In an expansive report released earlier this month, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has unveiled a disconcerting state of affairs regarding the mission capability of the country’s prized F-35 fighter jets.

According to a 96-page report, the investigative agency found that as of March 2023, only slightly more than half of the F-35 fleet was considered “mission capable,” marking a mission capability rate of approximately 55 percent.

This revelation falls dramatically short of the established targets for the F-35 program, which aimed for a mission capability rate of 90 percent for the F-35A variant and 85 percent for both the B and C variants. The GAO report identifies several key factors contributing to this underwhelming performance.

Maintenance Challenges at the Core

The US Government Accountability Office points to depot and organizational maintenance challenges as the principal culprits behind the F-35’s subpar mission capability rate. The report notes: