Pentagon Grounds Troubled F-35 Fighters After First Crash

  • Pentagon Grounds Troubled F-35 Fighters After First Crash

Pentagon Grounds Troubled F-35 Fighters After First Crash

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.

The first United States combat mission conducted by an F-35 happened last month when a Marine Corps jet launched off the amphibious warship USS Essex struck targets in Afghanistan. If good tubes are already installed, then those planes would be returned to operational status.

"At this time, the cause of the mishap has not yet been determined", said Capt. Christopher Harrison, a U.S. Marine Corps spokesman.

The F-35 grounding also comes a day after a Senate Armed Services Committee subpanel hearing on Air Force readiness that included the F-35.

Of the 280 operational F-35s purchased to date by the US and global partners, only about half can fly, Vice Adm.

The inspections should be complete within 24 to 48 hours, Task & Purpose reported, citing a Pentagon official.

"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".

Two U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II's assigned to the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, fly a combat mission over Afghanistan, Sept. 27, 2018.

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

In April, a Marine Corps F-35B out the Marine Corps air station at Cherry Point, North Carolina, was forced to make an emergency landing when the aircraft fuel light came on.

Britain, however, said the measure did not affect all of its F-35s, and that some flying missions had been "paused", not grounded.

According to data for fiscal year 2017, the most recent available, the Air Force's F-35A models had around a 55 percent readiness rate, well below that target.

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. John Pendleton, an official for the federal watchdog agency Government Accountability Office, said there hasn't been enough focus within the Air Force on sustaining the F-35, instead of focusing on production.

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.