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Pentagon grounds F-35 fighter jets in wake of crash

Pentagon grounds ALL F-35 fighter jets in wake of crash last month – including those in active combat

  • Has halted combat operations by Marines against Taliban targets in Afghanistan
  • The Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps have all stopped flying their F-35 jets
  • Fuel tubes in the aircraft are being inspected and will be replaced if necessary
  • $100million jet was completely destroyed when it crashed in South Carolina

By Associated Press

Published: 12:02 EDT, 11 October 2018 | Updated: 13:45 EDT, 11 October 2018

The Pentagon has grounded the F-35 fighter jet in order to inspect the fleet in the wake of a crash last month in South Carolina.

A $100million fighter jet was completely destroyed when it crashed during a training exercise in South Carolina on September 28.

The Pentagon's decision temporarily halts combat operations by Marines, who began conducting airstrikes against Taliban targets in Afghanistan the day before the crash.

The Pentagon has grounded the F-35 fighter jet in order to inspect the fleet in the wake of a crash last month

The decision, in the wake of this South Carolina crash last month, will temporarily halt combat operations by Marines, who began conducting airstrikes against Taliban targets in Afghanistan the day before the crash

The decision, in the wake of this South Carolina crash last month, will temporarily halt combat operations by Marines, who began conducting airstrikes against Taliban targets in Afghanistan the day before the crash

The Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps all have different versions of the stealthy fighter.

And all three services have stopped flying their F-35 jets while fuel tubes in the aircraft are inspected and, if necessary, replaced.

The F-35 program office said the inspections should be completed in one or two days.

Certain fuel tubes were identified as a potential problem.

A US F-35 pilot was forced to eject midair after the $100million fighter jet crashed in South Carolina

A US F-35 pilot was forced to eject midair after the $100million fighter jet crashed in South Carolina

 The aircraft was completely destroyed in the crash during a training exercise Friday, officials said, leaving a smoking wreck

The aircraft was completely destroyed in the crash during a training exercise Friday, officials said, leaving a smoking wreck

If the aircraft has good fuel tubes, it will be allowed to begin flying again.

The UK is also carrying out inspections of its stealth fighter fleet and has paused some from flying following the crash.

Aircraft are being examined to see whether they have a faulty fuel tube after the crash of the US Marine Corps F-35B in September.

'Safety is our paramount concern, therefore the UK has decided to pause some F-35 flying as a precautionary measure while we consider the findings of an ongoing inquiry,' a Ministry of Defense spokesman said.

The aircraft was completely destroyed in the crash during a training exercise Friday. Pictured; an F-35B Lightning II launches from the flight deck of the USS Essex amphibious assault ship on September 22, 2018

The aircraft was completely destroyed in the crash during a training exercise Friday. Pictured; an F-35B Lightning II launches from the flight deck of the USS Essex amphibious assault ship on September 22, 2018

'F-35 flight trials from the aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, are continuing and the program remains on schedule to provide our armed forces with a game-changing capability.'

Some aircraft have already been inspected and have been cleared to return to flight.

September's crash appears to be the first of its kind for the troubled F-35 program, marking an unfortunate moment for the most expensive plane in history.

F-35 FACT SHEET

Role: Stealth multirole fighter

First flight: December 15, 2006

Unit cost (not including engine):

F-35A – $98million

F-35B – $104million

F-35C – $116million

Number built: 115 (as of November 2014)

Length: 15.67m

Wingspan: 10.7m

Height: 4.33m

Max speed (F-35A): 1,930kph

A defense official told AFP that the Marine Corps F-35 had crashed outside Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina.

The crash came just one day after the US military first used the F-35, which has been beset with delays and cost overruns, in combat.

Launched in the early 1990s, the F-35 program is considered the most expensive weapons system in US history, with an estimated cost of some $400billion and a goal to produce 2,500 aircraft in the coming years.

The F-35 was billed as a fighter jet that could do almost everything the US military desired, serving the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy – and even Britain's Royal Air Force and Royal Navy – all in one aircraft design.

It was supposed to replace and improve upon and aging aircraft types with widely different missions, and marketed as a cost-effective, powerful multi-role fighter airplane significantly better than anything potential adversaries could build in the next two decades.

But it turned out to be none of those things.

The program fell nearly a decade behind schedule, and failed to meet many of its original design requirements.

The unit cost per airplane, above $100 million, is roughly twice what was promised early on.

Even after President Trump lambasted the cost of the program in February 2017, the price per plane dropped just $7million – less than 7 percent.

WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT THE F-35

– The jet measures 51.2ft (15.6m) in overall length, has a wingspan of 35ft (10.7m) and a height of 14.3ft (4.36m).

– It has a top speed of 1.6 Mach or 1,200 mph, a Max G rating of 7G, and a combat radius of 518 miles (833km).

– Lockheed Martin, who built the jet, describes its stealth capabilities as 'unprecedented'. Its airframe design, advanced materials and other features make it 'virtually undetectable to enemy radar'.

– The F-35B jets are built from more than 300,000 individual parts.

– There are six distributed aperture system sensors around the jet – two underneath, two on top of the aircraft and one either side of the nose. These infrared cameras feed real-time information and images into the pilot's helmet, allowing them to see through the airframe.

– All variants of the jets are mainly constructed on Lockheed Martin's mile-long production line in Fort Worth, Texas.

– It takes 58,000 man hours to build each F-35B.

– The F-35 can launch from land, and will take off from HMS Queen Elizabeth via the skip jump ramp, which has been designed to optimise the launch.

– Maximum thrust tops 40,000lb and the jet has a range of 900 nautical miles.

– The jet is capable of two types of ship landing – vertically on to the deck, and also through the shipborne rolling vertical landing, which using forward air speed, allows the aircraft to bring back several thousand pounds of extra weight to the ship.

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