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.”