Published: Fri, October 12, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Pentagon Orders Entire F-35 Fleet Grounded

Pentagon Orders Entire F-35 Fleet Grounded

But the MOD said F-35 flight trials from the aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, were continuing and the programme remained on schedule to provide United Kingdom armed forces with "a game-changing capability".

A Marine Corps F-35B was completely destroyed in a crash during training in SC on 28 September.

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

"If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced", according to the Joint Program Office statement. Inspections are expected to be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours, Dellavedova said.

Preliminary data from a Marine Corps F-35B that was completely destroyed in a SC crash last month showed a potential problem with a fuel tube, officials said.

"The action to perform the inspection is driven from initial data from the ongoing investigation of the F-35B that crashed in the vicinity of Beaufort, South Carolina", DellaVedova said in a statement.

"During this mission the F-35B conducted an air strike in support of ground clearance operations, and the strike was deemed successful by the ground force commander", said a Marine Corps statement confirming the strike.

"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".

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It is an embarrassing development for the F-35 programme, the largest and most expensive weapons project of its type in the world.

For the U.S. Defense Department, the timing could not be worse.

The Pentagon has grounded the F-35 fighter jet in order to inspect the fleet in the wake of a crash last month in SC.

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

Checks were being carried out to see whether the F-35s, the most advanced fighter jet ever created, have the same tubes as those which were used in the plane which went down. The more complex Navy and Marine Corps variants of the plane remained above $100 million. The Air Force has 156, the Marine Corps has 61 and the Navy has 28.

The F-35B is the short takeoff and vertical landing variant of the aircraft. The program is estimated to have a lifetime cost of over $1.5 trillion.

A spokesman for the F-35s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, said Thursday morning that industry partners were working with the F-35's Joint Program Office to investigate the problems.

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.

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