Pentagon grounds global fleet of F-35s after crash

12 October, 2018, 03:20 | Author: Carlos George
  • U.S. military suspends operations for F-35 fighter jets, citing safety concerns

In that incident, a 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing F-35B crashed at about 11:45 a.m. into an uninhabited marsh island near the Grays Hill community.

USA airmen walk next to a Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II aircraft, as it is moved, on the eve of the 52nd Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France June 18, 2017.

Certain fuel tubes were identified as a potential problem.

"If known good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status", DellaVedova said.

Launched in the early 1990s, the F-35 program is considered the most expensive weapons system in United States history, with an estimated cost of some $400 billion and a goal to produce 2,500 aircraft in the coming years.

The U.S. military on Thursday grounded its entire fleet of F-35 stealth fighters after one of the jets crashed during a training mission in SC last month, officials said Thursday.

Inspections were expected to be completed within 24 to 48 hours. The engines of the aircraft will be checked for suspected faulty tubes and replacements made where necessary. The Air Force has 156, the Marine Corps has 61 and the Navy has 28.

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The decision to inspect the aircraft fuel tubes stemmed from an ongoing investigation into the F-35B crash that occurred shortly after a takeoff from the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, South Carolina on September 28.

The pilot in that incident ejected safely but the aircraft was destroyed.

The temporary suspension of all F-35 flights is an embarrassment given the extraordinary cost of this frequently troubled programme. Mat Winter, director of the F-35 Joint Program Office, told reporters back in March.

The Joint Program Office statement included "international partners" in the flight operation grounding, though the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence tweeted they have only "paused some F-35 flying as a precautionary measure while we consider the findings of an ongoing enquiry".

According to data for fiscal year 2017, the most recent available, the Air Force's F-35A models had around a 55 percent readiness rate, well below that target.

Inspections are expected to last a day or two, the department said. The Israeli warplanes, purchased from the US, are a different model than the American one that crashed.

"The U.S. Services and global partners have temporarily suspended F-35 flight operations while the enterprise conducts a fleet-wide inspection of a fuel tube within the engine on all F-35 aircraft", the F-35 Joint Program Office announced in a statement Thursday morning. Gen. Amikam Norkin, wants to conduct additional tests on Israel's F-35s.

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