Is The F-35 Fighter Jet That Australia Is Buying Actually Worth It?

The F-35 Fighter Plane Is Even More of a Mess Than You Thought

The US military’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft is proving to be a pain in the neck in more ways than one. An expose from CBS News looks at the extent of the program’s many delays and cost over-runs.

Not only did the Pentagon spend almost $US400 billion to buy 2,400 aircraft — about twice as much as it cost to put a man on the moon — the F-35 program is 7 years behind schedule and $US163 billion over budget. This at a time when cuts in the defence budget are forcing the Pentagon to shrink the size of the military. Australia is buying a total of 72 of the next-generation aircraft, with the most recent order of 58 F-35s projected to cost over $12 billion.

CBS 60 Minutes took a closer look at the troubled fighter plane a few months back, but their rebroadcast tonight seems like as good a reason as any to revisit one of the biggest ongoing budget debacles in U.S. military memory. [CBS]

July 2014: Australia To Boost Joint Strike Fighter Order To 72 Aircraft: A Brief History Of The Troubled F-35 Program

According to several reports, Prime Minister Tony Abbott will today formally announce that Australia will buy 58 more F-35 Joint Strike fighters — bringing the planned F-35 fleet to 72 aircraft in total. Australia’s new $12 billion order will reportedly become the country’s most expensive defence asset; one designed to eventually replace RAAF’S F-18 Super Hornets.

The Insanely Expensive F-35 Is Delayed Again, Now Because of Software

March 2014: The Insanely Expensive F-35 Is Delayed Again, For Australia Too

A United States Government report reveals that the F-35 will be delayed yet again. This time, the problem is stalled software development. It’s just the latest in a long line of delays and problems. Australia’s F-35 order, for at least 14 jets, is looking more and more like throwing money into the wind.

The Life And Times Of A Fighter Jet Test Pilot

Over here at Gizmodo Australia, we’re all lucky enough to be living out our dream jobs. Everyday we’re testing new gadgets, new tech and previewing the next big thing. My job, however, is nothing compared to the job of Elliot Clements. His colleagues call him “Hemo”, not because it’s a clever nickname from some obscure experience, but because that was his callsign for the 14 years he was in the Navy, flying combat missions in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Hemo is a fighter jet test pilot on the trillion-dollar F-35 fighter jet program, and he really does have the best job in the world.

The Only Thing Keeping the F-35 Lightning Relevant Is the F-22 Raptor

February 2014: The Only Thing Keeping The F-35 Lightning Relevant Is The F-22 Raptor

Even if they are primarily just cheap knockoffs, China’s rapidly growing fleet of next-gen aircraft are poised to seriously challenge American air superiority in the coming years. To prevent that, argues Chief of US Air Force Air Command Command Gen. Michael Hostage, the US will need plenty of fifth-generation fighters of its own — no matter the cost.

The Only Thing Keeping the F-35 Lightning Relevant Is the F-22 Raptor

January 2014: US Defence Contractor Arrested For Shipping Military Secrets To Iran

Mozaffar Khazaee, a former defence contractor has been arrested by authorities on charges that he attempted to smuggle classified technical data on a variety of military projects — including the new F-35 Lightning II — out of the US and into Iran.

Monster Machines: The Next F-35 Lightning’s Engine Adapts For Flight, Fight And Beyond

Unlike commercial airliners, modern military aircraft are subjected to ever-changing flying conditions — from high-thrust takeoffs to flying at altitude to combat manoeuvres. So why are they outfitted with engines that perform optimally in only one of those flight envelopes? For the next iteration of the F-35 Lightning II, Pratt and Whitney is developing an engine that performs at its best no matter what’s required of it.

Inside the Pentagon's Trillion Dollar F-35 Embarrassment

September 2013: Inside The Pentagon’s Trillion Dollar F-35 Embarrassment

It’s not news that the Pentagon’s fated F-35 program is riddled with dilemmas. For more than a decade, it’s bumped into roadblock after roadblock. When the planes aren’t grounded, they’re forbidden to fly in bad weather, combat missions or at night. Vanity Fair just published a lengthy look at just how bad a mess it is.

May 2013: First Footage Of An
F-35B Taking Off Straight Into The Air

Finding a suitable runway to launch your multibillion dollar fighter jet from isn’t always as easy as it sounds. That’s why the F-35B Lightning II is designed to with the ability to both take off and land without ever needing to taxi. Here’s the first look at its vertical launch.

May 2013: The Most Awesome
F-35 Video I’ve Ever Seen

Lockheed Martin just completed the latest high angle of attack test series. It was a complete success, as this video shows.

February 2013: The Trillion Dollar F-35 Is Grounded Yet Again

In what is becoming almost as consistent as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, the F-35 — America’s trillion dollar joke of a fighter jet — has been grounded again. I don’t even know how many times the fighter jet has been grounded now, I’ve lost count. This time, it’s because of a crack in a turbine blade of the engine.

November 2012: Look At This Badass F-35 High Angle Of Attack Testing Video

Time for some aeroplane porn: Lockheed Martin has completed high angle of attack testing for the F-35A Lightning II. The aircraft was able to get to its 50-degree limit with ease:

July 2012: Pilots Say Flying The
F-35 Feels Like Magic

Some of the her pilots claim that the F-35 Lightning II is so easy to fly that it feels “like magic”. Reading their words, I thought they were talking about video game instead of one of the most advanced war machines ever created.

March 2012: Pentagon Helps New Stealth Fighter Cheat On Key Performance Test

It seemed like a promising step for America’s next stealth fighter: The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter passed a key Pentagon test of its combat capability. But it turns out that the family of jets cleared the mid-February exam only because its proctor agreed to inflate its grade. In essence, the military helped the F-35 cheat on its midterms.

January 2012: The Most Expensive Plane Of All Time Takes Its First Gorgeous Night Flight

The F-35 may be a lot of dubious things (overpriced, underused, occasionally broken) — but it sure is beautiful. Enjoy the eye candy American tax dollars bought in all its splendour — the F-35 just took its first flight into darkness.

December 2011: Trillion-Dollar Jet Has Thirteen Expensive Flaws

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, meant to replace nearly every tactical warplane in the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, was already expected to cost $US1 trillion dollars for development, production and maintenance over the next 50 years. Now that cost is expected to grow, owing to 13 different design flaws uncovered in the last two months by a hush-hush panel of five Pentagon experts. It could cost up to a billion dollars to fix the flaws on copies of the jet already in production, to say nothing of those yet to come

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