Where did the F-35 spare parts go? Here is a hint

Where did the F-35 spare parts go? Here is a hint

U.S. Air Force Capt. Andrew "Dojo" Olson, F-35 Demo Team pilot and commander, maneuvers an F-35 during the Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Feb. 28, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jensen Stidham)

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon does not know where $2.1 billion worth of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter parts are located and how the money was spent, its Inspector General has determined.

Now Pentagon officials are scrambling much like F-35 pilots heading out on a mission to find the answers.

Hint:  Ask the Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., for some clarity. And if that does not help, try Elgin Air Force base in Florida.

A review by TMN of F-35 contracts and change orders provides some guidance as to who or what entity ordered the parts and where they may have been initially sent. That could be the first step in tracking what the Pentagon admits it cannot find.

The parts contracts are deep in the maw of trillions spent on the F-35 system in various areas during 2018. The TMN review did not include contracts and change orders from 2016 and 2017, years also reviewed by the inspector general.

Those orders reviewed include at least eight contracted by Patuxent totaling $2,933,307,000 where spare parts are included in the requests. Two other contracts that include spare parts were approved by Elgin, totaling $16,847,000.

Not all of that money is for spare parts alone and the reports of the contracts available do not break down earmarked money by line items. They do show, however, who is the responsible party for the parts.

“DoD (Defense Department) officials did not account for and manage F-35 Program Government property, including recording the property in an accountable property system of record (APSR), as required,” the Pentagon’s inspector general said in a report issued March 13, 2019.

“The only record of Government property for the F-35 program is with the contractor and its subcontractor, which valued the 3.45 million pieces of property at $2.1 billion,” the report said.

Pentagon officials declined to comment to TMN on what the review of the contracts outlined. Officials who responded to the inspector general conceded the faulty monitoring and bookkeeping and agreed to complete a complete inventory of the program by the end of 2019.

“The DoD does not know the actual value of the F-35 property and does not have an independent record to verify the contractor-valued Government property of $2.1 billion for the F-35 Program,” the Inspector General report said. “Without accurate records, the F-35 Program officials have no visibility over the property and have no metrics to hold the prime contractor accountable for how it manages Government property.”

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