“[N]early 200 F-35s might permanently remain unready for combat because the Pentagon would rather buy new aircraft than upgrade the ones the American people have already paid for,” according to one defense news site. And now Bloomberg reports: The Pentagon is accelerating production of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 jet even though the planes already delivered are facing “significantly longer repair times” than planned because maintenance facilities are six years behind schedule, according to a draft audit. The time to repair a part has averaged 172 days — “twice the program’s objective” — the Government Accountability Office, Congress’s watchdog agency, found. The shortages are “degrading readiness” because the fighter jets “were unable to fly about 22 percent of the time” from January through August for lack of needed parts.
The Pentagon has said soaring costs to develop and produce the F-35, the costliest U.S. weapons system, have been brought under control, with the price tag now projected at $406.5 billion. But the GAO report raises new doubts about the official estimate that maintaining and operating them will cost an additional $1.12 trillion over their 60-year lifetime.
Slashdot reader schwit1 writes, “This is akin to buying an exotic car you can barely afford, without also budgeting for insurance, repairs, and tuneups.”