F-35 fleet grounded indefinitely. Once again.

The F-35 fleet was gronded once again based on initial findings from runway fire incident occurred last week.

The Pentagon has officially announced that all its fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II jets has been grounded following the runway fire incident which involved an F-35A at Eglin Air Force Base, on Jun. 23.

The news came just ahead of the long weekend for U.S. Independence Day, as Joint Strike Fighters were expected to cross the Pond to take part to Farnborough International Air Show and Royal International Air Tattoo, in the UK next week.

The participation of the F-35s has not been cancelled yet (indeed, the F-35B STOVL – Short Take Off Vertical Landing variant of the plane, expected to take part to the two leading European airshows, had resumed flights on Jun. 28) but the fleet-wide grounding puts the aircraft’s international debut at risk.

Here’s the official statement from Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby on F-35 Fleet Grounding:

The technical air worthiness authorities of the Department of the Air Force and Department of the Navy have issued a directive to ground the F-35 fleet based on initial findings from the runway fire incident that occurred at Eglin Air Force Base on Monday, June 23. 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. Defense Department leadership supports this prudent approach. Preparations continue for F-35 participation in international air shows in the United Kingdom, however a final decision will come early next week.

This is not the first time the entire F-35 fleet is grounded.

On Feb. 22, 2013 the Pentagon decided to suspend the flights of all Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter planes after a crack was found on a turbine blade of a test aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

The decision came only nine days after the DoD had cleared the STOVL variant to resume flying activity after a month-long grounding due to a fueldraulic engine problem.

Image credit: Lockheed Martin


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


    • Why? We already have a flaming plane, there’s no need of more fire..

    • What can now be said that wasn’t predicted 5 years and $300 billion ago ?

  1. I think your forgetting that the F-35 is still going through flight testing. There are a few more discoveries yet to come especially in the area of parts durability which is typical of most flight test programs.

    • US$1.0165 trillion dollars are being sent to the project and estimated costs are rising everyday

      If This continues most investors will look towards PAK FA and J 20

      • I hate to break this to you but the PAK FA and J20 both have at least another 10 years of development time ahead of them as both these projects are in there infancy.

  2. Edited to include response by Lockheed Martin:

    “Complications involving engine and aircraft separation are quite common in delevopment of new and high-tech system. Lockheed Martin is fully committed to the safety and blah blah cost saving blah blah STEALTHHH!!!! BLAH BLAH STOVL BLAH HELMENT BLAJHRJDIFJ BUYBUYMOREOREBUYUUYYYYYY!!!!!!!6TH 7TH 12TH GEN!!!!”

  3. Can anyone produce figures on when the F18, F16, F15 fleets are or have been grounded? Its not like groundings are particularly uncommon occurrences.

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