Air Force B-1B maintainers deployed to the 34th Aircraft Maintenance Unit in Southwest Asia have remedied a weapons loading safety concern caused by the locale’s intense heat that was magnified by running the aircraft’s auxiliary power units. The heat registered around 225 degrees Fahrenheit in the aft weapons bay. The airmen devised several solutions, selecting the one that best met their needs and still accomplish an aircraft quick turn. Their solution was to produce an APU Exhaust Diverter Cart Stand. They enlisted the help of the machine shop, quality assurance, weapons safety, and engineering and technical services to build and test the stand, which diverts about 90 percent of the APU exhaust gases away from the weapons bay, allowing the airmen to work in air just 10 degrees above the normal air temperature.
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.