Published: Sat, October 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

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

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

Two U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II's assigned to the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, fly a combat mission over Afghanistan, Sept. 27, 2018.

As a result of an initial investigation, the 245 F-35s being used in the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps will be grounded in an operational pause so inspections can be carried out to see if "a suspect fuel tube" in the plane's engine has been installed. If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced.

The decision comes amid the investigation into the September 28 crash, which happened after the F-35B's take-off from an air station in Beaufort.

"We will continue to review the situation as further information becomes available". The pilot safely ejected from the aircraft.

The US Marine Corp led the way with a flight ban on all of its F-35s after one suffered a catastrophic engine failure and crashed in SC in September 28 - the pilot ejected safely, but the remains of the broken fuselage had to be picked out of boggy marshlands near Beaufort.

"The primary goal following any mishap is the prevention of future incidents", DellaVedova said.

The Air Force has 156, the Marine Corps has 61 and the Navy has 28.

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Even before the F-35 grounding, experts speculated that Mattis's goal of reaching 80 percent readiness for these aircraft-the F-35, F-22, F-16, and F/A-18-was a pipe dream.

The accident marked the first crash of an F-35 in the 17 years since Lockheed Martin won the competition for the fighter jet in October 2001 and teamed with other contractors to begin production of the high-profile plane.

Foreign operators of the F-35, such as Britain or Israel, are also grounding their fighter jets for inspection, according to the JPO statement.

"This is being done as a precaution in order for all aircraft to go through a mandatory inspection that the Joint Program Office has asked us to complete", Harrison added. The program is estimated to have a lifetime cost of over $1.5 trillion.

The F-35B is the short takeoff, vertical landing variant of the aircraft, which allows the pilot to hover and land vertically like a helicopter - a necessity for the Marines, which typically operate from amphibious ships with smaller decks than aircraft carriers.

"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.

The statement read, in part, "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".

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