The first USAF F-35A to be modified by that service’s Ogden Air Logistics Complex at Hill AFB in Utah returned to its operating unit at Nellis AFB in February after having concurrency work performed.
The aircraft entered the facility last September to have a number of structural modifications installed as part of the JSF development program. Called ‘concurrency’ work due to production and development testing happening concurrently, the modifications were required after developmental testing of the still immature aircraft found structural weaknesses in a number of areas.
As a consequence, modifications were made to the root rib which replaces a section of the aircraft’s wing root rib with a titanium splice; a station 3/9 modification; a mid-fairing fitting, and a forward engine mount modification. All of these changes are designed to extend the life of the aircraft to the projected 8000 hours service life. The work was performed by USAF maintainers while Lockheed Martin provided engineering support.
As many as 90 US, UK and Dutch F-35s built up to low rate production lot 6 (LRIP 6) will require some form of concurrency modification work valued at up to US$6m (A$6.5m) each after issues found in testing, although it is planned that most of this work will be done during scheduled maintenance.