The US-built F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter is plagued by a long list of problems, leaving the Ministry of Defence facing millions of pounds of hidden costs, according to a report by The Times.
The UK is paying between £77m and £100m for each of the planes, according to manufacturer Lockheed Martin, but the newspaper reports the true cost of each jet delivered this year will be more than £150m.
The growth in price tag can be blamed on “extras” such as software upgrades and spare parts.
According to the newspaper’s investigation, the plane’s other problems include:
:: It cannot transmit data to British ships and older aircraft without giving away its position
:: It is hampered by the weak broadband on the Royal Navy’s main aircraft carrier
:: Its software system is vulnerable to cyberattack
In addition, the planes receive essential computer networks from a department that has been told to find savings of £400m this year.
An MoD spokesperson insisted the jets were still the “world’s most advanced”, adding: “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.”
The MoD added that it did not recognise the £150m figure quoted by the newspaper and asserted the programme was “wholly with its cost approval”.