Air Force Grounds F-35s

By Ryan Browne
September 17, 2016

The US Air Force said Friday it has grounded 10 of its F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, just over a month after they were declared “combat ready.”

The decision affecting the most expensive weapons system ever was made “due to the discovery of peeling and crumbling insulation in avionics cooling lines inside the fuel tanks,” the Air Force said in a statement, describing the action as a temporary pause in flight operations.”
The faulty cooling lines affected a total of 57 aircraft, the statement said. Only 15 of those planes had been fielded with the remainder still on the production line and will be fixed there.
The plane’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, has delivered 108 F-35As. The Air Force plans to buy 1,763 of the jets.

Air Force halts production of 60 F-35s

September 16, 2016

The United States Air Force has halted production of nearly 60 of its F-35 fighter jets.

It comes after the discovery of peeling and crumbling insulation in cooling lines inside some of the planes’ fuel tanks. Most of the jets affected were still being built, only 15 had been completed, with 10 being called “combat ready.” Manufacturer Lockheed Martin says they are working to quickly return jets to flying status.


VT National Guard pilot crashed plane and left the scene

By Sasha Goldstein
September 22, 2016

An off-duty Vermont National Guard airman crashed a small private plane on a Lake Champlain island around noon Monday and left the scene with his passenger — another airman — apparently without calling police.

Local authorities found out about the badly damaged Piper PA-11 on Savage Island only after the pilot of another small plane noticed the wreckage six hours later while flying over the 207-acre island, according to Grand Isle County Sheriff Ray Allen.

That pilot radioed the tower at Burlington International Airport to report it. The tower staff contacted Vermont State Police, who in turn patched in Allen around 6 p.m.

Allen mobilized a massive response to what he thought was an active crash scene.

“There are lots of fire chiefs upset, myself included, along with other agencies, that this was an incident six hours old with no injuries — and nobody there,” Allen told Seven Days.


VT Air Guard pilot crashes plane

By Staci DaSilva

September 23, 2016

Grand Isle County Sheriff Ray Allen says he is waiting for a Federal Aviation Administration investigation to dictate whether federal investigators want the state of Vermont to press charges against two off-duty Air National Guardsmen.

Sheriff Allen says 30 people, or more, were dispatched to Savage Island in Grand Isle County Monday after reports of a plane crash.

Allen says the response effort involved multiple marine vessels, volunteer firefighters and a U.S. Customs & Border Protection helicopter. The island is not accessible by any roadway.

“The volunteers, they’re taking time away from their families, they’re volunteering their time to do out,” said Sheriff Allen.

When they got there, they found a destroyed Piper PA-11. Nobody was with the plane.


F-35A caught fire prior to takeoff

September 23, 2016

An F-35A Joint Strike Fighter preparing for a training mission at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, caught fire just before takeoff, according to the Air Force.

The Air Force F-35A Lightning II, assigned to the 56th Fighter Wing, experienced what the service said was a “ground emergency” at about 12:20 p.m. eastern Friday at the base, according to a statement.

Seven of the stealthy fifth
-generation fighters have been at Mountain Home since Sept. 10 to use the base’s range for surface-to-air training, the statement said.

The Air Force said the cause of fire is under investigation.

Last week, the Air Force ordered a temporary stand-down of 13 out of 104 F-35s in the fleet “due to the discovery of peeling and crumbling insulation in avionics cooling lines inside the fuel tanks,” according to a statement at the time.


F-35 engine catches fire

By Associated Press

September 23, 2016

Authorities say an F-35A fighter jet from Arizona caught fire during an engine start at an Air Force Base in Idaho.

Officials at Luke Air Force Base in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale say a “ground emergency” occurred about 9:30 a.m. Friday as the aircraft was preparing for a training mission at Mountain Home Air Force Base.

They say the fire was quickly extinguished and the cause of the fire is under investigation.


Warning for emergency responders for Area 51

May 21, 2006

A pair of F-117A Nighthawks taxi Feb. 13 at Nellis Air Force

In legal battles that spanned a decade, the government refused
to acknowledge that fumes from open-pit burning of stealth
coatings used on its radar-evading warplanes harmed workers at
the secret Area 51 installation along the dry Groom Lake bed
where high-tech aircraft are tested.

Yet in an unclassified May 19, 2005, “Safety Supplement” that
was pulled along with other technical documents last month from
a Web site at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., emergency responders
are warned about the danger of inhaling “hazardous byproducts of
burning wreckage” of F-117A Nighthawk fighter jets.


Stealth coating burning at area 51

September 3, 2007

For 17 years, Fred Dunham never spoke publicly about where he used to work or what he once did at the place he calls “the location.”

Dunham says he feared he would be arrested and sent to jail for breaching a national security oath he took in 1981 when he was hired by EG&G Special Projects.

But last week he went on the record about the nine years he spent as a security officer at the classified Air Force installation, 90 miles north of Las Vegas, telling a Department of Labor hearing representative how he supervised burning of poisonous stealth coatings in large open pits.


Crash of stealth-coated aircraft in 1995

By Elizabeth Cohen
June 11, 1995

The crash last month of one of the nation’s most advanced warplanes on this peaceful Indian reservation just west of the Continental Divide has forged an unlikely alliance of secrecy between a reclusive ancient people and the Air Force.

Military officials refuse to talk about the crash, as do tribal officials. When the silence around Zuni is broken, it is most likely to be by members of the tribe who talk of their concerns about the exposure of Zuni Indians to highly toxic chemicals at the crash site and in the smoke from the plane’s explosion.


Brass: Aviation Readiness in ‘Deep Hole’

July 18, 2016

More of our force is being demanded, deployed longer than planned. Intended replacements are not keeping pace with attrition.”

Maj. Gen. Scott West, the director of current operations for the Air Force, said airmen are flying some aircraft and bombers — such as the B-52 Stratofortress — that are more than 50 years old.

That would be like using a WWII-era B-17 Flying Fortress in Operation Desert Storm, he said.

In addition to the current bombing campaign against the Islamic Stategroup in Iraq and Syria, the Air Force is focusing on four key areas, West said: nuclear deterrence; growing cyber capabilities; space operations; and improving intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance resources such as remotely piloted aircraft.

“To get to those four areas of operations, we had to make trades in people and our conventional air forces,” West said. “We made people trades that today has resulted in our first readiness issue and that is to address critical skills. That’s mainly in maintenance.”


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