To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of the level of susceptibility of the Joint Strike Fighter F-35B to catching fire or exploding due to a lighting strike (a) while flying and (b) on the ground.
The F-35 design has yet to complete its lightning strike testing. Due to this incomplete testing, and the fact that design modifications are planned to meet required levels of performance, a flight restriction has been placed on the aircraft which prevents operation within 25 nautical miles of lightning conditions. This restriction is reduced when the aircraft is on the ground to 10 nautical miles and also uses additional protection measures such as shelters. These restrictions will be lifted once modifications have been embodied and testing completed. The modification and testing is due to be completed ahead of UK Introduction to Service in mid 2016.