UK & World News

  • 4 July 2014, 16:15

All F-35 Fighter Jets Grounded Amid Fire Probe

US military officials have grounded all F-35s while continuing to investigate a runway fire involving one of the fighter jets.

The Pentagon, Air Force and Navy issued directives ordering the suspension of all F-35 flights after the June 23 fire on an Air Force F-35A jet at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

US and industry officials have not yet pinpointed the cause of the fire, which happened as a pilot was preparing for take-off.

The pilot was not injured.

The Pentagon says additional inspections of F-35 engines have been ordered. The return to flight of the F-35 fleet will be determined based on inspection results and analysis of engineering data, it added.

The incident was the latest to hit the Pentagon's costliest weapons programme, the $398.6bn (£232bn) F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

It followed an in-flight oil leak that triggered mandatory fleet-wide inspections of the jets last month.

Japan has ordered 42 of the single-engine stealth jets that will be assembled locally by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

But Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said he wants to discuss the F-35 problem when he visits the US next week to tour American bases and meet with his counterpart, Chuck Hagel.

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