The US military’s futuristic F-35 fighter jet remains dogged by dangerous problems sure to further complicate what is already the most expensive weapons project in history, a Pentagon report says.
The plane, which boasts a version that can take off and land vertically, is supposed to form the backbone of the military’s future fighter fleet, ensuring US dominance in the skies for years to come with radar-evading technology.
The military has already taken delivery of dozens of the planes, but new batches continue to be refined and tested.
In the latest blow to the program, engineers uncovered a slew of flaws during extensive testing of the newest versions of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Pentagon report found, adding to a litany of issues including software bugs, technical glitches and cost overruns.
Perhaps the most damning section of the report is an investigation into the F-35’s eject system. Engineers found that pilots who weighed less than 136 pounds (62 kilos) risked being killed by it.
“Testing showed that the ejection seat rotates backwards after ejection. This results in the pilot’s neck becoming extended, as the head moves behind the shoulders in a ‘chin up’ position,” the report states.
It also revealed that one version of the stealth fighter made for the Marine Corps found “deficiencies and limited combat capability.”
And an Air Force variant had “inherited deficiencies,” the report states, noting that the issues could delay the Air Force F-35’s release date past the scheduled year-end deadline.
The Pentagon has budgeted nearly $400 billion for a total of 2,443 F-35 aircraft.
Nine international partners including Britain, Canada and Turkey are helping pay for the jet’s development and are buying hundreds more of the jets, which are manufactured by Lockheed Martin.
But the program has faced numerous setbacks, including a mysterious engine fire in 2014 that led commanders to ground planes until the problem could be resolved.
Pentagon officials have acknowledged that a decision at the outset to start building the jet before testing was finished has caused difficulties.
As a result, glitches have forced repeated repairs and redesign work, slowing down production and raising costs.
Following the document’s release on Monday, Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan, who is the F-35 program’s executive officer, released an upbeat statement saying the report contained “no surprises.”
“All of the issues mentioned are well-known to (us), the US services, international partners and our industry team,” he said, adding that the report “points out the progress being made by the program.”
Jared Kushner’s ties to Saudis could be fair game if Trump keeps going after Hunter Biden: Dem lawmaker
On MSNBC's "AM Joy," Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) laid out the case for impeaching President Donald Trump — and warned of the consequences for Trump's own family at the hands of future presidents if he is allowed to get away with it.
"He abused his power by trying to trade government resources for a political favor, to knock out a political rival in Joe Biden, the guy that he thought would emerge as nominee for 2020," said Castro. "We can't set a precedent where Congress says it's okay for a president to do that, because if we do that then a few things will happen. Number one, it opens the door for Donald Trump to do it again or a future president to do it again. To ask a country to interfere in our elections and knock out a political rival by digging up dirt."
Melania Trump scorched by columnist for standing by president’s Thunberg bullying: ‘Indefensible’
In a piece for the Washington Post, columnist Karen Tumulty called out first lady Melania Trump for her statement defending her husband's bullying of 16-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg in a fit of jealousy after she was selected Time Magazine's Person of the Year.
Responding to a statement from the White House that stated, “BeBest is the First Lady’s initiative, and she will continue to use it to do all she can to help children. It is no secret that the President and First Lady often communicate differently — as most married couples do. Their son is not an activist who travels the globe giving speeches. He is a 13-year-old who wants and deserves privacy,” Tumulty wasn't having it.
BUSTED: Devin Nunes is hiding how he’s paying for all his frivolous lawsuits — which could land him in more trouble
On Saturday, the Fresno Bee dived into a lingering question: How does Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) pay for all the lawsuits he is filing against journalists, satirists, and political critics?
"Nunes, R-Tulare, has filed lawsuits against Twitter, anonymous social media users known as Devin Nunes' Cow and Devin Nunes' Mom, a Republican political strategist, media companies, journalists, progressive watchdog groups, a political research firm that worked for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and a retired farmer in Nunes’ own district," noted the Bee.
These lawsuits were mainly filed in Virginia — a state with very loose laws against so-called "SLAPP suits," or meritless lawsuits intended to drown people in legal expenses in retaliation for expressing political opinions. Nunes was assisted in these suits by Steven Biss, a Virginia attorney, and yet except for the suit against the retired farmer, there is no clear record in Nunes' FEC reports of how he paid for the suits.