The US Air Force (USAF) will resume operations of its F-35A fighter aircraft fleet today from Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) in Florida.
The air force had grounded the fleet two days ago after an F-35A assigned to the 33rd Fighter Wing (33rd FW) caught fire in the aft end while taking off on a training flight at the airbase.
33rd Fighter Wing spokeswoman Air Force 1st lieutenant Hope Cronin told Reuters that the service intends to resume F-35A flights today as the remaining 25 A-model jets at the base had not shown similar problems.
The air force is currently investigating the incident, and officials have scoured the runway for possible debris, Cronin added, but refused to comment on a possible cause of the ‘significant fire’ in the rear of the aircraft.
F-35 Joint Program Office spokesman Joe DellaVedova said the fire appeared to be a ‘one-off’ incident, and confirmed that the USAF does not intend to suspend flights for the rest of the fleet.
Cronin said that the F-35B short take-off and vertical landing variant and the F-35C carrier version flights were suspended during the two days due inclement weather and not due to the fire mishap.
Developed by Lockheed Martin, the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) is a fifth-generation multi-role jet designed to conduct ground attacks, reconnaissance and air defence missions with stealth capability.
Image: A USAF F-35A Lightning II aircraft at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, US. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.