Global fleet of F-35 fighter jets grounded after US crash

Global fleet of F-35 fighter jets grounded after US crash

The Pentagon on Thursday ordered a temporary pause in all F-35 fighter jet flights in order to inspect the fleet in the wake of a crash last month in SC.

"We are actively partnering with the Pentagon's F-35 Joint Program Office, our global customers, and Pratt & Whitney to support the resolution of this issue and limit disruption to the fleet", Lockheed spokesman Michael Friedman said. 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 grounding is in response to data from the ongoing investigation of the Marine Corps' F-35B Lightning II that crashed near Beaufort, S.C. on September 28, according to a statement by the F-35 Joint Program Office.

"If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced", according to the Joint Program Office statement. "If known good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status".

The F-35 programme has been hit by numerous delays, cost overruns and setbacks, including a mysterious engine fire in 2014 that also led to commanders temporarily grounding the aircraft.

Once servicing and maintenance costs for the F-35 are factored in over the aircraft's lifespan through 2070, overall program costs are expected to rise to $1.5 trillion.

"Safety is our paramount concern, therefore the United Kingdom has chose to pause some F-35 flying as a precautionary measure while we consider the findings of an ongoing enquiry", a British Defense Ministry spokesman said. The pilot ejected safely from the single-seat jet, but the aircraft was completely destroyed.

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"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".

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

In April, a Marine Corps F-35B out the Marine Corps air station at Cherry Point, North Carolina, was forced to make an emergency landing when the aircraft fuel light came on.

So far, the United States military has taken delivery of 245 F-35s, a lot of them to the Air Force.

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

Other nations that have signed contracts to join the F-35 program include the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway, according to the Pentagon. But the problem has already been identified as faulty fuel tubes. It represents a step-change in capability but the F-35's complexity has inevitably thrown up problems.

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