The Trillion Dollar F-35 Is Grounded Yet Again

In what is becoming almost as consistent as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, the F-35 — America's trillion dollar joke of a fighter jet — has been grounded again. I don't even know how many times the fighter jet has been grounded now, I've lost count. This time, it's because of a crack in a turbine blade of the engine.

According to the Department of defence, all F-35s in the Air Force, Navy and Marines have been grounded after an engine inspection revealed the crack on the engine blade.

Inspectors found the crack in an F135 engine installed in an F-35A Lightning II aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. This is the conventional take-off and landing version of the joint strike fighter.

The Air Force has shipped the cracked engine to Pratt & Whitney's engine facility (it makes the engines) in Connecticut for further evaluation. It's supposed to be only a precautionary measure but it's yet another embarrassing failure for the F-35. Whether it's parachutes being loaded the wrong way or power systems affecting the temperature or software bugging out in simulations, there's always something going wrong with these planes. Maybe some things just aren't meant to be.


    a trillion dollars? wow no wonder they're in recession.

      doesn't make as much sense as i'm sure you wish it did. do your homework.

    Watched an ABC special last week on this thing. Johnny Howard ordered 100 of the stupid things!! I'll grant that they do look the biz but from what I saw in the show, they are too big and slow, they can't be flown near thunderstorms and they don't have enough range. Battle simulations done by experts showed that they might be able to do some damage with rockets but not guns and the enemy would just pick them off when they turned for home. Completely useless and should be dropped now!!

      I remember watching a Video by the creator of planes such as the F15/16/18 and the A10 Warthog.

      He discussed that the issue isnt the plane itself, but the designers who were pressured for a 'universal aircraft' that was capable of being VTOL / CTOL and a fully laiden bomber. Unfortunately it seems clearer that the plane really is overdesigned, trying to do too many things at once.

      Such a shame that nothings come even close to the combination that the Hawker Harrier provides for VTOL.

        Hmmm, we should've opted for F18/16's. Ah well, 20/20 hindsight and all that....! :)

        The Harrier never could carry a big enough load to be of much use in a war, it is an early version of an aeroplane like the F35, things tend to get better, not worse. There is an awful lot of ignorant opinion expressed about aeroplanes. The late and much lamented FB-111 operated for many years by the RAAF was lambasted and pilloried by ignorant people but it turned out to be one of the best aircraft ever operated by the Air Force; it had a lot of life left in it and it should not have been removed from service with the RAAF. The F16 is a toy, designed as a day fighter, light in weight, and completely out of its depth in poor weather, which it was designed specifically NOT to fly in.

        The F35 is part of a force multiplier system that incorporates AWACS aircraft (Wedgetail in the RAAF), in flight refuelling (MRTT in the RAAF), ground based communications (Jindalee and other systems now in service). It will suit the operations of the RAAF well for the next 50 years.

        All we need now is for the RAN to admit that the aircraft carriers bought for the Navy really are aircraft carriers and to equip each one of them with a squadron of F35Cs.

          wrong place ;}

          Last edited 25/02/13 10:47 am

      He ordered none, Johnny chipped in to have the planes developed for the later chance to buy them. 100million + if I remember correctly.

      Johnny also bought Tanks we couldn't load and deploy from out boats and helicopters with no spare parts, then joined two wars with them. The guy did everything to get a seat at the table. We have been used a lot by the US military, in the field and in the purchasing. Then when we developed the superior vehicle for the wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan, the Bushmaster, they went with their own manufacturers.

        I have zero time for the previous PM however the RAN has just taken delivery of a ship (one of two ordered at that time) which can carry 105 Abrams tanks plus 1,000 fully equipped soldiers and lots of humanitarian aid. These ships were actually designed as aircraft carriers, they are enormous and should be operated by the RAN as aircraft carriers and they would still be able to carry all those second hand tanks that Howard bought, along with the useless Seasprite helicopters. That's what happens when you try to do defence on the cheap. The Army should have bought British tanks which were being sold at the time and not the Abrams. The Abrams is okay if you can get it to the front but the bloody things are so heavy that they sink in soft earth. There is no point trying to drive them through shallow water therefore!

      Not sure how much stock I'd put in that documentary if 'too big and slow' and 'not enough range' are presented as facts. For size, the F-35 is smaller than most of its modern competitors (including the F-22) at very fractionally larger than an F-16. For speed, the F-35 is slightly slower than the F-18, but is designed to carry 3000kg (about 20%) more load weight. For range, the F-35 has 20% longer range than the F-18.

      Remember the F-35 is a multirole fighter, not an air superiority fighter like the F-22. Some performance sacrifices are made for much greater flexibility (STOVL, carrier variant, etc) that a dedicated fighter doesn't have. The F-35 is intended to replace the F-16 and F-18 multirole fighters and it accomplishes that quite well. Sure, it's overengineered and cost buttloads of money, but what US project doesn't these days. Doesn't make it a failure, just makes it super expensive.

        Generally a good reply however the F-18 is actually the F/A-18 where the F is for Fighter and the A is for Attack, as in ground attack. In other words the F/A 18 is a multi-role aeroplane. So far the F35 has been flown at Mach 1.8 (1.8 times the speed of sound) so it can't really be called slow. And with in flight refuelling range becomes a secondary consideration, not a primary one.

        The RAAF has now 25 Super Hornets, a bigger, heavier, version of the F/A-18. Not much use as fighters or ground attack, the RAAF had the sense to equip them for conversion to Wild Weasel configuration, which means that they will be used for electronic suppression, making it much harder for an enemy to target the F-35s.

        I have little doubt that the F-35s will turn out to be excellent aircraft in the RAAF and for Australia.

          Yeah, F/A is correct, I was just being lazy and saving keystrokes =)

        You make a good point but I still think I'll take my information from non biased defence experts.

          I watched that report too, and I sensed a lot of bias. The reporters had an agenda from the start and the people they interviewed (mainly the experts on the F-16) seemed to have it out for the plane.

    that video is call Secret Superpower Aircraft

    Wondering if any of those JSF decision makers wishes they'd just picked the Boeing X-32 instead... Doh!

      That's a damn good question. Fact is, the F35 was chosen for political reasons, not military ones, and I think it is very clear that the Boeing X-32 was the better aeroplane. It achieved vertical landing capability very early in its development, unlike the F-35, and had a largely trouble free development time. I often think that the Australian government should just buy that design from the US and have them built by Boeing Australia.

        ^ Could be an equally costly endeavor, seems well outside the current scope and capability of BAA or BDA currently, regardless I'd imagine the biggest hurdle would be US export controls.

    I heard it explodes when you take it outside in the rain XD

    Perfecting perfection takes a while...

    Last edited 25/02/13 1:21 am

    Why do we even need an airforce? Any country in the region would just walk all over us anyway. Except New Zealand.

      Australia has the Ninth most powerful Air Force in the world... Google it.

        What an incredible waste of money then!
        No-one I know buys bleeding edge tech - you wait for it to settle in, become proven then buy it for a fraction of the price. Why don't we do this for defence too? There's no threat to our shores...all our expensive planes seem to do is fly around trying to stop the boats!

        And what does 'most powerful' mean anyway?

          It means we have superior technology, training, capabilities and resources than most others.

          There may be no threat to our shores now, but who knows about tomorrow? A powerful military will provide Australia with the means to remain a middle power in a region being dominated by rising Asian countries.

          Think about it, we have some pretty amazing resources here... I for one, would welcome the ability to defend ourselves without counting on the USA.

    Eh.. all just money right? Luckily we have 400 million people paying taxes so we can afford things like this and ... oh hang on.. we what? How many people you say? Hmmm..

      Australia has a $4Trillion economy; we can afford anything and everything we want. We just need to stop subsidising foreign owned big business and US military adventures.

    Instead of buying the latest and greatest, how 'bout we ask the US of A if they have any second hand jets for sale before they put them on eBay? Grab some left over F-14's and/or F-16's and maybe even a second hand aircraft carrier if they don't need them anymore!

      We have 71 McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet's, a plane that entered service in the 80's albeit upgraded with the latest technology as it became available. The fleet was supposed to last until 2020, but with fatigue issues, they are no longer a viable front line option.

      So, we got 24 Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet's as an interim measure until the introduction of the F-35As.

      We will now buy 100 or so F35A's to replace both the fatigued ageing fleet and the interim fleet.

      As for aircraft carriers, the US has a few stationed in our region at any given time (not to mention the 7th fleet) which will soon all carry an F35 variant. We also just bought two close-air destroyers, so we are well on our way.

    a little relevance I thought, The F-111 was born out of the desire for "commonality" among all the armed services. It failed due to many reason including the lack of technology at the time. Now they think it is possible in the F35.
    The F-111 also had so many set backs and failures in its early career, Australia had to wait 5 years longer until the problems were ironed out. Yet the F-111 fit our country's needs like a glove and fulfilled its requirements well beyond it's expected service life.
    This may be the same story for the F35

    There is still hope for this plane. Issues like this plague new planes and JSF is no exception...the implementation of state of the art technologies does take some time to be completely be safe. I hope the engineers can solve everything asap and prove that JSF is still a flight worthy aircraft. I dun agree about the simulation done on the news does not prove anything as the pilots flying the aircraft are the one creating the may not be as fast as a blackbird, it may not have the best stealth capability,it's not as agile as an f-16 but the point is that is it has that capability...I think the Americans want to make a balanced aircraft

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