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

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

by Kris Osborn on September 30, 2013

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.

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{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Bernard September 30, 2013 at 5:50 pm

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.


Josh September 30, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Actually, the Pentagon lowered the long-term price estimate for the F-35 program from $1.1 trillion to $857 billion about a month ago. Never has it been $1.5 trillion.
Isn't it strange how you are only being fed the bad information about it? Whenever something good happens with the program, it never makes mainstream news. But when something fails, it's a headline. Read only about the bad and you will think nothing but bad. The price of this program dropped $300 billion and almost no one knows about that. Then, the Inspector General writes a report outlining some of his concerns about it and it's a headline.

I bet you didn't hear that the Pentagon has said that F-35 quality has improved significantly over the past year and that LM has solved many issues previously found on the jet. Or did you hear that orders are up worldwide and countries like Norway, Singapore, Turkey, etc have all placed more orders? Or did you hear that South Korea decided not to buy the Silent Eagle and instead is now considering an F-35 alternative? Have you head about this news? Exactly. All of this GOOD news was all published within only the past 35 hours. Yet you won't hear about it.

Of course there are problems with the plane. That's why it's in development and is being tested. If you cancelled every program because it had problems in development, our military would be fighting wars fight sticks and stones. Hey, at least they're easy to "make." Hell, you don't even need to go through the trouble of making them. There are problems, there are successes, and there are solutions to those problems. The solutions will come with time. After all, LM has some of the most intelligent engineers in the world working on this project. How about you let the engineers do what they are supposed to do and stop acting like Mr. Genius in the corner critiquing their every move?
(You now have permission to dislike this comment for displaying logic)


BlackOwl18E September 30, 2013 at 10:24 pm

$857 billion is still too damn high for sequestration, a high deficit, and an economy that isn't by any means functioning at its best. America has bigger things to worry about, but this aircraft is soaking up the necessary resources to solve our real problems. This thing needs to die.


BlackOwl18E October 1, 2013 at 4:16 am

The Pentagon claims that quality has improved, however, that doesn't really mean anything if they don't specify how much it has improved. The progress could be marginal and they are just blowing it up.

THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT: The news also isn't talking about how Canada and the Netherlands have changed their plan from buying the numbers that they specified to simply buying as many F-35s as they can with $9B and €4B respectively. The Canadians definitely are not going to be able to afford 60 F-35s with that amount and for the Dutch that number is fewer than 40 planes. The number of F-35 orders has already gone down and is continuing to drop, meaning that the program is at the edge of the death spiral and only needs a nation to drop out. Somehow LMT has managed to keep them in, but it is no secret that this jet is far too expensive for anyone to afford and will never work.


Rest Pal October 1, 2013 at 1:34 pm

SO the $1.1 trillion JJJ (joke-n-junk-jet) is now selling for $857 billion? What a bargain. Make sure LM doesn't cut corners and leave out some important junk components to make up for the big discount.


Bernard October 1, 2013 at 1:38 pm

There is nothing good about it, unless you are making money off the contract like most of Congress you will not see a single positive thing out of this whole project.


Delta707 October 1, 2013 at 4:25 pm



Truculent Turtle Too October 2, 2013 at 9:35 am

sit was obsolete before it came off prod line. the next USAF "train wreck" is on the drawing boards now !!!


Name September 30, 2013 at 6:20 pm

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.


Mitch S. September 30, 2013 at 8:03 pm

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


SMSgtMac September 30, 2013 at 9:22 pm

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.


DefenseTechGuest September 30, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Listen to this man's post. It is quite accurate. No stone was left unturned during this audit in 2012. The DoD IG sent dozens of auditors to evaluate everything from top to bottom.

..I will say, though, there is one frightening quote in here screaming out of the page: "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"

1) YIKES! FAIs would have saved lots of future headaches.
2) Not sure if LMA would be able to support that influx of MRB activity.


oblatt1 October 1, 2013 at 3:04 am

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.


Vaporhead October 1, 2013 at 7:50 am

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.


superraptor October 1, 2013 at 10:01 am

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


Rest Pal October 1, 2013 at 1:43 pm

I don't know about a perfect F-35 but a non-perfect F-35 can turn, flip or roll violently and accelerate at up to 1-G, albeit only downward, after it is hit by a missile.


scott shields October 1, 2013 at 11:40 am

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.


Amicus Curiae October 1, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Nonsense? I hear inflation is running at, say 3%, hardly worth mentioning when cost increases over projections approach 100%. Besides, most of the F-35 cost comparisons, even the ones without engines in them, use "then year" dollars to eliminate this confusion. No one is saying that all modern weapons are not costing much more than projected, only that the F-35 is an outlier, and it may not be worth it. It is a reasonable debate, especially when the high performing F-22 was terminated with cost stated as the major issue. All the excuses for stopping the F-22 exist for the F-35 too. Explain this to me. I'm all ears.


Mark October 1, 2013 at 4:37 pm

The last lot of F-22s cost $127 million each and that was with an engine.


blight_ October 2, 2013 at 6:50 pm

Two engines, and they had to be developed and tuned for supercruise and low IR.

The F-135/F-136 is technically a "spiral" of the F-119, and is an amazing in its own right, but…


PolicyWonk October 1, 2013 at 1:17 pm

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.



Rest Pal October 1, 2013 at 1:46 pm

There is an obvious solution to the performance problem – reduce the mission profile further, until the requirements are satisfied.


name October 4, 2013 at 10:29 am

The full price is still much much higher and fully hidden within the contracting/delivery paradigm. This thing would be cancelled immediately if the real costs were properly accounted for.


Steve Weatherford October 1, 2013 at 3:52 pm

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.


Big-Dean October 1, 2013 at 7:50 pm

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


William_C1 October 1, 2013 at 10:24 pm

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.


blight_ October 2, 2013 at 6:49 pm

Originally aircraft were projected to be replaced somewhat regularly…but once that went out the window, we invested in aircraft that would be expensive but last longer.

Not sure what the "cost savings" was supposed to be…?


Guest October 2, 2013 at 8:23 pm

And why is it that they probably WILL be in service until 2025? I'm sure it has nothing to do with a perennially over-budget, behind-schedule program designed to replace them.


peters October 6, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Do you just believe whatever you read? I have 10 bridges in Brooklyn for sale.


Tim W October 2, 2013 at 12:30 pm

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.


Guest October 2, 2013 at 6:30 pm

The JSF has serious problems, but let's not pretend the Typhoon is perfect:

"Eurofighter Typhoon: It's EVEN WORSE than we thought" http://www.theregister.co.uk/Print/2011/03/03/eur


TW October 2, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Check what the USAF thinks of the Typhoon, the above article is about the mismanaged procurement not what it is delivering. Ask anyone in the RAF and they will tell you that the Typhoon has exceeded all expectations after a rocky start. Sorry mate but the USAF upper echelons and Lockheed have screwed the USA.


PolicyWonk October 2, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Great article, and therein a heapin' dose of reality.

It also supports by contention, that the military acquisition system in this nation garners the taxpayers the lousiest deal of any western nation.

The entire system should be extirpated and replaced with one similar to that used by the British. Failing that, in return for any further funding, the entire system and all services branches should be made to agree to go under receivership.

We'd save a lot of billions that could be put to good use elsewhere.


T W October 2, 2013 at 12:44 pm

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.


George October 2, 2013 at 8:33 pm

Most DCMA I had to work with were a joke.


smokemifyhougottem October 2, 2013 at 8:50 pm

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.


HERKEY ANDERSON October 2, 2013 at 9:38 pm



TIm W October 3, 2013 at 12:04 pm

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.


Rest Pal October 3, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Excellent analogy, down to the looks, values, and utility.

The Khardashians seem to have become synonymous with shallowness, pretentiousness, vanity, and materialism. I find them cheap-looking even when they have their makeups on.


Big-Dean October 3, 2013 at 7:58 pm

like the Khadashians, they are famous for being famous (but they have no real talent), the F-35 is good because LM says it's good (but it has no real talent)


JCRETIRED October 3, 2013 at 7:54 pm

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.


Flexible October 5, 2013 at 8:55 am

"I am not looking forward… "
Oh yes you are. You can't till one comes down. Pilot dead and all that.
And yet, you completely ignore the fact that so far the F=35 has a completely incident free in-flight track record.
Or can you think of an another programme that has accumulated more then 8000 hours of flight without a single incident?
I can't and neither can you…
Frustrating isn't it. Don't worry. Sooner or later one will come down. That's a given. You can cry foul then.


Super Tex October 4, 2013 at 10:37 am

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.


Flexible October 5, 2013 at 8:39 am

".No pilot will want to be in a F-35. Nor should he/she be"

You talk to the 100+ pilots who are already trained and qualified to fly the F35 and ask them how they don't want to fly and be in the F35.
They'd think you are an idiot.


peters October 6, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Flying it in peace time is vastly and fundamentally from flying it in real combat against a well-armed foe. Big difference. Favorable testimony can always be bought.


Tim W October 6, 2013 at 2:44 pm

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-… .


jack October 9, 2013 at 2:49 am

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


COSMAS PAUL MAGALLE October 25, 2013 at 6:51 am



Tow Man 58 November 2, 2013 at 10:32 am

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.


Robert January 31, 2014 at 4:54 pm

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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