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PostPosted: 12 Oct 2018, 15:12 
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Joined: 26 Feb 2009, 11:40
Posts: 1041
Location: Waterfalls , Harare south
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The Pentagon grounded the global fleet of F-35 stealth fighters Thursday so that engineers could conduct urgent inspections following the first ever crash of the costliest plane in history.

Preliminary data from a Marine Corps F-35B that was completely destroyed in a South Carolina crash last month showed a potential problem with a fuel tube, officials said.

"The US services and international partners have temporarily suspended F-35 flight operations while the enterprise conducts a fleet-wide inspection of a fuel tube within the engine on all F-35 aircraft," said Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman for the F-35 program.

He added that suspect fuel tubes would be removed and replaced. If good tubes are already installed, then those planes will be returned to operational status.

Inspections were expected to be completed within 24 to 48 hours.

According to Pentagon figures, 320 F-35s have been delivered globally, mainly to the US but also Israel and Britain, as well as other partner countries.

Britain said the Pentagon measure did not affect all of its F-35s, and that some flying missions had been "paused," not grounded.

"F-35 flight trials from the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth are continuing and the program remains on schedule to provide our armed forces with a game-changing capability," a British defense ministry spokesman said.

'Ready and prepared'

The Israeli military said it was taking additional precautions and conducting tests on its version of the F-35, known as the F-35I.

But if the planes are "required for operational action, the F-35I aircraft are ready and prepared," a statement read.

On September 28, a Marine Corps F-35 crashed in South Carolina. The pilot survived after ejecting.

The incident occurred only one day after the US military first used the F-35 in combat, when Marine Corps jets hit Taliban targets in Afghanistan.

On Wednesday, Defense News reported that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had ordered the Air Force and Navy to make 80 percent of the fleet of key fighters, including the F-35, mission capable within a year.

The order sent ripples through the Pentagon, where officials have for years bemoaned a general lack of readiness for key equipment.

Launched in the early 1990s, the F-35 program is considered the most expensive weapons system in US history, with an estimated cost of some $400 billion and a goal to produce 2,500 aircraft in the coming years.

Once servicing and maintenance costs for the F-35 are factored in over the aircraft's lifespan through 2070, overall program costs are expected to rise to $1.5 trillion.

Proponents tout the F-35's radar-dodging stealth technology, supersonic speeds, close air support capabilities, airborne agility and a massive array of sensors giving pilots unparalleled access to information.

But the program has faced numerous delays, cost overruns and setbacks, including a mysterious engine fire in 2014 that led commanders to temporarily ground the planes.

https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/world/ ... ter-crash/

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PostPosted: 17 Oct 2018, 21:37 
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Joined: 31 Aug 2010, 15:01
Posts: 4290
Location: Centurion, Pretoria, SA
I'd have thought the unit price of a B-2 would be significantly more than an F-35. I think they mean costliest aircraft programme. And the reference to a "mysterious engine fire"....what journalistic nonsense.


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PostPosted: 19 Oct 2018, 16:30 
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Joined: 12 Jan 2013, 00:04
Posts: 192
Mistral wrote:
I'd have thought the unit price of a B-2 would be significantly more than an F-35. I think they mean costliest aircraft programme.

That is how I read the article. It specifically used the word "program": "...the F-35 program is considered the most expensive weapons system in US history..." - they appear to refer to the overall system, as the word is usually used in acquisition circles where it refer to everything related to the program, but they perhaps should have made it clearer that they include the development costs also. The next paragraph also makes it clear they are referring to the complete programme: "overall program costs are expected to rise to $1.5 trillion". The unit cost of a B-2 would be higher than a F-35 (especially if converted to equivalent dollars today), but I didn't interpret the article to refer to unit cost at all.

Mistral wrote:
And the reference to a "mysterious engine fire"....what journalistic nonsense.

Hmmm, at the time it certainly was not obvious what had caused it, but of course the subsequent investigation does appear to have determined the cause:
https://theaviationist.com/2015/06/06/f ... re-images/
https://news.usni.org/2015/06/08/docume ... f-35a-fire
The mishap was caused when the third stage rotor (R3) of the fan module fractured. This fracture occurred on the R3 forward integral arm and was caused by High Cycle Fatigue
following a hard tip rub event on the aft plate seal of the integral arm.


The use of the word "mysterious" is perhaps a bit of unnecessarily dramatic, but at first glance the article appeared to be better than most aviation related articles that you find in the non-specialised press.


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