Initial data from the ongoing investigation into the September 28 crash indicates a fuel tube may have been faulty. The pilot was able to eject safely, but the aircraft was a total loss.
Christopher Harrison, a Marine Corps spokesperson at the Pentagon, told The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette that the investigation of the crash prompted the government's decision to temporarily suspend flight operations.
"In this scenario, we know the exact issue", Harrison said, "and guidance has been provided to complete the inspections", which Harrison said are ongoing.
It will equip the US Air Force and Marine Corps as well as several of Washington's allies.
"If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced", he said.
Inspections should be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours. Planes known to have working fuel tubes installed will return to the skies.
The Israeli military said the USA has shared the findings of its investigation into the F-35 crash two weeks ago, but Israel's air force chief, Maj.
"The U.S. Services and worldwide 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 announced in a statement Thursday morning. 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 stealth jet has been called the most expensive weapons system in history, and its development was beset by multiple delays before it was deemed combat ready.
"F-35 flight trials from the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth are continuing and the program remains on schedule to provide our armed forces with a game-changing capability". The roughly $100 million F-35 is built by Lockheed Martin; Pratt & Whitney supplies the engine.
Once servicing and maintenance costs for the F-35 are factored in over the aircraft's lifespan through 2070, overall program costs are expected to rise to $1.5 trillion.
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. Mission capable rates now hover between 49 and 71 percent, according toDefense News, which first reported the order. In response, all United States military F-35s will be inspected as well as F-35s operated by USA allies. "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".
Military officials said the inspections ordered this week are to help prevent any future incidents. Gen. Amikam Norkin, wants to conduct additional tests on Israel's F-35s.