The Pentagon classified an assessment of the major challenges the Marine Corps encountered in deploying the U.S.’s first F-35 jets to the Pacific, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.
That’s not best practice, the GAO warned.
“The services are at risk of not having access to key information that could affect their movements, exercises, operations, and sustainment of the aircraft in the Pacific and other areas where they operate,” the report said. “Now is the time for DOD to make sure that lessons learned are communicated effectively across all services.”
The Pentagon’s F-35 office said it wasn’t surprised by the findings and is working to incorporate the recommendations made, spokesman Joe DellaVedova said in an email. The program is already undertaking additional evaluations of the software maintenance system as well as efforts “to improve the sharing of F-35 operational lessons,” he said.
The GAO study examined the high-profile deployment in January 2017 of 16 jets from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 to Iwakuni, Japan. The deployment marked the first time an operational F-35 squadron was stationed overseas.
The Marines fly the short-takeoff and vertical-landing B-model of the F-35, the most complex version of the jet in the $406 billion acquisition program. The Corps plans to buy 353 of the jets to replace the AV-8B Harrier and multiple versions of F/A-18 strike fighters.
The unclassified version of the report left details on supply chain problems out of the unclassified version of the study.
“The Marine Corps has also encountered several challenges with the F-35’s supply chain since beginning flight operations,” the public version said, but “further details are provided in our classified report.”
DellaVedova said the Pentagon has established a global support strategy and continuously assesses the supply chain-related challenges operating and sustaining F-35 in the Pacific.”
Source :- Bloomberg