San Diego

F-35 Strike Fighters Have More Than 200 Problems With Combat Performance: Pentagon Report

The military's newest and most sophisticated jet - the F-35 Strike Fighter - is under fire once again. 

The Fort Worth, Texas-built Lockheed Martin jets have more than 200 problems with combat performance, a new Defense Department report found.

Some of those combat performance problems include the escape system, a danger for lighter weight pilots during ejection, and cyber security risks, including worries the highly sophisticated system could be hacked. 

In recent months, the jets have faced a series of issues: delays, cost over-runs, a temporary grounding, and more. 

Steve Diamond, a former F-14 Mission Commander, says engineering issues are nothing new.

"That always happens with the new weapon system," said Diamond. "That's not a showstopper, it should never be a showstopper when you have a platform that is this good."

While there have been complaints about issues with the aircraft during carrier landings, NBC 7 was on USS George Washington when the F-35 C made its first tail hook landing.

The experienced pilot described his experience.

"It was the smoothest carrier landing I've had to date," the pilot said.

Diamond says despite delays and engineering issues the F-35 is superior at performing it's job: airstrikes.

"It's primary function is ground attack and in that capacity in today's modern battlefield it does it superbly well, far better than any other aircraft," he said.

Some critics say the planes are too expensive. They cost more than $100 million per plane.

President-Elect Donald Trump agrees; he tweeted that the planes were costly.

While Diamond likes the F-35's technology, he thinks Trump has every right to question the cost.

"It's an out-of-the-box approach, but why not," Diamond said.

Diamond added that despite costs, scrapping the fighter would be a huge mistake.

"You fall behind in technology you will be at a tremendous disadvantage in warfare is no question about it," Diamond said.

There is no squadron of F-35s in San Diego. 

Earlier this month, the Marine Corps deployed its first operational squadron of F-35's from Yuma to Japan to be forward deployed.

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