London, July 17 (IANS) Britain is paying hundreds of millions of pounds in hidden costs for a next-generation warplane that will be unable to function properly because of defence cuts, a media report said.
The F-35 Lightning II, the most expensive aircraft of its kind, was described by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon as the “most powerful and comprehensive” fast jet in history. Its American manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, has said that the aircraft will cost Britain between 77 million pounds and 100 million pounds each, the Times reported on Monday.
The report said the British taxpayers face spending over 150 million pounds for each of the high-tech fighter bombers, with the extra payment for items such as software upgrades, spare parts and cost reduction initiatives being buried in US defence contracts and had not been included in the published figures.
The report quoted military insiders as saying that they have fears about the aircraft, which continues to suffer setbacks described by one of the former senior officer as “utterly pathetic”.
The Times also quoted independent experts as saying that the F-35 Lightning II was way over budget, unreliable, full of software glitches and potentially unsafe.
Britain had put in orders for 138 units. Forty-eight of those will be of the F-35B variant, which can take off and land vertically.
However, the report noted that four of the aircraft purchased so far were too heavy and could not perform the function safely.
The fifth-generation stealth jet was also unable to transmit data to British ships or older planes without giving away its own position to the enemy, said the report.
More importantly, the aircraft’s 12 billion dollar software system was prone to cyber attacks and Britain won’t be able to alter the code on its own, the report added.