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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 OnyxNite on 1/16/2013 1:49:22 PM , Rating: 2
The Air Force A variant is intended to eventually replace the A-10 in addition to the F-16 (I know, I think they're nuts too!) In that role you don't think it will take some fire? The Marine/Royal Navy VSTOL B variant is intended to replace the Harrier, you don't think that role takes fire? The Carrier based C variant replaces the F/A-18 you don't think they take fire. Quick rule of thumb for you... if there is an A in the designation (A-10, F/A-18, etc.) it probably takes a lot of fire.

RE: Boodoggle
By dgingerich on 1/16/2013 8:08:06 PM , Rating: 2
The A-10 will never be replaced, only succeeded, (as in, the next in line) and even then inadequately. The A-10 is really a marvel of engineering, and should have been continued to be produced until someone actually managed to come up with something better. Today's engineers seem to be unsuitable for the task.

RE: Boodoggle
By OnyxNite on 1/17/2013 10:40:53 AM , Rating: 2
I totally agree. The F-35 isn't scheduled to take it's place until 2028 though and with how the government works that will probably slip several times so there is plenty of time for them to come to their senses yet. The real problem is the Air Force doesn't like it because it fills a role they have no great desire to be doing in the first place. Close Air support and tank hunting are normally the domain of Army Helos not Air Force fixed wing aircraft.

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