UK's fighter jet can't fly in bad weather

Updated: 
The UK's new £150m F-35 stealth fighter jet - also known as the Joint Strike Fighter or Lightning II - could be delayed after concern its fuel tanks could explode if hit by lightening.

The F35, ordered from the US, was supposed to enter UK service in 2018. The bottom line? The world's most sophisticated fighter jet now can't fly in bad weather.


Grounded

There are two variants, 'B' and 'C', of the F-35. Britain is getting the 'B' version which has a reduced weapons payload but is able to take off vertically. However new data released by the Pentagon's Operational Test and Evaluation Office reveals more on-going concerns.

"Examinations by the United States Air Force and the Lockheed Martin," the Telegraph reports, "the aircraft's manufacturer, also discovered a handful of cracks in the tested aircraft, including on the right wing and right engine of the F-35A variant, and on another part of the F-35B variant."

Either way, it looks that the jet - it can fly as fast as 1,300mph and is supposedly invisible to radar - could see considerable (and expensive) design changes. Money, again, is a considerable concern. The total cost of running the jet for 30 years could be as much as £625 billion.

Massive running costs

So far the MoD has plans to spend more than £250bn on this jet in total. But the running costs are intergalactic. Several countries have already pulled out of buying the jet on cost grounds, including Canada. Italy has also slashed the numbers of the F-35 it had planned to take. However, such costs will also support many jobs in the UK.

The other issue is whether such a jet is still strategically really needed. If, for example, decades of war are now being forecast fighting Islamic insurgents across Africa - from Algeria to Nigeria to Somalia - how much importance will fixed wing UK aviation defence matter in the future compared with the past? And at what cost to taxpayers?

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