National Security

F-35 fighter jets may fall behind adversaries, House committee warns

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The House Armed Services Committee recently warned that the U.S.’s F-35 weapons system may struggle to keep up with the country’s adversaries that are making defense improvements at a more rapid pace.

The Armed Services Committee said that the fighter system required software updates in order to be used against threats to the U.S., according to a committee report accompanying its plans for fiscal 2022. 

“[The system] can be used against advanced integrated air defense systems operating against the United States or its foreign partners and allies during high-end, very contested contingencies,” with the upgrades, the report said. 

Despite the committee’s support of the program, the report questioned how affordable it was given the “overly aggressive development and production schedules” and whether the aircraft can “sufficiently evolve” to operate against future threats. 

F-35 program manager Air Force Lieutenant General Eric Fick told reporters that the update schedule in place for preparing the aircraft for its next phases “will be challenging to meet” despite significant progress, according to Bloomberg

Fick also noted that the team is assessing possible ways to make the timeline for development more realistic. 

The F-35 is the world’s most expensive weapons system, and nearly 700 F-35 jets have been delivered to 21 different bases globally, Bloomberg reported. 

Some senators have previously attempted pass legislation to restrict the sale of F-35 fighter jets after the Biden administration announced plans to go forward with a Trump-era effort to sell them to the United Arab Emirates.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) cited national security concerns when he, along with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), proposed a bill restricting sales in April. 

F-35 fighter jets were the subject of another international controversy when the U.S. removed Turkey from the program in 2019. This move came after Turkey purchased the Russia’s S-400 platform, an air defense system with intelligence collection capabilities and another national security concern. 

Tags Bob Menendez Dianne Feinstein F-35 fighter jet Pentagon; House Armed Services Committee

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