navy variants has been at Patuxent River Naval Air Station and all three were tested at Lockheed Martin's headquarters in Ft. Worth, Texas.

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