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Air Platforms

F-35As at Luke AFB in Arizona return to flight 21 June

21 June 2017

Key Points

  • F-35As at Luke AFB in Arizona return to flight 21 June after being out of service for 11 days
  • The F-35A is one of the Pentagon's top acquisition priorities

The US Air Force (USAF) on 21 June will resume local Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter flight operations at Luke Air Force Base (AFB) in Arizona following an 11-day pause, according to a service statement.

F-35As located at Luke AFB in Arizona will return to flight on 21 June after an 11-day pause due to physiological effects reported by pilots. (Lockheed Martin)F-35As located at Luke AFB in Arizona will return to flight on 21 June after an 11-day pause due to physiological effects reported by pilots. (Lockheed Martin)

F-35A flight operations at Luke AFB had been cancelled following a series of five physiological events in pilots from 2 May through 8 June. USAF spokesperson Major Rebecca Heyse said on 20 June that no specific root cause for these physiological events was identified during recent visits from experts and engineers from the Joint Program Office, prime contractor Lockheed Martin, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and other organisations. Maj Heyse said specific concerns were eliminated as possible causes, including maintenance and aircrew flight procedures. Luke AFB has 55 F-35As, the conventional variant.

Maj Heyse said five criteria are being temporarily applied to local flights as technical and human performance data continue to be gathered. The USAF, she said, will avoid the altitudes in which all five physiological events occurred. Maj Heyse declined to provide specifics on altitude limitations, saying it is a technical answer.

Maj Heyse also said the USAF will modify ground procedures to mitigate physiological risks to pilots. She said pilots will wear their mask up during ground operations because doing this, Maj Heyse said, has been shown to decrease carbon monoxide level exposure significantly.

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