- The Washington Times - Monday, May 17, 2004

LONDON (UPI) — An $8 billion contract for a new U.S.-built fighter jet to be sold to Britain may be in trouble because the plane is reportedly too heavy to fly safely.

The London Daily Telegraph reported Sunday that the new Joint Strike Fighter, of which the British Defense Ministry has agreed to buy 150, is facing severe problems because of its weight.

Described as the world’s most sophisticated, the fighter jet is to replace the Royal Navy’s Harrier jump jets.

However, the report said the warplane, being built by Lockheed Martin, is 3,300 pounds overweight, making it difficult for a pilot to land the fighter without its wheels coming off.

The Telegraph said the aircraft is also understood to be too heavy to carry out vertical takeoffs, and requires too long a runway to land easily on two new aircraft carriers being built for the Royal Navy.

The defense ministry admitted it is “concerned” about the aircraft’s weight and said urgent attempts are being made to resolve the problem, the report said.

The weight problem has been caused by the aircraft’s jump-jet engine, the newspaper said.

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