Tags: f35 | jet | reform | pratt | whitney

Greg Young: US Must Save F-35 to Avoid Waste, Improve Security

f-35a lightning ii jet against blue background
F-35A Lightning II (USAF)

By    |   Tuesday, 23 October 2018 02:45 PM

What do you get when Pratt & Whitney or other multi-billion-dollar defense contractors ostensibly use third-party groups such as the Lexington Institute as front men for their high-powered lobbying efforts?

Pork barrel spending, taxpayer waste, and national-security threats, of course.

Last year, Dr. Loren Thompson, the Chief Operating Officer of the nonprofit group, penned an article in Real Clear Defense titled "Five Signs the F-35 Fighter Is A Smashing Success," making the case for the “triumph” of the jet.

While some of Dr. Thompson’s points are right on the money, the unfortunate truth is that chronic problems with the aircraft’s Pratt & Whitney engine have prevented it from reaching its full potential blooming into the success story that everyone knows it can be.

The American people should have recognized this reality when a crash, widely believed to be caused by engine problems, occurred this month. But this problem isn’t new; it’s been ongoing for years now.

In April 2015, Business Insider reported that “the F-35 is having significant problems with one of its most important components: the engine.”

The U.S. Government Accountability Office stated that “its engine reliability at this time is extremely poor,” which has “limited the program’s overall reliability progress.” This lack of engine progress came despite the rest of the aircraft showing steady gains in improvements.

At the same time, the Department of Defense’s Inspector General seemed to concur with the GAO’s assessment, finding 61 examples of the F-35 engines failing to hit the Pentagon’s benchmark quality control standards for the F-35 program.

Per Business Insider, Pratt & Whitney disagreed with this assessment, stating that “none of these findings had any impact on the product performance” and that “since [November of 2014], P&W has worked aggressively to address the DoD IG’s findings and corrective actions.”

Nevertheless, the company’s words of encouragement weren’t enough to stop the bad news from arising.

In July 2017, Bloomberg reported that the Defense Department’s F-35 office found the company’s engine hardware “is costing more than planned,” in large part because P&W’s goals aren’t “achievable today due to delays with incorporating enough engineering changes and affordability initiatives to lower the manufacturing costs.”

All in all, the F-35 office found this all amounted to $43 million in cumulative cost overruns – a troubling statistic when considering how the Pentagon plans to purchase 99 of these engines by 2022.

While cost overruns are bad, security problems are worse. And, with news articles this month stating that all US F-35s were grounded worldwide due to malfunctioning engine fuel tubes, it’s evident that these safety issues haven’t gone anywhere either.

Although 80 percent of F-35s returned into the air last week, there is no reason for this important discussion to fly away with them.

While Congress seems to have a penchant for sweeping reform talks of this aircraft under the rug, the problem has festered into something that can no longer be ignored. The budgetary and national-security implications have become far too large to gloss over.

Who will step up?

The clock is ticking.

Greg Young served in the United States Air Force during the Cold War period as a Russian linguist. He is now host of the nationally syndicated Chosen Generation Radio Show which airs Monday thru Friday on stations coast to coast. Discover more at chosengenerationradio.com.

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While Congress seems to have a penchant for sweeping reform talks of this aircraft under the rug, the problem has festered into something that can no longer be ignored. The budgetary and national security implications have become far too large to gloss over.
f35, jet, reform, pratt, whitney
Tuesday, 23 October 2018 02:45 PM
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