September 14, 2015 by Mandy Smithberger & Dan Grazier - warisboring.com
Recent 'operational test' aboard USS 'Wasp' was no such thing
The Marine Corps triumphantly declared its variant of the F-35 combat ready in late July. In the public relations build-up, the recent demonstration of its performance on the USS Wasp was heralded as a rebuttal to the program’s critics.
But a complete copy of a recent memo from the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) — obtained by the Project On Government Oversight through the Freedom of Information Act — reveals that a number of maintenance and reliability problems “are likely to present significant near-term challenges for the Marine Corps.”
The Marine Corps named this demonstration “Operational Test One,” but it turns out it wasn’t actually an operational test, “in either a formal or an informal sense of the term.” To count as an operational test, conditions should closely match realistic combat conditions.
But DOT&E found the demonstration “did not — and could not — demonstrate that Block 2B F-35B is operationally effective or suitable for use in any type of limited combat operation, or that it was ready for real-world operational deployments, given the way the event was structured.”