The U.S. Air Force plans to conduct tests to determine if the Lockheed Martin-built F-35 fighter aircraft can be decontaminated after exposure to chemical and biological weapons.
The service branch said Monday the tests aim to validate the F-35 Joint Program Office’s decontamination requirements and the aircraft’s readiness to enter full-rate production.
The 461st Flight Test Squadron and Joint Strike Fighter Integrated Test Force will use a decontamination shelter to perform the tests, the Air Force added.
Melanie Link, 461st chemical and biological 06 project lead, said the aircraft will undergo engine runs on the flightline and the Air Force team will subsequently contaminate the F-35’s engine and interior.
The aircraft will then enter the shelter to go through decontamination while the team will collect samples from the F-35 and the surrounding environment to help determine the effectiveness of the process, Link added.
The team will bring the F-35 to a third site to collect more samples and conduct another engine run, the Air Force said.
The decontamination structure is built to feature an external air beam shelter that will work to protect against wind and solar loads as well as an aircraft enclosure that is designed to aid external and internal decontamination.
The service branch added the shelter’s design includes components that will expose the F-35 to high temperatures.
Tests will occur from August to December and could also involve a U.S. Marine Corps F-35B aircraft in early 2017, the Air Force noted.