$85 Mln Loss of F-35 Parts Shows How ‘Things Slip Through’ in US Military


While US government officials will likely learn valuable lessons from the unpleasant situation with lost and unaccounted for F-35 spare parts, whether these lessons will be implemented in the future is a different matter, a US Army vet has warned.

Pentagon officials have once again showed how carefully they handle US taxpayers’ money spent on weaponry as the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealed this week that a prime contractor for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program had “incurred losses of over 1 million spare parts totaling over $85 million” since May 2018 and that the Department of Defense (DoD) has reviewed less than two percent of these losses.

The GAO findings suggest that the F-35 Joint Program Office of the DoD “does not oversee or account for spare parts in its global spares pool that have been accepted and received by the government and are located at non-prime contractor facilities” and “does not track or enter these spare parts into an accountable property system of record.”

Commenting on the development, Earl Rasmussen, a retired lieutenant colonel with over 20 years in the US Army and an international consultant, explained to Sputnik that the acquisition of weapons systems such as the F-35 is a very complex endeavor that “often entails a myriad of systems that are tracking or attempting to track the development, parts, logistical support, training of personnel, units where systems are deployed, etc.”

“There are also multiple organizations involved from the prime contractor and supplier, the acquisition organization, training organizations, supply/logistics organizations, maintenance organizations, operational commands and the actual operational units involved,” he remarked. “Yes, things slip through despite efforts from many professionals.”

When asked about who might benefit from this apparent lack of government oversight exposed by the GAO, Rasmussen suggested that, “potentially,” a “company or supplier” working with the Pentagon would seem to be the most likely candidates, though he did point out that “there is often incentives and/or penalties built into the contract to help mitigate such situations.”

And while US government agencies will likely learn from the incident in question, whether these lessons will actually be implemented in the future “is another story,” Rasmussen said.

“Oftentimes political interest may take precedence,” he mused.

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