Saturday Feb 23, 201311:23 AM GMT
Pentagon grounds all F-35 warplanes on technical issues
File photo shows a type of US F-35 warplane.
File photo shows a type of US F-35 warplane.
Sat Feb 23, 2013 9:37AM
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The Pentagon has grounded its fleet of F-35 warplanes following the discovery of a cracked blade on one of the fighter jets during a routine inspection.

On Friday, US officials said the F-35 Lightning II test flights had been suspended until an in-depth evaluation was carried out.

The suspension includes the F-35A, the Marines’ F-35B, and the Navy’s F-35C variants of the aircraft.

The cracked engine blade was found on an F-35A at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The manufacturing of the F-35 aircraft, which is the United States’ most expensive weapons program, costs about 400 billion dollars.

Earlier this month the Pentagon cleared the F-35B jump-jet variant, designed for the US Marines, to resume tests after being suspended for a month.

Reports say both suspensions were a result of engine problems.

The suspension is important because it also comes at a time when the weapons program, to replace Air Force F-16 and Navy F/A-18, is facing scrutiny from US lawmakers and senior defense officials.

The Pentagon says that the plane with the cracked blade is being shipped to a Pratt & Whitney facility in Connecticut for further investigation.

Meanwhile, watch-dog group the Project on Government Oversight has criticized the costly warplane over its “gigantically disappointing performance.”

“That performance would be unacceptable even if the aircraft met its far-too-modest requirements, but it is not,” the group stated.

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