A new Pentagon report savages the F-35 fighter jet after engineers found a trove of bugs and glitches. One of the most appalling flaws is the ejection system, which can kill pilots in the blink of an eye.
After numerous tests, engineers discovered that pilots who weigh less than 136 pounds are at risk of dying when using the eject system, AFP reports. Pilots who come in under 165 pounds have a 25 percent chance of dying for each eject. But even if pilots don’t happen to die, they have a 100 percent chance of sustaining serious neck injuries.
“Testing showed that the ejection seat rotates backwards after ejection,” the report noted. “This results in the pilot’s neck becoming extended, as the head moves behind the shoulders in a ‘chin up’ position.”
This resulted in a failure for the eject system to pass neck-injury criteria.
Sometimes the jet can’t distinguish between old parts and new parts. Other times, it blocks users from logging in, said the Pentagon’s testing office. The office is worried the Marine Corps is pushing the F-35 into deployment far too prematurely, despite serious problems with electronic warfare and weapons employment.
None of the issues caught the F-35 team by surprise. According to Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, who serves as executive officer for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program, “All of the issues mentioned are well-known to (us), the U.S. services, international partners and our industry team.”
The F-35 has so far cost over $1 trillion dollars.
Military analyst Justin Bronk at the Royal United Services Institute told the BBC the F-35 is “one of the most delayed and problematic fighter programmes in history.”
“If this sort of news keeps coming out in terms of continued problems with the testing… it’s potentially embarrassing,” Bronk added.
The United Kingdom has helped to finance the plane, but has had to push its deployment date back from 2012 to 2023.
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