Updated January 20th, 2024 at 13:29 IST

Lost Flashlight Causes $4 Million in Damages to US Stealth Fighter F-35A at Luke Air Base in Arizona

During routine maintenance at Luke Air Force Base, a flashlight was inadvertently left in an F-35 engine, leading to $4 million in damages.

The damage caused by the flashlight amounted to $3,933,106 | Image:USAF
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Arizona: A flashlight left inside an F-35 fighter jet's engine during routine maintenance resulted in significant damage, amounting to a whopping $4 million beyond 'local repair' for the $14 million engine at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. The mishap occurred on March 15, 2023, when a maintenance team of three failed to conduct a proper inventory of their tools after completing the routine work.

A F-35 Lightning II. | Lockheed Martin

 

According to the United States Air Force aircraft accident investigation board report released on Thursday, the maintenance team overlooked the important step of checking every tool and failed to adhere to an established Air Force directive. This directive underlines the importance of inspecting an engine before starting it and prohibits wearing loose items while working on an engine.

F-35's Pratt & Whitney Ingests Flashlight Due to Fuel Line Installation Gone Wrong

The incident took place while the team was installing a metering plug into an engine fuel line, a standard procedure required across the Air Force's F-35 fleet to address a fuel system issue identified in December 2022. The report concluded that the flashlight was ingested during the engine test, although the plane's sensors did not detect any foreign object ingestion. Abnormal noises were reported by the mishap team as the engine was shutting down, indicating that something was amiss.

A F-35 A Lightning II  | USAF

 

Costly Consequences: $3,933,106 in Damages

The damage caused by the flashlight amounted to $3,933,106, as detailed in the report. Fortunately, no injuries were reported in connection with the incident. The 56th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron within the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base carried out the maintenance work.

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Luke Air Force Base, serving as a primary training base for Air Force pilots and crews, with the 56th wing responsible for training and qualifying personnel on the F-35, has graduated over 61,000 pilots since its establishment in 1941. Despite the significant damage to the F-35's engine, the incident did not lead to any disclosed administrative actions against the involved maintainers.

A formation of six F-32 Lightning 2. 

 

Adding to the intrigue, this mishap occurred just a month before Luke Air Force Base celebrated the graduation of its 2,000th F-35 pilot in April. Despite the significant damage to the F-35's engine,as per reports, the incident did not lead to any disclosed administrative actions against the involved maintainers.

 

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Published January 20th, 2024 at 13:29 IST