In the statement, Lockheed Martin is presumably referring to the military's latest, revised cost and timeline estimates – which include a combat-ready variant by 2015 – as in the past the program has repeatedly suffered significant cost overruns and delays. Back in 2001, the military believed the fighter would be ready by 2012. As of June this year, however, the Government Accountability Office estimated that only about a third of necessary developmental testing had been completed on the complex plane.
Military defenders of the plane have said that the stealth F-35, when ready, will serve as the backbone of American air dominance for decades to come, with unprecedented fighting, flying and electronic warfare capabilities, flying in concert with the air-to-air dogfighting F-22 Raptor.
"The air superiority this nation has enjoyed for 60 years is not an accident and gaining and maintaining it is not easy," Air Force Gen. Mark Welsh III said during testimony at a Senate Armed Services subcommittee hearing in June. "I believe the F-35 is essential to ensuring we can provide that air superiority in the future."
High-profile detractors, like Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have called it "worse than a disgrace."
"It's still one of the great national scandals that we have ever had as far as the expenditure for taxpayers' dollars are concerned," said McCain during another Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing earlier this month, as reported by DOD Buzz.