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In the ‘Cockpit’ of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

Our federal budget is more in the red than a Beverly Hills divorcee's Botox bank account.

While close to a half billion dollars in defense cuts are planned over the next ten years--a figure that could double if Congress doesn't act by the end of the year--actual expenditures haven't really fallen much yet. The Treasury Department reported today that fiscal year to date military spending is $336 billion, down only 2 percent from a year ago. Procurement is down 3 percent to $66 billion.

Deeper cuts are coming and no target may be bigger than a plane which boasts it can't be much of a target in the air, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. This is the most expensive defense program in history, and cost overruns and delays have made it high profile in ways Lockheed Martin never intended. "It's about nine percent of their sales," says Cai von Rumohr of Cowen & Company.

Joint Strike Fighter
Source: U.S. Department of Defense
Joint Strike Fighter

But enough about that. Yes, I know that spending potentially a trillion dollars over 50+ years to create and support a single jet program may sound a tad...excessive, but...wouldn't you want to fly one? Wouldn't it be fun to fly an aircraft so stealthy it can sneak up on you, especially since all of its bombs and fuel tanks ARE INSIDE THE JET?

I flew one.

Ok, not really.

I flew in the cockpit SIMULATOR today at a Northrop Grummanfacility with the help of Joe Parish, a former fighter pilot who now works for Lockheed.

Northrop is a major subcontractor on the project.

As you'll see in the video, Parish talks me through bombing an enemy target and landing the jet safely so efficiently that I suggested even an idiot could fly the aircraft.

"Pilots really can't be idiots," he replied with a grimace.

Well, judge for yourself!

Questions? Comments? Funny Stories? Email funnybusiness@cnbc.com

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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