Pentagon Grounds Troubled F-35 Fighters After First Crash

The Pentagon has grounded all F-35s

The Pentagon has grounded all F-35s

Britain was forced to ground all 16 of its new F-35 fighter jets after the USA government discovered that a faulty fuel tube was behind a crash last month.

Although the Marine Corps is the first US service to fly its joint strike fighters in combat, the aircraft has been used by the Israeli air force to strike targets.

The inspections will look at possible defects in fuel tubes in the engines and are expected to be completed within the next several days.

Lockheed is slated to deliver 91 jets this year.

Inspections were expected to be completed within 24 to 48 hours. "If known good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status", the Defense Department said in a statement.

Military officials said the inspections ordered this week are to help prevent any future incidents. During the subsequent investigation, certain fuel tubes were identified as a potential problem, largely involving aircraft built before 2015.

The inspection was prompted by initial data from the investigation into the crash of a Marine Corps F-35B from a training squadron at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in SC.

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

A new F-35B Lightning fighter jet takes off

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

According to Pentagon figures, 320 F-35s have been delivered globally, mainly to the United States but also Israel and Britain, as well as other partner countries. The more complex Navy and Marine Corps variants of the plane remained above $100 million.

So far, the U.S. military has taken delivery of 245 F-35s, a lot of them to the Air Force. The HMS Queen Elizabeth is off the eastern US seaboard in the Atlantic Ocean conducting developmental test trials of the joint strike fighter for the United Kingdom.

More than 320 F-35s around the world must now undergo the inspections, according to a source familiar with the program.

"The US services and worldwide 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", said Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman for the F-35 program.

The F-35B is the short takeoff and vertical landing variant of the aircraft. It represents a step-change in capability but the F-35's complexity has inevitably thrown up problems.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has projected a total lifetime cost of $1 trillion for the program. Gen. Amikam Norkin, wants to conduct additional tests on Israel's F-35s.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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