F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter

The Ministry of Defence will be facing questions from the Defence Select Committee regarding the cost of developing the new F35 fighter jet, Julian Lewis has stated in an interview.

is facing 'hundreds of millions of pounds in hidden costs' for the RAF's new generation warplane that will be unable to fly properly due to defence cuts, it has been reported.

The Times says it has carried out an investigation which has identified a catalogue of problems with the US-built F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

Manufacturer Lockheed Martin has said the F-35, which will be based at RAF Marham will cost the UK between £77 million and £100 million each.

However, The Times reports the true cost of the jets delivered this year will be more than £150 million each to cover "extras" such as software upgrades and spare parts.

Among the problems which the paper said it had identified were:

:: An inability by the "stealth" F-35 to transmit data to British ships and older aircraft without revealing its position;

:: The aircraft's software system is vulnerable to cyber attack and cannot be tested independently by the UK;

:: Weak broadband on the Royal Navy's principal aircraft carrier is hampering the jet's abilities;

:: The department responsible for the computer networks essential to the aircraft's operation needs to find savings of £400m this year.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that all the issues raised had been reported in the past and were under "active management" by the Joint Strike Fighter joint programme office and the MoD.

It said the programme remained "wholly within its cost approval" and that it did not recognise the £150m cost figure cited by The Times.

A MoD spokesman said:

"The F-35B Lightning II aircraft is the world's most advanced fighter jet.

"Whether operating from land or with the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers as a central component of the UK's carrier strike capability, they will ensure a formidable fighting force.

"We are committed to the F-35 programme, which is on time, within costs and offers the best capability for our armed forces."

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