Just as Dr. Frankenstein created a patchwork human from the parts of various cadavers, maintenance experts at Utah’s Hill Air Force Base are attempting to give life to an entirely new F-35A Lightning II from the parts of two mishap-damaged aircraft, according to a statement from the 75th Air Base Wing.
To do so, the F-35 program opted to reconstruct one aircraft, dubbed “AF-211,” that was damaged when its nose landing gear failed in June 2020. The aircraft’s nose section will be replaced with the undamaged nose from another jet, called “AF-27,″ that suffered a severe engine fire at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, in 2014.
AF-27 currently serves as a model that lets airmen practice repairing battle damage.
Experts from the F-35 Joint Program Office, the 388th Fighter Wing, the Ogden Air Logistics Complex and Lockheed Martin are working on the project, the release said. (Frankenstein’s assistant Igor, however, will noticeably be absent.)
“It takes a team to make these types of endeavors successful,” Dan Santos, F-35 JPO heavy maintenance manager, said in the statement. “I am very impressed with the collaborative efforts from the various agencies across Hill AFB, working together to make this happen.”
While other F-35s have been repurposed, this particular aircraft takes previous Air Force recycling efforts a step further. The jet merging effort is a first — and these processes are being documented for possible repurpose initiatives in the future.
The project is currently several months ahead of schedule and on track to be finished in March 2025, even without the expertise of an Ingolstadt-based doctor.
“The F-35 program is still young compared to all legacy airframes,” Dave Myers, F-35 JPO Lightning Support Team lead engineer, said in the statement. “We are doing this for the first time, and organizationally for the future, we are creating a process we can move forward with.”
Zamone “Z” Perez is a rapid response reporter and podcast producer at Defense News and Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched international ethics and atrocity prevention in his thesis. He can be found on Twitter @zamoneperez.