Saturday, May 11, 2019

About F-35 Corrosion Issues....

Thanks to Mitchell for the links!

I was monitoring the discussion about the F-35 corrosion issue and reached out to my readers for my information on the subject.

Quite honestly it was all new to me and I missed it entirely.

Luckily Mitchell hit me with a couple of articles that I believe lay out the issue beautifully.  Additionally they help explain why the USMC has spent so much money on infrastructure for the F-35 (I call them damn near cathedrals...well in Marine land they ARE freaking cathedrals!).

via Defense News.
Babione called decreasing the number of manufacturing defects on the F-35 a “huge, huge priority,” and for good reason. The company has had a couple of high-profile quality escape issues that have grounded operational F-35s , or had the potential to set back the number of planned aircraft deliveries.

Most recently, in September, the Defense Department temporarily halted F-35 deliveries for a month after it found Lockheed had not applied a primer in certain fastener holes, as per requirements. The error, though minor, needed to be corrected to prevent future corrosion on the aircraft and could have kept the company from delivering all planned 66 F-35s last year.
Story here. 

via Autotechnology.
According to, the initial problem took place during autumn of 2017. Between September 21 and October 20, Lockheed Martin stopped shipping F-35 fighters to the government due to corrosion present in fastener holes of jets that had already been delivered and were in for repairs. Tracking the source of the issue led Lockheed to realize an error had taken place in its plants. There was supposed to be an anti-corrosion primer on the fasteners, but it wasn't applied.

About 200 planes were affected and the government and contractor decided on a plan to retrofit the jets and ensure corrosion doesn't become an ongoing risk factor. The plan to fix a majority of the planes will take 24 months, with a nonspecific amount of the remaining jets being addressed over the following years. A statement from the Department of Defense and Lockheed explained that the resolution ensures the craft will remain affordable and effective. However, getting to that point required complicated back-and-forth discussions.

Even after the logistics of corrosion prevention were remediated, another factor reared its head: cost. Disagreements over which of the parties involved should spend to have the planes retrofitted led to a second delivery pause, between late March and the beginning of May.
Story here. 

You might look at this and say no big deal.

But I ask you to consider this.  The USMC is talking about operating these airplanes aboard ship.  Typically you have aircraft topside.  In the heat and humidity of where the ship happens to be.

Additionally we're talking about doing Expeditionary Base Operations.  How sold are they on this concept?  I don't believe for one minute that the heavy lift CH-53K is being sought to support the Ground Combat Element.  I believe they're looking at it as a rig to haul spare engines, other parts and fuel to those EBOs to support F-35s ashore.

Bringing this thing full are maintainers going to keep these airplanes operational when aboard ship or ashore in an expeditionary environment without the climate controlled cathedrals that they have at their bases?

How precise are we asking maintainers to be when turning wrenches on a plane?  So precise that if they ding the paint then they're looking at corrosion problems?

Stealth is more expensive than I ever thought.  What I never knew is that this paint issue would rear its head.  I had questioned the cost of the new hangars being built but was shouted down and didn't fight back.

Now I know the dirty little secret.  The F-35B won't ever be a real replacement for the AV-8B.  I considered it the only platform that could credibly claim to be a step forward but have to consider whether the juice is worth the squeeze.

Sidenote.  Weren't we told that the paint on this thing was of a different quality than that found on previous stealth aircraft?  Weren't we told that its so tough that they use it for a floor mat and pull it up periodically to test it and its passed every time?

One last thing.  The articles are from 2018.  This portion of the Defense News story is a must read.
Speaking to reporters at Lockheed’s media day on Monday, Jeff Babione acknowledged that low observability, or LO, capabilities in particular are posing a challenge to the company.
They're talking about how panels fit together.  Drink that in.  Just last year they were STILL having quality "escapes" and they blamed it on the number of aircraft they're having to produce.

But now they want to produce even more?

Whoever signs off on the F-35 ramp up should be tested for crack....

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