JSF Program Points Finger at Contractors for Grounding

Our friends at Politico Defense are reporting the following:

Government and industry engineers are blaming three defense contractors for a “quality discrepancy” that resulted in the grounding of the Marine Corps’ F-35B variant earlier this month. The Pentagon’s F-35 program office announced yesterday it is “developing a return to flight plan” for the 25 grounded F-35Bs after determining the cause of a mechanical error that occurred Jan. 18 aboard an aircraft prior to takeoff.

“Evidence revealed a quality discrepancy from the company that produces the fueldraulics line,” Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman for the F-35’s Pentagon program office, said in a statement. “Stratoflex, the company that produces the line, Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney have instituted corrective actions to improve their quality control processes and ensure part integrity.”

This, of course, follows the Red Stripe issued by NAVAIR last week that grounded all of the Marine Corps variants of the JSF.

  • Lance

    More name calling and excuse from the Pentagon when the problem is the B model just isnt working but some general wants it regardless. Its the same mess DoD buyers every time.

    • PolicWonk

      Well, they basically “designed” the LHA-6 America-class flattops around the F35B. The idea was to create a new, highly innovative LHA by removing the well deck and cargo space to make more room for aircraft, spare parts, and fuel.

      Most people would simply call a highly innovative design like this a CV. They would be mistaken, however, because this flattop isn’t burdened by catapults or the angled flight deck. This is where the F-35B comes in (along presumably with V-22’s and maybe a handful choppers that could also land on a conventional carrier).

      Now this could be the reason why the “America” class LHA is already being limited to only 2 of this design. Apparently, the hull is usable with a hull deck, so maybe it isn’t a complete waste.

  • Skyepapa

    Please review f-18 development history. Similar scenario. We find QC issues and address them and move ahead to a useful product. Stop being dramatic.

    • BlackOwl18E

      Okay, first of all, you and I already had this conversation in this forum here:

      Second of all, no, the F-35 is breaking all records in being delayed, having technical difficulties, major design flaws, and sky rocketing costs. The F-35 is eating away the entire defense budget at a time when the economy is not at its best and we here in the Navy are having difficulty just keeping trained personnel and enough ships to maintain a presence abroad.

      In fact the F-35 has no other program in history with comparable problems of the same scale.

    • Nadnerbus

      The Super Bug was first ordered in 1992 and entered fleet service in 1999, a seven year time span. The JSF was first put forward in, what, 1996? Won the fly off in 2001, and 12 years later is still not at IOC, for any of its variants.

      Obviously the Super Hornet benefited from a more mature development curve, but that is kind of the whole point.

      • Skyepapa

        Nadnerbus, I agree with the point on your second line about the Super’s benefit from the legacy. But to me that mean’s Black Owl and others are comparing apples to oranges and essentially ignoring the reason one might develop a brand new system. There were probably plenty of Black Owls at work fighting the legacy F-18 too.

  • Moe Sizlack

    Ok….the anti-F-35 crowd is in force today. And bashing a weapons program seems to be going good. But, here is my point of view, and from someone such as my self who is just a ordinary guy who follows defense blogs and posts with a alternate point of view that hopefully will open some eyes here on this blog response section.

    See, as with every new fangled weapons program, the program always goes through some sort of growth pains and there are it critics. But the critics very quickly go brain dead when they forget to look at past weapons programs and the problems they had. And thankfully, the F35 program has not had a crash or a death related to a crash….yet.

    But, programs such as the F111 did. And pilots did die during crashes. But, after all the bugs were worked out, the F111 went on to become a very sucessful weapons program and even a bomber version was developed.

    The reason I am comparing the F35 to the F111, is because the program is running a paralell path…a plane for every mission. New technology. High expectations of promised performance. And of course, a high price tag. But the question here is will the F35 program be allowed to continue to develop it full capabiities before some short sighted politico either kills the program or part of it and end up wasting millions in developmental costs….or will it continue into service and become the most sucessful weapons program to date….you be the judge.

    • Charley A

      The F-111 was never anything but a bomber, with the Navy giving up on its usefulness as a fighter. The TFX had a painful development history, but in the end, it worked out as a single service aircraft. Another parallel: The Australians were an early adopter of the F-111 (F-35A,) but had to lease F-4s (F/A-18F) as an interim aircraft until they could get the F-111C working….

  • Dfens

    And now, to punish that sub-contractor to a sub-contractor to a sub-contractor to the prime contractor the Department of Defense in all of its wisdom and glory will proceed to pay that sub-contractor to a sub-contractor to a sub-contractor to the prime contractor an exorbitant amount of money to fix the process that cause those tubes to be made with a kink in them, and the prime contractor will take their 10% cut off the top of that money and the sub-contractor will get their free 10% and pass the money along to their sub-contractor who will get their free 10% and then pass it along to their sub-contractor who will slip their 10% of free money right off the top of that stack of bills and everyone will be happy. I hope that teaches them all a lesson, because I’m sure the stupid US taxpayer won’t be paying any attention at all.

    • Nadnerbus

      It’s almost like a monopsony of the scale of the DOD is in need of some sort of civilian oversight or something. Thankfully we have hard working elected representatives holding their feet to the fire on this one.

      I’m just kidding, they are busy trying to ban your guns and borrow more money.

  • SeymourHawks

    The issue is similar to the F-22 mess…we are paying premium prices for 25 year old technology that doesn’t work…is late in delivery, of inferior mechanical quality, has several critical subsystem that are not combat ready. Lockheed Martin says they will fix all of the issues if the tax payers pay them more money. I wonder if the executives of that company got their multimillion dollar bonuses during the design and fabrication of these aircraft?

  • meanmarine

    The Government furnishes the engines for almost all military aircraft produced by Lockheed and Boeing as Government Furnished Material and I suspect the same is true for the F35. As such the Government is responsible to the prime contractor for the delivery and quality of that engine. The question is to what extent did the government and P&W maintain quality control over the supplier of the defective parts and the engine prior to delivery to LM.

  • Gordon Raymer

    Can the F35 do a no wind vertical take off with a full operational load?

    • Marine Pilot

      Not designed to, STOVL- Short Take Off Vertical Landing.