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Building 1500 of the early-adopter version is madness though. What we should be doing is something like what's ended up happening with the much-maligned Zumwalts: build a handful of the gen0 fancy stealth tech and experimental weapons, some of which aren't going to work out. Then take the lessons into the next mass-production system.

It’s not like F-35 is the first at anything. I bet you can’t name one thing it is that hasn’t been done before.

I think the F-35 is the first stealth VTOL fighter-bomber. F-22 was just a fighter and wasn't VTOL (and was similarly expensive). Harrier did VTOL but isn't stealthy and only carried IR missiles until recently. B-2 and F-117 are stealthy but are neither fighters nor VTOL.

Done before in a lab, sure. For a service aircraft the full-VR helmet and the lift fan are new, and while the B-2 is reportedly "compatible" with the F-35 data link functionality I can't find anything claiming clearly that that means it's been validated in the field.

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