Published: Thu, October 11, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Stealth Fighter Jet Grounded Globally After First-Ever Crash

Stealth Fighter Jet Grounded Globally After First-Ever Crash

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 U.S. Marine Corps version of Lockheed Martin's F35 Joint Strike Fighter.

An official report questioned earlier this year whether the F-35 was ready for combat after dozens of faults were found.

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. Planes known to have working fuel tubes installed will return to the skies.

"If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced", according to the Joint Program Office statement.

Of the 280 operational F-35s purchased to date by the USA and worldwide partners, only about half can fly, Vice Adm.

The Italian Air Force has already completed its inspections and, as it did not find the faulty part, is back to normal flight operations, according to two sources. The program is estimated to have a lifetime cost of over $1.5 trillion.

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A Marine Corps F-35B was completely destroyed in a crash during training in SC on 28 September. Luckily, the pilot of the crashed aircraft ejected and landed safely. F-35s have already been delivered to the United Kingdom, Italy, Israel, Netherlands, Turkey, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Norway. Because of the ongoing investigation, he said he had no comment on the specifics of the flight disruption.

"The primary goal following any mishap is the prevention of future incidents", said Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman with the Pentagon's Joint Program Office, which oversees the F-35. "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 temporary suspension of all F-35 flights is an embarrassment given the extraordinary cost of this frequently troubled programme. "But it does seem to me kind of ludicrous that we get new aircraft off the production line and within a month they are at 65 percent readiness".

Because the problem is related to a fleetwide engine issue, rather than just in the F-35B models, it appears unlikely that the problem is unrelated to the short-takeoff and vertical-landing capabilities of the Marine's design.

However there is no going back now.

In April, a Marine Corps F-35B out the Marine Corps air station at Cherry Point, North Carolina, was forced to make an emergency landing when the aircraft fuel light came on.

It wasn't immediately clear how many aircraft were affected.

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