f-35 us joint strike fighter jet profile orig _00000302.jpg
f-35 us joint strike fighter jet profile orig _00000302.jpg
Now playing
02:27
The U.S. military's $400B fighter jet (2016)
Now playing
01:48
The world's fastest plane
Two U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors fly above Syria in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, Feb. 2, 2018. The F-22 is an air superiority fighter that incorporates the latest technological advances in reduced observables, avionics, engine performance and aerodynamic design. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Colton Elliott)
U.S. Air National Guard/Staff Sgt. Colton Elliott
Two U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors fly above Syria in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, Feb. 2, 2018. The F-22 is an air superiority fighter that incorporates the latest technological advances in reduced observables, avionics, engine performance and aerodynamic design. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Colton Elliott)
Now playing
00:58
This plane flies 1,500 mph and costs $412M
Sgt. Sandra Welsh
Now playing
01:37
Over sixty years of US air power in one formation
US Navy
Now playing
01:35
Watch the US Navy's laser weapon in action
f 35 fighter jet thermal scan jnd orig vstan_00003326.jpg
Flir Systems Inc.
f 35 fighter jet thermal scan jnd orig vstan_00003326.jpg
Now playing
00:46
Thermal scan shows F-35 fighter jet in flight
guardbot rolling robot spy nws orig_00003106.jpg
guardbot rolling robot spy nws orig_00003106.jpg
Now playing
01:17
New rolling spy-bot can even swim upstream
160421-N-YE579-005
ATLANTIC OCEAN (April 21, 2016) The future guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) transits the Atlantic Ocean during acceptance trials April 21, 2016 with the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV). The U.S. Navy accepted delivery of DDG 1000, the future guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) May 20, 2016. Following a crew certification period and October commissioning ceremony in Baltimore, Zumwalt will transit to its homeport in San Diego for a Post Delivery Availability and Mission Systems Activation. DDG 1000 is the lead ship of the Zumwalt-class destroyers, next-generation, multi-mission surface combatants, tailored for land attack and littoral dominance. (U.S. Navy/Released)
Digital/Navy Media Content Services
160421-N-YE579-005 ATLANTIC OCEAN (April 21, 2016) The future guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) transits the Atlantic Ocean during acceptance trials April 21, 2016 with the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV). The U.S. Navy accepted delivery of DDG 1000, the future guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) May 20, 2016. Following a crew certification period and October commissioning ceremony in Baltimore, Zumwalt will transit to its homeport in San Diego for a Post Delivery Availability and Mission Systems Activation. DDG 1000 is the lead ship of the Zumwalt-class destroyers, next-generation, multi-mission surface combatants, tailored for land attack and littoral dominance. (U.S. Navy/Released)
Now playing
01:05
Navy's $3B stealth warship sets sail
160613-N-DN943-001
ATLANTIC OCEAN (June 10, 2016) The littoral combat ship USS Jackson (LCS 6) successfully completes the first of three scheduled full-ship shock trials June 10, 2016. The shock trials are designed to demonstrate the ship's ability to withstand the effects of nearby underwater explosion and retain required capability. Jackson is currently ported at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., for required inspections and preparation for the second full-ship shock trial scheduled for later this month. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Bevan/Released)
MC2 Michael Bevan/Navy Media Content Service (NMCS)/U.S. Navy
160613-N-DN943-001 ATLANTIC OCEAN (June 10, 2016) The littoral combat ship USS Jackson (LCS 6) successfully completes the first of three scheduled full-ship shock trials June 10, 2016. The shock trials are designed to demonstrate the ship's ability to withstand the effects of nearby underwater explosion and retain required capability. Jackson is currently ported at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., for required inspections and preparation for the second full-ship shock trial scheduled for later this month. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Bevan/Released)
Now playing
00:51
Navy warship tested against 10,000-pound explosive
HELME, ESTONIA - MAY 19:  An F-16 fighter plane of the Royal Danish Air Force simulates an attack during a demonstration while participating in the NATO "Spring Storm" military exercises on May 19, 2014 near Helme, Estonia. The annual exercises, in which Estonian, Latvian, Lithuainian, U.S., British, Polish, Belgian and Danish troops are participating, are underway as sporadic fighting between Ukrainian and pro-Russian separatists continues in eastern Ukraine.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Sean Gallup/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
HELME, ESTONIA - MAY 19: An F-16 fighter plane of the Royal Danish Air Force simulates an attack during a demonstration while participating in the NATO "Spring Storm" military exercises on May 19, 2014 near Helme, Estonia. The annual exercises, in which Estonian, Latvian, Lithuainian, U.S., British, Polish, Belgian and Danish troops are participating, are underway as sporadic fighting between Ukrainian and pro-Russian separatists continues in eastern Ukraine. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Now playing
00:59
Fighter pilot passes out, jet goes into free fall
Lockheed Martin
Now playing
00:52
F-35 fighter jet fires 55 rounds per second
title: Future USS Detroit (LCS 7) Successfully Completes Acceptance Trials duration: 00:01:53 site: Youtube author: null published: Fri Jul 22 2016 13:42:50 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time) intervention: no description: The future littoral combat ship USS Detroit (LCS 7) successfully concluded its acceptance trial July 15. The next milestone for Detroit is its delivery to the U.S. Navy. During trials, the ship successfully performed launch and recovery operations of the 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boat, conducted surface and air self-defense detect-to-engage exercises, and demonstrated the ship's maneuverability.
Lockheed Martin
title: Future USS Detroit (LCS 7) Successfully Completes Acceptance Trials duration: 00:01:53 site: Youtube author: null published: Fri Jul 22 2016 13:42:50 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time) intervention: no description: The future littoral combat ship USS Detroit (LCS 7) successfully concluded its acceptance trial July 15. The next milestone for Detroit is its delivery to the U.S. Navy. During trials, the ship successfully performed launch and recovery operations of the 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boat, conducted surface and air self-defense detect-to-engage exercises, and demonstrated the ship's maneuverability.
Now playing
01:23
U.S. Navy tests new warship
Lockheed Martin
Now playing
01:07
New fighter jet to train top pilots
An F-22 Raptor from the Hawaii Air National Guard 199th Fighter Squadron increases altitude shortly after takeoff at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, June 6, 2015. F-22 pilots from the 199th FS and 19th FS teamed up with maintenance Airmen from the 154th Wing and 15th Maintenance Group to launch and recover 62 Raptors that day. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Aaron Oelrich)
Tech. Sgt. Aaron Oelrich/US Air Force
An F-22 Raptor from the Hawaii Air National Guard 199th Fighter Squadron increases altitude shortly after takeoff at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, June 6, 2015. F-22 pilots from the 199th FS and 19th FS teamed up with maintenance Airmen from the 154th Wing and 15th Maintenance Group to launch and recover 62 Raptors that day. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Aaron Oelrich)
Now playing
01:09
The U.S. Air Force's high-speed stealth fighter
orig.f-22.raptor.refueling.isis_00001129.jpg
orig.f-22.raptor.refueling.isis_00001129.jpg
Now playing
01:09
See the stealth fighter that's bombing ISIS

Story highlights

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is finally set to become operational this month.

The fifth-generation stealth fighter plane was originally conceived in 2001 to upgrade the U.S. military's aging tactical fleet.

The price tag for the F-35 program, however, is nearly $400 billion for 2,457 planes -- almost twice the initial estimate.

CNN —  

Three years behind schedule and some $200 billion over its original budget, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is finally set to become operational this month.

The fighter jet has been in development for nearly 15 years, weathered half a dozen years of testing and experienced myriad hardware malfunctions and software glitches along the way. Once it’s declared ready for combat, it will be the most expensive weapons system in world history.

It will also be the most advanced in the sky. The F-35, also referred to as the Joint Strike Fighter, is touted as the most lethal and versatile aircraft of the modern era. It combines advanced stealth capabilities, radar-jamming abilities, supersonic speed, extreme agility and state-of-the-art sensor fusion technology.

But after all that time and money, supporters are no closer to quelling the detractors who blast the F-35 as a waste.

The fifth-generation stealth fighter plane was originally conceived in 2001 to upgrade the U.S. military’s aging tactical fleet to ensure that rivals couldn’t challenge the United States in the air.

“Air superiority is an essential tenet in our national defense strategy,” said Rep. Jeff Miller, a Florida Republican whose district is home to the nation’s primary F-35 training facility. “We have a whole host of aging air platforms, some with technology dating back to the ‘60s and ‘70s.”

He singled out Russia and China as the key reasons the U.S. has been trying to advance its air power while it retires old platforms.

“Air superiority was not an issue in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Miller noted. “But with the President’s strategy to rebalance our forces back to the Pacific, and given China’s territorial aggression in the South China Sea and Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, having this air superiority proves to be a strategic deterrent against near-peer threats.”

Japan moves closer to more assertive military role as lawmakers pass bills

In place of the specialized roles performed by older aircraft, the single-seat F-35 can conduct air-to-air combat, air-to-ground strikes, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, according to Lockheed Martin, the JSF’s primary contractor. The military this month is expected to declare the Marine Corps’ version of the F-35 “ready for combat,” meaning it is developed enough and has past the proper tests to be flown on combat missions. While the Marines don’t expect to actually deploy the plane for another year, the declaration is a major milestone for the program in that it technically is ready for deployment.

And it has a host of other innovative features: The F-35 is uniquely designed to allow pilots to immediately share data with one another and their commanders; it can penetrate enemy territory without being detected by radar; and its specialized helmet display gives pilots a 360-degree view of their surroundings.

“The F-35 will deliver revolutionary capability to the U.S. and its allies for decades to come,” said Michael Rein, a spokesman for Lockheed Martin.

U.S. intercepts Russian bombers off coast of Alaska, California

Program costs and setbacks