Mod Squad

More than 200 F-35s have been delivered, and after 15 years of production, the new fighter actually suffers from “vanishing vendor syndrome,” program executive officer Christopher Bogdan told attendees at a McAleese/Credit Suisse conference in Washington on Wednesday. Some of the early-lot airplanes “require as many as 150 modifications” to bring them up to the current configuration, Bogdan said. “That’s how many changes we’ve made,” he explained. Managing parts to make new airplanes while procuring or fixing now-obsolete parts is a “challenging undertaking,” he added. He’s not sure when that backlog will be worked off, but he the program is developing a worldwide support system so that airplanes, when they need repair or refit, “don’t have to cross two oceans” to get it. The worldwide sustainment infrastructure, he said, will declare operational capability “in 2020, 2021.”