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UK Declared F-35 Operational Despite Deficiencies

According to Aviation Week, the UK declared the F-35 operational even though the fleet was suffering from availability, infrastructure, logistics and security issues.

The magazine underlines that the UK National Audit Office (NAO) found that the December 2018 initial operating capability (IOC) from land bases was granted with 67 exceptions, with almost one-third of those still yet to be resolved more than a year later. It is not clear on how many criteria IOC (Land) was judged.

The NAO notes that some 20 of the exemptions had still not been resolved as of last month. But the NAO says the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy have made progress in the areas of training personnel and logistics.

The UK now has 15 F-35Bs based in the country flying with front-line unit 617 Sqdn. And with 207 Sqdn, a training unit. Since their arrival to the UK, the aircraft have been deployed to Cyprus and flown operational missions in the Middle East. They also recently took part in a Tier 1 Red Flag exercise with Five Eyes partners Australia and the US.

 The NAO said the UK Ministry of Defence could use exemptions when bringing a new capability into service. Capabilities that do not meet specifications but are deemed good enough would be given an exemption. The NAO also says that IOC acceptance criteria for the F-35 were not finalized “until several years” after business case approval in the second half of 2017.

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