HT Image
HT Image

Why is US spending so much on F-35 fighter?

Despite incessant technical problems and delays, the US military has no plans to cancel the new F-35 fighter jet, the costliest weapons program in Pentagon history.
By HT Correspondent | AFP, Washington
UPDATED ON FEB 22, 2014 06:34 PM IST

Despite incessant technical problems and delays, the US military has no plans to cancel the new F-35 fighter jet, the costliest weapons program in Pentagon history.

The Joint Strike Fighter has been touted as a technological wonder that will dominate the skies but it has suffered one setback after another, putting the project seven years behind schedule and $167 billion over budget.

As the Pentagon prepares to unveil its proposed budget for 2015, the program's survival is not in doubt but it remains unclear how many planes will be built in the end and how many foreign partners will be willing to buy it.

Why has the F-35 program reached the point of no return?
After more than a decade since it was launched, officials insist there is no going back on the program, as the plane is supposed to form the backbone of the future fighter jet fleet.

The US Air Force and the Marine Corps have not invested in an alternative, having put all their eggs in the F-35 basket. The Navy, in theory, could bail out if it wanted and opt to buy more F-18 jets, but it is under intense pressure to keep in line.

The project has become "too big to fail," said Gordon Adams, a professor at American University and former White House official.

The F-35 enjoys broad backing in Congress, as contractor Lockheed Martin has spread the work for the plane across 45 US states.

Foreign allies also have committed to the program, and Washington has promised to deliver a game-changing plane.

How much does it cost?
As a one-size-fits-all plane, and with US allies invited to take part, the program originally was touted as a money-saving idea.
But the program's costs have snowballed, for an estimated 68 percent increase over its initial price tag. The Pentagon now plans to spend $391.2 billion on 2,443 aircraft, with each plane costing a staggering $160 million.

When taking into account the cost of flying and maintaining the F-35 over the course of its life, the program could surpass a trillion dollars, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Why is the F-35 touted as a "revolutionary" warplane?
The aircraft is billed as the ultimate stealth attack plane, with a design enabling it to evade radar detection.
When the F-35 confronts an adversary in the air, the enemy plane "will die before it even knows it's even in a fight," Air Force chief General Mark Welsh told CBS television's "60 Minutes" show.

Equipped to fly at supersonic speeds and outfitted with elaborate software, the F-35 resembles a flying computer. Through the visor of a hi-tech helmet linked up with cameras on the plane, the pilot can see through the floor of the cockpit to the ground below -- providing the pilot an unprecedented 360-degree picture.

Why is the program behind schedule and what is the effect of the delays?
The aircraft will not enter into service before 2016, ten years after its first flight.
The main cause of the delay was a decision to start building the plane before testing was finished. As a result, bugs and other technical glitches keep forcing repairs and redesign work, slowing down production.

The 24 million lines of code for the plane's software have posed a persistent headache, and the jet has yet to attain the level of performance and reliability expected.

On Friday, the program office acknowledged to AFP that the F-35B, the short-takeoff variant for the Marine Corps, suffered cracks in its bulkheads during stress tests. As a result, the durability tests have been suspended and the plane may have to be modified.

Like other weapons programs in the past, the technical problems are driving up the cost of each plane, and that is forcing Washington to scale back the number of aircraft it will buy.

The Pentagon already has announced plans to purchase only 34 of the jets in fiscal year 2015, instead of the 42 originally planned.

What countries plan to buy the aircraft?
Apart from the United States, eight countries are taking part in the program: Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Turkey.

Israel has expressed an interest in the plane, as has Japan, South Korea and Singapore.

Some governments have ordered their first aircraft but with the cost of each plane rising, purchase plans remain tentative.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
The administration also will encourage businesses to advocate for the benefits of masks and vaccines. (Representative Image)(Samir Jana/HT File)
The administration also will encourage businesses to advocate for the benefits of masks and vaccines. (Representative Image)(Samir Jana/HT File)

Biden administration to promote vaccination with businesses

Bloomberg
UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 10:46 PM IST
The White House will partner with the US Chamber of Commerce; leaders of the Black, Latino and Asian business community; the Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers on the efforts, White House adviser Andy Slavitt announced in a briefing.
Close
The conversation between the two strategic partners will be overshadowed by the expected release of US intelligence findings.(AP)
The conversation between the two strategic partners will be overshadowed by the expected release of US intelligence findings.(AP)

Biden team looking to stop Saudi arms deals that help it attack others

Posted by Kunal Gaurav | Reuters, Washington
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 10:45 PM IST
The Biden administration is recalibrating its relationship with Saudi Arabia, a country with which it has severe human rights concerns.
Close
J&J’s progress is being watched by experts as its vaccine has the potential to make mass vaccination campaigns much easier.(MINT_PRINT)
J&J’s progress is being watched by experts as its vaccine has the potential to make mass vaccination campaigns much easier.(MINT_PRINT)

Third US vaccine could raise question: Which Covid-19 shots are best?

Posted by Kunal Gaurav | AP
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 10:12 PM IST
  • If cleared for emergency use, the J&J vaccine would offer a one-dose option that could help speed vaccinations.
Close
A man holds a portrait of late Vichar Ratanapakdee, a 84-year-old immigrant from Thailand, who was violently shoved to the ground in a deadly attack in San Francisco.(AP)
A man holds a portrait of late Vichar Ratanapakdee, a 84-year-old immigrant from Thailand, who was violently shoved to the ground in a deadly attack in San Francisco.(AP)

US justice department pledges to probe, as attacks on Asian Americans increase

Posted by Kunal Gaurav | Reuters, Washington
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 09:56 PM IST
While verbal harassment has made up more than 70 per cent of the incidents, more than 8 per cent involved physical assaults.
Close
The meeting was held at the Prime Minister's official residence in Baluwatar. In picture - Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.(HT Photo)
The meeting was held at the Prime Minister's official residence in Baluwatar. In picture - Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.(HT Photo)

Nepal cabinet recommends President to call meeting of reinstated Lower House

ANI, Kathmandu, Nepal
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 09:40 PM IST
The meeting comes after the Nepal Supreme Court had reinstated the House of Representatives (HoR) and directed the government to summon a session of the country's Lower House of Parliament within 13 days.
Close
Even with the addition of the COVAX vaccines, CARICOM will only be able to cover about 20% of its needs, the group said. Some members have also been trying to broker deals through the African Union’s Medical Supplies Platform. (Representative Image)(REUTERS)
Even with the addition of the COVAX vaccines, CARICOM will only be able to cover about 20% of its needs, the group said. Some members have also been trying to broker deals through the African Union’s Medical Supplies Platform. (Representative Image)(REUTERS)

Caribbean countries ask wealthy nations to share vaccine supply

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 09:38 PM IST
In a statement issued late Thursday, CARICOM said it was “dissatisfied and deeply concerned about the inequitable access to vaccines” it was facing.
Close
This file image grab taken from Kurdistan 24 TV channel on February 19 shows damage following a rocket attack two days ago targeting a military complex inside the Arbil airport that hosts foreign troops deployed as part of a US-led coalition. (AFP file)
This file image grab taken from Kurdistan 24 TV channel on February 19 shows damage following a rocket attack two days ago targeting a military complex inside the Arbil airport that hosts foreign troops deployed as part of a US-led coalition. (AFP file)

US conducts first military operation under Biden, hits Iran-backed groups in Syria

By Yashwant Raj I Edited by Vinod Janardhanan
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 09:36 PM IST
The US had not released any casualty figures or estimates. But a war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, has said 22 members of the militant groups were killed and the toll could climb because some of the others had suffered severe injuries.
Close
The severe weather forced Sanderson Farms Inc. to euthanize 545,000 baby chicks at hatcheries in the state.(AFP / File Photo)
The severe weather forced Sanderson Farms Inc. to euthanize 545,000 baby chicks at hatcheries in the state.(AFP / File Photo)

Half a million US chicks euthanised after storm hits Texas

Posted by Kunal Gaurav | Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 08:50 PM IST
  • While it’s unclear how many chicken producers experienced losses, even small percentage changes in supply can move the market, and prices have already been gaining.
Close
"There is a strong interest in Covaxin from many countries around the world, and the company is fully committed to ensuring supplies promptly and efficiently," Bharat Biotech said.(Bloomberg)
"There is a strong interest in Covaxin from many countries around the world, and the company is fully committed to ensuring supplies promptly and efficiently," Bharat Biotech said.(Bloomberg)

Bharat Biotech confirms deal with Brazil for 20 million doses of Covaxin

ANI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 08:45 PM IST
"The company is delighted to partner with Brazil in its battle against Covid-19 and aid its immunization program against the virus," Bharat Biotech said in a statement.
Close
US District Judge Lucy Koh said she’s “disturbed” by Google’s data collection practices.(REUTERS)
US District Judge Lucy Koh said she’s “disturbed” by Google’s data collection practices.(REUTERS)

US judge in Google case disturbed that even ‘Incognito’ users are tracked

Posted by Kunal Gaurav | Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 08:37 PM IST
Google has become a target of antitrust complaints in the last year filed by state and federal officials.
Close
After several rounds of unsuccessful negotiations with the government, the unions backing the protest intensified their agitation by organising a tractor rally in the capital on January 26 that descended into violence and chaos. (HT PHOTO).
After several rounds of unsuccessful negotiations with the government, the unions backing the protest intensified their agitation by organising a tractor rally in the capital on January 26 that descended into violence and chaos. (HT PHOTO).

Farmers' protest shows need for laws in sync with stakeholders: UN rights chief

PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 08:10 PM IST
  • The UN high commissioner for human rights was also critical of action taken by Indian authorities against journalists covering the protests and efforts to curb freedom of expression on social media.
Close
Juan Carlos' lawyer, Javier Sánchez-Junco, said in a statement Friday that the latest tax debt relates to the payments that a private foundation, Zagatka, made on behalf of the former king for “several travel expenses and other services."(AP)
Juan Carlos' lawyer, Javier Sánchez-Junco, said in a statement Friday that the latest tax debt relates to the payments that a private foundation, Zagatka, made on behalf of the former king for “several travel expenses and other services."(AP)

Former Spanish king pays 4.4 million euros to tax agency

AP
UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 08:02 PM IST
The revelation prompted a new rebuke to the 83-year-old former king from the country's prime minister. Pedro Sánchez said Friday that he rejected the "uncivil behavior" of Juan Carlos, but fully supported the current monarch, King Felipe VI.
Close
White House released a statement on the anniversary of Moscow's 2014 annexation of the peninsula.(REUTERS)
White House released a statement on the anniversary of Moscow's 2014 annexation of the peninsula.(REUTERS)

US will hold Russia accountable over Crimea annexation, says Biden

Posted by Kunal Gaurav | Reuters, Washington
UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 07:55 PM IST
The US president said that Washington will ever recognize Russia’s purported annexation of the peninsula.
Close
It is the third Covid-19 vaccine given the green light by Canada, following those from Pfizer and Moderna.(AFP)
It is the third Covid-19 vaccine given the green light by Canada, following those from Pfizer and Moderna.(AFP)

Canada approves AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine

AP, Toronoto
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 07:44 PM IST
Health Canada approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for use in people 18 and over.
Close
Canada's New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on February 3. (Reuters file)
Canada's New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on February 3. (Reuters file)

Indo-Canadians protest attacks over stance on India’s farm reforms

By Anirudh Bhattacharyya I Edited by Vinod Janardhanan
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 07:41 PM IST
The protesters gathered outside the office of the Federal NDP leader in Burnaby in the province of British Columbia. Singh represents the riding of Burnaby South in the House of Commons.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP