Air Education and Training Command today released a full investigation into last year’s F-35 mishap that caused one of the jets, tail number 10-5015, to be almost completely destroyed by fire during takeoff at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
The investigation board found that part of an engine rotor broke free during takeoff, cutting through the fan’s case, engine bay, internal fuel tank and hydraulic fluid lines. The fuel and hydraulic fluid ignited, causing a fire that burned the rear two-thirds of the aircraft.
The pilot was able to abort the language and exit the aircraft, and emergency responders extinguished the fire.
The report states that damage is still being assessed, but is expected to be a total cost of more than $50 million.
The mishap happened June 23, 2014, at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. The base is the site of instructor pilot training, along with the schoolhouse for F-35 maintainers.
The mishap has been a point of contention in Washington, with some saying it should restart the discussion about a second engine program in addition to the Pratt & Whitney F135. Lawmakers, in drafts of the fiscal 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, are calling for a study into issues with the engine.
In response to the release of the report, Pratt & Whitney released a statement saying they worked closely with investigators to determine a cause and have put fixes in place to increase reliability of the engine.