15:17 GMT +315 December 2017
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    US F-35 Reportedly Starts to Crumble in Okinawa in 'Routine Training Mission'

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    The reputation of the most expensive plane in history has once again been tarnished.

    The F-35, a fifth-generation US stealth fighter, lost part of its fuselage, during a "routine training mission" near Kadena Air Base in Japan, according to the Defense News.

    The incident, which occurred east of Okinawa on November 30, was reported by Japanese media at the time, but it wasn't until December 4 that US Air Force officials confirmed the report.

    The loss of one of the plane's panels, measuring approximately 12 inches (30 centimeters) by 24 inches (60 centimeters), was noticed by the F-35's wingman as the aircraft was in the process of landing.

    Specialists suggested that the panel was broken during the flight, given the fact that the F-35 was thoroughly inspected ahead of the takeoff.

    It is still unclear whether the replacement of the lost part of the plane's fuselage will be possible without compromising its flight safety.

    The F-35 Lightning II is the second US fifth-generation fighter after the F-22 Raptor.

    The program to create the F-35 is estimated to have cost about one and a half trillion dollars, something that turns this fighter jet into the world's most expensive aircraft.

    The project has repeatedly been slammed, including by US President Donald Trump, over a whole array of technical problems. 

    READ MORE: All Gloat, No Glory: Trump Misleads Public on F-35 Program Savings

    In October, representatives of the US Air Force were cited as saying that many F-35 pilots had symptoms of oxygen deficit.

    In November, US government officials said that the US Defense Department refused to accept the delivery of F-35s between September 21 and October 20 after finding "corrosion exceeding technical limits" around fasteners holding the planes' exterior coatings to their airframes.

    Related:

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    F-35 Under the Knife: Pentagon Making ‘Very Intense Effort’ to Cut Costs
    US State Department Approves Sale of 3,900 F-35 Bombs to Australia
    Tags:
    stealth fighter, program, training mission, media, F-22 Raptor, F-35, United States, Okinawa
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