The GAO backs up the concerns of other organisations (both public and private) who have tried to warn us about the F-35 program troubles.
After reading the presentation, you can see why people like McCain and Levin, chairs of the Senate Armed Services Committee, were so upset with Panetta and Amos over their misguided optimism for the Just So Failed.
Look at airframe numbers in the report. Or, the lack of them. Under the original plan, there would have been 1591 jets in the production plan by 2017. Today, we will be lucky to see 365. Most if not all of those will be faulty. Of inerest, one of the early DOD Joint Strike Fighter program managers stated the business plan assumed you would see unit costs "flatten out" at around 1600 airframes. There is a better chance of a complete U.S. victory in Afghanistan before we see Congress hand over cash for 1600, let alone 1000, let alone 500 F-35s.
But the U.S. military says they are "committed" to the program.
Well, maybe no longer the USMC commandant General Amos. His encounter the other day with the SASC (previously linked above) didn't go so well.
"For the record, you don't know how much the cost overrun has been for the F-35?" McCain asked Amos in response to the general's assertion that he "could not comment" on the senator's observation that the program has accumulated $150 billion in cost growth.
"Not precisely," said Amos.
"Roughly?" McCain parried. "Do you know roughly what the cost overrun has been?"
"Sir, I'm assuming," Amos said, before shifting thoughts and directly answering: "No, I don't."
McCain, in response, called Amos' reply "remarkable."
With the next multi-year procurement of the Super Hornet already requested by the Navy, if he is smart, he will show a change of direction. Or, continue to not look very bright on the topic of air power. Funny, I didn't think anyone could top the USAF in that area of ineptitude. I will split the difference and put them on equal footing.
Although, we already know what is facing the USAF; who have made it clear they have no more money.
Many in the Navy would like to see the F-35 dead and buried. Its lack of worth as a weapon of war aside, it is taking money away from big grey floaty things.
What we have are significant procurement cuts of the F-35. Already happening. With the help of Congress and self-inflicted wounds by the maker of the jet and the DOD program office.
When considering all of the fairy dust by the maker of the F-35 on the topic of progress, here is what the GAO said about production capability.
"Lockheed had expected to deliver 30 procurement aircraft by the end of 2011 but delivered only nine procurement aircraft. Each was delivered more than 1 year late."
This is similar to what Ashton Carter stated last year. The production learning curve is not there. Yet, according to Lockheed Martin, it is the fault of Congress; it is the fault of the Administration; it is the fault of the U.S. military; it is the fault of Joint Strike Fighter partner nations for not keeping costs down by ordering scores of mistake-jets to plan.
At the cost of tens of billions of dollars.
Anyone's fault but Lockheed Martin.
So when will IOC be declared? No one really knows. When will full-rate production begin? With so many problems, no one really knows.
Last year some of the sheep were starting to understand that maybe the GAO knew what they were talking about with F-35 warnings. For a government agency, they have done OK. Their predictions about F-35 risk have consistently trumped all those that refused to listen to them.