Spare Parts Needed to Ready F-35 for the Pacific, General Says

The U.S. Marine Corps wants to protect funding for spare parts needed to prepare the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for eventual deployment to the Asia-Pacific region, a general said.

The U.S. Marine Corps wants to protect funding for spare parts needed to prepare the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for eventual deployment to the Asia-Pacific region, a general said.

During a conference call with reporters on Monday afternoon, Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, the service’s deputy commandant for aviation, said if the F-35B is cleared to begin initial operations “soon” as expected, the jump-jet version of the Lockheed Martin Corp.-made plane is slated to deploy to Japan in early 2017.

The aircraft will head to Iwakuni in the southern part of the country with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron-121, the Corps’ first operational squadron of the stealthy fifth-generation fighter currently based in Yuma, Arizona, Davis said.

“If I want one thing, I want the afloat spares backup and the deployable spares backup,” he said, referring to two separate parts packages. “Bottom line is getting that put together and getting that deployed over there so they fly in and roll in on that. I think that’s the key — making sure they got their parts so they can fly effectively out there in the Pacific area of responsibility.”

The Defense Department has requested $11 billion for the F-35 program in fiscal 2016, beginning Oct. 1. That figure includes about $410 million for spare parts, according to Pentagon budget documents. While the overall Joint Strike Fighter has received robust congressional funding, the line for spares has been targeted amid automatic spending caps known as sequestration.

Funding for spares has a direct impact on how many planes the services can maintain and service so they’re ready to fly, Davis said. The measure is known as the aircraft mission capable rate.

The F-35 is designed to have a mission capable rate of about 74 percent, though the current figure is closer to 60-65 percent for the F-35Bs that flew in a recent operational readiness inspection — and Davis said he wants it to be upwards of 80 percent.

“We’re tracking to what we thought IOC would be,” he said, at about 50 percent. But, he added, “that’s a low bar. We need to be higher than that.”

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • Dfens

    There are still a few days left to cancel this program. Come on people, where's your dedication to the cause? Lockheed needs that $10 billion program cancellation check. Their rich executives have bills to pay too. Really big bills. You don't think a house in the Hampton's comes cheap. And what about the servants? They need to be paid on a regular basis. It is just plain un-American for you people to be so selfish to actually want some working airplanes out of this program after spending half a trillion on its development.

  • Former Officer

    True defense executives make high salaries; however the amount of a salary that can be funded by contract charges is limited by the government. The vast majority of an ececutive’s salary come out of company profit. The tax payer is not directly paying for it.

    • Dfens

      Show me the FAR clause that "limits" the amount of money an executive can charge to a contract. That's a bunch of crap. 99% of Lockheed's business is with the US government. Guess who pays for their "profits?" It's sure as hell not the generals.

    • MJM

      That's not correct. G&A which includes executive salaries is paid (at least partially) by the Government. Those rates are negotiated so the Government has the option of denying excess charges but that is really on a case by case basis and depends on the expertise of the government team and the time they have to dedicate to the analysis.

      With regards to LM, which has almost zero non-government business we essentially pay all of the executives salaries. Profit is just icing on the cake.

  • Brian B. Mulholland

    "A few days left to cancel this program?" You've got to be kidding. Can we wait for 2040 for an AV-8, F-16, F-18 replacement? I think not.

    The time to rethink this was when a decision to include a V-STOVL capacity within the program was under consideration, and doing so would by no means have avoided the grief that's attended software development and engine problems.

    • Dfens

      Apparently we can wait that long or longer. Hordes of people post here everyday telling us how this program needs to end. Of course, 2040 is an optimistic date. That assumes the next program is better than this one and doesn't get cancelled in 2040. If you assume that likely scenario our pilots have to wait until 2065 for something up to date. At that point the teen series of aircraft will be 100 years old. A country stupid enough to ride on the laurels of the past that long doesn't deserve to be free.

      • dave brown

        a country stupid enough to elect the idiots we have representing in Washington doesn't deserve to be free either.

      • Dfens

        The two seem to go hand in hand.

    • sferrin

      Rolling STOVL into it was the best decision assuming you actually WANTED any STOVL aircraft. Because it was the only way they'd be getting them. No way in hell would a separate STOVL aircraft program have survived because the low numbers would explode the costs.

      • Dfens

        To me the B is the airplane that makes the most sense. By putting the fan in there horizontally they got rid of the need to have counter rotating bypass fans like the Harrier has, plus they don't have all the losses of the Harrier duct work to deal with, and they don't have the drag of the fan slowing them down at high speed like the Harrier has.

  • EROCKER16

    I love hearing from all the people that think they have a clue about what goes into designing, testing, manufacturing, deploying an aircraft like the F-35. What other county has an aircraft that is in the advanced stages of production like the F-35? China and Russia have "prototypes/pipe dreams" that have no chance of being manufactured on a large scale let alone deployed in effective numbers within 20 years? (because it would bankrupt them). There are much bigger problems with this country in terms of spending than the F-35.

  • Guest

    This general needs to come down from his lofty perch and mingle with the workers. This platform has had an appalling record of failing to meet program milestones, making timely spares procurements, develop smart solutions and having a well formed leadership and support team—-unless listening to what Lockheed whispers in their ear is how they execute the program. Enough excuses plus their are already some components that are being deemed obsolete for which no manufacturer or replacement item has been identified. so EROCKER16, how can we be so advamced other than a flying RDTE platform…still a long ways to go.

    and about getting those spare engines on the "L" decks—still don't fit or can be lifted by existing aviation re-supply.

  • Jim

    I think you are right.

    I’m not a fan of the plane, but I hope we reach that tipping point where it stops blowing timelines and specs and moves forward to become a successful program. I also hope we can afford enough to replace the aircraft that will have to retire.

    Given f-35 costs and capabilities the loss of the raptor line really hurts now.

  • John

    " designed to have a mission capable rate of about 74 percent"—???really We want a C student to defend our country?