The U.S. military has grounded its entire fleet of premier F-35 fighter jets after one of them crashed near a South Carolina military base in September.
The U.S. military cited the Sept. 27 crash as revealing a potential fuel line issue in the whole fleet and chose to temporarily ground all the aircraft for inspection. The F-35’s development was plagued with issues and eventually became the most expensive military program of its kind in the world, expected to cost taxpayers upward of $1 trillion. The South Carolina crash came one day after the Pentagon announced that the F-35 had flown its first-ever combat mission in Afghanistan.
“If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced,” the F-35 Joint Program Office said in a statement. “If known good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status. Inspections are expected to be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours.”The F-35 had such a troubled development that at one point, activating the ejection seat would have been lethal to the pilot. The series is expected to cost taxpayers $1.5 trillion over its time in service. Each military branch has its own version of the F-35, with the Air Force version costing $89.2 million, the Marine F35-B at $115.5 million and the Navy F-35C at $107.7 million. Aircraft from all branches are currently grounded. (RELATED: Lockheed Moves Forward With Sale Of F-35s To Turkey)
The F-35 is the primary fighter jet chosen by the U.S. Air Force, Britain’s Royal Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force. It could also someday be used by the Royal Canadian Air Force as the Canadian military retires its F-18s.
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