Flying of Some F-35B Aircraft Paused to Allow Safety Enquiry
(Source: British Forces News; issued Oct 11, 2018)
Inspections are urgently being carried out on the UK's fleet of F-35B Lightning jet fighters after a US aircraft crashed.

Experts are examining the UK's jets to see whether they have a faulty fuel tube following the crash of a US F-35B stealth jet in September.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “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 enquiry.

"F-35 flight trials from the aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, are continuing and the programme remains on schedule to provide our Armed Forces with a game-changing capability.

"We will continue to review the situation as further information becomes available."

In the past few weeks, F-35B aircraft have conducted night flying trials on HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time and conducted the first F-35B landings and takeoffs from its deck using American aircraft flown by British pilots.

Royal Navy Commander Nathan Gray and RAF Squadron Leader Andy Edgell were the first pilots to land the aircraft on the flight deck of the carrier.

The UK's F-35B aircraft arrived at their Marham home for the first time earlier this year, with a further five arriving in August.

Britain now has 16 of a planned 138 F-35B jets.

The lead manufacturer is US firm Lockheed Martin but across the 3,000 jets being built, 15% of each one is comprised of parts from British companies.

In a statement, the F-35 Joint Programme Office said the US and its international partners had suspended flight operations while a fleet-wide inspection of fuel tubes was conducted.

"If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced. If known good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status," the statement said.

"Inspections are expected to be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours.

"The action to perform the inspection is driven from initial data from the ongoing investigation of the F-35B that crashed in the vicinity of Beaufort, South Carolina on September 28."

A Lockheed Martin spokesman said: "We are actively partnering with the Pentagon's F-35 Joint Programme Office, our global customers and (engine manufacturer) Pratt & Whitney to support the resolution of this issue and limit disruption to the fleet."

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