The Mistake Jet Just Gets Better and Better

It now appears the first F-35s delivered will have only ¼ the life originally promised:

Structural defects mean the earliest F-35Bs delivered by Lockheed Martin could reach a service life limit by 2026 after 2,100 flight hours, according to the Pentagon’s director for weapons testing.

The design specification of the F-35B called for a service life of 8,000 flight hours, but early production models fall “well under” the durability requirement, Robert Behler, director of operational test and evaluation (DOT&E,) wrote in his latest annual report to Congress.

The new DOT&E assessment comes after several years of durability testing that exposed multiple structural cracks. Lockheed completed two service lifetime cycles of durability testing on a static F-35B airframe called BH-1, but canceled a plan in February 2017 to perform a third series.

Structural redesigns, including a new approach for the wing-carry-through, had made BH-1 unrepresentative of the final production standard, the DOT&E report states. The F-35 program has obtained funding to acquire a new structural test article, but it was not yet on contract, the report adds. Bloomberg first reported the DOT&E’s findings on the F-35 program.

Yeah, the new test article is, “Not yet on contract.”

The B model is the STOVL version, and any weight increase would have potentially catastrophic effects on performance, but they have not let a contract for a test article yet.

I’m SO reassured.

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