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U.S. military grounds entire fleet of F-35s in wake of crash

U.S. military grounds entire fleet of F-35s in wake of crash”

The US military has temporarily grounded its entire fleet of F-35 fighter jets in the wake of a crash in SC last month.

"We are actively partnering with the Pentagon's F-35 Joint Program Office, our global customers and Pratt & Whitney to support the resolution of this issue and limit disruption to the fleet", said Friedman, Michael, the spokesman for Lockheed.

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.

A Marine Corps F-35B was completely destroyed in a crash during training in SC on 28 September. The U.S. Marine Corps, Air Force, and Navy have hundreds of F-35s, both flying in the continental United States and deployed overseas, while the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Australia, Norway, Israel, Japan, and South Korea have smaller fleets.

Inspections are expected to last a day or two, the department said.

"If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced".

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

More than 320 F-35s are already operating from 15 bases worldwide, although the Pentagon and Lockheed continue to wrestle with resolving more than 900 deficiencies, including flaws in the plane's complex software. 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. The Marine pilot safely ejected from the plane.

The decision to inspect the aircraft fuel tubes stemmed from an ongoing investigation into the F-35B crash that occurred shortly after a takeoff from the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, South Carolina on September 28. The engines of the aircraft will be checked for suspected faulty tubes and replacements made where necessary.

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

"We will take every measure to ensure safe operations while we deliver, sustain and modernize the F-35".

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

Now the US military has purchased 245 aircraft from Lockheed Martin. Depending on the availability of parts, the fuel tube can be replaced quickly. The US government's accountability office estimates all costs associated with the project will amount to one trillion dollars.



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