Two new parts that will require inspection were found on older F-35Bs
F-35Bs with higher flight hours have been temporarily by F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) after that two new parts that will require inspection were found on older models of the jets.
As reported by Marine Corps Times, a spokesman for the F-35 JPO did not disclose exactly how many jets may possibly be grounded as a result of the inspections. However, one source close to the program said that only a couple dozen F-35Bs meet the criteria where an operational pause would be necessary.
“The joint government and industry technical team has completed their assessment of the fuel supply tubes within the Pratt & Whitney engine on F-35 aircraft,” the F-35 Joint Program Office announced in a statement. “In addition to the previously identified failed tube, the analysis has identified two additional fuel supply tubes that require inspection.”
Some of the older engines with higher flight hours may require additional fuel tube replacements.
“While the two additional fuel tubes have not failed, engineering data collected during the ongoing investigation established the requirement for a time-phased inspection based on engine flight hours,” the JPO said in an emailed statement. “The procedure to inspect and replace can be done by flightline maintenance without removing the engine.”
The JPO also added that F-35s that have not reached the “inspection requirements” are continuing normal flight operations.
Noteworthy only U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) F-35Bs that have reached a certain number of flight hours will be grounded for inspections because short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the Lightning II is subject to different stresses than the other models. However F-35A conventional takeoff and landing aircraft and F-35C carrier takeoff and landing jets will have tubes replaced as part of normal phased maintenance.
There are also F-35Bs embarked with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship Essex.
The 13th MEU is currently operating in the U.S. Central Command area of operations.
On Oct. 11, 2018 all F-35 Lightning IIs with U.S. and foreign militaries were ordered to be grounded after investigation into Sep. 28 U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) F-35B crash determined that a fuel tube in the F135 engine needs inspection and replacement.
The pilot safely ejected from the fighter in what was the first crash for the F-35.
Photo credit: U.S. Marine Corps
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