Pentagon orders temporary pause in F-35 flights after crash


The more complex Navy and Marine Corps variants of the plane remained above $100 million.

The U.S. Marine Corps, Air Force, and Navy have hundreds of F-35s, both flying in the continental United States and deployed overseas, while the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Australia, Norway, Israel, Japan, and South Korea have smaller fleets.

Certain fuel tubes were identified as a potential problem. If good tubes are already installed, then those planes would be returned to operational status.

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.

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.

Inspections should be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours. The Navy plans to have their own version of the F-35 flying from aircraft carriers by February 2019.

The jet was based at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and on a routine training missing at the time.

The Pentagon announced Thursday it is grounding its entire fleet of F-35s, just days after the first crash of an F-35B led investigators to suspect there is a widespread problem with the advanced fighter's fuel tubes.

The inspections come in the wake of an F-35B jet crash outside of Beaufort, S.C. on September 28.

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The temporary suspension of all F-35 flights is an embarrassment given the extraordinary cost of this frequently troubled programme.

The plant employs about 14,500 people, including 8,800 on the F-35 program.

The Joint Program Office statement included "international partners" in the flight operation grounding, though the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence tweeted they have only "paused some F-35 flying as a precautionary measure while we consider the findings of an ongoing enquiry".

Mr DellaVedova said: "The primary goal following any mishap is the prevention of future incidents".

So far, the USA military has taken delivery of 245 F-35s, majority to the Air Force.

Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman for the F-35 program, said: "The action to perform the inspection is driven from initial data from the ongoing investigation of the F-35B that crashed in the vicinity of Beaufort, South Carolina".

Now the USA military has purchased 245 aircraft from Lockheed Martin.

It cost an estimated $400bn and had a goal to produce 2,500 aircraft in the coming years. Gen. Amikam Norkin, wants to conduct additional tests on Israel's F-35s.