National Security Desk / April 20, 2016

F-35 Experiencing Problems — Again

So it’s back to the drawing board for Lockheed Martin.

George Will, last year, wrote that the U.S. military’s newest fighter plane, the F-35, was “astonishingly expensive and operationally dubious.” He suggested there were better ways for equipping the Armed Forces.

Now, those F-35s have become astronomically expensive and operationally precarious, as it turns out the plane’s radar is spotty and small-statured pilots could get killed if they ever ejected from the plane. The system’s radar has a nasty software habit of feeding the pilot spotty readings and the only way for pilots to fix it is to treat it like a household computer — turn it off and turn it back on again. Meanwhile, the plane’s ejection is so powerful that pilots between 136-165 pounds may have their neck snapped if they have to bail in an emergency thanks to the heavy, technologically dense helmet the pilots have to use.

“[W]ith time, it may wind up being a suitable platform for aerial warfare,” wrote Jazz Shaw. “But any honest assessment at this stage makes this project look like a budget busting, ill considered boondoggle as far as I’m concerned.” So it’s back to the drawing board for Lockheed Martin — again.

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