Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

Pentagon Orders Entire F-35 Fleet Grounded

U.S. military suspends operations for F-35 fighter jets, citing safety concerns All US F-35s grounded worldwide
Ellis Copeland | 12 October, 2018, 08:12

The Marine pilot safely ejected before the crash. "The aircraft mishap board is continuing its work and the U.S. Marine Corps will provide additional information when it becomes available".

A USA official says only half the current fleet of aircraft have the fuel tube, but inspections will be carried out on the entire US fleet.

Certain fuel tubes were identified as a potential problem.

The inspections will look at possible defects in fuel tubes in the engines and are expected to be completed within the next several days.

The first United States combat mission conducted by an F-35 happened last month when a Marine Corps jet launched off the amphibious warship USS Essex struck targets in Afghanistan.

Initial data from the ongoing investigation into the September 28 crash indicates a fuel tube may have been faulty. "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".

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.

The Israeli warplanes, purchased from the US, are a different model than the American one that crashed.

While its costs per aircraft are coming down there are still questions about how many planes the U.S. can afford and whether it should also buy a cheaper, less capable aircraft alongside the F-35.

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"The primary goal following any mishap is the prevention of future incidents", the Pentagon statement added.

The DOD said in the statement that if "good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status".

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

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. It represents a step-change in capability but the F-35's complexity has inevitably thrown up problems.

All U.S. and global F-35 fighter jets made by Lockheed Martin Co have been grounded so that fuel tubes can be examined, a Pentagon spokesperson said on Thursday.

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

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has projected a total lifetime cost of $1 trillion for the program.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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