The F-35 is America's "latest and greatest" jet fighter. Unfortunately, thanks to complicated stealth technology, trying to use the same airframe for three major variations for the Air Force, Navy and Marines, and the usual bureaucracy, the program is behind schedule with huge budget overruns.
In fact, the F-35 is going to be the first $1 trillion fighter when all is said and done. As it stands now, the Pentagon spent $59.2 billion developing the fighter, is going to buy $261 billion worth of them and plans to spend as much as $590 billion a year sustaining them. Just one F-35A costs $148 million.
Still, it's worth it for a high-tech fighter that can knock any plane out of the sky, right? Unfortunately, for a while now flight data has shown that the F-35 might have trouble with close-in dogfighting. But that was just simulation and guesswork.
Finally, there's some real-world data. In a recent test exercise, an F-35A (the fastest and most maneuverable version) went up against an F-16D. Both are single-engine craft that prioritize maneuvering over speed. In fact, the 40-year-old F-16 is one of the fighters the F-35 is meant to replace. So, what happened?