F-35 Testing Suspended
Officials have ceased all flight and ground operations for the Joint Strike Fighter after the integrated power package (IPP) on a U.S. Air Force variant test aircraft failed, Tuesday, during a ground maintenance run at Edwards Air Force Base. No injuries were reported as a result of the unit's failure and developers are working to source the cause. The particular aircraft is an AF-4, which is a conventional takeoff and landing version of the multi-role aircraft. The IPP combines functions performed by an auxiliary power unit, emergency power system and environmental controls. Its failure isn't the only electrical problem to ground F-35s this year.
The cessation or limiting of specific operations during the test program is not particularly unusual, but putting a halt to ground operations is less common. Overall, the F-35 is ahead of its latest schedule, which was put in place in January. The F-35 has previously suffered delays this year. In March the fleet was grounded due to a dual generator failure on this same test aircraft. In June, the Navy's F-35C variant was grounded due to a software problem that could have caused the control surfaces to freeze in flight. In both cases, the problem was sourced and resolved, and aircraft were returned to testing shortly thereafter. Developers are aiming for a similar result now.