The supply of the RAF’s new US-built F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter in July 2021 was a uncommon second of celebration in a troublesome mission.
The “fifth technology” fighter jet is the world’s most costly weapon system, though prices finally stabilized at a staggering $406 billion.
Producer Lockheed-Martin agreed to cap prices after US President Donald Trump criticized the mission and even tweeted his help for a competing airplane.
The UK is at the moment embarking on a £9.1 billion program to purchase 48 of the F-35s from American aviation big Lockheed Martin by 2025.
One of many first 4 F-35B Lightning II plane arrives at RAF Marham in Norfolk on 6 June 2018
America has lured its NATO and different allies into sharing the price of the airplane by providing enter to fabricate it, and every airplane is made up of 15 per cent elements from British firms, whereas a few of the jets are made in Italy.
However the planes had been stricken by a sequence of issues that despatched prices skyrocketing.
There may be concern that deficiencies within the technical programs underlying the brand new technology of fighter jets will trigger them to malfunction.
The precise value of the UK plane delivered this yr is estimated at over £150m every to cowl ‘extras’ resembling software program upgrades and spare elements.
There are additionally considerations that the plane’s software program system is susceptible to cyberattacks and can’t be independently examined by the UK.
Weak broadband on the Royal Navy’s fundamental plane service, HMS Queen Elizabeth, can be hampering the jet’s capabilities.
The issues is not going to be solved by the division chargeable for the pc networks important to the plane’s operation having to seek out £400million in financial savings this yr.
Stories of prices and different points prompted the Protection Choose Committee to launch an investigation into the mission.
She accused the Ministry of Protection of leaving Parliament and the general public at the hours of darkness concerning the prices.
The Ministry of Protection has up to now refused to present the UK the estimated value of buying the F-35, other than referring to a Nationwide Audit Workplace, which used the £9.1 billion determine.
MPs stated “it’s merely unacceptable that the Protection Division refuses to confide in Parliament and the general public its estimates of the whole value of this system.”
Though the F-35’s value was the main target of consideration, there have been additionally embarrassing reviews of operational shortcomings from the US.
In a mock air battle in 2015, the state-of-the-art plane was defeated by an older technology F-16, a airplane from the Nineteen Seventies.
In 2020, Pentagon assessments discovered 276 completely different flaws within the jet’s fight system.
These included the excessively oscillating 25mm gun and issues with the airplane’s “digital actuality” helmet
Overheating, untimely put on of elements within the vertical stabilizers and susceptibility to fireside had been additionally recognized as issues.
The US Air Pressure briefly grounded dozens of its F-35 stealth fighters whereas investigating an oxygen provide difficulty.
The Marine Corps, which additionally operates the identical F-35B mannequin Britain purchased, was pressured to floor its planes after bugs had been found within the laptop system.