An F-35 has been destroyed as a result of an in-flight FOD mishap involving bats. The aircraft was struck by a flock of bats and ingested several into its engine resulting in a crash that destroyed the aircraft. The pilot safely ejected.
Navy officials blamed the accident on the aircraft’s extreme stealth. Bats, who navigate using eco-ranging, a form of radar on a different frequency, are apparently blind to the F-35’s presence due to its extreme stealth and see the giant aircraft as having a return the size of a mosquito, the bat’s favorite food. The bats then instinctively swarm the aircraft, attempting to capture and eat it, resulting in engine ingestion and subsequent damage.
The manufacturer is reportedly working on a blip enhancer tailored to the bat’s frequency range for use during take-off and landing. It is hoped that the enhancer will enlarge the aircraft’s return to the size of a hawk, a predator of the bats, and scare the bats off. When asked why they couldn’t just make the aircraft appear its normal size, a Navy spokesman said,
“You have to remember, the F-35 is so inherently stealthy that it’s just not possible to enhance the return much above that of a small hawk without resorting to external power pods.”
The Navy spokesman went on to note that the F-35’s extreme stealth over the entire electromagnetic spectrum has caused numerous unanticipated problems. In a surprise piece of news previously unreported, the spokesman stated that several F-35’s have been lost on the ground when the aircraft were parked in and around hangars without taking careful note of GPS storage co-ordinates and ground crew on the following shifts couldn’t find them. The spokesman said,
“It’s a bit embarrassing but we have lost several aircraft. We know they’re out there, in and around the hangars, but we just can’t find them. We’re hopeful that someone will eventually bump into them.”
Well, there you go. I guess even stealth has its downside.