First look at the new F-35s arriving soon at Luke AFB - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

First look at the new F-35s arriving soon at Luke AFB

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FT. WORTH, TX -

Sometime next year, Luke Air Force Base will see its future with the arrival of the first F-35 fighter jet.

Recently, I went to see it at the Lockheed Martin plant in Texas where it's being built.

The dawn of America's newest fighter jet -- the F-35 Lightning II and can she ever perform.

This is the fighter that will eventually replace the F-16 at Luke AFB in Glendale and you're getting an exclusive look at the very first jet -- AF 41 that will arrive there next year.

It also happens to be the 100th F-35 ever built.

Rolling out for more assembly at the massive Lockheed Martin plant in Ft. Worth.

We wanted to see the state of the art fighters being put together.  The plant is over a mile long with F-35s in various stages of completion.  It takes 8 months to build one.

Total cost to build and maintain the F-35 over its 50-year life expectancy is $1 trillion.  Many have quarreled with the cost of the F-35, including Arizona Senator John McCain, who called the program's ballooning price tag, "one of the great national scandals."

Strong words from a Senator whose state will benefit greatly from its presence.

Luke AFB will eventually get 144 of these fighters, ensuring the base's future.

If McCain and others are questioning the cost, the people building them say this is what the U.S. military needs to stay a step ahead of our enemies.

What makes the F-35 so different from its predecessors?  For one, it is completely stealth.  Day or night, radar can't find it.  All the bombs and guns are tucked inside the fiberglass shell.  No sharp edges or bumps that can trigger detection, though additional ordinates can be mounted on the exterior.  And finally, infrared sensors mounted all around the airplane give the pilot a 360° view of the battle space in real-time that projects on a helmet visor.  Wherever the pilot turns, the detail will be before them -- no blind spots.

The F-35 is an amazing fighting machine -- cutting edge, crucial and some say, yes -- costly.

Slightly different versions of the F-35 are being built to satisfy the needs of the Navy, Air Force and Marines.  One plane that fits all.

The U.S. fleet of F-35s will eventually top 2,000.

 

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