Government, Finance - US Fighter Jet Dogged By Problems
A bombshell report says the Pentagon's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programs is beset by problems and design flaws that would make it pretty difficult if not impossible for pilots to complete missions or engage in aerial combat.
The startling reports by trade publication Defense News show that the US Military, its allies, and Lockheed Martin know about the problems with one of the biggest and most expensive weapons programs in history.
The F-35 B and C models both suffer what the US military refers to as "category 1" deficiencies, so profound that pilots likely wouldn't be able to complete missions. This includes accelerating to supersonic speeds of Mach 1.3 and Mach 1.4, which caused the jet's coating to bubble and melt off. That coating is what helps the F-35 evade enemy radar.
Pratt & Whitney designed one of the most powerful jet engines ever made for the F-35. But it runs so hot that it has caused structural damage to several aircraft. So, the Pentagon has ordered pilots not to fly faster than sound except for in short bursts. That would make it impossible for pilots to keep up with Russian or Chinese fighters, or to avoid them. "It is infeasible for the Navy or Marine Corps to operate the F-35 against a near-peer threat under such restrictions,” Defense News paraphrased Pentagon documents as saying.
Most troubling is the problems caused by steep climbing. Officials tell F-35 pilots not to exceed 20-degree "angle of attack" - the angle created by the wing and the oncoming air - for fear the aircraft could become unstable and potentially uncontrollable.
Australia might avoid these problems because it purchased the F-35A, which according to Defense News appears to be exempt from the latest flaws.