The U.S. Fleet Readiness Center East marked a milestone when it successfully completed verification of the laser shock peening process and returned the first F-35B aircraft to undergo the procedure to the operational U.S. Marine Corps fleet.

Laser shock peening strengthens the aircraft’s frame without adding any additional material or weight, which would reduce its capability by limiting its fuel or weapons carrying capacity.

“The procedure helps extend the life expectancy of the fifth-generation F-35B fighter, which is the short takeoff-vertical landing (STOVL) variant flown by the U.S. Marine Corps. Verification of the process provides quality control by confirming it meets system-level requirements through a combination of inspection, analysis, demonstration and testing.”

FRCE Commanding Officer Col. Thomas A. Atkinson was quoted as saying:

“The laser shock peening modification is essential to extending the life of the F-35B STOVL variant, and the ability to complete this procedure successfully allows FRC East to support this critical workload. Standing up this strategic capability positions FRC East as a readiness multiplier for the future of Marine Corps aviation, and I’m proud of the hard work and dedication shown by the team in achieving verification of the process and returning the first laser shock peened F-35 aircraft to the fleet.”

FRCE completed construction on a $6 million, purpose-built laser shock peening facility in August 2019, and inducted the first F-35 to undergo the procedure in June 2020.

“The big picture here is that we set up a capability that has never been stood up before. We made STOVL history by completing verification of the laser shock peening procedure on the first Marine Corps aircraft inducted for the modification and returned to the fleet,” said Jeanie Holder, the F-35 Joint Program Office induction manager at FRCE.

“As our local enterprise, we accomplished a lot to get the building stood up, get the equipment set up, and then roll the first aircraft into something that has never been done before.”

You can read more on the NAVAIR website by clicking here.

George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also works for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
11 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
DRS
DRS
3 months ago

Could the U.K./BAE set up something like this? $6m doesn’t seem much of a cost compared to other F35 costs. Long way to fly planes over to Carolina to get this done otherwise.

I have no idea how it works, and how long it prolongs airframe? life.

DanielMorgan
DanielMorgan
3 months ago
Reply to  DRS

Laser peening is widely used and is not unique to use on the F-35. It strengthens the components of things like fan blades, etc in turbine engines. It’s used commercially and in the military. The US Air Force pioneered its use in the US and engine components of the F-22 and B-1 have been subjected to the process. The article is a PR piece for this particular office and it’s not promoting something unique. It’s just that the Marines are using something the USAF has been doing for years.

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
3 months ago
Reply to  DanielMorgan

Peening doesnt strengthen components, it cannot reverse micro-cracks that have already formed. All it does is relieve the accumulated tension from cyclical loading that leads to cracks, beginning the fatigue process anew.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
3 months ago

What isn’t mentioned is what the life expectancy for the F-35B will be after this process and what the cost per airframe will be. Earlier B models were quoted as having only 2,100 flight hours as opposed to 8,000 Does anybody know? “FY22 defense bill puts a target on F-35 cost, with procurement hanging in the balance The FY22 National Defense Authorization Act issues a challenge to the Pentagon: Lower F-35 sustainment costs or the services won’t be able to buy or fly as many as they want.” https://breakingdefense.com/2021/12/fy22-defense-bill-puts-a-target-on-f-35-cost-with-procurement-hanging-in-the-balance/ “Due to the significant amount of modifications and repairs to bulkheads… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
3 months ago

What isn’t mentioned is what the life expectancy for the F-35B will be after this process and what the cost per airframe will be. Earlier B models were quoted as having only 2,100 flight hours as opposed to 8,000. Does anybody know? “The FY22 National Defense Authorization Act issues a challenge to the Pentagon: Lower F-35 sustainment costs or the services won’t be able to buy or fly as many as they want.” https://breakingdefense.com/2021/12/fy22-defense-bill-puts-a-target-on-f-35-cost-with-procurement-hanging-in-the-balance/ “Due to the significant amount of modifications and repairs to bulkheads and other structures, the program declared the F-35B ground test article was no longer representative… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Nigel Collins
Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
3 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

The article is 3 years old. Happy New Year Nigel.

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
3 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

It wont add significantly to life expectancy, the laser shock peening is equivalent to a massage, it relieves accumulated tension in the metal from repeated compression loading (tension leads to micro cracks which will continually grow until critical failure) however it cant repair damage that has already been done or prevent the accumulation of new tension. Its more of a risk reduction strategy, working to counter any impending serious failures from occurring.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
3 months ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

Many thanks for the explanation, I wonder what 2024 has in store? “Teardown inspections of the original F-35B full-scale durability test article (BH-1) completed in October 2018. The program canceled third lifetime testing of BH-1 due to the significant amount of discoveries, modifications, and repairs to bulkheads and other structures that caused the F-35B test article to no longer be representative of the wing-carry-through structure in-production aircraft. Release of the DADT report on BH-1 was expected in November 2020, but has been delayed to 2021. The program secured funding and contracted to procure another F-35B ground test article, designated BH-2,… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
3 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

For those who have trouble keeping up with reality! By  VALERIE INSINNA on December 09, 2021 at 2:31 PM https://breakingdefense.com/2021/12/fy22-defense-bill-puts-a-target-on-f-35-cost-with-procurement-hanging-in-the-balance/ FY20 DOD PROGRAMS Teardown inspections of the original F-35B full-scale durability test article (BH-1) completed in October 2018. The program canceled third lifetime testing of BH-1 due to the significant amount of discoveries, modifications, and repairs to bulkheads and other structures that caused the F-35B test article to no longer be representative of the wing-carry-through structure in-production aircraft. Release of the DADT report on BH-1 was expected in November 2020, but has been delayed to 2021. The program secured funding and… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Nigel Collins
FT
FT
3 months ago

Could this be used to fix the issue with the tail at supersonic speeds?

James Fennell
James Fennell
3 months ago
Reply to  FT

I don’t think laser peening can do anything about disinformation, info-wars are another department entirely.