Believe it or not, your car and a fifth-generation fighter jet have some of the same maintenance needs. Surprised? What could your Ford, Toyota, or Dodge need that a Lockheed F-35 Lightning II needs done as well?
The answer: tire changes. When we think about the fighters, cargo planes, tankers, and bombers that take to the skies, it's pretty easy to forget the importance of something as basic as a tire. The fact is, the state of tires has been important in the aviation world for a long time. In World War II and the early days of the Cold War, B-29 pilots needed a tire gauge, among other things, to make sure their bombers were ready for takeoff.
The pilot is on the right. (YouTube Screenshot)
It's not that much of a surprise when you think about it. Yes, the planes are designed to fly, but they also need to take off and land. The tires on an airplane serve the same purpose that tires do on a car: They provide traction on runways (or roads, as the case may be). If the tires are not well-maintained in either case, the vehicle's more likely to get wrecked.
Changing a flat or worn-down tire on the F-35 is a lot like changing it on a car. You need to jack the plane up (granted, the jack for the Lightning has to have a much greater lifting capacity than one for a Buick), remove the old tire, and put on the new one. Of course, there's always the need to check that the tire pressure is just right — not too low, not too high. Incidentally, the F-35's tires, at least in the video below, are from Michelin.
Four U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II's from the 34th Fighter Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, taxi down the runway at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 3, 2017, during exercise VIGILANT ACE 18. Their tires, by the way, are made by Michelin. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Joshua Rosales)
Learn how the F-35's tires get changed in the video below. Stick around until the end, so you can see the F-35 take to the skies at full afterburner after the maintenance is done.