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Pentagon finds flaws in new F-35 amid increasing orders: report

The Defense Department has discovered new problems associated with Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet in its annual review, including issues with the accuracy of its 25mm gun, Bloomberg reports.

Robert Behler, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation, found no new issues with the jet’s flying capabilities in his annual assessment but noted numerous issues, including more than a dozen flagged as “must-fix,” meaning they could affect safety or combat readiness if not resolved.

As of November, the plane had 873 software deficiencies flagged in the review, down from 917 as of September 2018, the news outlet reported.

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“Although the program office is working to fix deficiencies, new discoveries are still being made, resulting in only a minor decrease in the overall number,” the assessment said, adding that there were “many significant” unaddressed flaws remaining.

The review also found unresolved cybersecurity problems flagged in previous reports, although it does not deal with findings discovered in current combat testing, which will simulate Iran, North Korea, China and Russia’s best air defenses.

Despite such findings, Congress has steadily increased F-35 purchases in recent years, adding 11 to the Pentagon’s 2016 and 2017 requests, 20 in 2018, 15 in 2019 and 20 in 2020, Bloomberg said, with the jet proving a major draw for international customers such as Singapore and Poland. Nearly 500 F-35s had been delivered as of late September.

“Although we have not seen the report, the F-35 continues to mature and is the most lethal, survivable and connected fighter in the world,” Lockheed Martin spokesman Brett Ashworth told Bloomberg, adding that “reliability continues to improve, with the global fleet averaging greater than 65% mission capable rates and operational units consistently performing near 75%.”