A problem with Britain's new £100 million F-35 fighter jet is leaving it susceptible to enemies and making it as visible on their radar as a 747.
The single-engine jet was given a coating which makes it 'invisible' to enemy radar, but it is wearing off quicker than expected, with RAF chiefs saying they have to replace it after every flight.
RAF sources are now saying scratches are delaying the jets getting put into operational service when they get shipped from US manufacturer Lockheed Martin.
The Maryland-based company have acknowledged the defects in the coating, called LO or Low Observable, that makes it hard for enemy radars to pick up the jets. They also made it clear that the coating does have to be replaced but not at the frequency that the RAF are dealing with.
Speaking to reporters at Lockheed's media day on Monday, Jeff Babione acknowledged that they were having a problem with the material. “It's not a human problem; that's just the result of our ability. We're approaching the limits of our ability to build some of these things from precise-enough technology,” Babione said in reaction to unprecedented orders for the jet.
An RAF source told The Express: “This situation obviously has to be rectified before the plane enters operational service.” The source also told the paper that defence secretary Gavin Williamson and RAF Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen have always known about the issue. (end of excerpt)
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