The U.S. military has yet another problem related to the F-35. This time it’s an issue related to a test model.
Inspectors have found cracks in a part of the wing on the C-model variant of the Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II fighter, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Defense’s F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) said, according to a report by IHS Jane’s 360.
During the late October checkup on the test aircraft, workers found a crack in one of its 13 wing spars. The spokesperson, Joe DellaVedova, said the problem is being handled by the government and contracted engineers.
“Initial estimates indicate a modification of approximately a half a pound to the aircraft will fix it,” he told IHS. “Modifications to planes flying today will be incorporated to ensure full life operation.”
Right now, the government isn’t able to estimate how much the modifications will cost. The JPO said it doesn’t expect the cracks to negatively affect flying operations associated with any of the variants, nor does it think the issue will influence the Initial Operating Capability (IOC) for the C-model, which the Navy hopes will occur in August 2018.
The military has certainty got a lot out of the test F-35C. In fact, the damaged article has been used for more than 13,700 test hours. DellaVedova told IHS that that amount of test hours is equivalent to 6,850 flight hours or more than 20 years of operational flying use. Those figures are especially whopping, considering that DellaVedova said all the F-35Cs that currently soar the skies have less than 250 flight hours.
It should also be noted that aircraft used for durability testing are purposefully pushed to the limit so that investigators can simulate operational flying, which makes it easier to spot flaws.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense