The FACTS – Less than a quarter of F-35’s have been grounded

Contrary to sensationalist reporting elsewhere that may have you believing that all F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s had been grounded, the fact is that less than a quarter of the 230+ F-35 Joint Strike Fighters were ‘temporarily’ grounded.

Joint-Strike-Fighter-Grounded

Contrary to sensationalist reporting elsewhere that may have you believing that all F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s had been grounded, the fact is that less than a quarter of the 230+ F-35 Joint Strike Fighters were ‘temporarily’ grounded.

The temporary grounding is isolated to the JSF ‘training base’, specifically Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, announced after a series of 5 physiological incidents believed hypoxia-related since early May, according to USAF spokesman Captain Mark Graff. In each case, the backup oxygen system worked as intended and the pilots were able to land safely, Graff said.

[blockquote style=”1″]The number of jets actually involved in these incidents is unknown, beyond common mathematics pointing to a ‘maximum of 5’.[/blockquote]

Beyond a total of 55 jets temporarily grounded at that base, while the issue is explored, F-35’s continue flying elsewhere.

It is noteworthy that the two Joint Strike Fighters scheduled to fly across the Atlantic Ocean to attend the highly-anticipated Paris Air Show, are not affected by the grounding.

Hypoxia-related incidents have occurred with F22 Raptors and Hornets over the years, it’s not uncommon especially when new aircraft are being ironed out. As you would expect, such issues are taken seriously and addressed accordingly.

This statement released by Secretary of the US Air Force Public Affairs confuirms this approach “In order to synchronize operations and maintenance efforts toward safe flying operations we have cancelled local F-35A flying,” said Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard, the 56th Fighter Wing commander. “The Air Force takes these physiological incidents seriously, and our focus is on the safety and well-being of our pilots. We are taking the necessary steps to find the root cause of these incidents.”

Moving forward, U.S. and international pilots were being educated on the situation to increase their awareness of hypoxia symptoms. Pilots were to be briefed on all the incidents that have occurred and the successful actions taken by the pilots to safely recover their aircraft. Flight medicine will brief physiological symptoms and also the extensive measures that are being taken to analyse data collected from the incidents. Finally, the 56th Operations Group advised they will hold an open forum to discuss any concerns pilots may have given these recent occurrences.

More broadly, the F-35 Joint Program Office has stood up a formal action team of engineers, maintainers and aeromedical specialists to examine the incidents to better understand the issue.

These subject matter experts will share the data across the F-35 enterprise and with partner nations – including Australia.

So the sky isn’t falling, and nor are the Joint Strike Fighters!

Terry Turner

Terry Turner is Senior Editor for Defence.com.au and Editor in Chief for the entire stable of CYBER PRESS magazines.CYBER PRESS is an Australian media business specialising in multi-channel broad audience online digital publishing. Our company is the evolution of Eco Magazines, Australia's premiere dedicated online publisher of full-format digital magazines. Put simply, we specialise, where many merely dabble.

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