At a whopping $1.7 trillion, America’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the most expensive weapon in human history. The highly advanced vertical take-off and landing aircraft was supposed to be the low-cost fighter of the future. But after numerous delays, costly overbudgeting, and international partners dropping out, the price tag of the plane has only ballooned.
Things got especially bad when in 2015 the 5th Gen fighter lost in numerous dogfights to older F-16 and F-15 fighter jets.
Now just when things couldn’t get any lower for the poor plane, Military.com reported that an F-35B shot itself while flying over the skies of Arizona earlier this week. The advanced jet was conducting a training mission when it’s 25mm armor-piercing cannon discharged causing damage to the craft’s fuselage. Luckily, the pilot was able to land the craft safely, but the freak accident will cost an estimated $2.5 million.
The F-35 has had a checkered and unreliable past. Originally meant to be an affordable fighter, the plane now goes for about $135.8 million a pop and costs $36,000 per hour to operate compared to the F-16’s $22,000.
An F-35 flying in formation with an older F-16 legacy fighter.
“The F-35 is not a low-cost, lightweight fighter,” said Dan Ward, a former Air Force program manager, comparing the plane to a Ferrari.
“You don’t drive your Ferrari to work every day, you only drive it on Sundays. This is our high-end fighter, we want to make sure we don’t use it all for the low-end fight.”
If you’re a fan of classic legacy fighters like the F-15, F-16, and the Navy’s F-18 then don’t fret. With the F-35’s high costs and bugs, we will be sure to see plenty more of these proven fighters keeping up the rear for years to come.