15 December

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole fighters undergoing final development and testing by the United States.

The fifth generation combat aircraft is designed to perform ground attack, aerial reconnaissance, and air defence missions. The F-35 has three main models: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) variant, and the F-35C carrier-based Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) variant. On 31 July 2015, the first squadron was declared ready for deployment after intensive testing by the United States.

The program is the most expensive military weapons system in history, and it has been the object of much criticism from those inside and outside government — in the US and in allied countries. Critics argue that the plane is “plagued with design flaws,” with many blaming the procurement process in which Lockheed was allowed “to design, test, and produce the F-35 all at the same time, instead of … [identifying and fixing] defects before firing up its production line.” By 2014, the program was “$163 billion over budget [and] seven years behind schedule.” Critics further contend that the program’s high sunk costs and political momentum make it “too big to kill.”

P.S. From the editor – had to add my own comment here, the F-35 has disaster written all over it. From its first flight there have been major problems with this aircraft which seem not to have been properly resolved. My own interest stems from the stupid decision of the Australian government to back this disastrous aircraft.