The Government Accountability Office has said the developmental testing phase of the Lockheed Martin-built F-35 aircraft could be delayed by another 12 months and generate $1.7 billion in additional cost due to problems with the fighter jet’s Block 3F mission systems software.
GAO said in a report published Monday the F-35 program office predicts a five-month delay and a cost increase of $532 million in order to wrap up Block 3F developmental tests.
The delays could hold up the F-35 initial operational capability for the U.S. Navy, delay the program’s initial operational test and evaluation phase and postpone decision on F-35 full-rate production that is expected to occur in April 2019, according to the report.
Officials at the F-35 program office said they predict the fighter program to require more than $1.2 billion in fiscal 2018 funds to support the follow-on modernization plan – Block 4 – and acquisition of economic order quantities of parts.
GAO called on the Defense Department to conclude Block 3F tests before it seeks proposals for the follow-on software development plan.
DoD should also determine the cost and advantages related to the procurement of bulk quantities of parts and re-evaluate the cost of Block 3F development through the use of historical data, the report added.