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Tuesday, May 17, 2011     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

New advanced U.S. fighter falls short of expected target range

WASHINGTON — The first fifth-generation aircraft ordered by Israel and the United States has failed to meet its target range.


The Joint Strike Fighter has fallen short of its required range set by the U.S. Defense Department. The Pentagon has acknowledged that the F-35A, ordered by Israel and the U.S. Air Force, would have a range of 584 nautical miles, less than its requirement of 590 nautical miles.

"This estimate is based on preliminary data," the Pentagon's Selected Acquisition Report said.

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The report, dated Dec. 31, 2010, said the F-35's range was decreased by engine performance. The report cited the increased use of engine bleed air and other fuel capacity.

Israel has been the only foreign country to order the F-35, development of which has been significantly delayed. The Israel Air Force, in an August 2010 Letter of Order and Acceptance, agreed to acquire 20 JSF aircraft in a deal reported at $2.7 billion.

At one point, the Pentagon estimated that JSF would have a range capacity of 690 nautical miles. But officials said the stealth design of the F-35 ruled out the deployment of additional fuel tanks.

The report also cited a decrease in the range estimates of the F-35B and C models, with 469 and 615 nautical miles, respectively. Both aircraft were said to still maintain a range that slightly exceeded requirements.

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