Friday Jul 04, 201409:37 PM GMT
US military grounds all F-35 stealth fighter jets as runway fire probe continues
A row of parked Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 stealth fighter jets
A row of parked Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 stealth fighter jets
Fri Jul 4, 2014 9:1PM
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The US military says it has grounded the entire fleet of F-35 stealth fighter jets until completion of additional inspections of the warplane's single engine built by Pratt & Whitney -- an American aerospace manufacturer.

The F-35 warplane, the Pentagon's most expensive weapons program ever, developed at a cost of nearly $400 billion, was put down temporarily last week following a June 23 fire on an Air Force F-35A jet at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

On Thursday, the Pentagon issued directives ordering the suspension of all F-35 flights as an investigation into the runway fire continues.

In a statement issued late on Thursday, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said that the "root cause of the incident remains under investigation. Additional inspections of F-35 engines have been ordered, and return to flight will be determined based on inspection results and analysis of engineering data.”

He added that preparations continue for fleet F-35, which is the Marine Corps version of the aircraft, to appear at the international air show at Farnborough airport in Hampshire, England, "however a final decision will come early next week.”

Pratt & Whitney said in a statement that the company was working with military investigators to inspect engines of all 97 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets, which the Pentagon call "the most affordable, lethal, supportable and survivable aircraft ever to be used."

Lockheed Martin also said it was working with Air Force officials who are investigating the runaway fire.

The US military wants to have a fleet of at least 2,400 F-35 fighter jets ultimately. And Washington intends to sell hundreds more F-35s to other countries such as South Korea, Japan and Australia.

GJH/GJH

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