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USAF Making an attempt to Make ‘Franken-Chicken’ Jet From Two Broken F-35s

F-35 upkeep consultants are enterprise the “seemingly unattainable process” of “stitching collectively” two severely broken F-35A Lightning II fighters right into a single, operational plane.

Dubbed the “Franken-bird challenge,” a crew of F-35 consultants from Lockheed Martin, the Ogden Air Logistics Advanced, and the 388th Fighter Wing is taking over this yet-untried process.

“This can be a first for the F-35 program and a really thrilling challenge,” F-35 Joint Program Workplace (JPO) heavy upkeep supervisor Dan Santos stated.

Combining Two F-35As

A broken nostril part is faraway from an F-35 airframe utilizing a brand new Mobil Upkeep System at Hill Air Pressure Base. Photograph: US Air Pressure

After a feasibility examine, the F-35 JPO determined to reconstruct the AF-211 plane, which skilled a nostril landing-gear separation in June 2020.

The broken nostril part shall be changed with the undamaged nostril part from the AF-27 plane, which suffered a extreme engine hearth in 2014.

The JPO has reused workable components from broken F-35s in upkeep and operations for the previous a number of years, nevertheless it stated nothing on this scale has been tried earlier than.

Moreover, not like earlier initiatives, Lockheed Martin’s lead mechanical engineer Scott Taylor stated this initiative is exclusive due to its “meticulous documentation,” which can kind the idea of future F-35 upkeep procedures.

“The entire plane sections might be de-mated and re-mated theoretically, nevertheless it’s simply by no means been accomplished earlier than,” he stated. “That is the primary F-35 ‘Franken-bird’ thus far. That is historical past.”

To execute the challenge, utterly new, specialised tooling, fixtures, and gear have been developed with potential future use.

Transferring Ahead

The challenge is being executed on the Ogden Air Logistics Advanced at Hill AFB.

“It takes a crew to make most of these endeavors profitable,” Santos stated. “I’m very impressed with the collaborative efforts from the assorted businesses throughout Hill AFB, working collectively to make this occur.”

The challenge is a number of months forward of schedule, with a projected completion in March 2025, the Air Pressure Life Cycle Administration Heart stated.

Items of two F-35 Lightning IIs being “stitched collectively” into one plane. Photograph courtesy US Air Pressure