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Second grounding of the F-35 fleet in one month comes to an end

The entire Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fleet spent six days grounded after a crack was discovered in an engine component of one aircraft. Flights resumed on Friday afternoon, following the conclusion of an investigation into the problem according to officials for the F-35 program.

"Following engineering analysis of the turbine blade which developed a crack, F-35 flight operations have been cleared to resume," the Joint Program Office and Pratt & Whitney said in a joint statement.

"This decision concludes a cautionary flight suspension that began on Feb. 21 after a 0.6 inch crack was found on a 3rd stage turbine blade of a test aircraft at the Edwards Air Force Base F-35 Integrated Test Facility during a routine inspection.

"The engine in question is part of the F-35 test aircraft fleet, and had been operated at extreme parameters in its mission to expand the F-35 flight envelope. Prolonged exposure to high levels of heat and other operational stressors on this specific engine were determined to be the cause of the crack."
The statement also noted that no signs of similar engine stress or other cracks were found during inspections of the remaining F135 engine inventory for the F-35 fleet. The investigation also determined that no engine redesign was required because the crack was only found in a single aircraft turbine blade.

The Pentagon also announced a new deal clearing a path to eventually lead to the purchase of Lot 8 in the LRIP plan for the F-35. The deal is worth $333,786,000.

Source: Defense News

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RE: What about combat operations?
By FaaR on 3/4/2013 11:23:20 AM , Rating: 3
You're probably not going to be able to just plain evade a SAM. They are much faster and more agile than any fighter jet could ever hope to be. The pilot's hope lies in befuddling the missile with countermeasures, or possibly stealth passive defenses.

Anyhow, even if you afterburn and whatnot during combat, you probably won't experience any engine difficulties as the engine is designed to run using afterburner. This was apparantly a stress-tested aircraft and even if combat conditions are similar, cracks would typically not be threatening until well after the moments of combat are already over. ...Unless there's a manufacturing flaw that evaded detection, but hey, nothing can guard against that.

By Spookster on 3/4/2013 12:35:02 PM , Rating: 5
But the F-35s in Battlefield 3 can out run them so it must be true.

By Jeffk464 on 3/4/2013 4:47:25 PM , Rating: 2
I thought SAM's would have a hard time locking on to stealth figh-err attack planes.

RE: What about combat operations?
By Reclaimer77 on 3/4/2013 6:00:19 PM , Rating: 1
You're probably not going to be able to just plain evade a SAM. They are much faster and more agile than any fighter jet could ever hope to be.

Not exactly. SAM's, being launched from the ground, spend a lot of fuel just gaining altitude and speed. And they aren't as maneuverable while in this phase. Our pilots are very good at SAM evasion.

I saw a video of a Falcon driver evading no less than six SAM's over Iraq. After he landed, he discovered his entire chaff/flare modules were full. Malfunctioned. I'll try to find that, so awesome.

RE: What about combat operations?
By PadaV4 on 3/5/2013 4:50:14 AM , Rating: 2
By Reclaimer77 on 3/5/2013 9:49:53 AM , Rating: 2
That's the one! I remember the call sign now, Stroke 3. The full vid is on the sidebar too.

Too bad about the low quality, but still, I'm on the edge of my seat watching it.

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