The F-35 is going to be the real backbone of the US Defense in the near future. This is the most expensive weapons program, and there is a reason for this. The F-35 is key for the US to remain ahead of adversaries, in the sky, but also in the technological race. Testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Defense, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said air superiority is critical to the nation’s security and how the U.S. military plans to fight. “The air superiority this nation has enjoyed for 60 years is not an accident and gaining and maintaining it is not easy,” Welsh said. “It requires trained proficient and ready Airmen and it requires credible, capable and technologically superior aircraft. I believe the F-35 is essential to ensuring we can provide that air superiority in the future.” The F-35 is an unprecedented fifth generation fighter combining stealth technology with fighter speed and agility, fully integrated sensors and network enabled operations, and state-of-the-art avionics. However, design issues and production costs have put the F-35 program in real jeopardy. Welsh said America needs the F-35 to stay a step ahead and to “make sure the future fight is an away game and to minimize our risk to our ground forces when conflict inevitably does occur.” “The F-35 is the only real, viable option to form the backbone of our future fighter fleet,” he said. “The F-35 remains the best platform to address the proliferation of highly capable integrated air defenses and new air-to-air threats.” One thing is sure, the F-35 is a real beauty.
It was the talk of the month, when the F-35 lightning II was grounded because of cracked blade. Now the grounding has been lifted, and it seems this is good news. The Defense Department lifted its grounding of the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter after analysis concluded that a cracked turbine blade in an engine on a single plane resulted from overuse in test operations, according to an official with the F-35 Joint Program Office. In an email statement, the official, Kyra Hawn, said engineers have so far discovered no other cracks in inspections of the other engines, and no engine redesign was needed. “This decision concludes a cautionary flight suspension that began on Feb. 21 after a 0.6-inch crack was found on a third stage turbine blade of a test aircraft at the Edwards Air Force Base, (Calif.,) F-35 Integrated Test Facility during a routine inspection,” Hawn said. The blade also underwent comprehensive tests at the Pratt and Whitney facility in Middletown, Conn., she added. The engine in question, she explained, is part of the F-35 test aircraft fleet and had been operated for extended time in the high-temperature environment 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,” Hawn said. Within the current DOD inventory, 17 F-35s are employed in test and development at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., and Edwards Air Force Base. The remaining aircraft are assigned to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla, and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., and comprise the initial F-35 training fleet. The problem remains quite serious though. This problem is causing a serious impact on the entire US army as all aircrafts are grounded. Fortunately, the F-35 is still undergoing testing, but this demonstrates how an incident or flaw could potentially ground an entire fleet. As aircrafts are designed to the needs of each air force in a same mold, a flaw could potentially damage the entire aerial force. This is quite serious. And the timing is not good either, after China announced the development of its own jet fighter, but more importantly purchasing Sukhoi jet fighters, which apparently do not have a problem. There is a noticeable trend here that tech, and power that goes with it, is shifting to the East.