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

Lester Mason
October 11, 2018

The three USA armed services and global militaries flying the single-engine F-35 all made the decision Thursday to temporarily halt flights while investigators conduct a fleetwide inspection for a faulty part-a fuel tube within the engine-according to Joe Dellavedova, a spokesman for the F-35 Joint Program Office.

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.

Launched in the early 1990s, the F-35 program is considered the most expensive weapons system in USA history, with an estimated cost of some $400 billion and a goal to produce 2,500 aircraft in the coming years.

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

The Marine Corps and Air Force have confirmed the grounding of their F-35s is a precaution so the aircraft can be inspected.

According to the Marine Corps Times, "investigators. suspect there is a widespread problem with the advanced fighter's fuel tubes". "If known good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status", the Defense Department said in a statement.


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.

The F-35 programme has been hit by numerous delays, cost overruns and setbacks, including a mysterious engine fire in 2014 that also led to commanders temporarily grounding the aircraft. 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.

For the F-35, it's not clear yet how many jets will be grounded for the long term. The Marine pilot safely ejected before the crash. "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 primary goal following any mishap is the prevention of future incidents", DellaVedova said. 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.

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.

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

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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