Bad News for Lockheed’s F-35 Stealth Fighter: This Warplane Has “Serious Deficiencies”

Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT  ) has an F-35 stealth fighter jet — but can it shoot? We posed this question last month, in the midst of a “he said-she said” battle waged between the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Project Office and … The Daily Beast, which alleges the Pentagon is misleading taxpayers (and Congress) about when the F-35’s 25mm nose cannon will be ready for combat.

Says the Pentagon, development of “3F” software needed to operate the gun is on track, and should begin rolling out by 2017. According to the Beast, though, the software is behind schedule and won’t reach combat pilots before “late 2018 at the very earliest.” As a result, F-35 pilots must go into combat without guns for at least the next three years, before the software becomes operational.

Bad as all this sounds, though, it could be the least of Lockheed Martin’s problems.

Lockheed’s got 35 problems, and the gun’s just one

Bloomberg is now saying that Pentagon director of combat testing Michael Gilmore recently warned Congress of “serious deficiencies” in the F-35 stealth fighter — deficiencies over and above those related to the gun. Already over budget and overdue for deployment, Gilmore says the F-35 still has only limited ability to:

  • drop bombs
  • share data with other aircraft
  • track hostile incoming missiles
  • identify enemy radar
  • and, in general, perform “effective combat operations against advanced enemy air defenses”

His understated assessment: This plane has “deficiencies remaining that will affect operational units.”

Full article: Bad News for Lockheed’s F-35 Stealth Fighter: This Warplane Has “Serious Deficiencies” (The Motley Fool)

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