Pentagon grounds global fleet of F-35s after crash

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The grounding order affects all variants of the advanced fighter jets, including the Air Force's F-35A and the Navy's F-35C.

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

A USA official says only half the current fleet of aircraft have the fuel tube, but inspections will be carried out on the entire US fleet.

"If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced", he said.

He said inspections were expected to be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours.

The decision to inspect the aircraft fuel tubes stemmed from an ongoing investigation into the F-35B crash that occurred shortly after a takeoff from the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, South Carolina on September 28.

The inspection was prompted by initial data from the investigation into the crash of a Marine Corps F-35B from a training squadron at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in SC.

"During this mission the F-35B conducted an air strike in support of ground clearance operations, and the strike was deemed successful by the ground force commander", said a Marine Corps statement confirming the strike.

To date, the USA military has purchased 245 F-35 jets from Lockheed Martin.

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

"The primary goal following any mishap is the prevention of future incidents", DellaVedova said. If known good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status.

For the F-35, it's not clear yet how many jets will be grounded for the long term. The more complex Navy and Marine Corps variants of the plane remained above $100 million.

Problems have been surrounding the expensive Lockheed Martin-produced aircraft for years.

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 US government's accountability office estimates all costs associated with the project will amount to one trillion dollars.

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.

Foreign operators of the F-35, such as Britain or Israel, are also grounding their fighter jets for inspection, according to the JPO statement.

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