f-35

We love jet fighters, we fly them, and one of the greatest of all time is the F-35. Implemented with all forces, stealthy and truly able, the F-35 is one of those aircraft any pilot would dream of flying. However, a new report tends to demonstrate that the F-35 has a few problems, 719 to be precise… A recent report from the Pentagon’s internal watchdog reveals that the next gen fighter jet is plagued with hundreds of issues. The Defense Department’s Inspector General conducted a series of quality assurance assessments that found the Joint Program Office and Defense Contract Management Agency performed “inadequate oversight,” failing to adhere to widely adopted quality management protocols while losing control of contractors that have already sunk an estimated$400 billion taxpayer dollars into what is the most expensive weapons system ever developed by the U.S. government. The IG’s 126-page report concluded that prime contractor Lockheed Martin and its subcontractors Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, L-3 Display Systems, Honeywell Aerospace and United Technologies Corporation “did not follow disciplined AS9100 Quality Management System practices,” citing 363 findings, which documented 719 issues that could “adversely affect aircraft performance, reliability, maintainability, and ultimately cost.”

Among the numerous oversight shortcomings, the IG found that JPO failed to:
• Ensure that Lockheed Martin and its subcontractors were applying rigor to design, manufacturing, and quality assurance processes.
• Flow down critical safety item requirements.
• Ensure that Lockheed Martin flowed down quality assurance and technical requirements to subcontractors.
• Establish an effective quality assurance organization.
• Ensure that the Defense Contract Management Agency perform adequate quality assurance oversight.
• In addition, the Defense Contract Management Agency did not sufficiently perform Government quality assurance oversight of F-35 contractors.

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.

China unveiled its latest jet fighter, the J-31 Falcon Eagle which looks remarkably like earlier models of a twin-engine variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. We would not think for minute that China would copy… This is the second fighter unveiled to the public, after the J-20 Black Eagle stealth fighter, built by Chengdu Aircraft. “ The design is stunningly like the F-35. Reports of Chinese industrial espionage related to the JSF give this aircraft added interest. Built by Shenyang Aircraft, little is known of the Falcon Eagle’s true capabilities beyond analysis of the photos.

“The rear section of the Chinese aircraft, however, shows little LO [low observable] design, though this may reflect its developmental nature,” Barrie said. “Signature management is also about a great deal more than basic shaping, with materials technology and emission control in terms of radio frequency and infrared also significant. The extent or limit to which China has developed already the requisite technologies to address these areas remains an area of conjecture.” Chinese-language media outlets indicate the fighter might serve on China’s future aircraft carrier fleet. China has one carrier-borne fighter in development, the Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark.