Lockheed's Troubled F-35 Grounded by Pentagon After First Crash

The F-35B Lightning II fifth generation multi-role combat aircraft showing its vertical lift fan at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort

Lockheed's Troubled F-35 Grounded by Pentagon After First Crash

The F-35B is the Marine Corps version of the aircraft.

The pilot in that incident ejected safely but the aircraft was destroyed.

"At this time, the cause of the mishap has not yet been determined", said Capt. Christopher Harrison, a U.S. Marine Corps spokesman. The engines of the aircraft will be checked for suspected faulty tubes and replacements made where necessary.

"If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced", the Pentagon said in a statement.

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.

A day before the crash in SC, another Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II was used in its first US combat mission to strike a Taliban target in Afghanistan.

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.

The Israeli military said the USA has shared the findings of its investigation into the F-35 crash two weeks ago. The HMS Queen Elizabeth is off the eastern USA seaboard in the Atlantic Ocean conducting developmental test trials of the joint strike fighter for the United Kingdom.

The Pentagon said in a statement Thursday that the US military and its worldwide partners, which have also purchased F-35 fighter jets from contractor Lockheed Martin, would be suspending flight operations to inspect the fuel tubes out of caution.

"The primary goal following any mishap is the prevention of future incidents", DellaVedova said. Planes known to have working fuel tubes installed will return to the skies.

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

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. 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.

According to Pentagon figures, 320 F-35s have been delivered globally, mainly to the United States but also Israel and Britain, as well as other partner countries.

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.

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