The Pentagon has temporarily suspended F-35 flight operations in the wake of a Marine F-35B crash in South Carolina last month. All variants of the jet, including the “A” version used by the Air Force and the Navy’s “C” version are included.
UPDATE: The #F35 grounding extends to A and C variants, not just B, multiple sources confirm to @AviationWeek.
— Lee Hudson (@LeeHudson_) October 11, 2018
The entire F-35 fleet will undergo inspections for a fuel tube within the engine, which are expected to be completed within 48 hours, according to Task & Purpose, citing a Pentagon spokesman.
“If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced,” Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman with the Pentagon’s Joint Program Office, which oversees the F-35, said in a statement.
“If known good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status,” DellaVedova said. “Inspections are expected to be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours.” -Task & Purpose
“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 for the warfighter and our defense partners.”
The office said the grounding “is driven from initial data from the ongoing investigation of the F-35B that crashed in the vicinity of Beaufort, South Carolina on 28 September. The aircraft mishap board is continuing its work and the U.S. Marine Corps will provide additional information when it becomes available.”
The grounding comes after the Pentagon announced that a Marine Corps F-35B conducted the platform’s first-ever combat mission on Sept. 27. The Marine Corps’ aircraft launched from the amphibious warship Essex, striking targets in Afghanistan.
In April, a Marine Corps F-35B out the Marine Corps air station at Cherry Point, North Carolina, was forced to make an emergency landingwhen the aircraft fuel light came on. -Military Times
The F-35B is a short takeoff, vertical landing variant of the design – which allows pilots to hover and land vertically like a helicopter. Since the problem which led to the grounding affects all models, it appears unlikely that the problem is connected to the VTOL capabilities on the Marines’ design.
The issue as described by the JPO indicates the issue is believed to come from a subcontractor who supplied the fuel tubes for engine …read more