Reach For The Skies

It’s been billed as the smartest jet fighter on the planet, designed to strike enemies in the air and on the ground without being detected by radar. The question is how and why did Australia lock itself into a project that both experts and senior US politicians say is dangerously flawed?

After a decade of intensive development, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is over budget, a long way behind schedule and described by one expert as “big, fat and draggy”.

Reporter Andrew Fowler travels to the United States in search of answers. He goes to Lockheed Martin’s top secret factory in Texas. He also secured the first television interview with the Pentagon’s new head man on the project, whose candid assessment of the JSF would chill many in the Defence Department:

“Well let’s make no mistake about it. This program still has risks, technical risks, it has cost issues, it has problems we’ll have to fix in the future.”

Last year the Canadian Government was rocked by revelations that it had severely under-estimated the cost of the 65 Joint Strike Fighters it had contracted to buy. As a result Canada has been forced to halt the purchase and re-assess it through an open tender process.

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  1. Excellent piece of journalism. Very fresh (march 2013), deep and revealing story of how the development of this airplane has been delayed, while exposing some shady practices by the Australian government.