F-35 JPO Draws ‘Quality Assurance’ Critique from DoD IG

sdd_lripa_003The DoD Inspector General has published a new report criticizing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Joint Program Office’s ability to maintain quality assurance.

“Our assessment determined that the F-35 JPO oversight of Lockheed Martin was inadequate and that the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) oversight of the contractors was ineffective. These issues may result in nonconforming hardware, less reliable aircraft, and increased cost,” according to the report.

The Sept. 30 report, titled “Quality Assurance Assessment of the F-35 Lightning II Program,” also criticized subcontractors Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, L-3 Display Systems, Honeywell Aerospace and United Technologies Corporation.

The IG recommended the JPO should “perform technical and quality assurance requirement flow down and verification throughout the F-35 supply chain, ensure that Lockheed Martin approves all design and material review board changes, and perform process proofing of all critical processes to include first article inspections.”

Additional recommendations in the report call for the JPO to modify its contracts to include a quality escape clause to ensure the government does not pay for non-conforming product and assess the impacts and risks to all delivered aircraft for all findings.
Officials with the JPO told Military.com that most of the issues identified have already been addressed.

“We work closely with DCMA (Defense Contract Management Agency) to have inspectors on site at numerous locations to look after the quality that the contractors are supposed to be delivering to the government,” Joe DellaVedova, JPO spokesman, told Military.com.

Furthermore, officials with the JPO say that as of Sept. 30, 78-percent of all needed corrective action plans have been resolved and that the remainder are being worked on.

“JPO and DCMA are working together with Lockheed Martin and suppliers to address all findings. We will continue to conduct internal audits, maintain government oversight, and apply process controls to ensure compliance,” officials with the JPO said in a written statement.

About the Author

Kris Osborn
Kris Osborn is the managing editor of Scout Warrior and a former associate editor at Military.com.

25 Comments on "F-35 JPO Draws ‘Quality Assurance’ Critique from DoD IG"

  1. This $1.5 trillion dollar train wreck needs to stop now. You can just keep throwing money down the drain just because of some pretty concept photos. This thing doesn't work and will be obsolete by the time it is even functional.

  2. The feds are getting rolled on the electronics because they have no idea how the industry works or how miniscule their purchasing power is.

    Procurement is being done by semi-retired old farts with huge egos and zero domain knowledge. The contracting completely ignores the reality of the lifecycle of electronic parts.

    This post doesn't even begin to address the mess in software.

  3. Let's see if the head of the JPO retires into a richly paid no-show position with L-M.

  4. Gosh. The report is almost a year old, and the data it is based upon data much older. For some reason this DT bit also doesn't say how many write-ups (CARs) there were or what was really evaluated. For those to busy/lazy to read the report, the write-ups are against the Quality Program, not the quality of the product. The vast majority (78%) are already closed. If past experience is any indication, I suspect a good many were closed before the auditors left the buildings. Given the scale of this program, complexity of the manufacturing processes and number of contractors/sites looked at, the number of gigs is remarkably small: 359. about 60% of those (212) were "minor". The Aerospace Industry takes quality seriously – you will hear no one inside the F-35 contractor side complain about this report. You might, however, hear the program office call foul in some places where it was singled out.

  5. One thing Lockheed doesn't scrimp on is the quality of its shills. It has rigorous quality control in that regard. For instance I heard that to pass, they need to eat a turd and only the ones that ask for more are hired.

  6. How dare you people speak badly about the F-35!!!!!!!!!!!! There are people on here who could care less about the massive cost this program has. The airplane will sit and collect dust and have a terrible FMC rate. It was cheaper to develope the friggin space shuttle for crying out loud.

  7. Even a perfect F-35 still cannot turn or accelerate.

  8. the non-sense I read above. the same arguments went for every new piece of defense technology in the military. Please, and have you heard of inflation?

    If F15s are not good enough for S Korea, should they remain good enough for the US? Or should we crawl under a rock and hope Iran, No Korea and China behave? If all were required to take a history class, you would realize we need this stuff or like the Romans, Americans will be ruled — or will "live" under different pretext soon enough.

  9. The fact remains, that while the cost of each plane has been dropping, they are still very far in excess of what they were supposed to be. Furthermore, the testing results recently published by Aviation Week are, um, less than favorable (to be generous).

    The above doesn't count the fact that the F-35's mission profile has been reduced several times because it couldn't even meet these multiple-times-reduced (let alone initial) performance requirements.

    While I remain hopeful that the manufacturer will be able to make this plane meet its basic requirements (as if I had a choice), according to the test results, this "5th-generation" aircraft only achieves considerably less than "4th generation" performance.


  10. Steve Weatherford | October 1, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Reply

    It is amazing that I see the life cycle costs for the F-35 frequently (the $857 billion or $1.1 trillion numbers) but never see how that compares to life cycle costs for a legacy acft purchased in the same quantity. How would the F-15SE life costs compare? It is not much cheaper up front at $80 million+ per acft. Would it be a good enough replacement for the USAF to buy 1700+?

    Also, what would the USN and USMC use to replace the F-35? Another legacy airframe or start over in the case of STOVL? What are the life costs of those?

    The quality program that was the object of the report supposedly is fixed. The program faults did not equate to poor workmanship of the product. And on top of that the data is not current but based on an audit/investigation in 2012.

    I do not know how the F-35 will stack up to expectations, but it might just be a good F-16C/D and F/A-18C/D replacement. Will never really replace the A-10 in practice although it will perform the mission.

  11. wow, the LM paid F-35 mafia is all over this posting, giving thumbs down to everyone who dares to point out something "not good" about the F-35

    Don't you all know all those who are critical of the F-35 will be punished and publicly "tar and feathered (via the forum)? Now repeat after me children and say this 100 times before you go to bed tonight and thank God for LM "the F-35 is awesome, the F-35 is awesome…" ;-P

    Heck, I'm even going to get major thumbs down just for bringing this to light ;-P

  12. BlackOwl you're looking at a cost estimate for 50 years! They never even did such a cost estimate for the F-15 or F-16. Not that those birds were ever originally expected to still be in widespread American service by 2025.

  13. The JSF and F22 are the maseratis of fighter jets. The Typhoon delivers way more bang for buck. The JSF will weaken western air-forces by a considerable margin as its promised capability won't cover the huge reduction in fighter jets due to its cost.

    A procurement disaster , and before any Lockheed employees respond check the Vanity Fair piece.

  14. I should have stated that it is never going to reach its promised capability for at least a decade, by which advances in sensors will negate any stealth advantage.

  15. Most DCMA I had to work with were a joke.

  16. smokemifyhougottem | October 2, 2013 at 8:50 pm | Reply

    So, let me get this straight, the program is in production and the requirements flow down is not confirmed yet (an early Systems Engineering task that should have been completely done in the design phase before any hardware was ever initiated), and the program is in production before critical processes are confirmed and under control (a task that should have been accomplished in the Engineering Manufacturing Development Phase). And the IG is holding the DCMA responsible for this? Where was the JPO management when these tasks were supposed to be done? Yes, the DCMA reporting should have highlighted this lack of proper systems management to hold them primarily accountable is just wrong and points out that even the IG, who may have exactly identified the problem at this late date, doesn't know or will not for political reasons, put the blame on the real culprits for this project management disaster. Cut the program now; cut the losses now, and move on to the next effort and hope the new management team has been to some primary acquisition management schools that teach DOD program managers how and what to manage for success.

  17. HERKEY ANDERSON | October 2, 2013 at 9:38 pm | Reply


  18. The JSF and F22 are the Khardashians of Fighter Jets. Look good on paper and in the video but in real life require endless layers of paint before heading out into the open , are high maintenance and suck your finances dry.

  19. I can't wait until this POS is operational and it comes back from a mission only to discover the canopy won't open.

    Or it can't fly in the rain.

    Or learn that while it can Bluetooth with an IPhone, it can't share a freq with more than one old singars at a time.

    I am not looking forward to reading about the first ejection with that huge ass, non-working helmet or how it's O2 system has stopped working at 22k or it's engines quit after sucking in its own gun exhaust, in the rain.

  20. Just no accountability from start to where the F-35 is today. The whole idea was to have a single platform that would serve the needs of the AF, Marines and Navy. That would also be FAR cheaper than the F-22.

    That would also be roughly 90% of the plane the F-22 is. The F-35 is none of that, it's a big fat pig of a plane. That costs almost as much as a F-22 does. The American Taxpayer needs to start holding to folks who proposed and oversaw the F-35 program . From the beginning to where it is today, when the shooting starts…….No pilot will want to be in a F-35. Nor should he/she be.

  21. Flexible , erm read the vanity fair piece . It can't pull G , can't fly in bad weather , the helmet doesn't work the list is endless. Why don't you put those pilots in a Typhoon and see then what they have to say. The truth will out with this jet once the RAF gets a squadron of them.

    It's a dog that the US Navy doesn't want nor most of the supposed Allied partners, the cost per hour to fly is way to high and its supposed tech advantages are being eroded fast by irst developments . http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/2013/09/joint-… .

  22. what?. only 46 posts on a f-35 topic, are the anti running out of puff?

  23. COSMAS PAUL MAGALLE | October 25, 2013 at 6:51 am | Reply


  24. As a QAS working on the program for the Marine Corps I find most of these comment founded in ignorance. I have worked on several new aircraft programs over my forty years in the industry and see the same comments on every platform. We had some of the same complaints about the CH46, AV8, and the F18s.

    The Quality is good considering the number of subs that work on it and the support that we are getting from Lockheed is better that I have seen in years. Where the politicos want a platform to do all things we all in the industry know that that requires all facets of military aviation will have to give up some performance. Whether it will be as good as the manufacture says is not going to be decided here but in the air and over many years of flights.

  25. Start a plan from the supplier chain..Need more QA. MRB. And Corrective Action . Stop cutting back on Quality Assurance.. Pay now or pay later. Go back to the days of the ninetys and eighty and seventys. Where you had more check and balace . It's never to late. I myself worked in all three fields ….Durning my 35 years in the Aerospace Industry. From the T-38 , F–5E/F . F-20 Tigter Shark, F-18C/D And the B-2

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