Maintenance & Delays Affecting F-35 Readiness, New GAO Report Says

IN AIR, NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, MD - FEBRUARY 11: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been received by U.S. Military prior to transmission) In this image released by the U.S. Navy courtesy of Lockheed Martin, the U.S. Navy variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35C, conducts a test flight February 11, 2011 over the Chesapeake Bay. Lt. Cmdr. Eric "Magic" Buus flew the F-35C for two hours, checking instruments that will measure structural loads on the airframe during flight maneuvers. The F-35C is distinct from the F-35A and F-35B variants with larger wing surfaces and reinforced landing gear for greater control when operating in the demanding carrier take-off and landing environment. (Photo by U.S. Navy photo courtesy Lockheed Martin via Getty Images)
(Photo by U.S. Navy photo courtesy Lockheed Martin via Getty Images)

OAN’s Taylor Tinsley
12:27 PM – Thursday, September 21, 2023

A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) shows F-35 aircrafts are heavily affected by maintenance challenges. 


According to the report, which was released on Thursday, the F-35 fleet mission capable rate fell far below program goals at just 55%.

The low percentage rate came during challenges with organizational maintenance, including lack of technical data and training and repair times remained slow as a result. 

As of March 2023, the Department of Defense (DOD) was sending 73% of all F-35 components back to manufacturers.

The GAO noted the DOD relies on its contractor for F-35 sustainment, but has neglected necessary duties as the department “seeks expanded government control.”

The agency said military services must take over and make adjustments by October 2027, specifically to contractor-managed elements. 

The audit was conducted shortly after a Marine Corps pilot was forced to eject from a fighter jet due to a “malfunction.” Military officials were asking for the public’s help to locate the $100 million missing warplane. 

The marine stealth fighter jet was missing for over 24 hours. Officials found the debris in a field about 60 miles from the ejection site in rural South Carolina, near Charleston.

The military has yet to disclose what malfunction occurred that forced the pilot to eject, leaving many to question how they were unable to locate the aircraft.

In an interview with CBS, Representative Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) questioned, “How does it just disappear and how does the Pentagon ask for the public’s help in finding it? It’s just a huge embarrassment.”

Officials noted the aircraft was not only hard to find because it’s a stealth jet, but also because the transponder was off.  

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