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The US military is expected to spend $1.7 trillion on the warplane the F-35 Lightning II.
In 2021, marks 15 years since the first flight of the aircraft. Business Insider went to the Hill Air Force Base in Utah to take a closer look of the F-35 and learn why it’s part of the most expensive weapons program in US history.
Chris Bogdan (Retired Lieutenant General and Former Head of JPO) explained:
“It still has some problems that need to be solved, and fundamentally, the cost of operating the airplane and flying the airplane today is too high.”
Every hour the plane is in the air runs around $35,000 per hour, compared to an older F-16 which runs $22000 per hour.
Cpt. Spencer “Ghost” Weide (F-35 Pilot, USAF) said:
“If I want to go to war, this is the airplane I want to be in.”
The problem is the F-35 was supposed to fit all the needs of the Air Force, Navy, and Marines all in one. The military had to build three different models, the F-35 A, B, and C.
Rebecca Grant (President IRIS Independent Research) explained:
“They look a lot alike, but the Air Force has its own requirements, the Navy needed a tailhook, the Marine core variant needed the jump jet, so it was a mistake to sell the F35 as one single aircraft, it’s really three aircraft rolled into one.”
The initial plan was for all the models to be nearly identical, but it just created all sorts of problem. There is still a lot of money to spend for the developing, testing, flying and maintaining of the aircraft.