The JPO largely agreed with the IG’s findings but took issue with one. The office stated that it does not have the resources to perform process proofing of all critical processes, nor does it have the responsibility or resources to perform requirement flow-down verification throughout the F-35 supply chain, according to the report.
The IG says this job falls squarely within the JPO’s area of responsibility. “It is the Joint Program Office’s responsibility to ensure contractual compliance to prevent nonconformances,” the report says.
Roughly 2,600 government workers are assigned to the program; 800 are on the testing team and another 1,800 are helping manage the program from various locations.
When the IG looks at quality, it looks to see that parts are manufactured to specifications. At times, parts can be manufactured to specifications but still are unable to meet requirements; officials do not consider those to be quality issues. Part of the IG’s quality review assesses the ability of the manufacturers to comply with standards, such as the AS9100 standard used by the aerospace industry.
Mahr notes that “early on” in the program (Lockheed is assembling lot 5 aircraft now), there were quality deficiencies being fielded to the fleet. Now, however, “Lockheed Martin is taking positive steps to fix that,” he says.
“The quality of this program is as good or better than legacy platforms,” says Eric Banyan, Lockheed Martin vice president of program management for the F-35. One measure of this is “scrap and rework”; about 13% of the total hours were spent on scrap and rework for the F-35 at unit 100, which was fewer than the F-22 at unit 100, Banyan says. He projects that by unit 600, the F-35 will reach the 6% scrap and rework milestone achieved by the F-16 program at unit 2,500.
Orlando Carvalho, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics vice president, established a quality transformation council to develop a mindset of improved quality in his workers and those working at suppliers, Banyan says. In concert, he kicked off a Global Quality Council with the top 10 suppliers for all of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics’ suppliers.