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Why the F-35 Lightning Can't Fly in Lightning, Yet

The Pentagon's newest fighter jet, the F-35 Lightning II, has an embarrassing problem. Despite its name, it can't fly within 25 miles of a lightning storm for fear of exploding.

The F-35 will be safe from lighting in the future, but the Pentagon decided to start building F-35s before they were done designing or testing them. This ensures strong political support, because it's hard to stop a program once you start building planes, but also leads to all kinds of problems. POGO has long been pointing out these problems, but in a recent interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Lt. General Chris Bogdan blamed the highly concurrent acquisition of the F-35 as the cause of these design problems.

The interview was part of a larger investigation into Australia's decision to purchase the F-35 and featured interviews with Winslow Wheeler, of the Center for Defense Information at POGO, and aviation expert Pierre Sprey.

More recently, Bogdan had some strong words about the main contractors for the F-35, Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney, at an airshow in Australia. Reuters quoted him as saying:

What I see Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney doing today is behaving as if they are getting ready to sell me the very last F-35 and the very last engine and are trying to squeeze every nickel out of that last F-35 and that last engine.

I want them both to start behaving like they want to be around for 40 years. I want them to take on some of the risk of this program, I want them to invest in cost reductions, I want them to do the things that will build a better relationship. I'm not getting all that love yet.

Read more about Bogdan's comments at Reuters.

By: Andre Francisco
Former Online Producer, POGO

andre francisco At the time of publication, Andre Francisco was the Online Producer for the Project On Government Oversight.

Topics: National Security

Related Content: Defense, F/A-22 Fighter Aircraft

Authors: Andre Francisco

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