Stealth Fighter Jet Grounded Globally After First-Ever Crash

Stealth Fighter Jet Grounded Globally After First-Ever Crash

Stealth Fighter Jet Grounded Globally After First-Ever Crash

The Pentagon on Thursday said its fleet of Lockheed Martin Corp.

Launched in the early 1990s, the F-35 program is considered the most expensive weapons system in U.S. history, with an estimated cost of some $400 billion and a goal to produce 2,500 aircraft in the coming years.

A Marine Corps F-35 operating from the USS Essex amphibious assault ship recently struck a Taliban target in Afghanistan, the first successful US combat sortie for the jet. "Inspections are expected to be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours", Military.com reported.

Israel has also made a decision to follow in the US' footsteps and announced that it had grounded all of its F-35 stealth fighter jets.

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

The F-35 joint strike fighter is the most expensive program in the Pentagon's history and became operational in the Marine Corps in 2015 and in the Air Force in 2016.

The Israeli Air Force, which said it also has grounded its version of the F-35 for "several days" of testing, suggested a more definitive finding has emerged in the continuing US probe.

Reuters reported on September 28, that Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon have an $11.5 billion contract to produce F-35 planes, lowering the price by more than 5 percent. If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced. If known good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status.

Britain said the Pentagon measure did not affect all of its F-35s, and that some flying missions had been "paused", not grounded. The pilot safely ejected.

The jet was based at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and on a routine training missing at the time. The more complex Navy and Marine Corps variants of the plane remained above $100 million. John Pendleton, an official for the federal watchdog agency Government Accountability Office, said there hasn't been enough focus within the Air Force on sustaining the F-35, instead of focusing on production.

Inspections are to be carried out on faulty fuel tubes.

The F-35B is the short takeoff and vertical landing variant of the aircraft.

"F-35 flight trials from the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth are continuing and the program remains on schedule to provide our armed forces with a game-changing capability".

"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. F-35s have already been delivered to the United Kingdom, Italy, Israel, Netherlands, Turkey, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Norway.

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