US Grounds Global Fleet Of F-35 After South Carolina Crash

F-35 fighter jet. Pic MoD

The Defense Department has temporarily grounded all of its 245 F-35 fighter jets for inspection of a potentially faulty engine part in the wake of last month's crash in SC.

"The US 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", according to a statement issued by the Department of Defense.

Of the 280 operational F-35s purchased to date by the USA and worldwide partners, only about half can fly, Vice Adm.

A Marine Corps F-35B was completely destroyed in a crash during training in SC on 28 September. The Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps all have different versions of the stealthy fighter.

Joe DellaVedova, spokesman for the Pentagon's F-35 office said inspections "are expected to be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours".

During the crash investigation, certain fuel tubes were identified as a potential problem, largely involving aircraft built before 2015.

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

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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.

The world's most expensive fighter jet, the F-35, has been grounded around the world just weeks after its first successful combat sortie, as investigators try to figure out what caused a crash of the plane during a training mission last month. There are more than 340 F-35s being used now by the United States and other countries.

The pilot, a U.S. Marine, according to officials, ejected safely.

"The primary goal following any mishap is the prevention of future incidents". John Pendleton, an official for the federal watchdog agency Government Accountability Office, said there hasn't been enough focus within the Air Force on sustaining the F-35, instead of focusing on production.

The issue as described by the JPO indicates the issue is believed to come from a subcontractor who supplied the fuel tubes for engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney. F-35s have already been delivered to the United Kingdom, Italy, Israel, Netherlands, Turkey, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Norway.

"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".

This story is developing and will be updated.

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