In case you haven’t heard, the Pentagon grounded the entire fleet of F-35 joint Strike Fighters following a double generator failure and oil leak in one of the Air Force’s F-35As test jets during a flight last week.
Apparently, Lockheed nor the DoD yet know what caused two generators to fail in flight along with the oil leak in the jet, dubbed AF-04. Flights are grounded until the cause of the problem and a fix are identified
Until now, the F-35 program, even with the troubled B-model, had been coming along relatively smoothly this year, Reuters Andrea Shalal-Esa points out in an article about the incident.
As of March 8, the program had conducted 697 flight tests and surpassed 1,000 hours of flight testing, Kent said. The STOVL variant has executed 51 vertical landings this year alone, up from 10 last year.
The plane has an integrated power package that acts as a starter, air conditioner and back-up power generator, Kent said, although he said it was not clear if that system had been used on the jet’s return to the air base.
The big question here is whether this type of incident has happened during any of the previous flight tests. If not, it may mean this was a one-time occurrence or a design flaw that only reveals itself after time.
Here’s a great article on the issue at our sister site DoDBuzz.