The jets grounding of F-35 Program is estimated that will complicate the effort to export the JSF to other countries. Australia is the first of them:
This year’s second grounding of Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 Program warplane, plus looming U.S. defense cuts, will complicate a push this week by Lockheed and U.S. officials to convince Australian lawmakers and generals to stick to a plan to buy 100 of the jets. Australia, a close American ally, is considering doubling its fleet of 24 Boeing Co F/A-18 Super Hornets amid delays and setbacks in Lockheed’s $396 billion F-35 project. That means Canberra could buy far fewer F-35s than initially planned, at a time when Canada is also rethinking its plans to make the F-35 Program – also known as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) – its future frontline warplane. U.S. Lieutenant General Christopher Bogdan, the Pentagon program chief for the F-35, said the grounding over a crack found in a test aircraft engine would not delay delivery of the most expensive combat aircraft in history. ”It is not unusual in development programs for these things to happen,” Bogdan told reporters at an airshow in the Australian city of Melbourne, where the futuristic jet will draw attention from potential customers in Asia.
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 Program warplanes on Friday after an inspection revealed a crack on a turbine blade in the Pratt-built jet engine of an F-35 Program jet being tested at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
The crack was found Tuesday on an F-35 during testing at Edwards Air Force Base in California, and the fleet was grounded on Thursday, according to a defense official and spokesmen for Pratt & Whitney, the engine’s manufacturer. The U.S. has dozens of the planes, and has plans to buy more than 2,400. The F-35 program office said it was too early to know if the problem indicated a fleet-wide problem or was confined to the individual test plane. Preliminary inspections of other F-35 jets didn’t reveal similar problems, according to one person briefed on the issue. But as a precaution the fleet was grounded, and will remain grounded until at least the end of next week. ”We are going to have a diet of these hiccups and burps for a long time to come,” said Winslow Wheeler, a defense analyst with the left-leaning Project on Government Oversight. Mr. Wheeler said the grounding was “unhappy news” for advocates of the F-35, but said the latest problems are unlikely to be decisive in the budget battles over the plane’s future. Several sets of outside recommendations for defense cuts have advocated trimming the size of the F-35 Program fleet or eliminating one of the differing versions of the plane.
Is there always something going wrong with the most advanced jet fighters..?:
The Air Force has shipped the cracked engine to Pratt & Whitney’s engine facility (it makes the engines) in Connecticut for further evaluation. It’s supposed to be only a precautionary measure but it’s yet another embarrassing failure for the F-35 Program. Whether it’s parachutes being loaded the wrong way or power systems affecting the temperature or software bugging out in simulations, there’s always something going wrong with these planes. Maybe some things just aren’t meant to be.
Finally, it is more than clear that Joint Strike Fighter’s exports are important for the program’s success. The fact is that as it happens with all new defense systems and designs the F-35 Program is a new innovative JSF fighter…