More F-35 Problems: Pentagon Orders Entire F-35 Fleet Grounded

More F-35 Problems: Pentagon Orders Entire F-35 Fleet Grounded

The Pentagon on Thursday ordered a temporary pause in all F-35 fighter jet flights in order to inspect the fleet in the wake of a crash last month in SC.

The F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) said on 11 October that the U.S. suspended flight operations.

The decision temporarily halts combat operations by Marines, who began conducting airstrikes against Taliban targets in Afghanistan the day before the crash. It was the first time an F-35 has crashed.

A Marine F-35B crashed into an uninhabited marsh island near the Grays Hill community in SC on September 28.

US airmen walk next to a Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II aircraft, as it is moved, on the eve of the 52nd Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France June 18, 2017.

While the F-35's U.S-based Joint Program Office had indicated that the grounding included aircraft purchased by foreign militaries, the British military signaled Monday that its entire fleet is not grounded.


While its costs per aircraft are coming down there are still questions about how many planes the U.S. can afford and whether it should also buy a cheaper, less capable aircraft alongside the F-35.

During the crash investigation, certain fuel tubes were identified as a potential problem, largely involving aircraft built before 2015.

"If known good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status", DellaVedova said.

Last month, the Pentagon announced that the latest batch of F-35s would cost the military $89 million per unit for the most common variant - the first time the plane's price tag had dropped below $90 million. "We will take every measure to ensure safe operations while we deliver, sustain and modernize the F-35 for the warfighter and our defense partners". The US government's accountability office estimates all costs associated with the project will amount to one trillion dollars.

But if the planes are "required for operational action, the F-35I aircraft are ready and prepared", a statement read.

The crash in SC involved an F-35B, which is able to land vertically and costs around $100m (£75m).


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.

The US Air Force and European customers consider the F-35's operating costs a major problem.

Flight operations for the strike fighter have been temporarily suspended as the military conducts a fleet-wide inspection of a fuel tube within the engines of all F-35 aircraft, a Pentagon spokesman told Task & Purpose.

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

This story is developing and will be updated.


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