The Pentagon is grounding all F-35s after the stealth fighter crashed for the first time last month
- The Pentagon has made the decision to temporarily ground all F-35s in response to revelations from investigations into a crash in South Carolina late last month.
- Inspectors will take a close look at the fuel tube within the engine over the course of the next 24 to 48 hours.
- The incident in South Carolina, the stealth fighter's first crash, came just one day after a US F-35 successfully carried out its first combat mission.
The Department of Defense has decided to temporarily ground the US military's entire fleet of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters amid an ongoing investigation into the stealth aircraft's first crash last month.
"The U.S. Services and international 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," a statement from the Pentagon's Joint Program Office said.
The inspections are expected to be completed within 24 to 48 hours. Aircraft with "good fuel tubes already installed" will be returned to flight status.
This unexpected move follows a serious incident in South Carolina on September 28, when a US Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter crashed just outside Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort. The unfortunate incident marked the first F-35 crash, the Marine Corps told Business Insider at the time time.
The mishap in Beaufort came just one day after a US F-35, specifically a Marine Corp "B" variant, entered combat for the first time, conducting strikes against Taliban targets in Afghanistan.
The most expensive weapon in the history of the US military, the F-35 faced significant criticism during its development. Nonetheless, it is generally regarded as a significant enhancement to America's aerial warfighting capabilities.
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