|The Lockheed Martin F-35 during a trial|
Already hit by soaring costs, delays and second thoughts by potential customers, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) ran into more problems last week when a crack was discovered during a routine inspection, prompting the grounding of all aircraft.
The more than half-inch crack on the low-pressure turbine blade of a conventional takeoff and landing F-35A was discovered on February 19th during a routine inspection at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Under strict protocol, ground inspections are held after every 50 hours of engine service. After these findings were corroborated by a different test, all 51 F-35s currently in service in the U.S. fleet were grounded as a precautionary measure, and all further tests and training flights were halted for the three variants of the radar-evasive aircraft. Soon afterwards, the British Ministry of Defense also announced its own suspension of all test flights.
My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here.