Pentagon suspends all F-35 flights after crash
"The U.S. Services and international 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," a statement from the F-35 program office said.
The statement said that if suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced, while aircraft with good tubes will resume flight.
The inspection is expected to complete within the next 24 to 48 hours, the statement said.
The suspension came after an F-35B jet crashed last month in the U.S. state of South Carolina. The incident marked the first time that an F-35 fighter jet, which costs more than 100 million U.S. dollars, had crashed.
The crash came one day after the first airstrike conducted by a U.S. F-35 fighter jet, and hours after the Pentagon announced that it had awarded Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of F-35, with a new batch of F-35s.
The F-35 stealth jet has three variants, F-35A, F-35B, and F-35C, designed for the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy, respectively. The F-35B is the only model with short-take off and vertical landing abilities. ■