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F-35 JSF Grounding: Engineers Are Examining A Half Inch Engine Blade Crack…

As the F-35 JSF grounding continues to probe scepticism in the U.S. and abroad, engineers are prepared to contact a detailed of the turbine blade which seems to have a crack over half an inch long, according to sources:

Half-inch crack blamed for F-35 JSF grounding: sources – Reuters

The engine blade crack that prompted the U.S. military to ground all 51 F-35 fighter jets was over half an inch long, according to three sources familiar with the matter, but it remained unclear if the crack was caused by a manufacturing anomaly or some larger design issue. Engineers at Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp, will conduct a detailed examination of the turbine blade as soon as it arrives at the company’s Middletown, Connecticut, site, said spokesman Matthew Bates. ”Pilot safety is our absolute top priority,” Bates said, noting that the F135 engine that powers the new radar-evading fighter jet had a readiness rate of over 98 percent. ”We are in a testing phase of the program and discoveries such as this are part of the process,” he added. Initial results may come on Wednesday, although it could take up to 10 days to complete the analysis, said the three sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly. The Pentagon announced the grounding of all F-35 warplanes on Friday after an inspection revealed a crack on a turbine blade in the Pratt-built jet engine of an F-35 jet being tested at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

But is there any viable effort to find engineering perfection..? U.S.A.F. General Norton Schwartz believes that it doesn’t exist and this operational fact gives importance to the test failures:

Learning F-35 JSF Lessons From F-22 Oxygen Errors | Defense Tech

The Air Force says it has found the problem causing its F-22 pilots to suffocate in flight. Service officials are blaming it on a valve in the upper pressure garment vest and an air filter that was restricting oxygen volume. The search for what caused the hypoxia-like symptoms for F-22 pilot took almost two years. It turns out the Pentagon is developing another fighter generation fighter jet. You might have heard of it, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. In Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz’s last press conference Tuesday as the service’s top officer, he was asked what gives him confidence something like this won’t happen to the F-35 — an aircraft with a development history littered with problems. To his credit, Schwartz didn’t try to pretend more problems are not forthcoming for the Joint Strike Fighter. “There’s no such thing as engineering perfection,” Schwartz said. Without test failures you’re “not really advancing the state of the art.”In fact, he said problems have already popped up for F35, but that’s what happens when you push the boundaries of what’s possible in flight. “I don’t doubt for a moment … and we found some already, frankly, in the F35 JSF Program. This is one of the things that I think is an important message. That the notion of perfection at the outset even with all the computer power we have … I think we went through a period that we could design perfect airplanes or build perfect airplanes,” Schwartz said.

F-35 JSF 1

Schwartz’s observation is becoming realitstically true as the problem with the F-35 JSF engine blade was spotted during a routine inspection:

F-35 JSF fleet grounded by Pentagon

The problem was discovered during what the Pentagon called a routine inspection at Edwards Air Force Base, California, of an F-35A, the Air Force version of the sleek new plane. The Navy and the Marine Corps are buying other versions of the F-35 JSF, which is intended to replace older fighters like the Air Force F-16 and the Navy F/A-18. All versions a total of 51 planes were grounded Friday pending a more in-depth evaluation of the problem discovered at Edwards. None of the planes have been fielded for combat operations; all are undergoing testing. In a brief written statement Friday, the Pentagon said it was too early to know the full impact of the newly discovered problem. A watchdog group, the Project on Government Oversight, said the grounding was not likely to mean a significant delay in the effort to field the aircraft.

F-35 JSF 3

On the other hand, critics of the F-35 JSF program give emphasis on the fact that the decision to start the production of the fighter jet before the full completion of its tests is driving the program costs high:

F-35 JSF costs driven up by production choice: U.S. general

A decision to start production of Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 JSF before it was fully tested has driven up the $396 billion cost of the troubled project and increased risks, the U.S. general heading development of the warplane has said. The head of the Pentagon’s F-35 JSF program office, Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan, told Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) television that major challenges had been created by a production and test approach known as “concurrency”. ”A large amount of concurrency, that is, beginning production long before your design is stable and long before you’ve found problems in tests, creates downstream issues where now you have to go back and retrofit airplanes and make sure the production line has those fixes in them,” Bogdan told ABC’s Four Corners programme late on Monday. ”That drives complexity and cost. Let’s make no mistake about it. This program still has risks, technical risks, it has cost issues, it has problems we’ll have to fix in the future,” he said in his first interview on the problem-plagued F-35 JSF. Australia’s government is looking at buying 24 more Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets amid continuing delays and setbacks in the Joint Strike Fighter project, which is the costliest programme in Pentagon procurement history.

F-35 JSF 2

The Pentagon’s F-35 JSF: The Most Expensive Weapon Ever Built

The F-35 JSF, the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program, has been plagued by a costly redesign, bulkhead cracks, excessive weight and delays in software that have helped put it seven years behind schedule. The cost of the program’s 2,443 aircraft is now estimated at $395.7 billion, a 70 percent increase since 2001. The Marine Corps version of the F-35 was grounded last month after a pilot aborted a takeoff because of a flaw in the Pratt & Whitney propulsion system. Those planes resumed flying this month after the problem was traced to an improperly crimped fluid hose.

Finally, supporters and critics of the JSF program have to agree in the fact that innovation in many engineering and defense systems has a central role in the effort to develop a fifth generation revolutionary fighter jet. There a basic principle which is valid: You learn as you move forward. The F-35 JSF is the most recent example of this concept…

F-35 JSF

F-35 JSF Engine Blade Problem

Price: Lockheed Martin

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