In US' Footsteps: Britain Grounds Entire F-35 Fighter Jet Fleet
The most expensive weapons system around, the F-35 has been plagued by a flurry of problems which have sent the costs spiraling upward.
The UK grounded its fleet of £120 million per plane ($158.5 million) F-35 stealth fighters following the crash of a US jet in September.
Britain's current fleet of 15 F-35fighter jets that arrived in the country in June, is being examined to determine if last month's mishap with a US Marine Corps F-35B in South Carolina was caused by a faulty fuel tube.
"Safety is our paramount concern, therefore the UK has decided to pause some F-35 flying as a precautionary measure while we consider the findings of an ongoing inquiry," a Ministry of Defense spokesman said.
He added, however, that F-35 flight trials from the aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, are continuing and the program remains on schedule.
The Royal Air Force currently has 15 F-35B short take-off and vertical landing variants of the jets and plans to buy a total of 138 to be jointly operated with the Royal Navy.
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.
Israel has also decided to follow in the US' footsteps and announced that it had grounded all of its F-35 stealth fighter jets.
While the initial cost of the fifth-generation planes was in the ballpark of £100 million ($132 million), some estimates put the actual price tag at a whopping £150 ($198 million) each.
It is believed the true cost of the plane has been bumped up to cover "extra" costs such as software upgrades and spare parts.
The most expensive weapons system around, the F-35s have been plagued by a flurry of problems which have sent the costs soaring.
There are also fears that shortcomings in the technical systems underpinning the new generation of war planes will leave them unable to function properly.
The US Air Force and European customers consider the F-35's operating costs a major problem.
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.
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