F-35A Lightning II aircraft receive fuel from a KC-10 Extender from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., July 13, 2015, during a flight from England to the U.S. The fighters were returning to Luke AFB, Ariz., after participating in the world’s largest air show, the Royal International Air Tattoo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Madelyn Brown)

The future of air combat is breaking down “more often than planned,” according to the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester.

The Lockheed Martin F-35, a multi-decade in development aircraft that now has a home with multiple NATO allies across the world, is reportedly having severe reliability issues as the rollout continues.

Robert Behler, the Pentagon’s director of operational testing, informed the House Armed Services Committee that the F-35s assigned to the Air Force, Navy and Marines are failing to score well in the five key metrics that measure reliability and maintainability.



“The operational suitability of the F-35 fleet remains at a level below service expectations,” Behler said in the prepared remarks. “In short, for all variants, aircraft are breaking down more often than planned and taking longer to fix.”

According to the Stars and Stripes, Congress is currently looking into the astronomically-large $428 billion program’s status and monitoring the progress related to recovering from years of cost overruns and production delays.

Around 458 of the 3,500 planned purchases have been fielded.To date, no F-35 -including ones used in combat- have been able to “achieve and sustain” an 80% mission capable rating for a period spanning one year.



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