Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II Now 25 Percent More Vulnerable to Lightning, Attacks
January 15, 2013 10:59 PM
Reducing the aircraft's weight by 11 pounds has made it more vulnerable
An attempt at cutting the weight of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has
made it more vulnerable
to lightning and enemy attacks, says a new report.
The report, conducted by the Pentagon's Operational Test and Evaluation office (OT&E), found that shedding a few pounds from Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (also known as Lightning II) has made the aircraft 25 percent more vulnerable in certain dangerous situations.
lost two safety features in 2008, including the PAO shutoff valve and the fueldraulic system. The PAO shutoff valve weighed 2 pounds and the fueldraulic system weighed 9 pounds, bringing the grand total to an 11 pound weight loss.
However, the new report from OT&E suggests that getting rid of the PAO shutoff valve could lead to a rupture below the cockpit and ridding the fueldraulic system increases the chance of a sustained fire if exposed.
Test flights found that the Lightning II cannot be within 25 miles of known lightning conditions due to a poor design of the On-Board Intert Gas Generating System. This feature makes sure there are correct oxygen levels in the fuel tank.
“The program’s most recent vulnerability assessment showed that the removal of fueldraulic fuses, the PAO shutoff valve and the dry bay fire suppression, also removed in 2008, results in the F-35 not meeting the Operational Requirements Document (ORD) requirement to have a vulnerability posture better than analogous legacy aircraft,” officials wrote in the report.
The report also found cracks in the F-35A's right wing and right engine as well as the F-35B's bulkhead flange.
“Lockheed Martin believes the program is demonstrating exceptional stability, certainly significantly greater than any legacy aircraft development program, which is a primary measure for DT&E,” said Laura Siebert, a Lockheed spokeswoman. “Each year, as issues are discovered in test, our flight test team identifies additional test objectives that can be accomplished while we resolve the issues discovered.
“From an Operational Test and Evaluation perspective, we fully expect to deliver a qualified product to OT&E as scheduled. We appreciate the feedback from the OT&E community on what remains to be demonstrated over the next three years leading up to the OT&E phase of the program."
Last March, it was announced that the lifetime cost of the Lightning II is
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