|No. Not that kind of crack.|
Not long ago, it was revealed that The Pentagon would be dropping its 2015 F-35 order down to 34 from the originally planned 42. Now, it looks like the STOVL version, the F-35B, is under further scrutiny after durability testing found cracks in the bulkhead. Durability testing will now be delayed until the issue can be resolved and existing aircraft refit.
These cracks only effect the STOVL F-35B model. The F-35A, Canada's possible choice would be (mostly) unaffected. It should be clarified that these bulkhead cracks were found after over 9,400 hours of simulated testing. The F-35 itself will be meant to last 8,000 flight hours. While this may seem irrelevant at first, that extra 1,400 hours does not leave a sufficient margin of error. It should also be noted that this is not the first time the F-35 has had cracks in its bulkheads.
|The F-35 bulkhead.|
With 6 of the now 34 F-35s planned for 2015 being F-35Bs, one has to wonder if the order might be cut even further. What's the point, after all, of building an aircraft when there will likely be changes made to one of internal components. Given the current state of the American fiscal restraint, it might be a tough sell.
At least there's alway the possibility of increased foreign sales... Right? The UK is expected to place an order for its first batch of 14 F-35s next month. The only problem is, the UK would be ordering the F-35B, the very same variant with a cracking bulkhead problem. The UK is also not exactly on a military spending spree right now either.