Pentagon Grounds F-35 Fleet After Crash

Two F-35 fighter jets land in Israel

Two F-35 fighter jets land in Israel

The jet was based at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and on a routine training missing at the time.

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

Certain fuel tubes were identified as a potential problem.

Mr DellaVedova added that if "known good" tubes are already in place, then those planes will be returned to operational status.

Inspections should be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours.

The wide-ranging grounding of the entire fleet comes after a Marine F-35B joint strike fighter went down in Beaufort, South Carolina, on September 28.

"At this time, the cause of the mishap has not yet been determined", said Capt. Christopher Harrison, a U.S. Marine Corps spokesman.

The pilot in that incident ejected safely but the aircraft was destroyed.

Of the 280 operational F-35s purchased to date by US and worldwide partners, only 51 percent are now available for flight, Vice Adm.

"The primary goal following any mishap is the prevention of future incidents".

The crash in SC involved an F-35B, which is able to land vertically and costs around $100m (£75m).

So far, the USA military has taken delivery of 245 F-35s, majority to the Air Force.

The Marine Corps and Air Force have confirmed the grounding of their F-35s is a precaution so the aircraft can be inspected.

The airstrike in Afghanistan was not the combat debut for the joint strike fighter. The Air Force followed by declaring initial operational capability for the F-35A conventional variant in 2016, while the Navy plans to declare Initial Operational Capability for the F-35C carrier variant in February 2019.

It is an embarrassing development for the F-35 programme, the largest and most expensive weapons project of its type in the world. The Israeli warplanes, purchased from the USA, are a different model than the American one that crashed. The Air Force has 156, the Marine Corps has 61 and the Navy has 28, according to data provided by the joint program office. The HMS Queen Elizabeth is off the eastern US seaboard in the Atlantic Ocean conducting developmental test trials of the joint strike fighter for the United Kingdom.

It cost an estimated $400bn and had a goal to produce 2,500 aircraft in the coming years.

The F-35B is the short takeoff, vertical landing variant of the aircraft, which allows the pilot to hover and land vertically like a helicopter - a necessity for the Marines, which typically operate from amphibious ships with smaller decks than aircraft carriers. It represents a step-change in capability but the F-35's complexity has inevitably thrown up problems.

The plane, manufactured by Lockheed Martin but including parts made in several other countries, has been sold to a number of nations, including the UK, Japan, Italy, Turkey and South Korea. Gen. Amikam Norkin, wants to conduct additional tests on Israel's F-35s.