The USAF variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is falling short of its specified unrefueled range requirement:
The U.S. Air Force’s F-35A Lightning II appears to be unable to fly as far as once predicted, according to a Pentagon document.
The aircraft is currently estimated to have a combat mission radius of 584 nautical miles, just short of the required 590 nautical miles, according to a Selected Acquisition Report dated Dec. 31…
The report says the shortfall is caused by increased use of engine bleed air and fuel capacity issues “that are not yet fully known…”
The report says the range estimates have also been cut for the Marine Corps’ short take-off B-model and the Navy’s carrier-base C-model. But those planes’ ranges still exceed the requirements.
The B-model has a radius of 469 nautical miles and a requirement of 450; the C-model, 615 and 600.
Options in consideration for the Alpha variant are changing the internal plumbing of the tanks, or trying to wedge a few more into voided nooks and crannies.
The option of downselecting to the Navy variant – which would save us all a lot of money – is apparently not in consideration.
When in doubt, charlie out.