Lockheed Martin F-35B  (Source: Lockheed Martin)
Lockheed Martin discovers an accounting error in regards to its F-35 program

No one will deny that the U.S. military's F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program is an expensive one. The overall program is valued at $300 billion USD with the individual F-35A (Air Force), F-35B (Marines) and F-35C (Navy) airframes ringing up at $48 million USD, $62 million USD and $63 million USD respectively.

Lockheed Martin announced today that it overbilled the Pentagon in the amount of $265 million USD for the F-35 program -- enough to purchase five F-35A aircraft. The discrepancy was found during an internal audit conducted by Lockheed Martin.

"The government will be reimbursed within the next several days with the appropriate amount of interest," the company said in a statement. "We have initiated a thorough review to determine why the error was not detected sooner, to ensure that any possible future errors of this type are detected immediately, and most importantly to prevent any recurrence of this type of billing error."

The F-35 is destined to replace/compliment a number of U.S. military aircraft including the AV-8B Harrier, A-10 Thunderbolt II, F/A-18 Hornet and F-16 Fighting Falcon. The F-35A will be a conventional aircraft suited for take-offs and landings from an airport. The F-35B can take-off and land vertically or take off conventionally from short runways. The F-35C is destined for carrier duty.

Other variants of the F-35 have also been proposed including a pilot-less version that would be controlled from the ground.

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