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In recent months, ever since El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago took control, our old friend the F-35 Strike Fighter-a.k.a. The Flying Swiss Army Knife, a.k.a. The Flying Bonfire of Cash-has had a bit of a recovery. The president* has been beating his chest about a great deal he made in knocking down the price of this lemon. (Pro Tip: maybe not so much.) And, when he was pitching the expansion of the new Ford-class carrier fleet, he made a point of bragging that the new ships would be carrying a full flock of these gobblers. So things are looking up, right?
Well, they can look up all they want, especially in Australia, but they're not going to be seeing any F-35s. At least not until the weather clears. From Australian Aviation:
"Due to weather in Amberley the F-35A will now depart the Avalon Airshow on Monday, 6 March rather than Sunday, 5 March as previously scheduled," a statement by the RAAF issued on Sunday afternoon reads."It is well documented that the F-35A aircraft requires modifications for lightning protection and these modifications have not yet been completed on the two visiting Australian aircraft. As safety is Air Force's priority, the aircraft will not fly in conditions where lightning is present. Prior to return to Australia, the Australian F-35A will be modified with lightning protection."
Yes, friends. Our new state of the art, $100 million-per-unit fighter aircraft finds it difficult to fly…in thunderstorms.
FedEx can fly in thunderstorms. Hell, I have to fly in thunderstorms. But not this delicate piece of technology. So, I guess, if we go to war when it's raining, they're going to have to send aloft an escadrille that will drop air freight packages and frozen lavatory waste on the enemy until the sun comes out again. From ABC.net.au:
But the aircraft will require modifications before they can fly in lightning - a process that will be completed on Australia's fleet of F-35s before delivery next year. The AU-1 and AU-2 aircraft were the first two Australian F-35s to roll off the Lockheed Martin assembly line in Fort Worth, Texas, in July 2014. In December that year, both aircraft were flown to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona to join an international pilot training pool. The Australian Government approved the purchase of 14 F-35A fighters in November 2009, and a second tranche of 58 aircraft in April 2014, equipping three squadrons, with the first expected to be delivered to Australia in 2018 and enter service in 2020.
The sky is no longer the limit. The hangar seems to be the limit.
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