The US military uncovered some cracks in the fuselages of the new F-35 fighter jets that reportedly developed during test flights last year, reports newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). Norway has placed a controversial order for a large fleet of the new jets, which amounts to one of the country’s largest public expenditures ever.
DN reported that the cracks were revealed in the annual report from the Pentagon’s testing division, which was released this week. The jets, produced by US defense contractor Lockheed Martin, appeared to not be as reliable as the military had expected.
The cracks were discovered both in the fuselage of the jets and in other “central portions” of the aircraft, according to the report. The weaknesses may demand a redesign and installation of new parts, putting more pressure on the original time frame for delivery of the jets.
A spokesman for Lockheed Martin, though, characterized the Pentagon report as “largely positive,” and that such “challenges” during testing are not unusual. Those found during the testing “are well-known to us, the international F35 partners and our industrial team,” he said.
Norway has ordered 52 of the jets for NOK 62.6 billion (USD 10 billion). Norwegian military officials confirmed they were aware of the cracks and other challenges, and seemed comfortable that the US authorities were monitoring the jets and their performance closely.