Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord told reporters Friday the ongoing F-35 production pause points to “sloppiness” by the government and prime contractor Lockheed Martin, adding the department is having regular discussions with the company about its manufacturing practices.
“I think it's symptomatic of perhaps a bit of sloppiness on industry's part in terms of meeting requirements,” Lord said during a media roundtable. “What we are in the process of doing is talking with a greater level of fidelity about our expectations for performance in each of the upcoming lots.”
Reuters reported this week that F-35 production is paused due to a dispute over liability for a known production issue involving corrosion on some of the aircraft's fasteners. The problem is largely resolved, but the joint program office and Lockheed Martin have not yet reached an agreement over who should pay for the fix.
Five aircraft are currently on hold until the issue is settled.
Lord said the program has not always been “as thoughtful as we want to be” about communicating its requirements, particularly as it pertains to production performance. She said she has been meeting monthly with Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson to discuss DOD's production and sustainment expectations.
“I think this corrosion issue is one example where where we have expectations for workmanship, and at this point we're not seeing those workmanship levels being achieved,” Lord said. “Lockheed Martin understands that.”