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F-35 Lightning II international debut cancelled


July 10, 2014

The public début of the F-35 was cancelled due to a technical issue (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

The public début of the F-35 was cancelled due to a technical issue (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

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There are going to be some disappointed aeronautical fans this weekend at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, UK. The F-35B Lightning II fighter will not be making its scheduled international public début due to the grounding of the entire F-35 fleet after a runway incident at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida on June 23.

The Short TakeOff/Vertical Landing (STOVL) F-35B was meant to make its first public appearances this month at the Royal International Air Tattoo and the Farnborough International Airshow, but the ongoing investigation into a runway fire and subsequent fleet grounding meant that the aircraft was unable to gain clearance for the transatlantic flight. The exact cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

"The safety of pilots and aircraft has to be our priority,” says an MOD spokesman. “Of course, it is disappointing that the Lightning II has not arrived in the UK in time for the Air Tattoo but we fully support the decision not to grant clearance for the aircraft to make their first transatlantic flight to the UK until the technical investigations following an engine failure are complete."

An international development effort led by Lockheed Martin, the F-35 is the single most expensive weapons program in history with an estimated cost of over US$1 trillion dollars. The recent fire is the latest difficulty for the controversial program, which has been plagued by cost overruns, technical problems, and major redesign issues.

Source: The Royal International Air Tattoo

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past. All articles by David Szondy

Why did they build so many of these before they tested and redesigned them? They saw that coming and could have saved a ton of money by making just a couple each time.

Ben O'Brien

Great , the Australian Government is spending 24 Billion on these Jets & slashing Health, Education & numerous other vital services ....

Mick Perger

A few billion here, a trillion there. Pretty soon you're talking BIG money.

Seriously though, isn't there something wrong when that kind of funding is allocated to designing destructive weaponry, but trying to understand some basic science that might address, for example, ocean de-alkalinisation, is met with budget cuts and apathy. Fear rules.



The Brits have just had the naming ceremony of a massive aircraft carrier designed to operate these aircraft. It is already going to have to have it deploy helicopters instead due to delays with the F35; delays which I assume have just been extended thanks to the fire and subsequent grounding.

It is not as though having large capital ships to operate such aircraft off makes a lot of sense anyway now that supersonic cruise missiles are being deployed, not to mention atomic depth-charges, which I assume have a an anti ship mine equivalent. The latter two feasibly deployed by terrorists in the form of IEDs once they get their hands on battlefield nuclear weapons. Pop one of those off in the Western approaches to the English Channel and the results would be spectacular in the extreme, especially considering the amplification from the funnel shape of the topography. (Imagine a 65,000 tonnes displacement aircraft carrier one minute happily moored at its home port and the next minute beached in the middle of the town, along with a number of other ships. As I said: "spectacular".)

Another quote worth remembering and closely related to your first sentence is Bob Dylan's: 'money doesn't talk, it swears' - from It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding).

Mel Tisdale

We're just lulling them into a false sense of security.

Keep that under your hat.

Ted Cushman

The problem with the F-35 (including the B variant) is that it is incredibly easily nullified by the Piper Cub Paradox. The expense of the aircraft is just too great to make sense.

In the Piper Cub Paradox, you pit a fighter aircraft with all possible stores (guns, rockets, etc) against a Piper Cub (which can carry exactly one AAM and the associated electronics. You take the cost of the one fighter (around $300 million a copy and around $50 million a year for fully booked costs.) And compare it to the number of Piper Cubs that you can manufacture at $8,000 a copy and around $50k a year fully booked costs. In any sort of simulation the Piper Cubs will always win because of sheer numbers.

This might not seem germane, but both the Russians and Chinese are set up to neutralize high-tech fighters such as the F-35 with swarms of MiG-15's, 17's and 21's, with an increasing number being remotely controlled drones. This is the Piper Cub Paradox in the real world.


I know that DARPA is working on the problem of "why does it take an auto maker a year and a half to rework a production line, while aircraft mfgs take a decade and a half". Let's look into our F-16 program playbook and see how to build an affordable, but brilliant aircraft. The '35 was doomed from the start. If the marines want a vstol, then make a really expensive plane, say $150 million, just not many of them. The rest of the crew gets $50 million planes, and more of them. Its going to get to the point where they could have just bought more '22's for the same money. uuugh. Silly Pentagon.


In the 90's the clinton administration deleted several Mil-Standards claiming cost savings, availability of commercial practices, standards, and streamlining development. Some of these deleted items were related to testing. the intent of these standards was to ensure a reliable military product. Both the F22 and F35 have suffered from release of a product before it was ready. this works great for the aerospace companies but not for the USA.

Let me suggest that we need more development and testing standards to assure a finished product and lower cost.

Charles Dansreau

That which a nation grants to be of importance in what it makes is best reflection of what that nation embodies.


I need them to send me 3 million dollars, so I can help! ;)

Dan Lewis

Its will known that the f-35 program is one of largest and most expensive ever initiated and is widely known as a nightmare. Ever since mans first successful flight planes were developed by application. This program was an attempt to give every plane built a universal platform. This might have worked if they didn't try to cram technologies and systems used by all three main military branches into one aircraft. Instead of developing a platform in which each branch could customize, they made developed a plane that could do all three. Sounds great at first doesn't it; the plane can be multi-purposed. Except there is one factor that debases the whole purpose; 1. There isn't a need for a fighter plane in every branch of the military and the same is said for the its other "universal" applications, so when we spend the money on shoving all the different systems into one package, then spending the time and money debugging them so they work seamlessly together. When its all said and done we could've produced a fighter that is twice the fighter and does just that, a recon thats better at recon, etc. and not spend money on training the same individuals when its better to specialize in those areas for efficiency as well as good for job creation. They have severely screwed the pooch and its obvious that defense contractors only had an ideal fantasy as a the outcome of this project. Where they could sell the same parts at three times the price to every branch of the military. Whats sad is that we, the taxpayers paid for it. We paid for the plane, we paid the contractors, and paid the people they trained to maintain this peice of shit. If it weren't for the newer technology put into the plane and that its more advanced than what comprises its' competitors (As no one bothered to upgrade them...) it would be a total p.o.s. Although I do hear the pilots say its fun to fly, I'm sure we could have developed something a lot better overall.


Here's a thought; Maybe they should have put some of money into the Obamacare rollout. Congress and the pentagon can monetize the shit out of military plane manufacturing to keep defense contractors in business, but they couldn't set up a health care evaluation system\website without. Heck I just watch a documentary entailed the inefficiencies in the parts and materials distribution system and they could take a few lessons from Amazon, because right now its being ran like a Radio Shack.

Accountability, thats what we need right now.


An article yesterday noted that the taxpayer's cost of the F-35 so far could have paid for a mansion for every homeless person in America. And it still doesn't work.


Apparently this is the so called American take on the successful UK designed and manufactured Harrier Jump Jet. Now that it has failed the US will now ban any and all varieties of STOL - VTOL aircraft.

"and subsequent fleet grounding meant that the aircraft was unable to gain clearance for the transatlantic flight." Transatlantic flight ? Really ?


Love Gizmag & writers for all great articles, getting a lot of really thoughtful comments. Not many online publications make me feel like I should read the comments section and I'll learn even more from that.

Good stuff. Gizmag should consider adding something like "flattr" for micro payments as I would love to pay my dime (actual cash) after reading something like this. I know: there are ads, but if I can pass some pennies direct without reading commercial crap I'd rather do that.


The "Piper Cub" scenario is actually already in play since the A10 Thunderbolt is scheduled to be retired to make space for the F35. Multi role planes like multi role tools tend to have too many compromises to make any but a few applications useful. The Warthog is a tremendous, durable, deadly aircraft that we already own a lot of at a far lower price than the F35. Anyone who has ever seen a Warthog pop up high to a thousand feet plus then tip over into a dive that clearly SLOWS the aircraft once that angry chainsaw Gau8 gatling gun starts would have a hard time believing that any other aircraft can do ground support like the Warthog. I can only hope that someone smart sees that the A10s are mothballed, with all available parts, fixtures, training equipment etc. at Davis-Monthan so we can get this plane back on a tarmac fast when we need it.


Wonder how much it would have cost to fit a harrier with that thrust-vectoring nozzle.


R&D should be born by the manufacturer. Problems with the unit are the manufacturers'. Saw a documentary on the F-35 and didn't understand why we are paying for mistakes, cost over-runs, and flaws. Since we are paying for it, it makes sense for them to make as many mistakes possible to keep making money. We should have a set cost per plane with specific requirements and that's it. Whatever it costs them from that point is their problem.

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