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GAO report reveals critical F-35 maintenance challenges impacting US fighter readiness

3rd October 2023 - 17:04 GMT | by Norbert Neumann in London


The DoD aimed to create an F-35 sustainment approach aligning with the operational needs of both US and foreign users, emphasising supportability and affordability. (Photo: US Navy/US DoD)

The US DoD is facing significant obstacles in achieving its sustainment goals for the fleet of approximately 450 F-35 fighters despite plans to expand the fleet to 2,000 over the next two decades.

Maintenance challenges have had a negative effect on US services' F-35 readiness, according to a report published by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The paper highlighted that the fifth-generation fighter fleet mission capable rate was about 55% in March 2023, far below programme goals. When assessed in the same period, the programme was also said to be behind schedule in establishing depot maintenance activities to conduct repairs, resulting in longer ‘component repair times, with more than 10,000 waiting to be repaired’. 

The GAO also found that ‘organisational-level maintenance has been affected by a number of issues, including technical data and training’.


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Norbert Neumann


Norbert Neumann

Norbert is the Aviation, Military Training & Simulation reporter at Shephard Media. Before joining Shephard in …

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