The US Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE) has achieved a new milestone with the completion of the verification for the first laser shock peened F-35B Lightning II aircraft.

According to the US Navy, laser shock peening increases the aircraft frame’s strength without the addition of any extra material or weight.

This peening procedure helps expand the life expectancy of the F-35B, a fifth-generation fighter.

The verification process also confirms that the aircraft meets system-level requirements evaluated through inspection, analysis, demonstration, and testing.

 F-35B is the short take-off-vertical landing (STOVL) variant flown by the US Marine Corps (USMC).

FRCE commanding officer colonel Thomas Atkinson said: “The laser shock peening modification is essential to extending the life of the F-35B STOVL variant, and the ability to complete this procedure successfully allows FRC East to support this critical workload.

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“Standing up this strategic capability positions FRC East as a readiness multiplier for the future of Marine Corps aviation, and I’m proud of the hard work and dedication shown by the team in achieving verification of the process and returning the first laser shock peened F-35 aircraft to the fleet.”

In August 2019, FRCE completed construction on a $6m purposely built laser shock peening facility.

It marks the world’s first and only facility that can conduct the laser shock peening modification on an F-35 jet, US Navy stated.

In June 2020, the facility inducted the first F-35 to undergo the peening procedure.