Some F-35 suppliers have trouble delivering parts on schedul

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Unread post13 May 2020, 01:18

Some F-35 suppliers are having trouble delivering parts on schedule, and Turkey’s departure could make that worse
12 May 2020 Valerie Insinna [Complicated BEST READ at URL]

"WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is on the verge of full-rate production, with a decision slated for early 2021. But a congressional watchdog group is concerned that as the company ramps up F-35 production, its suppliers are falling behind. And those supply chain problems could get even worse as Turkish defense manufacturers are pushed out of the program, the Government Accountability Office said in a May 12 report.

According to the GAO, the number of F-35 parts delivered late skyrocketed from less than 2,000 in August 2017 to upward of 10,000 in July 2019. The number of parts shortages per month also climbed from 875 in July 2018 to more than 8,000 in July 2019. More than 60 percent of that sum was concentrated among 20 suppliers, it said.

“To mitigate late deliveries and parts shortages — and deliver more aircraft on time — the airframe contractor has utilized methods such as reconfiguring the assembly line and moving planned work between different stations along the assembly line,” the GAO said.

“According to the program office, such steps can cause production to be less efficient, which, in turn, can increase the number of labor hours necessary to build each aircraft,” which then drives up cost, the GAO added....

...Hard times for the F-35’s engine supplier
Not all F-35 production trends reported by the GAO were bad for the aircraft. Since 2016, Lockheed has made progress in delivering a greater proportion of F-35s on schedule, with 117 of 134 F-35s delivered on time in 2019.

However, one of the biggest subsystems of the F-35 — the F135 engine produced by Pratt & Whitney — drifted in the opposite direction, with a whopping 91 percent of engines delivered behind schedule. At one point in 2019, Pratt & Whitney stopped deliveries of the F135 for an unspecified period due to test failures, which also contributed to the reduction of on-time deliveries.

According to the Defense Contracts Management Agency, “there have been 18 engine test failures in 2019, which is eight more than in 2018, each requiring disassembly and rework,” the GAO wrote. “To address this issue, the engine contractor has developed new tooling for the assembly line and has established a team to identify characteristics leading to the test failures. Plans are also in place for additional training for employees.”"

Source: https://www.defensenews.com/air/2020/05 ... hat-worse/
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Unread post13 May 2020, 05:34

Posted here because article is a source for the above article however I acknowledge this post could have gone elsewhere.

ALSO Air Force Magazine COMMENTARY: GAO: F-35 Not Meeting Reliability, Maintainability Goals 12 May 2020 John A. Tirpak
https://www.airforcemag.com/gao-f-35-no ... ity-goals/
Actions Needed to Address Manufacturing and Modernization Risks
12 May 2020 GAO-20-339

"FAST FACTS
The F-35 program produced more aircraft and negotiated lower prices in 2019. However, the program is not meeting standards aimed at ensuring consistent, high-quality products, and fielded aircraft do not meet reliability goals.

Also, the cost to modernize aircraft systems went up about $1.5 billion (14%) since the program’s May 2019 annual report to Congress. Due to development delays, this reporting requirement will expire before the effort is complete. We suggest Congress consider extending it.

We made 5 recommendations, including some to help the Defense Department make its modernization cost estimate more comprehensive and credible."

PDF: https://www.gao.gov/assets/710/706815.pdf (2Mb) & HIGHLIGHTS: https://www.gao.gov/assets/710/706816.pdf (184Kb)

PODCAST: F-35 Annual Program Review - DOWNLOAD.MP3: https://dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp3/ww ... ayout=none (6Mb)

"Helmet Mounted Display: During low-light flights, the Helmet Mounted Display’s technology cannot display pure black images, instead presenting a green glow on the screen, which makes it difficult to see the full resolution of the night vision video feed. The contractor developed a new display to avoid this effect. According to F-35 program officials, they placed an initial order of 62 displays with 35 delivered by December 2019 to support U.S. Marine Corps and Navy F-35C fleet operations. Three F-35C pilots completed initial day and night testing using the new display in July 2019 on a carrier. The contractor expects to have a fully qualified redesign by August 2021 and will incorporate it into the production of lot 12 aircraft."


Source: https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-20-339
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Unread post14 May 2020, 19:24

F-35 Faces Parts Problems After Turks Expulsion
12 May 2020 COLIN CLARK

"WASHINGTON: It’s a familiar tale, if one told with fewer operational problems. The Government Accountability Office today details a $1.5 billion increase for 2019 in the F-35’s Block 4 costs — now up to $12.1 billion — and serious parts problems caused by the expulsion of Turkey from the Joint Strike Fighter program. And that cost estimate may not be completely accurate, the GAO audit found, because “the cost estimate did not fully adhere to leading practices, such as including all life cycle costs.”

The program “is already addressing, to include: cost estimate baselines, risk and uncertainty analyses, and evaluation of Technology Readiness Levels for Block 4 hardware and capabilities,” Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Eric Fick said in a prepared statement.

But the bigger problem in the short term is that 15 key parts for the $428 billion F-35 program are “not currently being produced at the needed production rate.” How serious is this problem? How and how much will it slow production?

“The program has identified new sources for 1,005 parts produced by Turkish suppliers, but the program is assessing the effect of 15 key parts not currently being produced at the needed production rate,” the GAO audit found. I asked the JSF PEO for details and did not receive an answer by press time....

...The other broadly significant finding by the GAO is that the program is “not meeting manufacturing leading practices identified by GAO. Specifically, only about 3,000 of the over 10,000 airframe contractor’s manufacturing key processes meet predefined design standards for ensuring product quality. Also, the fielded aircraft, over 500 so far, do not meet the program’s reliability and maintainability goals. Although the contractor is changing manufacturing processes to address problems and improve efficiency, more remains to be done. Unless the program office evaluates the risks of not meeting these leading practices, the military services and international partners are at risk of not receiving the quality aircraft they purchased.”

Boil that down — price is coming down, many, many fixes have been made to the Lockheed Martin aircraft, but the Air Force, Navy, Marines and many American allies and partners are getting aircraft that aren’t as good as they should be."

Source: https://breakingdefense.com/2020/05/f-3 ... expulsion/
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Unread post19 May 2020, 21:19

Lockheed slated to miss F-35 delivery target in 2020 as supply chain struggles to keep up [best read at URL]
19 May 2020 Valerie Insinna

"WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin will throttle back the pace of F-35 production on May 23, leaving it anywhere from 18 to 24 jets short of the 141 scheduled for delivery this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult for Lockheed’s supply chain to make components on time, and as a result the company is moving to an adjusted work schedule where production will slow over the next three months, said Greg Ulmer, Lockheed’s vice president for the F-35 program.

Ultimately, Lockheed aims to accelerate production as soon as possible and hopes to decrease the number of aircraft that will delivered late. However, Ulmer said there are too many variables to say precisely how long buyers will be left waiting for their F-35s. “If I have the ability to speed up or recover sooner, then I will do so,” Ulmer said. “If there are other unknown COVID-19 impacts that I don’t know about that come on the horizon — I don’t know that either. ... As we go forward, probably late summer or early fall, we’ll have a pretty good sense of where we’re going to be.”... [then details about how things will go with workforce]

...“There are local distancing requirements that are being more stringently applied across the globe. There is workforce disruption,” Kenneth Possenriede, the company’s chief financial officer, said at the time. “We’ve actually had some issues with shipping constraints.”

Most of the supply chain pressure on the program stems from constraints on low-tier suppliers that produce components that feed into larger portions of the F-35. While the production line tries to do as much work on each section as possible, workers are having to slow down and wait for missing parts to arrive, Ulmer said....

...the industrial challenges currently faced by Lockheed do not appear to be caused by the international supply base. Ulmer said European suppliers, who were hardest hit before the United States, are now rebounding from the pandemic. “I really see Europe kind of [on the] leading edge of the recovery side of this,” he said.

In particular, northern Italy struggled with high numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases, leading Italian defense firm Leonardo, which runs an F-35 final assembly and check out plant in Cameri, to shut down operations over a two day period in March to clean the facility. With the number of new cases receding, Italy began reopening nonessential businesses this month. “Leonardo today is north of 90 percent manned, fully operating. They’re pretty much back to normal operations,” Ulmer said.

The ongoing expulsion of Turkish suppliers from the F-35 program is also unlikely to be affected by the production slowdown at Fort Worth, as Lockheed has already identified companies to take over that work, he said. “With the vast majority of those, that alternate sourcing has been accomplished. I really don’t see this as an impact to that."..." [then more about how production will ramp up]

Source: https://www.defensenews.com/breaking-ne ... o-keep-up/
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Unread post20 May 2020, 16:11

LM explains work force changes/shifts (left out of the article immediately above).
Lockheed Martin Announces Proactive Measures to Mitigate COVID-19 Impacts to F-35 Production
19 May 2020 LM PR

"In response to previously reported COVID-19 F-35 supplier delays, Lockheed Martin is taking proactive measures to mitigate impacts and position the program for the fastest possible recovery by adjusting work schedules, maintaining specialized employee skillsets, and accelerating payments to small and vulnerable suppliers, to continue meeting customer commitments.

Today Lockheed Martin and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) agreed to a temporary alternate work schedule for F-35 production line employees in Fort Worth to maintain their skilled workforce.

The new schedule, which will begin May 23, divides each shift into three groups. On a rotation, each group will work for two weeks and then will have a week off. During the adjusted three-week work schedule, employees who work 96 hours or more will be compensated an additional 24 hours for their off week while receiving full pay and benefits.

The alternate schedule allows Lockheed Martin to staff the production line to meet a slower workflow resulting from supplier delays. In addition, it provides a work rhythm that retains the expertise of the talented workforce and provides opportunities to adjust work to better support production.

“These are challenging times, but managing tough challenges is when the F-35 program performs at its best. The alternate work schedule maintains the specialized skillset of the employees and provides opportunities to for us to adjust our workflow to account for supplier delays due to COVID-19,” said Aeronautics Executive Vice President Michele Evans. “Our F-35 workforce is the best in the world at what they do, and we will continue to deliver on our customer’s mission.”

The temporary alternate work schedule agreement will continue for its first three-week cycle. The company will then evaluate business needs and can alter the schedule as needed with the option to discontinue as warranted or continue until Sept. 4. Lockheed Martin and the IAM have also agreed to allow employees to volunteer to be furloughed for 30 days where they maintain their benefits but forgo pay during this period."

Source: https://www.f35.com/news/detail/lockhee ... -impacts-t
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