Published: Fri, October 12, 2018
World News | By Sandy Lane

F-35 fighter jets grounded due to manufacturing failures: US military

F-35 fighter jets grounded due to manufacturing failures: US military

WASHINGTON: The Pentagon grounded the global fleet of F-35 stealth fighters Thursday so that engineers could conduct urgent inspections following the first ever crash of the costliest plane in history.

During the incident, a Marine Corps variant of the F-35 joint strike fighter, known as the F-35B, went down in the vicinity of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.

Lockheed is slated to deliver 91 jets this year. "Inspections are expected to be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours".

Mr DellaVedova added that if "known good" tubes are already in place, then those planes will be returned to operational status.

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

A Marine Corps F-35B was completely destroyed in a crash during training in SC on 28 September. "The aircraft mishap board is continuing its work and the U.S. Marine Corps will provide additional information when it becomes available".

According to Pentagon figures, 320 F-35s have been delivered globally, mainly to the U.S. but also Israel and Britain, as well as other partner countries.

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

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"We will take every measure to ensure safe operations while we deliver, sustain and modernize the F-35". The Israeli warplanes, purchased from the US, are a different model than the American one that crashed. The HMS Queen Elizabeth is off the eastern USA seaboard in the Atlantic Ocean conducting developmental test trials of the joint strike fighter for the United Kingdom. The program is estimated to have a lifetime cost of over $1.5 trillion.

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.

The three US armed services and worldwide 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. It represents a step-change in capability but the F-35's complexity has inevitably thrown up problems.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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