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Despite Dreamliner woes, Pentagon stands behind battery use in fighter jets

Posting in Technology

Lithium-ion batteries may be causing continual problems with Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, but the Pentagon insists they are fit for use in F-35 fighter jets.

Reuters reports that even though lithium-ion batteries have come under bad press recently -- due to the grounding of many Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes following a string of battery failures -- the Pentagon will remain with this type of power source for their new F-35 fighter jet series.

Spokesman for the Pentagon's project, Joe DellaVedova, told the publication:

"The bottom line is the lithium-ion batteries used on the F-35s have been through extensive tests and have redundant systems to protect the aircraft and battery compartments; they are considered safe."

The Pentagon says that the batteries used come from a different manufacturer, and have gone through rigorous tests to ensure they are suitable. The F-35 program is worth $396 billion and has included both the manufacture and running of fighter jets which can evade radar technology.

However, DellaVedova did mention that there have been some "irregularities" in using the lighter battery variant than traditional nickel-cadmium types. On occasion, the lithium-ion batteries used in the jets have had trouble starting in cold weather -- something traced back to battery chargers. A temporary fix for the issue means that the F-35s are being warmed on cold days before starting the engine.

New versions of the fighter jets will be adapted to address this issue, but as one unnamed official told the publication: "It's not ideal when you're talking about a fighter jet that has to be ready to go at a moment's notice."

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner range has been grounded by the majority of airlines using them after battery failures caused in-flight issues in Japan and on-board fires. Boeing has began testing the craft to try and find a solution to the problem, but no fix has yet been implemented.

Image credit: Boeing

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— By on February 13, 2013, 12:53 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure