The Marines are preparing to declare operation readiness for the F-35B. Their confidence is buoyed by the testing in May of six aircraft aboard the Wasp. Testing was roundly declared an unrivaled success. Come to find out, though, that there were some problems.
A memo from Michael Gilmore, DOT&E, reported by Bloomberg, describes maintenance problems during the test period that reduced readiness rates to around 50% (1). According to Gilmore,
“…aircraft reliability was poor enough that it was difficult for the Marines to keep more than two or three of the six embarked jets in a flyable status on any given day.”
This poor reliability occurred despite the maintenance crews having ready access to spare parts from shore (something that won’t happen on a deployment) and “significant assistance” from Lockheed and sub-contractor personnel.
So, under absolutely ideal conditions with all aircraft tweaked up for the test, access to spares beyond the norm, and with significant manufacturer assistance, the F-35 still struggled to achieve 50% readiness.
“Six F-35Bs, … were available for flights only half of the time …”
And the Marines are going to declare the F-35 operational?
(1)bloomberg.com, “Lockheed F-35’s Reliability Found Wanting in Shipboard Testing”, Anthony Capaccio,
July 28, 2015