All F-35s have been grounded as a precaution after a routine engine inspection revealed a crack on an engine blade, Defense Department officials said on Friday, February 22.
Officials call this a “cautionary suspension of flight.” The Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps fly F-35s.
Inspectors found the crack in an F135 engine installed in an F-35A Lightning II aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. This is the conventional take-off and landing version of the joint strike fighter.
F-35A Lightning II
Officials are shipping the engine and its associated hardware to Pratt & Whitney’s engine facility in Middletown, Conn., to conduct more thorough evaluation and root cause analysis.
Officials said the grounding is precautionary. All F-35 flight operations have been suspended until the investigation is complete, officials said, and it is too early to know the fleetwide impact.
“The F-35 Joint Program Office is working closely with Pratt & Whitney and Lockheed Martin at all F-35 locations to ensure the integrity of the engine, and to return the fleet safely to flight as soon as possible,” a Defense Department news release said.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, fifth generation multirole fighters under development to perform ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defense missions with stealth capability. The F-35 has three main models; the F-35A is a conventional takeoff and landing variant, the F-35B is a short take off and vertical-landing variant, and the F-35C is a carrier-based variant.
The F-35 is descended from the X-35, the product of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. JSF development is being principally funded by the United States, with the United Kingdom and other partner governments providing additional funding. The partner nations are either NATO members or close U.S. allies. It is being designed and built by an aerospace industry team led by Lockheed Martin. The F-35 carried out its first flight on 15 December 2006.
The United States plans to buy a total of 2,443 aircraft to provide the bulk of its tactical airpower for the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy over the coming decades. The United Kingdom, Italy, Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Turkey, Israel, Singapore and Japan are part of the development program and may equip their air services with the F-35
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