Pentagon grounds F-35 fighter jets in wake of crash
11 October, 2018, 21:56 | Author: Myra Gill
The skies over the Lowcountry might be quieter for a while after officials announced Thursday that all F-35 stealth fighters have been grounded in the wake of a recent crash involving a Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort jet.
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 F-35 is the costliest USA weapons system.
A Marine Corps F-35B was completely destroyed in a crash during training in SC on 28 September.
It will equip the US Air Force and Marine Corps as well as several of Washington's allies.
But the MOD said F-35 flight trials from the aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, were continuing and the programme remained on schedule to provide United Kingdom armed forces with "a game-changing capability".
More than 320 F-35s are already operating from 15 bases worldwide, although the Pentagon and Lockheed continue to wrestle with resolving more than 900 deficiencies, including flaws in the plane's complex software. If the aircraft has good fuel tubes, it will be allowed to begin immediately flying again.
Britain, however, said the measure did not affect all of its F-35s, and that some flying missions had been "paused", not grounded.
The United States temporarily suspended operations for its fleet of F-35 fighter jets for 24 to 48 hours to check for possible faulty fuel tubes in the engines of the planes, after a crash in SC late last month raised concerns about whether the part was to blame.
"F-35 flight trials from the aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, are continuing and the programme remains on schedule to provide our armed forces with a game-changing capability". The Marine pilot safely ejected from the plane.
Military officials said the inspections ordered this week are to help prevent any future incidents.
"We will take every measure to ensure safe operations while we deliver, sustain and modernise the F-35 for the warfighter and our defence partners".
So far, the U.S. military has taken delivery of 245 F-35s, majority to the Air Force. The US government's accountability office estimates all costs associated with the project will amount to one trillion dollars. But the problem has already been identified as faulty fuel tubes.
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