A June 23 fire that severely damaged a Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is “definitely” related to the aircraft’s Pratt & Whitney F135 after-burning turbofan, multiple sources told USNI News.
The Pentagon grounded the entire F-35 fleet on July 3 after it became apparent the June fire on an Air Force variant of the fighter was much more serious than originally thought. The fire, which started at the rear of the aircraft while the jet was taking-off, was initially believed to be a one off incident possibly related to the jet’s integrated power pack.
The power pack combines a 200hp gas turbine with battery and acts as a starter for the F135 engine.
No big surprise there. You’d almost expect the part of the plane that mixes fuel with air and ignites it to be the source of a fire.
And even after over 110 years, we keep finding new ways to have planes ignite.
The F-35 program is deeply flawed, but this incident is hardly something unique to the F-35. Every development program has this sort of disaster happen.