The F-35 Lifetime Channel

Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, Joint Strike Fighter program director, said all three versions of the F-35 will be durability tested to three lifetimes because it’s almost certain the jets will serve longer than the planned 30 years. Speaking with reporters in Arlington, Va., Bogdan said the F-35A and C models “are doing pretty darn good” in the torture test, which bends and twists the jets. Even though computer models “predicted major findings for the A and C, we have not had any … that would require significant structural change,” Bogdan said, noting each has survived 1.5 lifetimes of stress so far. The B model is “a different story.” Because the short takeoff and vertical landing model was too heavy early in the program, engineers “pulled about 3,000 pounds” out of the structure,” Bogdan explained. That decision “came back to bite us” in cases like the 496 bulkhead, which was changed from a titanium part to aluminum. It’s cracking under strain. He also said there have? been so many changes to the F-35B that the jet in the test rig may no longer be representative of the operational model. The durability test is one “we do … on purpose … to break it,” Bogdan said. He’s frustrated that such events are treated in the press as program failures. “If you don’t have breaks, it means you didn’t set up the test right,” he said. The failures show engineers what parts either need to be beefed up or replaced after a certain number of flying hours.