F-35 jets: US military grounds entire fleet

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption F-35 fighter jets prepare to land for first time on a UK carrier

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

The Pentagon has ordered its entire fleet of F-35 fighters to be grounded in the wake of a Marine F-35B crash in SC last month.

"If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced", according to the Joint Program Office statement. Planes known to have working fuel tubes installed will return to the skies.

Inspections were expected to be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours.

According to the Pentagon, the decision to temporarily suspend operations for the fleet is the result of initial data that investigators gathered in their probe of last month's crash.

A Marine Corps F-35B was completely destroyed in a crash during training in SC on 28 September.

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

"We will take every measure to ensure safe operations while we deliver, sustain and modernize the F-35".

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"F-35 flight trials from the aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, are continuing and the programme remains on schedule to provide our armed forces with a game-changing capability". The engines of the aircraft will be checked for suspected faulty tubes and replacements made where necessary. The Pentagon didn't make public how many planes are affected.

The F-35 program, the most expensive weapon in USA military history, has been marred by delays and cost overruns and other mechanical issues.

The Marine Corps declared the F-35B operational in 2015, becoming the first service to integrate the joint strike fighter into its fleet. The more complex Navy and Marine Corps variants of the plane remained above $100 million.

The stand down affects more than 200 jets while an "inspection of a fuel tube" in F-35 engines takes place, according to a Pentagon spokesman.

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.

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".

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.

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