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F-35s Hobbled by Parts Shortages, Slow Repairs, Audit Finds

  • Pentagon will be hard-pressed to keep fighter flying, GAO says
  • Watchdog agency says military services unsure of upkeep costs
A Lockheed Martin F-35A jet

A Lockheed Martin F-35A jet

Photographer: George Frey/Bloomberg

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.