RAAF pauses F-35 flying for safety inspections

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption F-35 fighter jets prepare to land for first time on a UK carrier

Britain was forced to ground all 16 of its new F-35 fighter jets after the U.S. government discovered that a faulty fuel tube was behind a crash last month.

The F-35 joint strike fighter is the most expensive program in the Pentagon's history.

On Sept. 28, the oft-maligned F-35 program appeared to be vindicated when the Marine Corps' variant, an F-35B, conducted an airstrike in support of operations in Afghanistan, for the first time.

Lockheed Martin Corporation, which manufacturers the F-35 Lightning II fighter plane, also issued a statement in connection with the grounding, Military.com reported. The U.S. Marine Corps, Air Force, and Navy have hundreds of F-35s, both flying in the continental United States and deployed overseas, while the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Australia, Norway, Israel, Japan, and South Korea have smaller fleets.

Following an incident where an F-35 type B aircraft crashed two weeks ago in the United States, a technical investigation was held and its findings were shared with the IAF by the U.S. Joint Program Office (JPO).

"This is being done as a precaution in order for all aircraft to go through a mandatory inspection that the Joint Program Office has asked us to complete", Harrison added.

"If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced", he said.

The DOD said in the statement that if "good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status". "Some global partners within the F-35 program are already commencing flying following conclusion of their inspections".

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A pilot sits in the cockpit of an F-35 fighter jet preparing for a training mission at Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah.

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

According to the Pentagon, the decision to temporarily suspend operations for the fleet results from initial data that investigators gathered in their probe of last month's crash.

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

The F-35B is the short takeoff, vertical landing variant of the aircraft, which allows the pilot to hover and land vertically like a helicopter - a necessity for the Marines, which typically operate from amphibious ships with smaller decks than aircraft carriers.

Other nations that have signed contracts to join the F-35 program include the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway, according to the Pentagon.

Because of the ongoing investigation, he said he had no comment on the specifics of the flight disruption. It represents a step-change in capability but the F-35's complexity has inevitably thrown up problems.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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