Thursday, May 19, 2011

New Tool Speeds F-35 Engine Work

U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin engineers have created a new type of tool that will allow maintenance crews to perform critical repairs on the U.S. Marines' F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) without removing the aircraft's jet engine.
Developed under the auspices of the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., the tool will be used to support the weight of an actuator that moves the main thrust-vectoring nozzle during the plane's short-takeoff/vertical landing mode. It was first used on the flight line on April 2.
The Navy-Lockheed team came up with the innovation because normally, the entire engine would have to be removed to replace the actuator. While removing the engine and reinstalling it is a complex and time-consuming affair, the actual replacement of the actuator is a comparatively minor procedure.
"If it's taking days to run through a process with JSF, and we can come up with a method to save time and money, we're all for that," said Bill Farrell, an engineering technician who worked on the project, in a video released by the Navy.
With the new tool, it takes about three hours to change the actuator. Previously, the process could have taken days to accomplish.
"Now, this maintenance time has improved by approximately one week - good for flight testing, and better for our war-fighter," said Jim McClendon, Lockheed's site director vice president, in a press release.
The new tool will help speed the F-35B's flight testing, which is underway at the Maryland base.
"This special tool will not only speed development of the Lightning II but also pay big dividends after the aircraft is delivered to the fleet," said Rear Adm. Randy Mahr, commander of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, a component of NAVAIR.

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