The U.S. military has grounded its entire fleet of F-35s in the wake of one of the planes crashing in SC two weeks ago.
The world's most expensive fighter jet, the F-35, has been grounded around the world just weeks after its first successful combat sortie, as investigators try to figure out what caused a crash of the plane during a training mission last month.
"We are actively partnering with the Pentagon's F-35 Joint Program Office, our global customers and Pratt & Whitney to support the resolution of this issue and limit disruption to the fleet", said Friedman, Michael, the spokesman for Lockheed. If the aircraft has good fuel tubes, it will be allowed to begin flying again. "The aircraft mishap board is continuing its work and the U.S. Marine Corps will provide additional information when it becomes available".
A spokesman for the F-35s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, said Thursday morning that industry partners were working with the F-35's Joint Program Office to investigate the problems.
It wasn't immediately clear how many aircraft were affected.
The F-35 is the costliest USA weapons system.
He said inspections were expected to be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours.
"We will take every measure to ensure safe operations while we deliver, sustain and modernise the F-35 for the warfighter and our defence partners".
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Last month, the Pentagon announced that the latest batch of F-35s would cost the military $89 million per unit for the most common variant, the first time the plane's price tag had dropped below $90 million. US officials said the suspension would apply only to those F-35s with a certain kind of fuel tube, which one official estimated at roughly half the fleet.
He added that suspect fuel tubes would be removed and replaced.
The news was reported by multiple outlets, including Task & Purpose and The Marine Corps Times, and comes after a Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II was destroyed in a crash September 28 on Little Barnwell Island, just a few miles from the air station.
During Wednesday's hearing, Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, raised questions on the troubles still facing the F-35 program and its readiness rate of about 65 percent.
"I know it's a complex aircraft, only took nearly two decades to procure and develop which, that's a whole other topic for a whole other hearing", said Sullivan, who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee subpanel on readiness and management support. If the aircraft has those particular tubes, they will be replaced.
"And yet for the F-35 that's a new airplane coming online, coming out into the fleet ... in the mid-60s", he said.
Now the USA military has purchased 245 aircraft from Lockheed Martin. "And it's going to be hard to achieve those kinds of mission capability rates".
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