Just In Time?

The finding that last month’s F-35 engine fire was due to an isolated incident and not a fleet-wide problem may salvage the F-35’s performance at the Farnborough Air Show, Pentagon acquisition executive Frank Kendall told reporters Monday. The three aircraft standing by at NAS Patuxent River, Md., might still make the trip, if an air safety review panel gives the OK, he said. “Safety … first,” Kendall noted. The airplanes missed another event at which they were scheduled to fly last week—the Royal International Air Tattoo—because of the grounding. F-35 Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan told reporters if clearance is given in time, the F-35s will do their full planned Farnborough routine and not a simple “flyby.” Bogdan said, “we intend to do the profile that the … Marine Corps trained” for four months to develop. The show ends on July 20, and in order to do at least one day’s performance, the F-35s would have to leave July 16 to allow for travel time and maintenance, he explained. Bogdan said he’s “disappointed” about the F-35’s absence from the flight demo lineup so far, but said it’s “not a setback for the program.” The show represented an opportunity for “the rest of the world [to] see that it’s not a paper airplane, [but] really a technological marvel,” he said.