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Pentagon Must Demand Refunds on Flawed Lockheed Martin F-35 Parts, Congress Says

Dec. 11, 2019
The Pentagon found that Lockheed Martin, which makes the planes, was overpaid by as much as $10.6 million dollars.

The Pentagon must press Lockheed Martin Corp.(IW500/24) to recoup fees paid to the No. 1 defense contractor for F-35 parts that weren’t ready to use in the planes after delivery to the military, according to the planned defense policy bill for this fiscal year.

“Consistent with the findings and recommendations” of the Pentagon inspector general in a June report, the Pentagon “shall seek relief” for delivery of “non-compliant ready-for-issue spare parts pursuant to a contract under the F–35 aircraft program,” lawmakers said in the policy report for the $738 billion authorization measure.

The House is expected to approve the conference report on the measure (S. 1790) as early as Wednesday, sending it to the Senate for final passage.

Lockheed failed to supply ready-to-install spare parts, from wheels and tire assemblies to seats -- and may have been overpaid as much as $10.6 million, according to the inspector general.

The parts were considered inadequate for installation not because of safety or manufacturing problems but because they were delivered without the required log of electronic data needed by maintenance crews, containing information such as a part’s history and its remaining useful life, according to the report. Parts aren’t supposed to be installed without the data.

Pentagon F-35 spokesman Greg Kuntz said in a statement that the program office and the Defense Contract Management Agency have collected data from Lockheed for an analysis that could serve as a basis for negotiations with the company. “The program office in coordination with the DCMA will make a determination early next year on potential compensation for previous” noncompliant parts, he said.

Lockheed Martin spokeswoman Carolyn Nelson said in a statement that the company “was paid in accordance with the contractual agreements. The contract payments referenced in the report are calculated on a number of factors, including some that are controlled by the U.S. Government and are outside of Lockheed Martin’s control.”

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