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The most expensive weapon in history makes UK debut

A brand new fighter jet beset by cost blowouts and delays is on show in the U.K. for the first time ever, but one analyst believes the country should be championing it as a success.

A trio of Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter touched down in the United Kingdom last week in readiness for their appearance at the Farnborough Airshow this weekend.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is seen as the cornerstone of the U.S. air defense strategy for the next few decades and the Pentagon has previously announced plans to buy 2,400 jets at a cost of $1.5 trillion, including maintenance.

2016 Lockheed Martin Corporation

Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter but a number of British companies, including BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce have had significant input into the aircraft's design and build.

Cost overruns plagued development of the plane and in 2013, U.S. government figures estimated development and procurement of the airplane would hit $400 billion, almost doubling original figures and making it the costliest weapons program ever.

In April, U.S. Senator John McCain described the plane as "a scandal" and said the cost overruns had been disgraceful.


2016 Lockheed Martin Corporation

But Glynn Bellamy, head of aerospace at audit firm KPMG, told CNBC the tech problems will iron themselves out.

"When you have an aircraft that makes such a step change in tech, you do end up with teething problems because you are pushing the tech to the limits. It's not unusual to have the sort of issues that aircraft had," he said by telephone.

And Bellamy is a firm believer that the F-35 will help the United Kingdom aerospace sector restate its position as the number two aerospace industry in the world after North America.

"People see the Lockheed Martin as a U.S. company, but people don't see the U.K. involvement in the joint fighter. Farnborough gives an opportunity for the U.K. to show off what it contributed," he said.


F35-A fighter jet
Source: Lockheed Martin
F35-A fighter jet

Britain has said it will eventually buy 138 of the aircraft, which are described by the British government as the next step in warplane technology.

Marking their arrival, the U.K. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said: "The F-35Bs are the most advanced fast jets in the world."

"Whether operating from land or from one of our two new aircraft carriers, they will ensure we have a formidable fighting force," he added.

Countries involve in the project include the United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, Canada, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Turkey.