The US military has temporarily grounded its entire fleet of 245 F-35 Lightning II combat aircraft following the crash of one of the jets in Beaufort, South Carolina last month.
The US Pentagon is currently investigating a potential issue with the fuel tubes installed on all fighter aircraft in operation with the US Air Force, US Navy and US Marine Corps (USMC).
The Pentagon was quoted by the Independent as saying: “The primary goal following any mishap is the prevention of future incidents.
“We will take every measure to ensure safe operations while we deliver, sustain and modernise the F-35 for the warfighter and our defence partners.”
Inspections are being carried out to identify jets that might carry the particular type of fuel tube, which is assumed to be the primary cause of the crash, reported ABC News.
In a statement, the F-35 Joint Program Office was quoted by BBC News as saying: “If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced. If known good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status.
“Inspections are expected to be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours.”
The first ever F-35 Lightning II crash in September involved an F-35B short take-off / vertical landing variant, which costs approximately $100m and is built for use by the USMC.
The pilot was reportedly ejected safely out of the aircraft without any injuries.
According to a tweet by the Israeli Defense Ministry, the Israeli Air Force has issued an operational pause on its entire fleet of F-35I jets until all aircraft are tested.
The British Defence Ministry reportedly stated that some of its F-35 fighters have been grounded as a precautionary measure until it evaluates the findings of an ongoing investigation.