Defense keeps the F-35s on the ground as a precaution
Grit spray on 3 F-35s may have caused engine wear. The grit would come from an anti-slip layer of the runway system at Leeuwarden Air Base. It is being investigated whether this is indeed the cause. The engine wear was discovered on the Frisian base during standard inspections.As far as is known, the Netherlands is the only F-35 flying country that has this wear and tear on F-35 engines.
The Air Force now has seventeen of these fighter flies. Nine of these are on the Frisian base and eight in the United States. According to the Ministry of Defense, the other aircraft can fly as usual, apart from the three.
Clarity of manufacturer
According to flight base commander Henk Doorten, flight safety has not been at issue: “You can see wear and tear with every jet aircraft. Also due to grit, as we have now found. We now want to have clear from the manufacturer what we should do. Whether the parts need to be replaced. . ”
It must also soon become clear what the cause of the wear is, says Doorten. “The F-16s are not bothered by it. They operate from the other side of the airport. So we also look at the runways. It is therefore not clear when the F-35 can be flown again. Doorten hopes to get aircraft back in the air as soon as possible.
The heavier engine also causes inconvenience to people who live in the vicinity of Leeuwarden Air Base. Local residents complain about nuisance and want action to be taken to reduce this nuisance. They want it to be viewed or otherwise flown.
States members of the FNP, PvdA and GroenLinks are also concerned about the noise of the F-35 and have asked questions about this to the provincial government.
The F-35 has a heavier engine than an F-16 and therefore blows up more grit during taxi. This form of wear has not been observed with the F-16. Incidentally, the take-off and landing system is in a good state of repair.
According to the Air Force, splashing grit may have caused engine wear on three F-35s. The grit would come from an anti-slip layer of the runway system at Leeuwarden Air Base. At present, it is still being investigated whether this is actually the case. The wear was detected during the standard inspections. As a precaution, the Air Force is now grounding all nine F-35s stationed at Leeuwarden.
It seems that the Netherlands is the only country that has to contend with wear and tear on F-35 engines.