F-35 jets: U.S. military grounds entire fleet

13 October, 2018, 10:14 | Author: Trevor Moore
  • The F-35B Lightning II fifth generation multi-role combat aircraft showing its vertical lift fan at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort

A fleet of F-35 fighter jets have been temporarily grounded in order to inspect the aircraft after a crash in SC last month.

Other nations that have signed contracts to join the F-35 program include the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway, according to the Pentagon.

The decision temporarily halts combat operations by Marines, who began conducting airstrikes against Taliban targets in Afghanistan the day before the crash.

The Israeli military grounded their fleet of 35 warplanes after the crash in the US.

A Marine F-35B crashed into an uninhabited marsh island near the Grays Hill community in SC on September 28.

3SQN pilots and maintenance personnel are now training on the F-35 with the US Air Force's 56th Fighter Wing at Luke.

USA officials said the suspension would apply only to those F-35s with a certain kind of fuel tube, which one official estimated at roughly half the fleet.

Now the USA military has purchased 245 aircraft from Lockheed Martin. The JPO said that if the suspect fuel tubes are installed, they will be removed and replaced. If the aircraft has those particular tubes, they will be replaced.

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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.

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

Even if the glitch is to be identified and fixed, the reputational damage of the first crash of America's most expensive military aircraft program could be more enduring.

"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".

Inspections are to be carried out on faulty fuel tubes.

However, the inspections are looking at a certain kind of fuel tube that is estimated to be in about half the F-35 fleet, US officials told The Washington Post.

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.

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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