The Pentagon’s entire fleet of F-35 joint strike fighters is grounded after the jets’ fuel tubes were suspected to be the cause of a crash last month, the Defense Department announced Thursday.
“The U.S. 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,” the F-35 Joint Program Office said in a statement.
“If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced. 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 program office noted.
The possible issue with the fuel tubes appears to be fleetwide, as it is linked to the fighters’ Pratt & Whitney-made engine, installed in all variants.
A spokesman from F-35 maker Lockheed Martin told The Hill Thursday that the company has completed inspection on aircraft in Fort Worth, Texas — where the fighter is made — and are resuming flights.
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