Pentagon grounds F-35 fighter jets in wake of crash

Aaron Brown
October 12, 2018

The news was reported by multiple outlets, including Task & Purpose and The Marine Corps Times, and comes after a Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II was destroyed in a crash September 28 on Little Barnwell Island, just a few miles from the air station. The pilot safely ejected.

Flight operations for the strike fighter have been temporarily suspended as the military conducts a fleet-wide inspection of a fuel tube within the engines of all F-35 aircraft, a Pentagon spokesman told Task & Purpose.

"In this scenario, we know the exact issue", Harrison said, "and guidance has been provided to complete the inspections", which Harrison said are ongoing.

On Wednesday, Defense News reported that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had ordered the Air Force and Navy to make 80 percent of the fleet of key fighters, including the F-35, mission capable within a year. If the faulty part is found, it will be removed and replaced.

Mr DellaVedova added that if "known good" tubes are already in place, then those planes will be returned to operational status.

The South Carolina crash came only one day after the U.S. military first used the F-35 in combat, when Marine Corps fighters hit Taliban targets in Afghanistan.

According to Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman for the F-35 program, the United States and its global partners - including Britain and Israel - have temporarily suspended F-35 flight operations for a fleet-wide inspection of a fuel tube within the engine on all F-35 aircraft.

The U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps plan to buy a total of 2,456 F-35s, at an estimated cost of $325 billion.

A new F-35B Lightning fighter jet takes off

The crash in SC involved an F-35B, which is able to land vertically and costs around $100m (£75m).

The tube being inspected is part of the jets' engine, which is not manufactured by Lockheed Martin.

A US official says only half the current fleet of aircraft have the fuel tube, but inspections will be carried out on the entire USA fleet.

The US military has temporarily grounded its entire fleet of F-35 fighter jets in the wake of a crash in SC last month.

Inspections are expected to last a day or two, the department said.

"We will take every measure to ensure safe operations while we deliver, sustain and modernize the F-35".

Mr DellaVedova said: "The primary goal following any mishap is the prevention of future incidents".

Checks were being carried out to see whether the F-35s, the most advanced fighter jet ever created, have the same tubes as those which were used in the plane which went down. F-35s have already been delivered to the United Kingdom, Italy, Israel, Netherlands, Turkey, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Norway.

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