U.S. Air Force says first F-35 jets are combat-ready, 15 years after effort began

f 35 fighter jet combat ready us air force co3k4plxgaaoep3 jpg large
In a major milestone for the Pentagon’s largest-ever weapons project, the U.S. Air Force has announced that its inaugural squadron of F-35 fighter jets is ready for combat.

The program was first launched way back in 2001 and awarded to Lockheed Martin, but has been delayed multiple times since due to technical challenges and other issues. These included problems with radar software and a dangerously increased likelihood of neck injury to lighter-weight pilots ejected from the aircraft. The cutting-edge jets were also allegedly outmaneuvered by the older F-16 fighter jets in mock dogfights.

The problems helped drive the the total cost of the F-35 project to $379 billion — almost 70 percent more than the original estimate.

Nonetheless, according to the program’s chief, Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, it’s finally living up to its hype. “The U.S. Air Force decision to make the 15 F-35As … combat-ready sends a simple and powerful message to America’s friends and foes alike – the F-35 can do its mission,” he is quoted as saying.

The U.S. Air Force has announced plans to purchase an impressive total of 1,763 F-35A conventional takeoff-and-landing jets in coming years, which will give it the largest F-35 fleet anywhere in the world. Lockheed will also build F-35 Lightning II jets for Britain, Australia, Norway, Italy, Turkey, Denmark, the Netherlands, Israel, South Korea, and Japan.

Not everyone is in a celebratory mood, however. “The program is not doing everything they wanted it to do,” Todd Harrison, a defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said.

Dan Grazier of the Project on Government Oversight said calling the jets combat ready is “nothing but a public relations stunt,” and that it won’t be possible to know this for certain until operational testing can be carried out.

The Pentagon’s F-35 program office reportedly remains in talks with Lockheed about delayed contracts for its next batches of F-35 jets, while efforts are also underway to try and drive down the cost of the new planes to $85 million per jet by 2019.

Cars

Bloodhound’s plan to build a 1,000-mph car has run out of gas

The Bloodhound supersonic car (SSC) project has officially shut down. The upside is you can now buy a 135,000-horsepower car powered by a jet engine and a cluster of rockets for $319,000.
Gaming

These are the best Xbox One games available right now

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.
Gaming

What you should know about 'Battlefield V,' and what to expect with Tides of War

Battlefield V is one of the most ambitious games Electronic Arts and DICE have ever released, including full campaign, multiplayer, and battle royale modes, all while not charging players extra for new maps.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and other that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Emerging Tech

The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

Looking for the perfect toy or gadget for your child? Thankfully, we've rounded up some of our personal favorite tech toys, including microscopes, computer kits, and a spherical droid from a galaxy far, far away.
Emerging Tech

Scoot your commute! Here are the 9 best electric scooters on the market

Electric scooters are an affordable, convenient way to minimize your carbon footprint and zip around town. Check out 8 of our current favorites, whether you're working with a budget or have some cash to spare.
Features

Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Emerging Tech

Hear the sounds of wind on Mars from InSight’s latest audio recording

NASA's InSight craft has captured the sound of the wind blowing on the surface of Mars. The audio file was picked up by the air pressure sensor and the seismometer which detected vibrations from the 10 to 15 mph winds in the area.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

New experiment casts doubt on claims to have identified dark matter

A South Korean experiment called COSINE-100 has attempted to replicate the claims of dark matter observed by the Italian DAMA/LIBRA experiment, but has failed to replicate the observations.
Emerging Tech

White dwarf star unexpectedly emitting bright ‘supersoft’ X-rays

NASA's Chandra Observatory has discovered a white dwarf star which is emitting supersoft X-rays, calling into question the conventional wisdom about how X-rays are produced by dying stars.
Business

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Emerging Tech

Full-fledged drone delivery service set to land in remote Canadian community

Some drone delivery operations seem rather crude in their execution, but Drone Delivery Canada is building a comprehensive platform that's aiming to take drone delivery to the next level.