U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael J. Schmidt, the Programme Executive Officer and Director for the F-35 Lightning II Programme, revealed that only about half of the F-35 fighters in the U.S. fleet are ready to perform war missions. According to a written statement prepared by Schmidt for hearings in the Aviation Subcommittee of the United States House Committee on the Armed Forces, "the average number of U.S. fighters ready to perform their duties during February amounted to more than 540 F-35 fighters, which is equivalent to 53.1 per cent."
He stated that it could perform at least some required tasks such as combat, testing, training, and test flights. Schmidt emphasised that less than 30 per cent of aircraft can perform all tasks. He called the situation unacceptable and said he planned to increase readiness rates by at least 10 per cent annually.
According to Bloomberg, the F-35's engine cooling system "is not effective enough, resulting in a reduction in engine life," citing a preliminary report from the U.S. Audit Office.