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The entire fleet of 20 F-35s have been grounded following the failure of the integrated power package (IPP) on AF-4 at Edwards Air Force Base on Tuesday. The Joint Programme Office (JPO) investigates the cause of a failure in the aircraft’s electrical system during ground tests.
According to a statement from JPO, the failure occurred on an F-35A conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) test aircraft, numbered AF-4, but the precautionary grounding applies to all 20 F-35s that had reached flying status.
“Once the facts are understood, a determination will be made when to lift the suspension and begin ground and flight operations,” the JPO said.
In this case, the Honeywell-built integrated power package (IPP) failed during a standard engine test following a maintenance check at 08:30 on 2 August, the JPO said.
The IPP is primarily used as both a starter for the engine and a back-up electrical system, supporting the two main generators. In March, the IPP proved its worth by activating after both generators shut-down with the AF-4 still in flight. The power generated by the IPP allowed the flight control system to keep operating until the pilot landed.
The incident marks the third grounding order for the F-35 fleet since last October, and the second in five months involving the AF-4 test aircraft.