After crash, Pentagon says temporary pause in F-35 flights

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The Pentagon has ordered its entire fleet of F-35 fighters to be grounded in the wake of a Marine F-35B crash in SC last month.

US airmen walk next to a Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II aircraft, as it is moved, on the eve of the 52nd Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France June 18, 2017.

A spokesman for the F-35s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, said Thursday morning that industry partners were working with the F-35's Joint Program Office to investigate the problems.

Lockheed is slated to deliver 91 jets this year.

The Italian Air Force has already completed its inspections and, as it did not find the faulty part, is back to normal flight operations, according to two sources.

The DOD said in the statement that if "good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status".

"The primary goal following any mishap is the prevention of future incidents", DellaVedova said.

Certain fuel tubes were identified as a potential problem.

On September 28, a Marine Corps F-35 crashed in SC.

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"At this time, the cause of the mishap has not yet been determined", said Capt. Christopher Harrison, a U.S. Marine Corps spokesman.

Britain has 16 F-35B jets and has pledged to buy 138 in total.

"We will take every measure to ensure safe operations while we deliver, sustain and modernise the F-35 for the warfighter and our defence partners".

The temporary suspension of flight operations will also impact global partners, such as Israel, that have the F-35.

According to data for fiscal year 2017, the most recent available, the Air Force's F-35A models had around a 55 percent readiness rate, well below that target. In May, Israel announced it had conducted the first combat missions ever using the F-35 but offered few details. The HMS Queen Elizabeth is off the eastern US seaboard in the Atlantic Ocean conducting developmental test trials of the joint strike fighter for the United Kingdom.

The F-35 has attracted attention not only for its capabilities but also for its cost, after delays and overruns helped make the fighter jet program the most expensive in the Pentagon's history. The program is estimated to have a lifetime cost of over $1.5 trillion.

The F-35B is the short takeoff and vertical landing variant of the aircraft.

The three US armed services and worldwide militaries flying the single-engine F-35 all made the decision Thursday to temporarily halt flights while investigators conduct a fleetwide inspection for a faulty part-a fuel tube within the engine-according to Joe Dellavedova, a spokesman for the F-35 Joint Program Office.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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