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Sat, Aug 06, 2011

Joint Strike Fighters Grounded For A Third Time

Integrated Power Package Failed On A Test Aircraft Tuesday

Flight testing has been suspended for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for a third time after an Integrated Power Package (IPP) failed on aircraft AF-4 during a ground maintenance test run.

The failure occurred at about 0830 local time at Edwards AFB in California, according to a statement from the F-35 Program Office. "Following standard operating procedures, the engine was immediately shut down and the jet was secured. No injuries to the pilot or ground crew occurred. The F-35’s IPP is a turbo-machine that provides power to start the engine and generates cooling for the aircraft.
"The government and contractor engineering teams are reviewing the data from the incident to determine the root cause of the failure. Implementing a precautionary suspension of operations is the prudent action to take at this time until the F-35 engineering, technical and system safety teams fully understand the cause of the incident. Once the facts are understood, a determination will be made when to lift the suspension and begin ground and flight operations of the 20 F-35s currently in flying status. These aircraft are part of the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) and Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) fleet.
"Determinations of root cause and potential mitigating actions have the highest priority of the F-35 Team. Impact to SDD execution and production operations is being assessed. The program has built schedule margin into the test schedule to accommodate these kinds of incidents that occur in a development effort. Periodic updates concerning this situation will be released as warranted.

Multiple media sources including Defensetech and the Navy Times report that this is the third time in a year that flight testing has been suspended due to a system failure on the fifth-generation fighter. The airplane joins the F-22 Raptor, which is also not flying due to an unresolved issue with its oxygen system.



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