Jets May Fly With F-35 Fuel Issue

The Air Force will complete a “risk assessment” within a week to determine if the 15 fielded F-35A aircraft found to have a crumbling insulation problem are safe to fly while a fix is developed and implemented, F-35 System Program Office director Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan told reporters at ASC16. Bogdan said the deteriorating insulation on coolant lines that run through fuel tanks in the 15 fighters—13 US Air Force and two Norwegian aircraft—plus 42 jets on the production line poses the hazard of clogging fuel lines and filters, but offers no danger of getting into the engines. It will be “up to the user to decide” whether to keep flying the airplanes, he said. Air Combat Command chief Gen. Hawk Carlisle told reporters the problem will not affect training operations, and emphasized that the issue is one of supplier quality and “not design or development” related. Bogdan reiterated that the issue is one of a “quality escape” but also said the program will keep using the supplier if the problem can be fixed. He declined to say who the supplier is or whether it is a US company. Bogdan said he expects work to be complete on the 15 fielded aircraft by December and then work will begin on the 42 aircraft in production.