WASHINGTON: Israel and Japan are likely to get their first F-35 Joint Strike Fighters on schedule, and the Air Force‘s operational F-35s should be flying by the end of this year without faulty insulation in fuel pipes that could damage the aircraft, the F-35 Joint Program Office says.
“Rapid progress is being made in fixing 15 operational F-35A aircraft needing modifications to repair non-compliant Polyalphaolefin (PAO) coolant tubes,” the JPO said in a statement. “Modifications started 7 October on the first four aircraft and the work takes about three weeks to complete. All 15 aircraft are expected to fly again by the end of the year.”
Flight operations for the 15 F-35A aircraft were suspended in September following an inspection and discovery of debris in the fuel tank of an F-35A aircraft. A supplier provided insulation that disintegrated when immersed in fuel. Neither the JPO nor Lockheed martin have identified the supplier, which continues to provide the program with insulation. It’s unlikely they’ll make the same mistake twice.
The 42 aircraft still in assembly — including those for Israeli and Japan — should start rolling off the line with fixed insulation in December.