RAF's new £100million F-35 fighter jets hit by MORE problems as 'invisibility' coating scratches off and must be replaced after EVERY flight

Last month it was announced Britain will double its fleet of F-35 stealth fighter jets by ordering 17 more.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said the new 1,200mph jets would be delivered between 2020 and 2022.
The UK owns 16 with two more already on order.

Hi-tech coating protects them being picked up by enemy radar – but it is wearing off quicker than expected.

An RAF source told the Sunday Express: “This situation obviously has to be rectified before the plane enters operational service”.

They said Mr Williamson and RAF chief Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier had always been aware of the problem.

Jeff Babione, vice president of plane makers Lockheed Martin, said: “We inadvertently scratch the coating system, and we have to repaint it”.

Another company spokesman said: “Stealth maintenance on the F-35 is proving to be a significant success. It requires less maintenance and…is easier, more affordable and faster to repair compared to previous low-observable aircraft”.

But Air Commodore Andrew Lambert, a former RAF director of defence studies, said: “Lockheed Martin says it’s better now, but it takes just one scratch to give the fighter jet the same radar profile as a 747, the you may as well not be bothering”.

Britain has committed to buying 138 from US defence giant Lockheed Martin and the first batch arrived in June.

In October the MoD was forced to ground its new fighter jet fleet after a faulty fuel tube caused a crash in the US.

Around 250 aircraft were grounded in the US and about 100 worldwide.

It comes after a US F-35B stealth jet went down over Beaufort, South Carolina, in September.

The pilot ejected before impact and nobody else was injured.

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