The F-35B stealth jet used by the Marine Corps is wearing out an alarming rate, according to a report from the Pentagon’s test office obtained by Bloomberg News. The short-takeoff-vertical landing version of the troubled aircraft was expected to have a service life of 8,000 fleet hours, but recent testing data suggest that the service life could be as little as 2,100 hours. Some jets could reach the end of their service life as soon as 2026, Bloomberg's Tony Capaccio said.
The report also said that maintenance and reliability goals were not being met for the F-35B, and that previously-identified cybersecurity vulnerabilities have not been fixed.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan cautiously acknowledged the ongoing problems in the $1.5 trillion F-35 program, telling reporters Tuesday, "I am biased toward giving the taxpayer their money's worth. And the F-35, unequivocally, I can say, has a lot of opportunity for more performance."