The U.S. Air Force is set to begin repair work on the grounded F-35 fighter jets after the service withdrew 15 F-35s from the U.S. and Norwegian fleet due to insulation issues in the fuel tank’s avionics cooling lines, DoD Buzz reported Tuesday.
Oriana Pawlyk writes the Air Force ordered the repairs for the grounded jets beginning next week after the military branch discovered instances of “peeling and crumbling” insulation.
Two F-35s stationed at Luke Air Force Base that belong to Norway and 13 in the Air Force fleet are affected, according to the report.
Gen. Herbert Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, described the issue on the Lockheed Martin-built aircraft as a design problem instead of a developmental problem, the report said.
Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, executive officer for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office, told a panel at the Air Force Association’s annual Air, Space and Cyber conference in Maryland that the issue could have affected hundreds of the aircraft if there was a delay in the discovery.
Bogdan said the Air Force aims to fix the fuel tank insulation issues with the 15 operational F-35s by the end of 2016 before 42 jets still on the production line receive repairs, Breaking Defense reported Tuesday.
Included in the repair lineup are two F-35As for Israel that are needed by December, as well as aircraft that are in production for Japan, Italy, Israel and Norway.