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F-35 Delivery Stopped Again Over Primer Problem

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

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The U.S. Department of Defense has again stopped delivery of the F-35 fighter jet over issues related to primer application on fastener holes.

The F-35, built by Lockheed Martin, is the most expensive weapons program in U.S. history, and has been plagued with mechanical and technical issues. Last November, the Pentagon confirmed it had halted delivery of the planes for nearly a month due to corrosion issues stemming from improper application of primer on fastener holes in the fuselage.

U.S. Air Force/R. Nial Bradshaw

The Pentagon is in a contractual dispute over the F-35 primer problem and Lockheed Martin’s plans to address it.

The Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program Office told PaintSquare Daily News at the time that Lockheed Martin "had not applied the required primer in fastener holes on F-35 substructures during the aircraft production process."

"In partnership with the JPO, we are taking a holistic fleet-wide approach to plan and implement corrective action on aircraft in production and fielded jets, which allowed deliveries to resume," a Lockheed Martin spokesperson said in a statement at the time.

But now, disagreements over the approach to the problem have led to another halt in delivery.

Reuters reported Thursday (April 12) that the Pentagon is in a contractual dispute over the primer problem and Lockheed Martin’s plans to address it.

The issue was discovered during maintenance on F-35A jets at Hill Air Force Base, in Utah. Reuters reports that the contract dispute centers around the fact that neither Lockheed nor the DoD caught the primer issue at the time of production, only after planes were in operation.

Corrosion Questions

In 2010, a team of DoD corrosion experts delivered a report on the F-35 and the earlier F-22 fighter, holding that both jets were at risk for corrosion. The team, from the Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight, noted that the F-35 featured design elements that were put in place to save weight and benefit the environment, but that corrosion was not taken into account sufficiently during design.

The JPO responded in 2011 with a report indicating that the F-35 had a comprehensive corrosion prevention program in place, and that the corrosion team’s concerns about the type of primer used on the jets were being addressed.


Tagged categories: Aerospace; Coating Application; Coating failure; Corrosion; Department of Defense (DOD); Military; NA; North America; Primers; U.S. Air Force

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (4/18/2018, 9:25 AM)

I'm thinking the "environmental concerns" involve hexavalent chromium treatment of some kind, which is the traditional first step for corrosion protection of aircraft. Corrosion protection inside fastener holes is definitely important!

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