The Department of Defense agreed with a Government Accountability Office report that it should resolve the Lockheed Martin F-35’s critical deficiencies before requesting funds to pay for full-rate production of the aircraft.

Waiting for the resolution of critical deficiencies in the F-35 Lightning II could delay the aircraft’s full-rate production, which the DoD had planned to begin in 2021.

The department had planned to defer resolving some critical deficiencies found in testing until after its full-rate production decision in October 2019, according to a GAO report released on 5 June. However, the report cited concerns that fixing deficiencies after starting full-rate production could eventually create additional costs to the government.

As of January 2018, the F-35 programme had 966 open deficiencies—111 category one deficiencies, which could jeopardise safety, security, or another critical requirement; and 855 category two deficiencies, which could impede or constrain a successful mission, according to the GAO. At least 25 category one deficiencies and 165 category two deficiencies would not be resolved before planned full-rate production.

Category one deficiencies the Joint Programmee Office planned to solve after full-rate production began involved the air vehicle, avionics, weapons, software and propulsion.

The JPO now plans to resolve all of the F-35’s critical deficiencies prior to entering initial operational test and evaluation, which was anticipated for fall 2018, according the GAO.