>> It's the most advanced fighter jet ever put in the air, its designers say. But for years, the F35 has been under attack as the Pentagon's trillion dollar problem child. Now, the next generation plane is finally getting the chance to show what it can do.
I'm Justin Mitchell aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Atlantic Ocean.
Where the Pentagon's new fighter jet, the F-35, is finally being put through its paces in real world conditions after years of delays, cost overruns and questions about its fitness for modern warfare.>> The US Navy gave journalists a rare chance to see it's version of the single seat F-35 being tested for battle.
>> Rear Admiral, Dale Horan.>> This is the first time we've been at sea, integrated into an airwing. Operating the airplane from the aircraft carrier, going out and doing missions and then coming back.>> This round of tests called fleet integration, is designed to prove these F-35s, priced at $120 million each will work well with other jets in the thick of battle.
Lucky Martin, won the chance to develop the plane also known as the Joint Strike Fighter in the early 2000s. Imagining a radar avaiding craft combining unparallel firepower with advanced electronics, to meet the growing threat from China and Russia. But the project has been plagued with obstacles ever since.
A recent watchdog report found almost 1,000 technical issues to be fixed. Everything from an advanced helmet that may hinder a pilot's vision in some circumstances, to a stealth coding that could be damaged in the heat of supersonic flight. But now, Admiral Horan is hoping the year spent fixing these problems will finally pay off.
>> We hope to see how it integrates on board the ship. Can we maintain it? Can we get the parts? How does it conduct its mission?>> The Governor will make a decision sometime next year whether or not to institute full production of the F-35. That would mean a $400 billion investment over the next 10 years to provide F-35s not only to the US military, but to its allies across the world.
>> If the Navy's F-35 passes its final test, its first deployment could come in 2021.