18:18 GMT +320 January 2020
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    The Pentagon has awarded Lockheed Martin a $6.1 billion contract for new F-35 fighter planes, and company spokesman Michael Rein said the manufacturer is disappointed with the number.

    Pierre Sprey, a lead member of the design team for the legacy F-16 fighter jet, told Radio Sputnik's Brian Becker that the government's "unusual" decision to unilaterally set the price for the contract is just a "mosquito bite," compared to other disasters facing the program.

    "This is a very minor perturbation. What's really facing them, in the point of view of money, is incredible schedule slips and a whole hidden raft of costs that nobody has admitted yet," he said.

    The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is theoretically intended to carry out multiple mission types, but is now over seven years behind schedule and has an operation lifetime price tag approaching $1.5 trillion, about eight times that of the Apollo program, which accomplished landing the first humans on the moon.

    According to Sprey, the reason why the program is facing so many problems, despite the amount of money invested in it, is that it is too complicated and, in his words, "basically not doable."

    "The entire airplane is simply trying to tackle impossibility. And that dates back a long way, that dates back to the birth of this airplane. One thing people don't know is how ancient this whole program is," he detailed. "The actual design basics of the airplane were laid down between 1985 and roughly 1993, that's a long time ago."

    He added that creating a "Swiss-army-knife" type of plane was a bad idea from the very beginning, as no multimission airplane has ever been a success.

    "There's already been two international competitions that had shown that was impossible. Basically, you couldn't build a supersonic vertical takeoff airplane that was worth owning for any military mission. DARPA decided to ignore this," he said. "Lockheed of course was more than happy to take the money and to tell them everything was going great."

    What's worse, Sprey noted, is that the plane has no military purpose whatsoever, and the whole point of the project is to create a legacy, "something to brag about amongst engineers and airplane designers," and get influential people across the country involved to secure a steady influx of cash.

    "This is an airplane that was designed to be a locked-in, politically-engineered huge project, and whether it worked or not was irrelevant, and remains irrelevant," Sprey said.    


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