The F-35 cleared all Category 1A deficiencies in November last year say the U.S. Government Accountability Office and there are now eight remaining Category 1B deficiencies.
Last June, Defense News reported exclusive details about 13 major technical issues, known as category 1 deficiencies, impacting the F-35. The website explained that:
“A category 1 deficiency is defined as a shortfall that could cause death, severe injury or illness; could cause loss or damage to the aircraft or its equipment; critically restricts the operator’s ability to be ready for combat; prevents the jet from performing well enough to accomplish primary or secondary missions; results in a work stoppage at the production line; or blocks mission-critical test points.”
Category 1B represents problems “that have a mission impact with a current workaround that’s acceptable to the war fighter with the knowledge that we will be able to correct that deficiency at some future time”, Vice Admiral Mat Winter, the U.S. Defense Department’s F-35 program executive, was quoted as saying.
It is understood that engineers have eliminated all of the deficiencies believed to endanger pilots and about 90% of other serious flaws that could hamper missions.
The remaining serious deficiencies include excessive pressure that could injure pilots’ ears, night-vision camera images under some conditions being very poor and limited radar sea-search capability.
According to Bloomberg, beyond the eight most serious outstanding flaws, the F-35 program still faces 860 lesser software and hardware deficiencies, of which 104 are considered fixed but with verification pending.
“The remainder have a fix under investigation, in the works or are deemed less critical mission enhancements that don’t need immediate attention, according to the program office. That’s up from 855 in January 2018. About 85% are software-related.”
The programme office say they anticipate resolving the first two matters next year and the radar issue in 2024.