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Pentagon grounds F-35 fighter jets in wake of crash

(U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Ridge Shan)

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon has grounded the F-35 fighter jet in order to inspect the fleet in the wake of a crash last month in South Carolina.

Luke Air Force Base near Glendale, Arizona, is one of the homes for training in the F-35s.

The decision temporarily halts combat operations by Marines, who began conducting airstrikes against Taliban targets in Afghanistan the day before the crash.

The Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps all have different versions of the stealthy fighter.

A Luke spokesperson issued the following statement:

Luke maintainers began the mandatory inspection requested by the Joint Program Office last [Wednesday] night. The inspections are ongoing for all 75 USAF and partner nation F-35s stationed at Luke. We don’t know the total number impacted at this time. 2 USAF F-35s completed their inspections this AM and were cleared to return to flight status in accordance with the JPO requirements. These jets are headed to Ft Worth, Texas as part of the F-35 Heritage Flight Team participating at the Alliance Air Show this weekend.

All three services have stopped flying the F-35 while fuel tubes in the aircraft are inspected and replaced if necessary. The F-35 program office said the inspections should be completed in one or two days.

Certain fuel tubes were identified as a potential problem. If the aircraft has those, they will be replaced. If the aircraft has good fuel tubes, it will be allowed to begin flying again.

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