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.