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Grounded No More: Inspected US F-35 Stealth Fighters Free to Fly

Sputnik News

17:24 14.10.2018(updated 17:25 14.10.2018)

Earlier this week, the United States temporarily suspended all F-35 operations worldwide after the first-ever crash of the advanced F-35 Lightning II fighter jet in September.

On Sunday, most grounded F-35 fighter jets in the US and beyond were given the green light for flight, the aircraft's manufacturer Lockheed Martin said.

The manufacturer added that the US-made stealth planes returned to the skies after their engines were meticulously inspected, with some of the warplanes assigned for a fuel pipe replacement.

Earlier this week, Israel, Australia and Britain announced that they had decided to ground all of their fight-generation F-35 fighter jets.

The move came after the Pentagon's F-35 Lightning II Program said in a statement that the US temporarily grounded all F-35 operations worldwide after the first-ever crash of the sophisticated fighter jet led investigators to suspect that a common problem exists with the jet's fuel tubes.

The Defense Department, for its part, noted that any faulty fuel tubes installed on the F-35 jets will be removed and replaced, but if inspection reveals that good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status.

On September 28, a Marine F-35B crashed in South Carolina due to technical failure in a jet engine fuel pipe, according to investigators.

In September 2016, the US Air Force (USAF) ordered the grounding of 15 F-35A jets after the discovery of "peeling and crumbling" coolant tube insulation installed in the wings of the jet.

The F-35's operating coasts remain a major headache for the USAF and European customers. According to the latest Pentagon acquisition report, the cost per hour of operating the F-35 averages $30,000 compared to $25,500 per hour for the older F-16.

While the initial cost of the F-35s was about $132 million, some estimates put the actual price tag at a whopping $198 million each.


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