Former UK Defense Chief Calls F-35 One Of The Biggest Duds In History

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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The F-35 has had a difficult time with reputation management in the United States, and it isn’t doing so well internationally, either.

“You could argue it was already one of the biggest white elephants in history a long time ago,” Nick Harvey, the U.K.’s armed forces minister from 2010 to 2012, said, according to The Independent. But countries still find themselves lining up to place orders. The U.K. is looking to purchase almost 140 of Lockheed-Martin’s F-35s— the largest international order so far.

For Harvey, the idea that the F-35 will be combat-ready by 2018 is absurd. On whether the deadline will be respected, the former head of the Ministry of Defense said, “not a cat in hell’s chance.”

Budget documents up to this point indicate that the Department of Defense intends to spend $11 billion for an additional 57 F-35s in the next fiscal year. Despite delays, cost overruns and the threat that the F-35 won’t be able to provide crucial capabilities, the amount represents an increase from the $8.6 billion allocated for 38 F-35s this year.

In March, U.S. Air Force Gen. Herbert Carlisle admitted that the first version of the aircraft, the F-35b, will have strict limits as to the number of weapons it can carry. The aircraft also can’t compete with the A-10 in terms of how long it can fly and take punishment from the enemy without backing down. The F-35b continues to perform poorly on communications tests, as 80 percent of system alerts turn out to be false positives. (RELATED: First F-35s Get Bashed In Hearing For Failing To Match The A-10)

What’s more, the first F-35s ready to deploy for the Marine Corps by July 1 will not have night-vision technology.

Nevertheless, the House will debate adding $1 billion to the budget this week, in order to bring six more F-35s online for the Pentagon. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is the most expensive weapon in Pentagon history, with estimates placing total cost somewhere in the arena of $1 trillion dollars. That total cost only counts operation and maintenance, not the amount required to design and build the system. Acquisition costs total around $400 billion dollars.

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