Pentagon Cannot Account For Over $85 Million In Taxpayer-Funded Spare Parts For F-35 Jet

According to a May 2018 report by the Government Accountability Office, the Pentagon has not been able to account for more than 1 million F-35 Joint Strike Fighter parts totaling $85 million since 2018.

The F-35 is the Department of Defense’s most expensive weapon system. Its projected life-cycle cost is over $1.7 trillion.

The F-35 Joint Program Office of the DOD does not track or manage the spare parts located in 50 non-prime contractor locations in the United States and abroad.

GAO’s report stated that “the F-35 Joint Program Office doesn’t track or enter spare parts into a property system of records which could allow it to capture real-time updates to property records.” “At the moment, prime contractors are responsible for maintaining this information.”

Jet spare parts include everything from landing gear, bolts and screws to tires and engines.

The GAO explained to the DOD that some parts were not covered by a contract and therefore, contractors would not “enter these parts in the DOD system used to track loss and disposition.” The JPO cannot complete its reporting without this information.

The GAO stated that “without DOD taking measures to ensure these spare parts are held accountable under a contractual agreement, the F-35 Joint Program Office would not be able to gain or maintain accountability for these spare parts, nor will it have the data needed to report financial information or protect government interests, such as the location, cost, and quantity of these parts.”

The GAO found that between May 2018 and October 2022 it lost more than one million spare parts worth over $85 million. The F-35 Joint Program Office of the DOD reviewed less than 2 percent of these “lost or damaged” parts. This same contractor failed to report to DOD over 900,000.00 spare parts worth $66,000,000 since October.

The GAO made four recommendations to the DOD for mitigating future losses.

The GAO first advised the Pentagon and JPO to take steps to ensure all spare parts within the global spares pools are classified appropriately and accountable under a specific contract. The GAO recommended that the DOD create a system for contractors to document interim procedures and report losses.

The Pentagon was also advised to “review and update all applicable guidelines and policy for asset accountability to ensure clarity about when an asset can be considered government-owned property.”