UK assumes risk of F-35B loss every 30,000 hours

The crash of a UK F-35B Lightning II fighter during take-off from the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) in the Mediterranean Sea recently came only one-third of the way into the planned for risk of loss of an airframe, based on fleet flight hours conducted.

Initial speculation suggested the ingestion by the F-35B of an engine cover as it launched down the flight deck, although the cause of the November 17 incident is yet to be determined as the official investigation continues. However, the accident occurred far earlier than risk planning had considered possible.

UK F-35B in 2017
The UK is planned to acquire 138 F-35B aircraft over the lifetime of the programme, although has acquired 48 airframes so far. US Department of Defense

In a written UK parliamentary response on December 3, Jeremy Quin, UK Minister for Defence Procurement, stated that “a certain attrition of aircraft” was built into the platform’s procurement profile.

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