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Pentagon Says Only Half of Its F-35 Jet Fleet Is Mission-Ready

  • Air Force general promises to fix the readiness problem
  • Cooling system for F-35 considered to be under-performing
A Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II
A Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II

Photographer: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Only about half of the Pentagon’s fleet of F-35 fighter jets are considered mission-capable, well below the target of 65% and a state of readiness the program manager terms “unacceptable.”

As of February, the monthly average rate of mission-capable jets in the US’s fleet of more than 540 F-35s was 53.1%, according to Air Force Lieutenant General Michael Schmidt, the program manager. That means they can fly at least some of their required missions, such as combat, show-of-force flights, training and testing.