HomeUnited States Military PowerPentagon says only half of its F-35 jet fleet is mission-ready !!!

Pentagon says only half of its F-35 jet fleet is mission-ready !!!

Source : Bloomberg

Pentagon says only half of Its F-35 jet fleet is mission-ready
An F-35 fighter jet parked at the Vermont Air National Guard base in South Burlington, Vt. (Wilson Ring/AP Photo))

Pentagon says only half of its F-35 jet fleet is mission-ready !!!

Washington: Only about half of the Pentagon’s fleet of F-35 fighter jets are considered mission-capable, well below the target of 65 per cent and a state of readiness the program manager terms “unacceptable”.

As of February, the monthly average rate of mission-capable jets in the US’s fleet of more than 540 F-35s was 53.1 per cent, according to Air Force Lieutenant General Michael Schmidt, the program manager. That means they can fly at least some of their required missions, such as combat, show-of-force flights, training and testing.

The percentage of planes capable of flying all their missions – he so-called full mission capable rate – was less than 30 per cent, Schmidt said in written testimony prepared for a Wednesday (Thursday AEDT) hearing of the House Armed Service Committee’s aviation subcommittee.

“This is unacceptable and maximising readiness is my top priority,” Schmidt said in his prepared remarks. Schmidt said his goal is to increase readiness rates by at least 10 per cent in the next 12 months.

“Readiness challenges remain, as indicated in multiple Government Accountability Office findings,” he said, according to the remarks.

The readiness rates marked a drop from 2020, when the fleet’s average full mission-capable rate stood at about 39 per cent, according to the GAO. The partial capability rate was 69 per cent in fiscal year 2020.

The availability rate for jets assigned to combat missions stood by the end of fiscal 2022 at 65 per cent, according to the Defence Department’s operational test office.

It’s not clear if last month’s readiness rates represent temporary dip or the beginning of a long-term trend. Schmidt’s statement doesn’t spell out the reasons for the drop, but past culprits have been a lack of spare parts as well as parts and engine components breaking more frequently than anticipated.

Other problems include long depot repair times as well as Pratt & Whitney engine power modules needing repair or replacement faster than expected.

Schmidt’s plan to fix the problem will focus on addressing unspecified “top degraders” of readiness by gathering program personnel, international users, Lockheed Martin Corp, Pratt & Whitney and their subcontractors every two weeks.

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