US Grounded F-35 Fighter Plans Flights
The Pentagon on Friday suspended the flights of all 51 F-35 fighter planes after a routine inspection revealed a crack on a turbine blade in the jet engine of an F-35 test aircraft in California.
It was the second grounding of the warplane in two months and marked another setback for the $396 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the Pentagon’s biggest weapons program. The program has already been restructured three times in recent years and may face further cutbacks if Congress does not avert budget reductions due to take effect on March 1.
The F-35 program office said it was too early to know if this was a fleet-wide issue, but it was suspending all flights until an investigation was completed. A total of 51 F-35 jets were affected, including 17 that are being used for testing and 34 in use for training in Florida and Arizona.
The Pentagon said the grounding of the 51 planes is a precautionary measure and it is too early to know the full impact of the newly discovered problem.
Friday marked the second grounding of the warplane in two months. The F-35 program has been marked by cost overruns and technical problems.