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F-35 JSF  (Source: Lockheed Martin)
The future of the F-35 JSF seems bright, but many questions remain

As the U.S. Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps prepares for the next-generation F-35 fighter craft, the actual demand of the expensive fighter remains unknown.  

According to analyst Johan Boeder, as many as 2,500 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter craft could be built for all branches of the U.S. military, but pricing and other threats may limit the actual number of planes manufactured. Lockheed Martin had originally pegged orders to be around 4,500 units, while the U.S. Military was even more optimistic at 6,000 units.  Despite any immediate concern, in the coming decades the U.S. government is expected to spend near $300 billion for the F-35 aircraft.

If the number of planes ordered lowers, the price -- already around $100 million per aircraft -- is expected to increase further, which could hurt demand even more.  For example, the Dutch parliament has plans to purchase 85 F-35 aircraft, but may reduce its expected order down to 57.

Lockheed Martin, the main manufacturer behind the F-35 JSF, doesn't see a pending drop-off in aircraft ordered, with strong political and monetary support expended in the coming years.

In the mean time, GE and Rolls Royce plan to redesign a new part of the alternate F-35 engine, after a lug nut reportedly vibrated loose during early testing.  

Regardless of controversy related to F-35 orders, at least five U.S. states are interested in building operating bases that can support the F-35.  The states of Florida, Idaho, Utah, South Carolina and Vermont have all thrown their names in the hat, but military officials are unsure which states -- and how many facilities nationwide -- will be developed to support the F-35 JSF.





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