A new report from the Pentagon warns that any pilot that boards the pricey aircraft places himself in danger without even going into combat.
- Pentagon suspends all F-35 flights
- Israel has its eye on V-22 Osprey
- US, Lockheed reach deal on Israeli F-35s
In a leaked memo reported by the RT news agency, a Pentagon official prefaces a report on the F-35 by cautioning that even training missions cannot be safely performed on board the aircraft at this time.
“The training management system lags in development compared to the rest of the Integrated Training Center and does not yet have all planned functionality,” the report reads in part.
The F-35 (Photo: Reuters)
“The out-of-cockpit visibility in the F-35A is less than other Air Force fighter aircraft,” one excerpt reads.
Elsewhere, the report includes quotes from pilots commenting after test missions onboard the aircraft:
“The head rest is too large and will impede aft (rear) visibility and survivability during surface and air engagements,” said one. “Aft visibility will get the pilot gunned (down) every time” in dogfights, remarked another.
“Aft visibility could turn out to be a significant problem for all F-35 pilots in the future,” the Pentagon admits.
In one chart included in the report, the Pentagon says there are eight crucial flaws with the aircraft that have raises serious red flags within the Department of Defense.
The plane’s lack of maturity, reduced pilot situational awareness during an emergency and the risk of the aircraft’s fuel barriers catching fire are also cited, as is the likelihood of a pilot in distress becoming unable to escape his aircraft during an emergency.
The Pentagon report described flaws as “unacceptable for combat or combat training.”
Yedioth Aharonoth reported that jet makers Lockheed Martin stated they are aware of the problems and that some have already been solved, adding that the aircraft's maintenance and operation are being improved.
The latest news regarding the F-35s comes less than one month after a separate incident forced the Department of Defense to ground their entire arsenal of fighter jets. In February, jet makers Lockheed Martin issued a statement acknowledging that a routine inspection on a test plane turned up cracked turbine blade.
Each F-35 fighter jet is valued at $238 million and, according to recent estimates, the entire operation will cost the country $1 trillion in order to keep the jets up and running through 2050.
That high price tag has given several countries cold feet about the jet. Last week, Canada pulled out of a deal to buy 65 F-35s over fears that the aircraft could be too expensive to run. Italy reduced its purchase to 90 F-35s from an initial 131, and even the US has delayed some of its purchases.
Israel has agreed to purchase 25 of the new fighter jets, marked F-35I, which are to become operational in 2016.
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop