The US Department of Defense's tri-service Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
has been performing well in recent developmental testing, but challenges loom as defence outlays around the world shrink.
The $382 billion programme is the single largest defence procurement in history, but the effort to develop the jet has been mired with technical challenges and price-sticker shock. The DoD hopes to buy 2,443 of the stealthy fifth-generation type. Of those, 1,763 would go to the US Air Force, while the US Marine Corps will buy 420, comprising 340 short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35Bs and 80 F-35C carrier variants.
The US Navy is also expected to buy 260 aircraft. While the service is officially committed to the JSF endeavour, there are those who question its commitment to the single-engined fighter...
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