All US F-35s grounded worldwide

11 Octobre, 2018, 21:51 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • The F-35B Lightning II fifth generation multi-role combat aircraft showing its vertical lift fan at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort

The entire fleet of F-35 fighter jets has been grounded to inspect the aircraft for suspected faulty fuel tubes, the USA military said.

John Thomas, spokesman for engine-maker Pratt & Whitney, based in CT, said the company is supporting the Marine Corps investigation into the crash.

"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", according to a statement issued by the Department of Defense.

The DOD said in the statement that if "good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status".

"At this time, the cause of the mishap has not yet been determined", said Capt. Christopher Harrison, a U.S. Marine Corps spokesman.

But the MOD said F-35 flight trials from the aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, were continuing and the programme remained on schedule to provide United Kingdom armed forces with "a game-changing capability".

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

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The South Carolina crash - the first ever for the 5th-generation plane - ironically happened just a day after an F-35B successfully completed a mission in Afghanistan, an event that was reported by the Pentagon as a major milestone for the program. "Inspections are expected to be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours". There are 75 F-35s in the worldwide fleet.

"If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced", according to the Joint Program Office statement. 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.

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

The F-35 program is expected to cost the Pentagon about $406 billion for 2,456 fighter jets that the services intend to buy, according to the Joint Program Office.

Now the USA military has purchased 245 aircraft from Lockheed Martin.

The Marine Corps and Air Force have confirmed the grounding of their F-35s is a precaution so the aircraft can be inspected.

The issue as described by the JPO indicates the issue is believed to come from a subcontractor who supplied the fuel tubes for engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney.

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