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 4467 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance 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.

6 Comments

  1. The F-35 fleet should be burned and the execs who oversaw development / lobbying / production of this donkey be indicted. Tax payers could have received F-22’s , modernized F15 like Saudi and SKorea recently ordered instead of this exorbitant embarrassment. The anti-missile interceptor force and the Navy littoral combat vessel are similar examples of malfeasance. This is what corporate lobbying and pre-arranged, post-Pentagon executive positions at tech or aerospace companies is doing to our national defense. Hope the mgt at LM made lots of money as they compromised America’s supremacy in air-combat.

    • I’m not sure whether F-22s and F-15s would be an equal replacement… Neither takes off from a carrier, after all. Furthermore, problems are a to be expected during development.

      However, I do agree that without the lobbying and the personal gain you described (shall we simply call this corruption?) billions of dollars could have been saved. The programme could be focused on true “weaknesses” of US defence, rather than to attempt to improve on too many fronts.

      The real sad part is that so far, it doesn’t seem like any change in this structure is about to happen. Partly I suppose this is because the some of those in power don’t want things to change, as it is to their benefit… But I personally think that is, in part, because this problem is larger than even the defence industry – such lobbying and so on seems to be normal in other industries too… If everyone does it, then why change? The US economy seems to be doing alright, after all…

  2. I’m sure LMartin will soon tell us what a minor glitch it is. Hopefully America won’t have an air-campaign to fight over the next 2 decades . . .

  3. I doubt the public really knows how often the F35 has been grounded. Until recently, night time and rain were regular constraints. I guess LMartin didn’t design for those particular scenarios ?

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