US F-35 Jets are Grounded Following Crash

F-35 fighter jet. Pic MoD

"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".

All variants of the jet, including the Air Force "A" version and Navy "C" version, are included, according to Lee Hudson of Aviation Week.

"If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced", the Pentagon said in a statement.

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

The F-35 program, the most expensive weapon in USA military history, has been marred by delays and cost overruns and other mechanical issues.

The U.S. Defense Department has temporarily suspended flight operations of Lockheed Martin Corp.'s F-35 after its first crash prompted inspections of the fighter jet fleet.

Inspections should be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours.

However, the inspections are looking at a certain kind of fuel tube that is estimated to be in about half the F-35 fleet, US officials told The Washington Post. The Air Force has 156, the Marine Corps has 61 and the Navy has 28.

The Israeli military said the USA has shared the findings of its investigation into the F-35 crash two weeks ago, but Israel's air force chief, Maj.

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The announcement of the grounding comes after a United States Marine Corps F-35B from the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, known as the "Warlords", crashed in SC near Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort on September 28. Luckily, the pilot of the crashed aircraft ejected and landed safely.

According to Pentagon figures, 320 F-35s have been delivered globally, mainly to the United States but also Israel and Britain, as well as other partner countries.

The plant employs about 14,500 people, including 8,800 on the F-35 program.

The grounding news also comes two days after Defense News reported that Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has ordered the military services to get readiness rates on four planes, including the F-35, up above 80 percent by next September.

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

On the same day of the F-35's American combat debut, two F-35s took off from and landed on a British aircraft carrier for the first time.

It cost an estimated $400bn and had a goal to produce 2,500 aircraft in the coming years.

The stand down affects more than 200 jets while an "inspection of a fuel tube" in F-35 engines takes place, according to a Pentagon spokesman. F-35s have already been delivered to the United Kingdom, Italy, Israel, Netherlands, Turkey, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Norway.

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