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

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

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

F-35 combat jets was grounded to investigate engine problems that may have caused a Marine Corps plane crash last month.

The three USA armed services and global militaries flying the single-engine F-35 all made the decision Thursday to temporarily halt flights while investigators conduct a fleetwide inspection for a faulty part-a fuel tube within the engine-according to Joe Dellavedova, a spokesman for the F-35 Joint Program Office.

The South Carolina crash - the first ever for the 5th-generation plane - ironically happened just a day after an F-35B successfully completed a mission in Afghanistan, an event that was reported by the Pentagon as a major milestone for the program.

It will equip the US Air Force and Marine Corps as well as several of Washington's allies. A Marine Corps F-35 operating from the USS Essex amphibious assault ship recently struck a Taliban target in Afghanistan, the first successful USA combat sortie for the jet.

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Although the Marine Corps is the first US service to fly its joint strike fighters in combat, the aircraft has been used by the Israeli air force to strike targets.

All three services have stopped flying the F-35 while fuel tubes in the aircraft are inspected and replaced if necessary. Mission capable rates now hover between 49 and 71 percent, according to Defense News, which first reported the order.

"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". If it is found that good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status.

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.

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He said inspections were expected to be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours.

The inspections come in the wake of an F-35B jet crash outside of Beaufort, S.C. on September 28.

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

"The primary goal following any mishap is the prevention of future incidents", according to the statement. "We will take every measure to ensure safe operations while we deliver, sustain and modernize the F-35 for the warfighter and our defense partners".

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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. About half the F-35s are believed to have the faulty tube, and they include aircraft owned by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. Depending on the availability of parts, the fuel tube can be replaced quickly.

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