THE £100 million US warplane being bought for the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers has 276 “deficiencies in combat performance”, a Pentagon report on the F-35 Lightning reveals.

The weaknesses in the £1.2trillion Joint Strike Fighter programme, including delays on completing gun testing and “overall ineffective operational performance”, are likely to delay its long-awaited entry into service still further.

There are also problems with the software which is designed to run the highly sophisticated warplane.

This could mean the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers face years without the planes they were designed to carry.

The length of the 62-page report was described by one source as “unprecedented” at this stage of the F-35’s already long-delayed development.

The report emerged with President Donald Trump determined to force down the costs of the controversial programme, which is the most expensive piece of military kit ever made.


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