MPs from the Defence Select Committee have demanded full disclosure of the hidden costs associated with the UK’s controversial £150 billion F-35 warplane program.
Committee chair Julian Lewis said he would be pushing for a special investigation into the acquisition only a day after it was reported that the jets, which are set to be given to the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, were heavily criticized by an aviation expert.
On Monday, Pierre Sprey told the Times newspaper that the F-35 had fundamental issues in virtually every fundamental aspect of its performance.
These include overheating bomb bays, interoperability, manoeuvrability and cybersecurity problems.
The committee fears that each of the 138 jets the UK is buying from the US could cost up to £50 million (US$65 million) more than the stated price tag once extra features are purchased.
Lewis told the Times that the extra hearing would slot into a broader investigation by the scrutiny committee into military procurement.
“It would seem sensible in the light of the extensive concerns raised by the Times investigation that we should, before moving to publish that almost complete report, have a further hearing in which we will be able to see what answers the MoD has to the main concerns expressed in the story,” he said.
On Monday, Sprey told the paper that the jets were “appallingly bad.”
“Maneuverability is appallingly bad. It has terrific problems trying to fly fast at low altitude. It overheats, and when you detect the overheating, you have to open the bomb bay doors to cool the missiles that are inside,” the aviation analyst said.
“The logistic computers are a horrible mess and it is crippling the ability to be able to move the aeroplanes from one airfield to another.”