LAKELAND (FOX 13) - Thousands of planes will arrive at Sun 'N Fun Fly In this week, but none got as grand a reception as the F-35, the newest generation of the Stealth fighter jet.
It, like previous Stealth fighters, can go undetected by radar. The F-35 can fly one-and-a-half times the speed of sound.
"To get the latest technology, it's definitely expensive, for sure," said the plane's pilot, 32-year-old Captain Daniel Haley.
Expense has been a big issue with the F-35 program, costing taxpayers $1.5 trillion. The jets themselves run almost $100 million each, making them the most expensive plane ever manufactured.
The pilot's helmet, which allows him to see 360-degrees outside the plane by viewing a screen inside the helmet, costs $400.000.
Lockheed Martin produces the F-35. Along with the price tag, the program is seven years behind schedule. There have been problems with fire and design flaws.
However, many say the plane is valuable beyond the price tag in its use.
"If we don't go to the next generation of fighters we are not going to be able to defend ourselves. If we're in a position , that 100 million is going to be nothing," said Jay Ledvina, another spectator.
The F-35 will be at Sun 'N Fun through Sunday. FOX 13's Ken Suarez has an extended interview with an F-35 pilot on his Facebook page.