Lockheed Martin halted all F-35 deliveries for a month after discovering excessive corrosion on fasteners under an F-35A’s fuselage panels during maintenance at Hill AFB, Utah, the Defense Department confirmed this week.
The Pentagon temporarily suspended deliveries of the Joint Strike Fighter from 21 September until 20 October, a JPO spokesman tells FlightGlobal.
A joint government and industry investigation found that Lockheed had failed to apply a primer to prevent corrosion in the fastener holes for an aluminium cover plate. The issue does not pose a safety risk to the fleet or affect operations, the JPO says in a statement.
The JPO, international partners and Lockheed are developing a plan to inspect about 250 F-35 already delivered and fix any panels with corroded fasteners, the JPO adds.
“In the interim, primer will be applied to fastener holes of fielded aircraft as panels are removed during routine F-35 maintenance operations,” the JPO states. “Lockheed Martin has taken action to correct the production line work order error to ensure primer is applied to all fastener holes on future aircraft.”
Lockheed delivered 44 F-35s through the firsts three quarters of 2017, averaging nearly 15 aircraft per three-month period. Another 22 aircraft must be delivered in the fourth quarter for Lockheed to hit the JPO's delivery target of 66 deliveries.