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Pentagon halts Lockheed Martin F-35 jet flights to examine fuel tubes
12 October 2018, 08:13 | Devin Moran
The U.S. Marine Corps version of Lockheed Martin's F35 Joint Strike Fighter
A fleet of F-35 fighter jets have been temporarily grounded in order to inspect the aircraft after a crash in SC last month. "The aircraft mishap board is continuing its work and the U.S. Marine Corps will provide additional information when it becomes available".
However, the inspections are looking at a certain kind of fuel tube that is estimated to be in about half the F-35 fleet, USA officials told The Washington Post.
The United States temporarily suspended operations for its fleet of F-35 fighter jets for 24 to 48 hours to check for possible faulty fuel tubes in the engines of the planes, after a crash in SC late last month raised concerns about whether the parts were to blame. The Navy plans to have their own version of the F-35 flying from aircraft carriers by February 2019. If known good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status. The pilot was able to eject safely, but the aircraft was a total loss.
Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, chairman of a House Armed Services Committee subpanel, said Thursday that he received a briefing from the Marine Corps on the crash in Beaufort, S.C.
The U.S. military has grounded its entire fleet of F-35s in the wake of one of the planes crashing in SC two weeks ago.
The U.S. Services and worldwide partners have temporarily suspended F-35 flight operations while the enterprise conducts a fleet-wide inspection of a fuel tube within the engine on all F-35 aircraft. The Air Force has 156, the Marine Corps has 61 and the Navy has 28. Mat Winter, director of the F-35 Joint Program Office, told reporters back in March.
So far, the United States military has taken delivery of 245 F-35s, a lot of them to the Air Force.
The Marine Corps and Air Force have confirmed the grounding of their F-35s is a precaution so the aircraft can be inspected. But Israel's air force chief, Maj. The HMS Queen Elizabeth is off the eastern US seaboard in the Atlantic Ocean conducting developmental test trials of the joint strike fighter for the United Kingdom.
The F-35B is the short takeoff and vertical landing variant of the aircraft. The US government's accountability office estimates all costs associated with the project will amount to one trillion dollars.
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 temporary suspension of all F-35 flights is an embarrassment given the extraordinary cost of this frequently troubled programme.
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