Marine Corps' F-35 study to focus on long term sustainment

By Lee Hudson / November 9, 2017 at 2:37 PM

The Marine Corps' external study on F-35 sustainment will focus on long-term maintenance and spare parts inventory, according to a service official.

Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder, deputy commandant for aviation, told reporters it's common for the Marine Corps to conduct readiness reviews of its airframes.

"Most of it is in conjunction with the [F-35 program office], . . . with what the Navy is doing," he said following a House Armed Services readiness subcommittee hearing. "Think about where we are today. We have 12 F-35 sites right now [and], by 2020, we'll have 12 countries, 20 bases, a couple of carriers and some amphibious ships that will all have to have spares on the shelves for this particular airplane."

Rudder's team regularly reviews spare parts funding for the F-35. Most of the work focuses on making sure the JPO get all of the spare parts on contract to avoid hurting future readiness, he said.

Inside Defense reported last month the Marine Corps requested an external study on the F-35 sustainment cost because of a breakdown in communication between the service and the JPO.

The most recent Government Accountability Office report on F-35 sustainment notes there was a discrepancy in the Marine Corps' fiscal year 2017 bill. Though the initial bill totaled $293 million, it increased to $364 million in the execution year, according to the report.

"This lack of transparency is due in part to insufficient communication between the program office and the services, and it puts the services in a difficult position as they consider critical trade-offs that may make F-35 sustainment more affordable," the document reads. "Without improving communication with services about the costs they are being charged, the services may not be able to effectively budget for long-term sustainment."