The U.S. Navy has established a new facility to help Fleet Readiness Center East maintain its F-35 Lightning II aircraft via laser technology. Construction of the F-35 laser shock peening facility concluded in July, with full operational capability expected in 2020, the Navy said Tuesday.
A contractor for the laser shock peening will be stationed at the facility in early spring to prepare for the arrival of the first F-35 aircraft to undergo the service. The aircraft will arrive at the site in June 2020 for validation and verification.
Laser shock peening works to strengthen aircraft components without the need for additional metal, boosting an aircraft's lifespan. The new facility will allow the U.S. Marine Corps to use the technology on F-35 aircraft.
Matthew Crisp, F-35 Joint Program Office site lead at FRCE, said the technology has been used for the F-22 Raptor and production of aircraft components such as engine blades. The facility measures 16K square feet and consists of two bays for laser shock peening activities.
"Being able to perform this laser shock peening process adds a huge strategic capability to our depot," said Donald Jeter, portfolio manager of FRCE's F-35 aircraft line.