Retired general confident F-35 can overcome issues as Pentagon reveals a new one

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

A retired Air Force general who served as the NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe said he’s confident the F-35 program will overcome its “initial issues,” shortly after the Pentagon announced a new glitch with the aircraft’s production Wednesday.

Before speaking at an event for the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations, retired four-star General Philip Breedlove said he expects the F-35 to become “the backbone of our tactical fleet for our future.”

“I think what you're seeing is an aircraft that is working through its initial issues and they're progressing on all those issues,” he said.

Since retiring, Breedlove has done work for the plane’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin.

The Pentagon announced Wednesday that it temporarily halted deliveries of all new jets for 30 days in September and October to address a problem with corrosion on the plane’s air frame. Lockheed Martin has since restarted deliveries.

The issue was caused by a lack of protective coating on a specific part of the plane, the Pentagon said.

The announcement comes days after Luke Air Force Base revealed pilots training on the F-35 continue to have new cases of hypoxia-like symptoms in-flight.

The base grounded its F-35s in June after five pilots had so-called “physiological episodes.” Since flights resumed, a base spokesperson said there have been three cases at Luke along with two pilots at other bases.

“I'm confident that our engineers will get to the root causes of this and fix it,” Breedlove said.

Despite technical glitches and cost-overruns that have drawn the attention of President Donald Trump, Breedlove said the F-35 program is "an incredible success."

"The ability that this airplane will bring to our air forces, the capability, its lethality and a new incredible capability as far as its stealthiness. We have to keep focused on what we're here to do," he said. 

"And remember, in the F-16, when it first came along, it had all kinds of problems too."

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