All US F-35s grounded worldwide

All US F-35s grounded worldwide

All US F-35s grounded worldwide

The U.S. military on Thursday grounded its entire fleet of F-35 stealth fighters after one of the jets crashed during a training mission in SC last month, officials said Thursday.

Depending on how many aircraft are affected, the future progress of the programme - which is already the most expensive in history - could be in jeopardy.

Although the Marine Corps is the first USA service to fly its joint strike fighters in combat, the aircraft has been used by the Israeli air force to strike targets. The F-35 program office said the inspections should be completed in one or two days.

Proponents tout the F-35's radar-dodging stealth technology, supersonic speeds, close air support capabilities, airborne agility and a massive array of sensors giving pilots unparalleled access to information.

The Marine Corps and Air Force have confirmed the grounding of their F-35s is a precaution so the aircraft can be inspected.

The Israeli Air Force, which said it also has grounded its version of the F-35 for "several days" of testing, suggested a more definitive finding has emerged in the continuing US probe. "But it does seem to me kind of ludicrous that we get new aircraft off the production line and within a month they are at 65 percent readiness".

"If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced", according to the Joint Program Office statement. If the aircraft has those particular tubes, they will be replaced.

The Royal Navy has told Sky News that one of the F-35s onboard the new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has been checked and is flying again.

Inspections are to be carried out on faulty fuel tubes.

But if the planes are "required for operational action, the F-35I aircraft are ready and prepared", a statement read.

The temporary suspension of flight operations will also impact global partners, such as Israel, that have the F-35. The more complex Navy and Marine Corps variants of the plane remained above $100 million.

The crash in SC involved an F-35B, which is able to land vertically and costs around $100m (£75m).

Because of the ongoing investigation, he said he had no comment on the specifics of the flight disruption.

Because the problem is related to a fleetwide engine issue, rather than just in the F-35B models, it appears unlikely that the problem is unrelated to the short-takeoff and vertical-landing capabilities of the Marine's design.

The Israeli warplanes, purchased from the US, are a different model than the American one that crashed.

The plane, manufactured by Lockheed Martin but including parts made in several other countries, has been sold to a number of nations, including the UK, Japan, Italy, Turkey and South Korea.

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