Myths and Facts

Some Italian media outlets are reporting myths about the F-35 Lightning II. We believe it’s important that the public has the facts. Here’s the truth about the F-35. The jet has flown to the corners of the flight test envelope and it's meeting or exceeding expectations in performance. There are no insurmountable obstacles to successfully completing the development program on schedule in 2016. We will continue to work test discoveries as they arise as provisioned for in the flight test plan.

MYTH: The helmet for the F-35 costs $2 million (€1.4 million) each.

FACT: The current cost of the F-35 helmet is $600K (€439K) and is included in the total cost of the aircraft. We expect this figure to decrease over time as the helmet continues to mature.

MYTH: The F-35’s helmet does not work properly and the plane cannot be flown without it.
FACT: We’ve flown more than 4,000 flights and 5,000 hours with the helmet and our feedback from pilots at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB), Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Eglin AFB and at the production facility in Fort Worth, is that they like this helmet. During the fall, dedicated helmet tests were performed and the results are positive and indicate there are a few areas for improvement. The specific improvements were already underway, and we are confident about the path forward. The F-35 can absolutely be flown manually without the helmet if necessary.

MYTH: The tail of the F-35 catches fire at supersonic speeds.
FACT: This is patently false. During flight test, we discovered at the very corner of the supersonic envelope it was possible to experience some coating degradation. A new process for applying the coating has resolved the issue. The new process will be tailored for each variant.

MYTH: The software on the F-35 is a “disaster.”
FACT: We have an agreed upon plan with the Joint Program Office for software development and we are executing to that plan. Our fielded Block 1 and 2 software is performing very well. We continue to see successful results in flight test and positive pilot feedback at Edwards AFB, NAS Patuxent River and Eglin AFB.