In the words of Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet program is “f—- up.” His blunt appraisal might be in reference to a chronic lack of spare parks which is grounding the fleet throughout the United States, and not anything to do with the platform’s performance or operability, as Shanahan maintains. It could be an oblique attempt to promote the interests of his former employer Boeing, as Pentagon investigators are currently trying to assess in their ongoing ethics investigation. Or it could actually be an accurate assessment of the expensive and oft-controversial program.

Events in Germany and Japan over the first part of 2019 lend themselves to the latter interpretation.