Marines find a variety of sins in F-35 delivery

| May 3, 2024

Yeah, back on my favorite flying fiasco. (I know, when they do work as a fighter they work very well.) Bear in mind: the Marine variant costs a cool $94,400,000 (yes, that is almost $95 mill) a pop.

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 311, or VMFA-311, at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego discovered an array of problems with its Lockheed Martin-made F-35s that ultimately required more than 700 hours of work to fix and wasted more than 169,000 pounds of fuel, the Jan. 7 memo said.

On Dec. 7, for instance, a plastic scraper was discovered protruding from the wing fold of one of the squadron’s jets, after the jet had flown, the memo noted.

Unless they do in-flight ice removal, that sounds a bit suspicious.

The memo was written by VMFA-311 commander Lt. Col. Michael Fisher, who described a pattern of “persistent aircraft delivery discrepancies and premature component failures occurring at Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 311.” Fisher’s memo was approved by Col. William Mitchell, commander of Marine Aircraft Group 11.

The quality problems and foreign object debris discovered in these five F-35s snarled the Marine Corps’ effort to stand up VMFA-311, nicknamed the Tomcats, as its second F-35C squadron. The jets had total flight hours ranging between 14 and 157, according to the memo, which was sent to the commanding general of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Maj. Gen. Michael Borgschulte.

14 hours – doesn’t sound used up unless it’s a one-way weapon .

Marine Aircraft Group 11 received the F-35s directly from Lockheed Martin’s factory, and VMFA-311 then conducted acceptance inspections.

All five jets had fuel contaminated with Krytox, a high-temperature lubricating grease, the memo said, and three jets also had metal shavings in their fuel. The jets had to be defueled and refueled two or three times to get the fuel quality up to an acceptable level, with the jets that had metal shavings requiring an extra defueling cycle, the memo added.

Fuel refill/flushes – 169,000pounds of fuel. Call it just over 84 TONS wasted.

The seals and segments on multiple jets were not installed correctly, the memo said, and needed to be removed and reorganized.

And multiple parts in the jets — including power and thermal management system controllers, electronic units, and an electric-hydrostatic actuator on a jet’s trailing edge flap — failed, forcing the squadron to remove and replace them, the memo added.

One jet’s left main gear brake assembly also failed, another fighter’s panoramic cockpit display failed and yet another jet’s backup oxygen system bottle was leaking, the memo stated. All components also needed to be removed and replaced.

“This is not an all-inclusive list and other component failures have occurred since this report,” Fisher wrote.

Gotta love Lockheed’s response:

Lockheed Martin said it averages fewer than one missed production quality problem per F-35. The company said it closely monitors the reliability of F-35 parts and works with the joint program office to fix parts that fail early. Lockheed Martin also said parts on the F-35 typically last twice as long as those on fourth-generation jets.  Defense News

So, Lockheed: is your QA department completely incompetent? Just counting the failures listed is considerably more than one per plane. I know these are hideously complex machines, and in the famous phrase “you cannot inspect in quality”, but this is a 100% fuel system failure alone and a mean time between failures measured in milliseconds.  At spitting range of $100 mill per copy, the American government – and taxpayers – should be demanding a hell of a lot better.

Confession – I worked as a mechanic for several years, and among other things performed pre-delivery inspections on newly shipped 1970s Fiats. Let that sink in – FIATs! And they exhibited fewer flaws than these flying Yugos.

Category: "Your Tax Dollars At Work", Marines

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President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neande

“Flying Yugos”
I like that.
“We fly the F35, the Flying Yugo of jet fighters”
It should become the VFMA-311’s new unofficial motto.

Last edited 1 month ago by President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neande

I say squadron patch depicting a Yugo with wings (and the hood up). Same patch with a mechanic under the hood for the maintenance dept.

USAFRetired

169K pounds of JP4/5/8 is roughly 26000 gallons of jet fuel. Its not wasted, it will be used as fuel in AGE and other ground equipment.

Who was the Govt DCMA or Program Office Rep who pencil whipped the DD250 for the deliveries?

The Lt Col is right to be pissed off.

Odie

How much does JP 4/5/8 cost today. The “waste fuel” is also used for fire training for base fire department, but that was late 70s, early/ mid 80s. Not sure they would be allowed to just dump fuel into a fire training pit nowadays.

Sailorcurt

Yup, that’s how they got ride of waste fuel in the Navy when I was in 20-40 years ago. Of course, we generally didn’t have 26k gallons to get rid of at once. That would be quite a fire.

We sure wouldn’t run it in ground support equipment, we had trouble keeping enough of those units running without inviting trouble with contaminated fuel.

Dennis - not chevy

On one mission using an international airport as our base, the Colonel decided we would use the same jet fuel the airlines used instead of diesel fuel. I asked we not do that on our commercial vehicles, I was chastised for being an USAF E-7 questioning the Army Colonel’s decision. When we got back to our base, we had a ruined diesel engine to replace.

Odie

We’re you able to talk in the army colonels general direction and within ear shot questioning the decision making abilities of whoever decided to use jet fuel in a diesel?

timactual

Assuming, of course, that using that contaminated fuel does not violate some environmental regulation.

Which leads me to wonder, how does one dispose of unusable fuel since burning it is a big no-no?

Sapper3307

Other people’s money is the best!

438085858_984006763121762_4976641456158159915_n
timactual

Sleeping and awake, 24/7. At least mud is soft, not like frozen ground or rock. And it looks like they are on fairly level ground, which is also a plus.

Anonymous

Over-priced, creaky boondoggle.

Roh-Dog

At least they keep flying after the pilot makes a hasty departure from the aircraft?

What we know about the Marine Corps F-35 crash, backyard ejection and what went wrong (link)
Maybe these [lead] birds are allergic to people?

Roh-Dog

Shoulda attached this:

F35-blowin-cash-x
timactual

And that’s just the problems that have shown up so far.

RGR 4-78

Lockheed Martin said it averages fewer than one missed production quality problem per F-35. The company said it closely monitors the reliability of F-35 parts and works with the joint program office to fix parts that fail early. Lockheed Martin also said parts on the F-35 typically last twice as long as those on fourth-generation jets.”

How Moncriesian of them.