Ten of the Royal Australian Air Force’s new multi-million-dollar strike fighters have corrosion issues after the manufacturer failed to use a protective primer when painting the F-35s.
And F-35 pilots could face such debilitating ear pain or sinus injury from internal pressure changes that they could crash during complex manoeuvres, a US Government Accountability Office report has warned.
The corrosion and the internal pressure scenario are the latest issues plaguing the aircraft that cost about $100 million each and are expected to start arriving in Australia later this year.
The Australian Defence Force confirmed on Friday that 10 of its Lockheed Martin-built fighters had been affected by the primer issue that the US government says has to be fixed via a month- long repair process. The issue was first noticed on a US plane by authorities late last year when corrosion was discovered on fasteners under an F-35A’s fuselage panels during maintenance.
A joint government and industry investigation found primer had not been applied to prevent corrosion to the fastener holes in an aluminium cover plate.
Three months ago the US Defence Department temporarily suspended acceptance of the strike fighters because of the corrosion issues but did not reveal any affect on the Australia fleet.
At the time the US Air Force’s spokesman for the assistant secretary of acquisition Lieutenant General Arnold Bunch said the corrosion was in fastener holes that were drilled and not “corrected or properly treated”. (end of excerpt)
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