US Marine Corps has deployed a squadron of F-35B fighter jets to Japan, marking the first overseas deployment of the aircraft troubled due to technical glitches.
The deployment of the 10 planes to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni on Honshu Island marks a major milestone for the F-35, agencies and various media reported today.
The current development and acquisition price is $379 billion for a total of 2,443 F-35 aircraft. Hence, the fighter is the most expensive plane in history, and costs are set to go higher still.
The Marines's version of the plane, known as the F-35B, is capable of conducting short takeoffs and vertical landings.
Once commissioned, maintenance and other costs for the F-35 are factored in over the aircraft's lifespan through 2070, overall program costs have been projected to rise to as much as $1.5 trillion.
Proponents of the F-35 tout its speed, close air-support capabilities, airborne agility and a massive array of sensors giving pilots unparalleled access to information.
The combination of stealth, radar and sensor technology, and electronic warfare systems bring all of the access and lethality capabilities of a fifth-generation fighter, a modern bomber, and an adverse-weather, all-threat environment air-support platform," the Marines said in a statement.
The US Navy's version of the plane, the F-35C, is built to land on aircraft carriers. In August, the US Air Force declared an initial squadron of F-35A stealth fighters ready for combat and said an overseas deployment for that version of the plane was likely to take place early this year.