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Pentagon grounds global fleet of F-35s after crash

12 October 2018

Although the Marine Corps is the first US service to fly its joint strike fighters in combat, the aircraft has been used by the Israeli air force to strike targets. The Marine pilot was able to eject before the crash and did not suffer any serious injuries.

Two U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II's assigned to the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, fly a combat mission over Afghanistan, Sept. 27, 2018.

While the F-35's U.S-based Joint Program Office had indicated that the grounding included aircraft purchased by foreign militaries, the British military signaled Monday that its entire fleet is not grounded.

During the crash investigation, certain fuel tubes were identified as a potential problem, largely involving aircraft built before 2015.

The military say that the inspection process is expected to take up to 48 hours.

The South Carolina crash came only one day after the USA military first used the F-35 in combat, when Marine Corps fighters hit Taliban targets in Afghanistan.

The crash in SC involved an F-35B, which is able to land vertically and costs around $100m (£75m).

Britain has 16 F-35B jets and has pledged to buy 138 in total.

The F-35 program is considered to be the most expensive weapons system in U.S. history. The HMS Queen Elizabeth is off the eastern US seaboard in the Atlantic Ocean conducting developmental test trials of the joint strike fighter for the United Kingdom. In response, all United States military F-35s will be inspected as well as F-35s operated by U.S. allies.

"The primary goal following any mishap is the prevention of future incidents", according to the statement.

The U.S. military on Thursday grounded its entire fleet of F-35 stealth fighters after one of the jets crashed during a training mission in SC last month, officials said Thursday. If the aircraft has good fuel tubes, it will be allowed to begin flying again. 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.

Of the 280 operational F-35s purchased to date by USA and global partners, only 51 percent are now available for flight, Vice Adm.

The plane, manufactured by Lockheed Martin but including parts made in several other countries, has been sold to a number of nations, including the UK, Japan, Italy, Turkey and South Korea. It represents a step-change in capability but the F-35's complexity has inevitably thrown up problems.

Pentagon grounds global fleet of F-35s after crash