Damaged tubes have been found on F-35A fighters. These tubes are part of the On-Board Inert Gas Generation System (OBIGGS) in a fuel tank.
All countries operating F-35As have been advised to avoid flying near storm cells, and to protect aircraft on the ground with shelters or lightning rods. This information was released in the 21st annual progress report VF-35 published this week.
The OBIGGS ensures that the risk of explosion of fuel vapors in, for example, a lightning strike is reduced to a minimum. The damaged tubes can make the fuel tanks less well protected.
After damaged tubes were found on four (non-Dutch) aircraft, further inspections followed. More damaged tubes were found, including on Dutch F-35As. The cause of the problem is still under investigation.
No influence on build-up
The problem with the OBIGGS and the current investigation, have no influence on the so-called Initial Operational Capability (IOC) status at the end of 2021. This means that the Air Force will continue with the step-by-step establishment of the first F-35 squadron in the Netherlands at Leeuwarden Air Base.
IOC status is achieved, among other things, if the Air Force is able to deploy an F-35 detachment for a given period of time.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The issue of the F-35s vulnerability to lightning strike is well-documented, and the program’s Joint Program Office has stated several times that it had been fixed.
This is patently not the case, and in fact it’s now even worse because these faulty tubes increase this peculiar vulnerability.
But, like many other major and minor flaws and shortcomings in the F-35 aircraft, the Pentagon and foreign operators seem content to ignore it, and sit back to wait for a solution to arrive – if it ever does.)