Pentagon Grounds F-35 Fleet After Crash

The U.S. Marine Corps version of Lockheed Martin's F35 Joint Strike Fighter

The three US 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 inspections will look at possible defects in fuel tubes in the engines and are expected to be completed within the next several days.

A person familiar with Lockheed's delivery pipeline said the company was already flying and testing the jets slated for near-term delivery.

A Marine Corps F-35 operating from the USS Essex amphibious assault ship recently struck a Taliban target in Afghanistan, the first successful USA combat sortie for the jet.

Even before the F-35 grounding, experts speculated that Mattis's goal of reaching 80 percent readiness for these aircraft-the F-35, F-22, F-16, and F/A-18-was a pipe dream.

The decision comes amid the investigation into the September 28 crash, which happened after the F-35B's take-off from an air station in Beaufort. The pilot safely ejected.

Military officials said the inspections ordered this week are to help prevent any future incidents. If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced.

The Marine Corps declared the F-35B operational in 2015, becoming the first service to integrate the joint strike fighter into its fleet.

Cmdr Tinworth, late on 11 October, declined to say how many United Kingdom flights resumed and how many remained grounded. The US government's accountability office estimates all costs associated with the project will amount to one trillion dollars.

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.

The F-35B is the short takeoff and vertical landing variant of the aircraft.

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.

The ADF said the groundings triggered by the United States crash "will not affect the delivery of aircraft to Australia".

The Israeli warplanes, purchased from the USA, are a different model than the American one that crashed.

The suspension by the Pentagon is to allow "a fleet-wide inspection of a fuel tube within the engine on all F-35 aircraft", the Defense Department said in a statement Thursday.

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.

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