GAO recommends DoD to complete F-35 testing before making new investments


A review conducted by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has recommended that the US Department of Defense (DoD) completes developmental testing of the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter before making new investments.

The delay in completing the F-35 testing could cost the DoD more than $1bn extra to complete development of the F-35 baseline programme.

The programme officials estimated a delay of five months will contribute to a total increase of $532m to complete development.

The GAO, however, stated that the actual delay of 12 months will likely contribute to an increase of more than $1.7bn, approximately $1.3bn of which will be needed in the fiscal year 2018.

These anticipated delays could affect the start of the F-35's initial operational test and evaluation, postpone the Navy's initial operational capability, and delay the programme's full rate production decision currently planned for April 2019.

"Anticipated delays could affect the start of the F-35's initial operational test and evaluation, postpone the Navy's initial operational capability, and delay the programme's full rate production decision."

The agency has also found that the planned acquisition of F-35 could cost close to $400bn.

The DoD is expected to spend more than $14bn on average every year for ten years, starting in 2022.

According to representatives, more than $600m will be required in the fiscal year 2018 to start F-35 Block 4 modernisation.

In the same year, the DoD may also request the US Congress for more than $650m to procure economic order quantities.

The Lockheed Martin-built F-35 aircraft is equipped with advanced, integrated sensors and can be used to perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and electronic attack missions.


Image: An F-35A in the UK. Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin.