Published: Thu, October 11, 2018

After crash, Pentagon says temporary pause in F-35 flights

After crash, Pentagon says temporary pause in F-35 flights

The U.S. military has grounded its entire fleet of F-35s in the wake of one of the planes crashing in SC two weeks ago.

The South Carolina crash came only one day after the United States military first used the F-35 in combat, when Marine Corps fighters hit Taliban targets in Afghanistan. "If known good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status. The aircraft mishap board is continuing its work and the U.S. Marine Corps will provide additional information when it becomes available".

"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.

"Safety is our paramount concern, therefore the United Kingdom has made a decision to pause some F-35 flying as a precautionary measure while we consider the findings of an ongoing enquiry", a British Defense Ministry spokesman said.

The F-35 stealth jet has been called the most expensive weapons system in history, and its development was beset by multiple delays before it was deemed combat ready.

The military say that the inspection process is expected to take up to 48 hours.

"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".

It will equip the US Air Force and Marine Corps as well as several of Washington's allies.

Last month, the Pentagon announced that the latest batch of F-35s would cost the military $89 million per unit for the most common variant, the first time the plane's price tag had dropped below $90 million.

A US official says only half the current fleet of aircraft have the fuel tube, but inspections will be carried out on the entire USA fleet. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, raised questions on the troubles still facing the F-35 program and its readiness rate of about 65 percent.

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

He added that suspect fuel tubes would be removed and replaced.

The temporary suspension of all F-35 flights is an embarrassment given the extraordinary cost of this frequently troubled programme. Once these are checked or replaced the aircraft will be back in the air.

The issue as described by the JPO indicates the issue is believed to come from a subcontractor who supplied the fuel tubes for engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney. It represents a step-change in capability but the F-35's complexity has inevitably thrown up problems.

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