Thursday, August 11, 2011

F-35 Fleet Cleared For Ground Operations

The F-35 Lighting II fleet has been cleared to resume ground operations after a preliminary investigation found the cause of an electrical subsystem failure, but a Pentagon official refused to speculate when the next-generation fighters will be back in the air.
An Air Force F-35 Joint Strike Fighter sits on a taxiway in July after the fighter's arrival to its new home at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The Lightning II fleet, parked for the past week, has been cleared for ground operations after a preliminary in (Samuel King Jr. / U.S. Air Force)
Investigators on Wednesday determined a malfunctioning control valve caused the integrated power package of AF-4, the fourth conventional takeoff and landing version, to fail Aug. 2, said Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman for the F-35 program.
The IPP, built by Honeywell International, combines the functions that are performed by an auxiliary power unit, emergency power system and environmental controls. Lockheed Martin Corp. makes the aircraft.
All 20 of the Lightning IIs have been parked for the past week, the second grounding this year because of electrical problems. In March, faulty maintenance procedures caused a dual generator on the same AF-4 to shut down.
Ground operations will now continue at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., where the AF-4 that malfunctioned is assigned, and Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., Della Vedova said.
"We are in development tests of this airplane. There will be discoveries, we want to find discoveries," he said. "We want to find and implement fixes to get this airplane flying again. Today was one step down that road."

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