'A Pentagon report is warning that the U.S. Marine Corps' oldest F-35B Joint Strike Fighters could remain airworthy for just over a quarter of their expected lifespan due to 'serious structural problems'.
According to Bloomberg one early version of the jet, known as 'early block F' and bought by the Marine Corps, could fly for just 2,100 flight hours, which the report says is 'well under' the expected service life of 8,000 hours.
The plane has been hit by a huge list of issues, and is over a decade late, with final cost estimates for the US military expected to reach $1.5 trillion.
It is being tested by military forces around the globe, with the Royal Air Force already having taken delivery of its test planes, known as the Lightning.
Although the structural issues are believed to affect only a small number of planes, the Pentagon test office 2018 annual report obtained by Bloomberg also found a huge host of flaws in all versions of the fighter, ranging from cybersecurity issues to 'unacceptable' problems with the accuracy of guns fitted to the Air Force's A version of the plane.
The finding means some jets expected to start hitting service life limit in 2026.
Bloomberg claims the report also said maintenance personnel and pilots 'must deal w pervasive problems w data integrity, completeness on a daily basis.'
Test office director Robert Behler said in the new assessment improvements 'are still not translating into improved availability'.
He also warns there is no 'improving trend in' aircraft availability to fly training or combat missions as it's remained 'flat' over the past 3 years, according to Bloomberg.
The details come a day after Defense Sec. Pat Shanahan told reporters the F-35 'has a lot of opportunity for more performance.'
Lockheed Martin, who manufactures the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, hit back at the report, claiming 'The F-35s operating today are delivering exceptional capability, lethality and connectivity around the globe.'
Read more: Bombshell report finds some F35 fighter jets will only fly for a QUARTER of their expected life because of 'major structural issues'
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