Problems with the F-35 are nothing new, with countless issues continuing to plague the jet fighter throughout its development. Now, as if to make matters worse, it has suffered another delay in its rollout, with the US House Armed Services Committee being informed that the new multirole jet won’t be ready before at least 2019.
When it was originally conceived as the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35 was intended to reinforce the air power of a number of countries worldwide, including the US and the UK, now it is possibly the most expensive joke in the world. The issues with the F-35 range from simple code crashes and bugs to more amusing issues such as the radar requiring pilots to hard restart it in flight and even major security flaws.In a recent review of the jet by Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation, it was reported that the F-35’s latest operating system version contained 931 open, documented deficiencies, of which 158 are considered Category 1, posing risks death, severe injury or illness.
In a recent review of the jet by Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation, it was reported that the F-35’s latest operating system version contained 931 open, documented deficiencies, of which 158 are considered Category 1, posing risks death, severe injury or illness. Gilmore also reported that even with limited and incomplete testing, the F-35’s cyber security has deficiencies that “cannot be ignored. Currently, 60% of all F-35s already produced are grounded due to software issues, giving an example of a four-plane exercise that had to be aborted “due to avionics stability problems during startup” in two of the aircraft. Obviously, this is a major deficiency for the most software dependent warplane ever made.
It’s not just software issues that the F-35 has either, for example, pilots under 136 lb will be unable to fly the plane due to the ejection mechanism, which also has “serious” problems for those weighing over 165 pounds. Even for those in the ideal weight range for the F-35, which makes up 27% of pilots, there is still a 23% chance of death on ejection and the odds of “some level of injury resulting from neck extension to be 100 per cent,” figures which are contested by General Chris Bogdan.
Even the annual cost of the F-35 falling is not enough to save it either, with the jet estimated to cost the US government alone $379bn between now and 2038, which is $12.7bn annually, for 2,457 planes.
It is almost a wonder that the Joint Strike Fighter program is yet to be cancelled in the face of so many flaws with the F-35. At this point, though, whether they give up or carry on, the cost isn’t going to be cheap and those air forces ordering it would need a new replacement. I’m sure Lockheed Martin are hoping that they can have the F-35 ready by 2019 though I’m sure many expect the ill-fated warplane will continue to disappoint.