The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division has developed a new gizmo that slashes the amount of time it takes to work on one of the actuators in the F-35B Lightning II, the short takeoff, vertical landing version of the Joint Strike Fighter.
The actuator, a device that allows the duct used in the aircraft’s takeoffs and landings to angle into the proper position, is pretty easy to maintain in itself. However, getting to the piece to do work is a chore that requires removing the engine. But this new tool allows mechanics to remove and replace the actuator without taking out the engine, cutting the amount of work from a few days to a few hours. This means that testing on the F-35B should move along faster than previously anticipated, which is good news for the aircraft, which is at risk of being canceled if development doesn’t go well.
The tool itself has not been named and it doesn’t look like anything you can find at Home Depot, but it has one large arm and at least two pivot points. It’s able to maneuver into the airframe and connect with the actuator.
Now they just need to figure out how to fly a spare engine out to the carrier.