What is the exact 'deficiency' of F-35 fighter jet? Lockheed reveals

Approximately 100 new deficiency reports were written in 2020 on the F-35 fighter jet, Lockheed said

F-35: Plagued by 871 software and hardware deficiencies

The Pentagon has said the "world’s most advanced" fifth-generation Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jet, currently in service with the US military and eight allies, continues to be plagued by 871 software and hardware deficiencies.

The elite fighter aircraft is being flown by Britain, Israel among other countries.

“Approximately 100 new deficiency reports were written in 2020 and about as many were resolved and adjudicated,” Lockheed said. The company, however, added that the deficiencies were  “low priority”.

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'There are currently no CAT 1A'

“There are currently no CAT 1A (risk to life or limb) and 10 open CAT 1B (mission impacts) deficiency reports,” Lockheed said.

“Nine of these have closure resolution plans, with seven already delivered to the government awaiting action. The other is currently being reviewed by the [Joint Program Office]," it added.

“In fact, many deficiency reports document opportunities for improvement from pilots and maintainers for consideration above and beyond contractual obligations," the company said.

“These are called enhancements and are documented as deficiency reports, because there is no other program or process in place to record this feedback from the test sites.”

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Trump's deal

The outgoing Trump administration has approved $23 billion in stealth-capable F-35 jets, unarmed drones and other weapons to the Gulf ally after it agreed to recognise Israel.

One of the costliest warplanes in the world, the F-35, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, carries high-end sensors and data-collection tools and can be used for airstrikes, intelligence gathering and air-to-air combat.

The State Department said the United Arab Emirates would buy 50 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters -- equivalent to Israel's fleet.

 

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Israel under pressure over F-35 deal

Israel has historically opposed the sale of the jet to any Arab nation, with the undeclared nuclear power considering it crucial to hold an uncontested military advantage.

But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dropped objections as the United Arab Emirates moved in September to recognize Israel, a major step in his long-fought goal to win acceptance for the Jewish state in the region without making peace with the Palestinians.

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F-35 $23.37 billion package with UAE

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had confirmed that the United States planned to sell top-of-the-line F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates as part of a $23.37 billion package.

Pompeo confirmed that the sale would include up to 50 F-35s -- equivalent to the size of Israel's fleet of the Lockheed Martin aircraft, which can be used to gather intelligence, conduct airstrikes and carry out air-to-air combat.

Pompeo said the sale would also include up to 18 MQ-9B advanced drones as well as $10 billion worth of air and ground munitions.

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Turkey nervous over F-35

With Joe Biden, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will probably be unable to influence US policy with a simple phone call, as he had occasionally done with Donald Trump.

But that does not mean the US president-elect will push Turkey away, instead hoping to re-engage the geographically strategic and militarily powerful NATO ally on tougher terms, analysts say.

If it goes ahead, the sale could "significantly change the military balance in the Gulf and affect Israel's military edge," said Representative Eliot Engel, a Democrat who leads the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, voiced scepticism, saying Trump was rushing a deal without thinking through the consequences.

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Turkey, US ties stained over F-35

The United Arab Emirates -- which has been increasingly assertive in the region, including in Yemen and Libya -- sought the advanced warplanes as it was speaking to the United States ahead of its landmark recognition of Israel last month.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said he wanted to find a solution to Turkey's suspension from the F-35 fighter jet programme with the new US administration under Joe Biden.

Ties between the two NATO allies have been strained by Washington's decision last month to punish Ankara for its purchase of the S-400 Russian air defence system with sanctions on its military procurement agency.

Washington initially responded by suspending Turkey in 2019 from the F-35 programme of which Ankara was a major buyer and parts manufacturer.

US officials warn that the S-400 system is incompatible with NATO hardware and could help Russia better target Western warplanes.

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After Biden's inauguration

Erdogan called the US decision not to deliver the F-35 jets to Turkey "a serious mistake".

But he added: "I hope that we can hold talks and see positive results on this issue after Biden's inauguration," which will take place next week.

Erdogan also said Turkey would have discussions with Russia on a second consignment of the S-400 system at the end of January.

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