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F-35 Can't Fly with Lightning

F-35 Can't Fly with Lightning 25 June, 2020

F-35 Lightning II, can not get rid of problems although equipped with the state-of-the-art components, can't fly with lightning.

The U.S. Air Force (USAF) detected damage on lightning protection system in one of the platform's most common models, the F-35A Lightning II. The problem was detected during routine Depot Leve Maintenance performed at the Hill Air Force Base Ogden Logistics Complex. It was announced that the problem was damage in one of the gas cylinders of the OBIGGS (Onboard Inert Gas Generation System).

OBIGGS pumps nitrogen-rich compressed air into the fuel tank of the aircraft in proportion to its consumption. This prevents fuel from exploding in the event of possible lightning strikes. Otherwise, fuel may explode due to the energy that lightning transfers to the platform, causing crash of aircraft.

After the development, the manufacturer company Lockheed Martin stated that the deliveries of aircraft were paused between 2-23 June, while the F-35 JPO (Joint Program Office) published a proposal document to stop the F-35A Lightning II's flights in risky weather conditions.

No problems were found in the F-35C Lightning II equipped with the same OBIGGS as the F-35A. It was stated that the control results of the F-35Bs, which have partially different OBIGGS structure than the other two models due to lift-fan system, were also clean.

In the early 2010s, problems were identified in the original OBIGGS of the F-35 Lightning IIs. The system, which was found to not be able to pump enough gas into the fuel tanks, was put into the redesign process. In this time frame, all F-35 Lightning IIs were prohibited from approaching lightning environments more than 25 nautical miles.

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