The UK has more state-of-the-art F-35 fast jets than pilots due to problems with training, defense secretary Ben Wallace has revealed. The Ministry of Defense only has just over 20 of the £100m warplanes but is unable to man all of them, he said.
Speaking to Sky News, a fuming former Royal Air Force officer said: “It’s a shambles.”
Mr. Wallace described the situation as “quite a challenge” when speaking to a committee of peers.
The former Scots Guard captain argued that the lack of pilots was due to the fact that the F-35 Lightning aircraft is new.
However, despite Mr Wallace’s claim, the Ministry of Defense formally announced its intention to buy the jets in 2006.
The program was led by the United States and US defense giant Lockheed Martin.
In 2010, the first British pilot flew one of the F35s.
Mr Wallace has admitted that the RAF’s flying training has been delayed.
At present, pilots take eight years to qualify rather than the target of two to three years.
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They are highly valued by the military because of the sophisticated radars, sensors along with other pieces of covert equipment.
Originally the UK intended to buy 138 of the F35 jets but only 27 have been bought to date.
One of them is out of service following a crash off a Royal Navy aircraft carrier last year. Three are in the US leaving 23 for use by Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm pilots.