Weather Preparedness: An $80M Lesson Learned from the F-35 Lightning II Crash

An F-35B Lightning II, part of the U.S. Department of Defense’s arsenal, crashed in South Carolina due to severe weather conditions.

The pilot was forced to eject from the $80 million jet, which is the most expensive weapon system program in the U.S. Department of Defense.

On the day of the crash, weather warnings were issued cautioning against thunderstorms, heavy rainfall, and isolated tornadoes. Despite these warnings, the jet was allowed to proceed with its training mission, raising questions about the decision-making process within the Marine Corps.

The pilot, who miraculously survived the crash, was released from the hospital shortly after. However, this incident has sparked criticism and concerns about the operational standards and readiness of the Marine Corps.

As a response, the Marines announced a two-day grounding of its fleet, referred to as a ‘safety stand-down’, to ensure the maintenance of combat-ready aircraft with well-prepared pilots and crews.

This incident is the third major mishap involving Marine aircraft within a six-week period. In August, three U.S. Marines lost their lives in a V-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft crash during a training exercise in Australia. Shortly after, another Marine Corps pilot was killed when his combat jet crashed near a San Diego base during a training flight.

The F-35B Lightning II is not an ordinary aircraft. It is part of the most expensive weapon system program in the U.S. Department of Defense, according to a May 2023 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

The report also highlighted that the Department of Defense is considering modernizing the engine of these jets due to an ‘overtasked’ cooling system that requires the engine to operate ‘beyond its design parameters.’

This excess heat is reducing the engine’s lifespan and adding $38 billion in maintenance costs.

Former Marine Dan Grazier, a long-time advocate for addressing F-35 safety issues, suggested that a software glitch or cyberattack could have caused the jet to malfunction. He pointed out the system has thousands of penetration points that a hacker could exploit.

This article appeared in FreshOffThePress and has been published here with permission.

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Written by Western Reader

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