F-35 Jets: Military grounds entire fleet

Elias Hubbard
October 11, 2018

The Pentagon has ordered its entire fleet of F-35 fighters to be grounded in the wake of a Marine F-35B crash in SC last month. The decision comes in the wake of a Marine Corps' F-35B crash in SC last month.

According to Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman for the F-35 program, the U.S. 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.

"At this time, the cause of the mishap has not yet been determined", said Capt. Christopher Harrison, a U.S. Marine Corps spokesman.

Inspections are expected to be completed within the next two days, the statement said, and a defense official told CNN some aircraft have already been returned to flight status.

For the F-35, it's not clear yet how many jets will be grounded for the long term.

The F-35 has attracted attention not only for its capabilities but also for its cost, after delays and overruns helped make the fighter jet program the most expensive in the Pentagon's history.

The inspections should be complete within 24 to 48 hours, Task & Purpose reported, citing a Pentagon official. "We will take every measure to ensure safe operations while we deliver, sustain and modernize the F-35 for the warfighter and our defense partners". The U.S. Marine Corps, Air Force, and Navy have hundreds of F-35s, both flying in the continental United States and deployed overseas, while the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Australia, Norway, Israel, Japan, and South Korea have smaller fleets.

"The primary goal following any mishap is the prevention of future incidents", according to the statement.

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.

Certain fuel tubes were identified as a potential problem.

The F-35 program is expected to cost the Pentagon about $406 billion for 2,456 fighter jets that the services intend to buy, according to the Joint Program Office.

So far, the USA military has taken delivery of 245 F-35s, a lot of them to the Air Force. There are more than 340 F-35s being used now by the United States and other countries.

Now the USA military has purchased 245 aircraft from Lockheed Martin.

Because the problem is related to a fleetwide engine issue, rather than just in the F-35B models, it appears unlikely that the problem is unrelated to the short-takeoff and vertical-landing capabilities of the Marine's design. The program is estimated to have a lifetime cost of over $1.5 trillion. Depending on the availability of parts, the fuel tube can be replaced quickly.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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