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Troubled History: In 2018, the Entire Global F-35 Fleet Grounded Due to a Crash

July 11, 2019 Topic: Technology Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: F-35F-35 IIF-35 TroubleTechnologyStealth

Troubled History: In 2018, the Entire Global F-35 Fleet Grounded Due to a Crash

What went wrong?

The DOD said that if “good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status.”

All F-35 Lightning IIs with U.S. and foreign militaries were ordered to be grounded after investigation into Sep. 28 U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) F-35B crashdetermined that a fuel tube in the F135 engine needs inspection and replacement.

The pilot safely ejected from the fighter in what was the first crash for the F-35.

“The US 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 press release from the Pentagon said. “If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced.”

As reported by ABC News, although according to a U.S. official only half the current fleet of aircraft have the fuel tube, inspections will be carried out on the entire U.S. fleet.

The temporary suspension of flight operations will also impact international partners which currently field 75 F-35s.

The Israeli Defense Ministry tweeted that the “Israeli Air Force halted all F-35I flights until all aircraft are tested” for “a technical malfunction in the engine’s fuel tube,” while the British Defence Ministry tweeted that “paused some F-35 flying as a precautionary measure while we consider the findings of an ongoing enquiry.”

According to the Pentagon statement “the primary goal following any mishap is the prevention of future incidents. 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 DOD said that if “good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status.”

Lockheed Martin pointed out that is 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.” Pratt & Whitney makes the engine used in the F-35.

Inspections are expected to last a day or two, the DOD said.

This article by Dario Leone originally appeared on The Aviation Geek Club in 2018.

Image: Wikimedia