F-35 JPO Draws 'Quality Assurance' Critique from DoD IG


sdd_lripa_003The DoD Inspector General has published a new report criticizing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Joint Program Office’s ability to maintain quality assurance.

“Our assessment determined that the F-35 JPO oversight of Lockheed Martin was inadequate and that the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) oversight of the contractors was ineffective. These issues may result in nonconforming hardware, less reliable aircraft, and increased cost,” according to the report.

The Sept. 30 report, titled “Quality Assurance Assessment of the F-35 Lightning II Program,” also criticized subcontractors Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, L-3 Display Systems, Honeywell Aerospace and United Technologies Corporation.

The IG recommended the JPO should “perform technical and quality assurance requirement flow down and verification throughout the F-35 supply chain, ensure that Lockheed Martin approves all design and material review board changes, and perform process proofing of all critical processes to include first article inspections.”

Additional recommendations in the report call for the JPO to modify its contracts to include a quality escape clause to ensure the government does not pay for non-conforming product and assess the impacts and risks to all delivered aircraft for all findings. Officials with the JPO told Military.com that most of the issues identified have already been addressed.

“We work closely with DCMA (Defense Contract Management Agency) to have inspectors on site at numerous locations to look after the quality that the contractors are supposed to be delivering to the government,” Joe DellaVedova, JPO spokesman, told Military.com.

Furthermore, officials with the JPO say that as of Sept. 30, 78-percent of all needed corrective action plans have been resolved and that the remainder are being worked on.

“JPO and DCMA are working together with Lockheed Martin and suppliers to address all findings. We will continue to conduct internal audits, maintain government oversight, and apply process controls to ensure compliance,” officials with the JPO said in a written statement.

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