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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.

The Lightning II 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 $1.45 trillion.

Source: Defense News

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RE: Boodoggle
By bug77 on 1/16/2013 6:09:55 AM , Rating: 2
Can an AMRAAM home in on the signature of a P51? The P51 isn't stealth, but it is small...
Plus, the AMRAAM would cost about as much as the P51 it's shooting down.

RE: Boodoggle
By Jaybus on 1/16/2013 10:17:21 AM , Rating: 2
Of course it could. It is guided by external source radar, launching aircraft, AWACS, etc., until it gets in range of its own on-board radar. Once within range, it acquires its own radar lock, at which point it is completely autonomous.

RE: Boodoggle
By Misty Dingos on 1/16/2013 10:25:11 AM , Rating: 2
Yes the AMRAAM can easily target a P-51. The fact that no stealth concepts were used in the P-51's design means that it likely has the radar cross section of a flying buss.

But why would you waste an expensive AMRAAM on it when you use a relatively cheap AIM-9. Which would get an infrared lock and turn it in a ball of flaming high octane and tumbling scrap aluminum in seconds.

RE: Boodoggle
By bug77 on 1/16/2013 1:19:59 PM , Rating: 2
I asked because I have no idea how capable the on-board radar on an AMRAAM is. Actually, I'm pretty sure it's capable, but I don't know how it deals with older tech. You know, like the mighty Bismark that could target the aging Swordfish.

And you could even save the Sidewinder and just fly around the P-51, since it can't target anything flying as fast as an F-22 anyway.

RE: Boodoggle
By CharonPDX on 1/17/2013 11:59:56 AM , Rating: 2
Good enough to shoot down a cruise missile. (Which it initially failed during first testing, but eventually they got it working reliably.)

RE: Boodoggle
By bug77 on 1/17/2013 4:31:34 PM , Rating: 2
Ok, I've learnt something today. Thanks.

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