The F-35 fighter jet is quickly becoming the most sought-after U.S. warplane around the world, with eight partner countries ordering the technologically advanced fighter jet and dozens of other nations waiting for it to become more widely available.
As of this week, the Maryland-based aerospace and defense contractor Lockheed Martin is near completion of its 100th F-35 fighter jet, Reuters reported
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According to U.S. government officials and industry executives, the F-35 fighter jet can better evade radar compared to previous versions through its stealthy coating and other innovations.
Referred to as a "fifth-generation" warplane, the F-35 fighter jet will be replacing the popular F-16 and more than a dozen other warplanes that are currently in-use by foreign governments around the world.
As of September, the U.S. partner countries of Britain, Canada, Australia, Norway, the Netherlands, Italy, Turkey and Denmark, Israel, and Japan have already ordered F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin.
On Tuesday, South Korea rejected a Boeing bid to build 60 F-15 "Silent Eagle" warplanes citing a need for a more advanced "fifth-generation" fighter. Analysts see the F-15 rejection as an opportunity for Lockheed Martin to step in with its F-35 and obtain the contract in the coming months, Reuters reported.
Boeing, which is based out of Chicago, is a leading industry competitor with Lockheed Martin.
The F-35 development program, which started 10 years ago, is a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon that has cost $392 billion. It is the Pentagon's most expensive weapons program ever, the Associated Press reported.
The program's original price tag was $233 billion, however, it ballooned reportedly as a result of delays brought on by cost overruns.
Last week, Air Force Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan said the F-35 was making slow but steady progress lowering production costs, completing flight tests, and resolving technical problems, Reuters noted.
As the U.S. via Lockheed Martin promotes its most advanced "fifth-generation" fighter yet, Russia and China are reportedly in the process of developing their own stealthy "fifth-generation" fighter jets.
Lockheed Martin is building three F-35 versions, one each for the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.
The F-35b, which will be used by the Marine Corps, is presently in phase two
of developmental testing. It has completed 40 short takeoffs and 41 vertical landings as of Aug. 18, according to a Lockheed Martin press release.
The joint strike fighter jet is expected to be operable in 2015.
It will phase out and eventually replace the Marine Corp's F/A-18 Hornet and AV-8B Harrier jets, both of which are Cold War-era aircrafts.
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