They never learn.
At least it seems that way.If the F-35 is 'plagued' by anything, it is plagued by critics who haven't a clue as to how Airframe Durability testing is conducted, what its objectives are, and how it fits into the modern aircraft development process. It seems this ignorance 'dooms' the F-35 program to an annual round of misplaced and sneering derision by people who have no idea they are broadcasting their own ignorance after every DOT&E report release.
|Durability Testing Promotes the Useful Life.|
In parallel with the flight-test programme a series of ground fatigue trials were carried out on the fifth development airframe. A test rig set up in a hangar at Fort Worth used more than 100 hydraulic rams to apply stress to an instrumented airframe, simulating the loads imposed by takeoff, landing and combat manoeuvering at up to 10g. By the summer of 1978, this airframe had clocked up more than 16,000 hours of simulated flight in the rig. These tests were carried out at a careful and deliberate pace which sometimes lagged behind schedule.
As the tests progressed, cracks developed in several structural bulkheads. News of this problem resulted in hostile comments in the media, but GD pointed out in its own defence that the cracks had occurred not in flying aircraft but on ground test specimens. If the risk of such cracks during development testing was not a real one, a company spokesman remarked to the author at the time, no-one would be willing to pay for ground structural test rigs. GD redesigned the affected components, thickening the metal, and installed metal plates to reinforce existing units.
--Source: F-16: Modern Fighter Aircraft Vol 2., Pg 18. ARCO Publishing, 1983.