The U.S. military on Thursday grounded its entire fleet of F-35 stealth fighters after one of the jets crashed during a training mission in SC last month, officials said Thursday.
Regardless of any setbacks, Australia remains fully committed to buying 72 of the planes as replacements for the current fleet of F/A-18 Super Hornets to perform air combat, bombing and surveillance roles.
Nine.com.au has contacted the Department of Defence to determine whether the fault potentially affects these jets. This allows the plane to hover and land vertically like a helicopter and is a critical requirement for the Marine Corps, which often operates from amphibious ships with smaller decks than the Navy's aircraft carriers.
The F-35 is the largest and most expensive weapons programme of its type in the world.
According to Lt. Col. Mike Andrews, a Pentagon spokesman, some of the fighter jets have been inspected and are flying again.
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In the wake of the crash, the Pentagon ordered Wednesday that all variants - from the Marine F-35B, to the Air Force "A" version and Navy "C" variant - cease flight operations as the military conducts a fleet-wide inspection of a fuel tube within the engine.
The decision temporarily halted combat operations by Marines, who began conducting airstrikes against Taliban targets in Afghanistan the day before the crash. A defence official told Jane's on 11 October that Norway had resumed all fight operations.
A Marine F-35B crashed into an uninhabited marsh island near the Grays Hill community in SC on September 28. The pilot ejected safely.
"If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced", he said.
Until 2015, two companies manufactured the tubes, and the problem involves just one of them. If the aircraft has those, they will be replaced.
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"Australian F-35 aircraft now based in the United States will return to flying operations once safety inspections are complete".
Inspections were expected to be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours. But the problem has already been identified as faulty fuel tubes.
Proponents tout the F-35's radar-dodging stealth technology, supersonic speeds, close air support capabilities, airborne agility and a massive array of sensors giving pilots unparalleled access to information.
It will equip the US Air Force and Marine Corps as well as several of Washington's allies.
The Israeli military said the USA has shared the findings of its investigation into the F-35 crash two weeks ago. Gen. Amikam Norkin, chose to take additional precautions and conduct tests on all F-35I aircraft, despite the accident having occurred in a model not used by the IAF and although no malfunctions have been found in IAF aircraft.
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The Israeli warplanes, purchased from the US, are a different model than the American one that crashed.