By LEIGH MUNSIL
Lockheed Martin, its subcontractors and the Pentagon’s Joint Program Office did not follow a number of quality assurance standards on the F-35 Lightning II program, potentially causing problems for it, the Department of Defense’s inspector general’s office has found.
The report points to 363 findings where the F-35 program fell short.
But those findings are based on old data from a previously troubled program that’s now back on track, Lockheed countered on Monday.
“This 2012 DoD IG report is based on data that’s more than 16 months old and [the] majority of the corrective action requests identified have been closed,” Lockheed Martin spokeswoman Laura Siebert said.
The F-35 program has already closed 78 percent of the outstanding requests cited in the report, Siebert added. Eight remaining requests are being addressed by Lockheed, and 76 are subcontractor issues that are currently being addressed by Lockheed suppliers, she added. There are “corrective action plans” in place for each of the issues that haven’t been closed yet, and they’re scheduled to all be complete by April 2014.
According to the Pentagon audit, the Pentagon’s F-35 program office was responsible for many of the issues, failing to “ensure that Lockheed Martin and its subcontractors were applying rigor to design, manufacturing and quality assurance processes,” and also failing to “establish an effective quality assurance organization.”
The Defense Contract Management Agency was also cited in the report for failing to perform the needed quality of oversight of F-35 contractors.
The Joint Program Office and the DCMA responded to the report last month, but the Pentagon’s IG said Monday that it disagrees with seven of the agencies’ 13 responses and requires further response.
Lockheed’s subcontractors on the program include Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, L-3 Display Systems, Honeywell Aerospace and United Technologies Corporation.
“Producing quality products is a top priority for the F-35 Program, and Lockheed Martin and its suppliers strive every day to deliver the best aircraft possible to our customers,” Siebert said. “When discoveries occur, we take decisive and thorough action to correct the situation. Our commitment is to deliver the F-35’s world class fifth-generation fighter capabilities to the warfighter on time and within budget.”