Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Flights of F-35 fighter could resume soon

The F-35, the new generation of military aircraft of the Pentagon with the test flights were suspended due to potential engine problems, should return to the air within a fortnight, said Monday the program director.

The U.S. military had suspended test flights Friday, as a precaution, after the discovery of a crack on the blade of a turbine engine of an F-35, based on Edwards California (west).

If the crack appears to have been caused by a foreign object, or just a manufacturing defect, I expect the plane back in the air next week or the week after, said Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan before press in Australia, where he is on tour to promote the device.

If it is more than that, we look at what are the risks for the fleet, he added. I think the aircraft will resume its flights within a reasonable time period if it is not a serious problem.

I do not expect that this problem will delay a major stages of the program, I can not imagine that even in the worst case scenario, said Christopher Bogdan, describing the project as on track and on time.

Further difficulties may arise in the testing phase, while only 35 to 40% of tests were made, he said. But we have enough money and (planned) developing sufficient time to take care of these things, he said.

The Pentagon feeds high hopes for its F-35 fighter, which will replace the current fighter aircraft of the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marines by the end of the decade.

The U.S. military plans to produce 2,443 aircraft for itself, and hundreds of others for eight international partners, including Australia, have invested in this project, as well as two other customers, Japan and Israel .

However, the countries involved in this program are increasingly worried mainly because of cost overruns and endless delays in production.

Christophe Bogdan assured to have no indication of any kind indicating that partner intended to withdraw from the program.

I informed all our partners and all services (soldiers) of what happened with the suspension of flights, he said Monday. They understood that, although regrettable, it is not unusual to find that the blade of a new motor vehicle has a crack.

The Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has stressed that his Government maintained its control of two devices, but would continue to monitor and discuss issues that are to occur and which must be addressed.

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