Navy Under Secretary not worried about F-35B grounding

Navy Under Secretary Bob Work didn’t seem concerned Tuesday about the recent grounding of the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter when he discussed its future.

The Marine version of the F-35 was grounded after a pilot aborted a take off on Jan. 18 because of problems with the propulsion system. It has remained grounded since.

Pratt & Whitney built the propulsion system. Their engineers have diagnosed the problem as a crimp in one of the fluid lines of the fuedralic system, which is a system that uses jet fuel rather than hydraulic fluid to lubricate mechanical parts.

Work said he was not concerned with the grounding and pointed to the vendor, Pratt & Whitney, as the source of the problem. He made sure to point out that the F-35B is also off probation.

“The F-35B is off probation. It’s doing well. Probably heard about a recent grounding. It’s going to be an issue with the vendor, it was a vendor issue, a problem. The plane is doing well,” Work said Tuesday.

Both Navy and Pratt &Whitney officials expect the crimp in the lines to be fixed soon and the F-35B to continue its testing regimen.

“The team continues to work diligently toward completing the investigation and implementing corrective actions with the supplier,” Partt & Whitney spokesman Matthew Bates said in a statement. “We anticipate a return to flight” soon.

As for the F-35B’s place in the Navy. Work said the service remains committed to the massive fleet planned for the F-35B to go along with the doubling the number of aircraft carriers in the U.S. Navy.

“Because of [the F-35B] we’re going from 11 aircraft carriers to 22,” Work said.

22 Comments on "Navy Under Secretary not worried about F-35B grounding"

  1. The -A and -C march on…surprised they weren't checked either, unless it was a component unique to the LiftSystem?

  2. I'm still unclear about the justification for the b-model. Now that the plane is essentially complete, we obviously can't go back, but it seems likely that integrating the short takeoff/vertical landing capability put pretty severe constraints on the already ambitious F-35 requirements. I imagine we could have had a cheaper F-16/18 replacement and just let the harrier and its unique capabilities go away. So why is the B model important?

    1) Forward basing – logistically complicated and risky for an aircraft of the complexity of the F-35, probably not going to happen.

    2) Organic fixed wing air support for MEU – It seems if we're going to do anything serious we're likely to have a CVBG or the air force around to provide fixed wing air support, and the addition of 6 or so F-35's will provide a marginal contribution.

    3) 11 to 22 carriers. I gather this means that the flat deck amphibs can now take on a more substantial air wing of a dozen (or more) F-35's and behave like miniature CV's, with a cost in their ability to deploy Marines. Might be useful for small wars, like Libya, although our lack of involvement in that campaign was more a matter of politics than capability. Given that we have more CV's than anyone else in the world (or any combination of anyone elses in the world), this doesn't really seem necessary.

    Other reasons? Obviously our allies with small carriers require the F-35B if they are going to have fixed wing naval aviation, but this doesn't speak to our needs. It seems like we've increased the cost and compromised the performance of our F-16/F-18 replacement to preserve a capability of only marginal utility to our forces.

  3. More of the line the planes isn't working at all. But some General in the USMC wants it SOOOOO bad he looking the other way and so Marines get a inferior plane. It will take years longer and pilots lives to makes this piece of junk at least fly (who knows abut fight) and so we see why the USMC will not get any new toys soon when they stick to a failed design like the B.

    The solution is to buy Cs like the Navy and go back to the drawing board for a new STOVL attack plane.

  4. The loss of 6 AV-8Bs in Afghanistan in 1 raid showed the risk of forward basing. Even ignoring that, you still need to get massive amounts of fuel, ordnance, and spare parts to these areas severely limiting exactly where you can do this.

    Then there is the issue about why I need a $150+M aircraft for the CAS mission? If you go all internal carriage all you can carry is 2 Mk-83 JDAM or LGB with 2 AMRAAM. Hope you have 2 targets or less, and you can use that weapon for the target you have. Maybe you have your gun pod maybe you don't. If you carry external weapons then you didn't need an F-35 anyway. Oh yeh, if you get hit flying the CAS mission, you are less likely to get home in your F-35 than a Hornet.

    Any wonder why we are going broke as a nation?

  5. Personally I think the companies need to stop pointing fingers at each other and actually fix the problem without making such a huge deal about it.

  6. 1. You need to haul fuel, and massive amounts of Ammo to a FOB if you have a fleet of helos any way! Do you think helos don't need fuel and weapons trucked or flown in?

    2. If you need to fly CAS mission over the strait of Formosa, you certainly want SOMETHING stealthy. Are you going to use drones? can you plink tanks and landing ships with cruise missiles? Once agian ELP and the anti-F-35 crowd assume that non of these questions have been asked. They assume that they are smarter than 10+ air forces combined.

    3. The customer wants a stovl aircraft. Do you think for a second that if we refused to build one all of the other majors aviation players in the world would also refuse to build one? So then why is the customer incompetent for wanting the only stovl 5th generation fighter on the market? Why is the company incompetent for trying to give the customer what they ask for? Again please stop pretending your smarter than all of the worlds air forces.

    4. please stop saying the plane doesn't work. that's a gross misrepresentation

  7. $150 Million, the last price with engine and the available software block was $295 Million a copy. It would only see $150 Million if EVERY ORIGINALLY PLANNED AIRCRAFT was built. And we all know that is already not going to happen because of canceled orders from the UK & Italy alone.

  8. "Fuedralics?" Has this been used before?

  9. The death bells are tolling for the Flying Maginot Line (F35).

  10. Oops. One of our FOBs was just attacked. Some of our planes got shot down or failed to return. Normal, it's war. We lost 6 F-35B. Each one cost $295+ million. A capital write-down of $1.8 billion.

    Going to go do the job of an A-10 in a F-35B. Really?

    When is one of those smart air force customers going to persuasively explain the logic here?

  11. Applying the Logic used here, a B-17 cost 200K a B-2 costs 2 billion
    since we can buy 10K B-17s the B-17 is a better weapons system.

  12. He's probably not worried about he cost of them either.

  13. Lots of disinformation being posted here.

    Comments that the F-35 flies like a F-4 Phantom II is absurd. The pilots who fly it compare it to the F-18 Super Hornet in performance.

    The F-35B will also give the USMC a ELINT/ECM/ECCM capability that they do not currently have on the Gators

    USMC does fly F-18's but not from the Gator carriers which is the whole point of having the B model. The AV-8B received much praise for its performance in both Iraq actions and in Afghanistan. There's a reason Gators were loaded almost wholly with AV-8B's and used as Attack carriers during Gulf War I.

    Many aircraft in Gulf War had to fly back to base after mission. USMC AV-8's were able to land right behind front lines on highways and rearm and refuel and be back on station within minutes.

    The ability to forward base close air support 10 min away rather than at a airbase or carrier 45min away makes all the difference in the world to the boots on the ground.

    While the USMC praises the F-35B for is stealth that is not their primary concern. The USMC desperately needs a aircraft capable of replacing the aging AV-8B Harriers in the combat air patrol, close air support, escort, and recon roles while flying from the Gators.

    The Gator fleets don't usually operate with the CVN fleets. That is why Gators with AV-8B Harriers were the assets on hand for the Libya mission and is why AV-8B's were used for SAR missions into Libya.

    When a A-10 can land and take off from a Gator then maybe it will be relevant to compare the A-10 to the capabilities of a F-35B.

    Last I heard the UK had decided to go back to F-35B's due to cost to refit Queen Elizabeth as a CATOBAR carrier were much higher than predicted originally.

    Comments the USMC should drop the F-35B in place of F-35C's are spoken by people who have no comprehension of the aviation needs of the USMC.

  14. We need to Cancel the "Junk Strike Fighter" program, I thought that the F-35A could be Salvaged but after reading "Reduced F-35 performance specifications may have significant operational impact" on "Flight Global" I don't think so. Here is a Quote from an Experienced Pilot ( . "What an embarrassment, and there will be obvious tactical implications. Having a maximum sustained turn performance of less than 5g is the equivalent of an [McDonnell Douglas] F-4 or an [Northrop] F-5," another highly experienced fighter pilot says. "[It's] certainly not anywhere near the performance of most fourth and fifth-generation aircraft.") Read the rest your self, Not Looking Good.

  15. Fueldraulics was used on the SR-71. It saves weight but drives complexity in the hydraulic components.

  16. “Because of [the F-35B] we’re going from 11 aircraft carriers to 22,” Work said.

    Wait what? Is he referring to Marine VTOL harrier/helo platforms added to the 11 current carriers? If so then we are not going from 11 to 22 we are going from 22 to 22. You mean current use of a harrier makes a marine vtol platform not a carrier until F35's are embarked on it?
    Or does he mean we are building 11 more carriers to supplement the 11 currently in use/planned? I hope not. Where are we getting the money? MAking a few trillion dollar platinum coins are we?
    So we would go bankrupt just to increase our platforms form 11 to 22? I am leaving while the leaving is good.

  17. Why are we surrounded by so many wimps. It's time to face the fact: the emperor has no clothes. The program is a failure. Throwing good money after bad will not recover or justify the sunk cost. Time to kiss those $50 billion good-bye and start fresh on new programs. Tweak existing systems to the max. If you want an STOVL, design one from the ground up. If you want an F-16 replacement, or a carrier plane, ditto. Reset the procurement system. Beginning with firing a hell of a lot of useless brass at the Pentagon.

  18. Tribulationtime | February 1, 2013 at 10:38 am | Reply

    The Under secretary knows things we don´t ( I hope). Stealth is the Sin and the Gift of Lighting II so if in the next war stealth don´t give a full advantage they are chunk. No further discussion is relevant. And I´m not qualified to tell if is more a sin than a gift .

  19. Just an observation in regards to FOBs, it seems like much of the discussion revolves around a false dichotomy between VTOL and long perfectly paved runways. What ever happened to conventional STOL? As many have noted, FOB are going to be getting supplies somehow, either by way of road, rough airfield, or helicopter. In any case, the size of the logistical footprint will probably be related inversely to how forward the base is, otherwise how is it an FOB? And if the base has a road or rough airfield, couldnt an easy to repair and maintain plane like the A-10 land on such a surface? If the base is supplied only by air drop of helo wouldnt the footprint, loiter time and sortie rate of a helocopter be better than an advanced VTOL jet? Granted the helo wont help much in terms of air superiority, but will a few F-35 with the limited resources available in BFE be able to provide round the clock air superiority anyways?

    There is a similar issue with the Gators. Will the F-35s on a Gator or similar craft be able to independently provide air superiority as well as suffecient CAS? If not, then why not go with helos? In any case, is turning an amphibius craft into a carrier good for taking pot shots at easy targets? Doesnt going this route really lower the amphibius potential of such ships?

    On a broader note, we have spent what, 50 to 100 billion dollars on this thing right? There is plenty of reason to expect the lifetime cost of the F-35 to be upwards of a trillion dollars. Knowing more about the likely performance and cost of the Lightning II than we ever had, and being only 5 -10 percent of the way into our planned investment, isnt this exactly the time to bail out if this is isnt the right plane? Can someone please explain fo me why we shouldnt think long and hard about continuing this program, and without reliance on buzzwords?

    Defend the plane all you want, thats fine, its part of a discussion thats important to civilian oversight and national defense. But please dont pretend the conversation is over, or not worth having. After all, do you really want to defend a plane on the basis of not wasting investment? Wouldnt all that investment, if worthwhile, have given us technology and lessons for the future?

  20. I have a question. Its my impression that the -35 is designed to replace the f-15 e model and the -22 is designed to replace the f-15 c model. What if we just built entirely new f-15's and -16 and a-10's? Slowly build new ones and slowly replace the current ones we have. I guess it would be way too expensive but if you did it over time it wouldn't be that bad. I don't much about this kind of stuff though.

  21. Why is he worried it's only more of the taxpayer dollars being spent on this endless money pit of a program.

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