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September 14, 2009—Despite a fresh engine mishap reported during ground testing last week of the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine, program officials with Lockheed Martin and the Air Force insisted that the incident would have little impact on plans to accelerate development and testing for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

“Based on where we are now, I don’t see this delaying flight testing,” said Air Force Maj. Gen. C.D. Moore, deputy F-35 program executive officer, when questioned by reporters at AFA’s Air & Space Conference Monday.

During a stressful ground testing certification run last Friday, technicians noticed sparks coming out of the jet exhaust pipe, spurring an examination of the engine. Several of the engine fan blades were damaged, but no serious damage was reported on the turbine.

P&W officials said they were investigating the incident to determine the cause. Moore added the program was conducting an investigation along with P&W and said it was too early to suggest a cause.

Despite some continued Congressional interest in sustaining the General Electric-Rolls Royce F136 alternate engine, Moore would only say the program office remains focused on the single engine program.

During a brief media availability Monday, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said he understood that the F135 mishap occurred when the engine was nearly complete with its testing run, and nothing from what he has learned so far has given him any serious reservations about the single engine path being taken by the Air Force and the Obama Administration.