Stealth Fighter Jet Grounded Globally After First-Ever Crash

F-35 fighter jet. Pic MoD

The US military has temporarily grounded its entire fleet of F-35 fighter jets in the wake of a crash in SC last month.

The F-35 is the costliest US weapons system. "Inspections are expected to be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours".

The F-35 Joint Program Office has said safety is a top priority.

The decision comes amid the investigation into the September 28 crash, which happened after the F-35B's take-off from an air station in Beaufort.

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.

The U.S. military has grounded its entire fleet of F-35s in the wake of one of the planes crashing in SC two weeks ago.

The fault with the planes is believed to be with the fuel tube, and affects more than 250 US-owned jets, as well as almost 100 that belong to other nations including Britain.

Certain fuel tubes were identified as a potential problem.

"If known good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status", DellaVedova said.

Checks were being carried out to see whether the F-35s, the most advanced fighter jet ever created, have the same tubes as those which were used in the plane which went down.

The pilot in that incident ejected safely but the aircraft was destroyed.

RAAF F-35 A35-009 parked on the "Australian flight line" at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.

Of the 280 operational F-35s purchased to date by US and global partners, only 51 percent are now available for flight, Vice Adm. In total, the aircraft program is projected to cost about $1 trillion to develop, produce, field and sustain over its lifetime, according to the Government Accountability Office.

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

Initial data from the ongoing investigation into the September 28 crash indicates a fuel tube may have been faulty.

"The US 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", according to a statement issued by the Department of Defense.

He added, however, that F-35 flight trials from the aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, are continuing and the program remains on schedule.

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.

For the U.S. Defense Department, the timing could not be worse.

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.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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