WASHINGTON (Dispatches) -- The F-35 fighter jet may not be as “survivable” as originally expected, according to chairman of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee Rep. Adam Smith. He bases this belief on the many recent innovations in missile technology.
As reported by Air Force Magazine, Smith during a virtual event urged the force to invest more in smaller, unmanned systems as he believes the F-35 may not remain as cutting edge and seemingly invulnerable as once thought.
The department chief said the F-35 remains more survivable than other fighters “by quite a bit,” citing the F-16 fleet as a comparison.
Still, Smith said that the F-35 system “also got some environments that it’s not going to be able to get into because of how much missile technology has improved since we started building the thing.”
This is not the first time that Smith has expressed dissatisfaction with the F-35 system. He referred to the fighter as a “rathole” in March of this year. In June, Smith also spoke about the high maintenance cost of the aircraft.
The F-35 fighter jet series is manufactured by Lockheed Martin in collaboration with Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. The first model of the series took its maiden flight in December 2006.
Since then, there have been at least 680 units from the F-35 built. Its main operator remains the United States, though the Royal Australian Air Force, UK Royal Air Force, and others also utilize the fighter.