Pentagon Grounds F-35 Fleet After Crash

Cheryl Sanders
October 12, 2018

Britain was forced to ground all 16 of its new F-35 fighter jets after the United States government discovered that a faulty fuel tube was behind a crash last month. The news comes days after reports surfaced that Defense Secretary James Mattis ordered the Air Force and Navy to significantly improve "mission capable rates", or readiness, of the F-35 and three other tactical aircraft fleets-referring to the percentage of time the aircraft are available to fly versus being down for maintenance.

"The US 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", said Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman for the F-35 program.

A Marine Corps F-35B was completely destroyed in a crash during training in SC on September 28.

"At this time, the cause of the mishap has not yet been determined", said Capt. Christopher Harrison, a U.S. Marine Corps spokesman. "Inspections are expected to be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours", Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman for the F-35 program, said in a statement to Fox News. "If known good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status".

When the planes first touched down on United Kingdom soil, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: "These formidable fighters are a national statement of our intent to protect ourselves and our allies from intensifying threats across the world".

The Israeli military said the USA has shared the findings of its investigation into the F-35 crash two weeks ago. "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 Israeli warplanes, purchased from the US, are a different model than the American one that crashed. The Navy plans to have their own version of the F-35 flying from aircraft carriers by February 2019.

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

On September 28, a Marine Corps F-35 crashed in SC.

It will equip the US Air Force and Marine Corps as well as several of Washington's allies.

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. The program is estimated to have a lifetime cost of over $1.5 trillion.

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.

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

Other reports by iNewsToday