F-35 Block 4 lags behind by three years and increases costs

WASHINGTON — Last year alone, U.S. taxpayers paid $ 741 million for abandoning the plan to develop the latest stealth version, F-35 Lightning II Block 4. Information provided by the U.S. The Government Accountability Office [GAO] says it is three years behind schedule.

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On April 25, GAO published its report criticizing the US State Department for the state of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program – launched in 2018 and related to upgrading and upgrading systems and software, new weapons systems, and new computers.

The F-35 Lightning II Block 4 was due to appear in 2026 at the earliest, as originally planned by the US State Department. However, this will not happen, as GAO said in 2021, announcing that 2027 will most likely be the debut of the stealth fighter. Now it turns out that 2027 as the end date is a mirage, so, GAO gives a forecast for 2029.

The reason for this huge delay, as well as the unplanned funds spent annually, is “critical systems development and testing, among others,” GAO said, stressing that “adding new opportunities” is why 2029 is the expected end date.

The programs involved in the production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter have increased in value. These are mostly software solutions – such as those to be provided under the Technology Refresh-3 and Technology Refresh-4 programs focused on the development of a new processor core, memory, panoramas, and more. “Increased testing and upgrade costs” are also a big part of the program’s spending, GAO added.

The costs are growing many times over, according to a simple reference in the GAO documents. In 2020, the American taxpayer gave 14.4 billion dollars and in just one year [2021] this amount is already 15.14 billion dollars.

GAO estimates that $ 1.7 trillion has been spent on the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, the most expensive in the history of the US military’s weapons systems. Purchasing, operation, and maintenance are included in this value, and according to GAO, the complex logistics system called ALIS is “an important element for the operation and maintenance of the F-35”.

It turns out that ALIS is also part of the problem. “The F-35 program office has changed its plans to replace its logistics system and is now taking gradual steps to improve and modernize it. The Autonomous Logistics Information System [ALIS] faces long-standing challenges, including technical complexity, poor usability, and inaccurate or missing data,” says the GAO report.


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