The Pentagon's F-35 joint program office announced October 11 that flight operations would halt for all US and global F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to conduct a fleet-wide inspection of an engine fuel tube.The grounding follows a September 28 accident in which an F-35B crashed near Beaufort, South Carolina. The Pentagon office overseeing the fighter program linked the grounding to the F-35's first crash last month in September.
The 245 F-35 Joint Strike fighters used by the Marine Corps, the Navy, and the Air Force have all been taken off the flight line while the planes are checked for potentially faulty fuel tubes.
In a statement, the Australian Defence Force confirmed that "the F-35 fleet has been instructed to conduct safety inspections across all delivered engines".
Inspections were expected to be completed within 24 to 48 hours.
During the crash investigation, certain fuel tubes were identified as a potential problem, largely involving aircraft built before 2015. If the aircraft has those particular tubes, they will be replaced. If good tubes are already installed, then those planes would be returned to operational status.
During the incident, a Marine Corps variant of the F-35 joint-strike fighter, known as the F-35B, went down in the vicinity of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. 'If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced.
In anticipation of more deliveries, Australia has eight trained pilots qualified and instructing on the F-35A at Luke Airforce Base in Arizona, where they have clocked up more than 1,700 hours in the cockpit. The pilot safely ejected.
Media captionF-35 fighter jets prepare to land for first time on a UK carrierThe 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. Gen. Amikam Norkin, wants to conduct additional tests on Israel's F-35s. CNN also reported that F-35s operated by US allies will also undergo inspection.
The Royal Australian Airforce has taken delivery of nine F-35s from United States manufacturer Lockheed Martin, and all are now sitting idle at their American training base in Arizona.