The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jets are not well suited to long-haul flights at supersonic speeds, according to a report published in Defense News magazine, according to the original author of this article in N + 1. and shares Paula Dumas for Digital Journalist
During so many flights, radar absorbent materials (RAM) in the fuselage can swell or even fall off. In addition, the antennas located in the tail of the aircraft can also be damaged.
According to the Department of the Navy of the United States responsible for the F-35 project, the damages of the protective layer of fuselage were discovered for the first time during the tests of said airplanes in 2011. In particular, it turned out that the versions B and C of Lightning II, which are used by the Marine Corps and the US Navy, were affected by that defect.
The abrasions of protective layer, as well as the damage to the antennas, were manifested after prolonged flights at a speed of 1.3-1.4 of the Mach number . Damage to RAM was found in the plane empennage and its tail. The defect appeared due to the heating of the plane tail, caused by the engine running at full capacity.
According to Defense News, engineers have already developed a new layer of RAM for the F-35B and F-35C fighters.It can withstand a more serious warming, but it will not be safe during a long distance supersonic flight with the use of afterburners.
For the moment, only supersonic speed will be used in emergency.
That defect in the fuselage layer can increase the visibility of F-35 fighter jets. To solve that problem, the military decided to limit the regular flight speed of the F-35B / C to 1.2 of the Mach number. In addition, the military will not use the F-35B / C aircraft for interception at supersonic speed, except in cases of emergency.
The maximum takeoff weight of F-35 with a length of 15.4 meters and a wingspan of 10.7 meters is 27.3 tons. The plane can accelerate up to 1.9 thousand km / h, while its combat radius is 845 kilometers. The F-35 can transport missiles, bombs and artillery of the total mass of up to 8.1 tons.
In August 2015, the United States Marine Corps announced that the aircraft of that type was ready for service. A year later, the US Air Force received the F-35A version, while the US Navy. The F-35C aircraft arrived in March 2019. In total, the US Army. UU You will get 2443 aircraft of that type.