Stealth Fighter Jet Grounded Globally After First-Ever Crash

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

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

All three services have stopped flying the F-35 while fuel tubes in the aircraft are inspected and replaced if necessary.

During the crash investigation, certain fuel tubes were identified as a potential problem, largely involving aircraft built before 2015. Inspections are expected to be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours, Dellavedova said.

A fleet of F-35 fighter jets have been temporarily grounded in order to inspect the aircraft after a crash in SC last month (file photo).

"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", DellaVedova said in a statement.

One of Britain's new supersonic "stealth" strike fighters accompanied by a United States Marine Corps F-35B aircraft, flies over the North Sea.

"We will take every measure to ensure safe operations while we deliver, sustain and modernize the F-35".

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The F-35 is the largest and most expensive weapons programme of its type in the world. The HMS Queen Elizabeth is off the eastern USA seaboard in the Atlantic Ocean conducting developmental test trials of the joint strike fighter for the United Kingdom.

The Defense Department has temporarily grounded all of its 245 F-35 fighter jets for inspection of a potentially faulty engine part in the wake of last month's crash in SC.

Foreign operators of the F-35, such as Britain or Israel, are also grounding their fighter jets for inspection, according to the JPO statement.

"The primary goal following any mishap is the prevention of future incidents", the Pentagon statement added. The program is estimated to have a lifetime cost of over $1.5 trillion. Planes known to have working fuel tubes installed will return to the skies.

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.

In April, a Marine Corps F-35B out the Marine Corps air station at Cherry Point, North Carolina, was forced to make an emergency landing when the aircraft fuel light came on.

About half the F-35s are believed to have the faulty tube, and they include aircraft owned by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

This story is developing and will be updated.