U.S. military grounds entire fleet of F-35s in wake of crash

13 October, 2018, 10:09 | Author: Emmett Rice
  • F-35 fighter jet. Pic MoD

The U.S. military on Thursday grounded its entire fleet of F-35 stealth fighters after one of the jets crashed during a training mission in SC last month, officials said Thursday.

The squadron is due to bring the first two jets to Australia in mid-December for a "Verification & Validation Testing" program and to allow in-country F-35 maintenance training to begin.

On Sept. 28, the oft-maligned F-35 program appeared to be vindicated when the Marine Corps' variant, an F-35B, conducted an airstrike in support of operations in Afghanistan, for the first time. Inspections are expected to be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours, Dellavedova said. It was the first time an F-35 has crashed.

The wide-ranging grounding of the entire fleet comes after a Marine F-35B joint strike fighter went down in Beaufort, South Carolina, on September 28.

The Marine Corps and Air Force have confirmed the grounding of their F-35s is a precaution so the aircraft can be inspected.

The U.S. military has grounded its entire fleet of F-35s in the wake of one of the planes crashing in SC two weeks ago.

The ADF said the groundings triggered by the United States crash "will not affect the delivery of aircraft to Australia".

Certain fuel tubes were identified as a potential problem. "If known good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status", the Defense Department said in a statement.

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Britain, however, said the measure did not affect all of its F-35s, and that some flying missions had been "paused", not grounded. The Marine pilot safely ejected before the crash.

Of the 280 operational F-35s purchased to date by US and global partners, only 51 percent are now available for flight, Vice Adm.

A pilot sits in the cockpit of an F-35 fighter jet preparing for a training mission at Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah.

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. The US government's accountability office estimates all costs associated with the project will amount to one trillion dollars.

The F-35B is the short takeoff and vertical landing variant of the aircraft.

"F-35 flight trials from the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth are continuing and the program remains on schedule to provide our armed forces with a game-changing capability", a British defence ministry spokesman said.

Flight operations for the strike fighter have been temporarily suspended as the military conducts a fleet-wide inspection of a fuel tube within the engines of all F-35 aircraft, a Pentagon spokesman told Task & Purpose.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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