Pentagon grounds entire F-35 fleetFebruary 23,2013
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon on Friday grounded its fleet of F-35 fighter jets after discovering a cracked engine blade in one plane.
The problem was discovered during what the Pentagon called a routine inspection at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., of an F-35A, the Air Force version of the sleek new plane. The Navy and the Marine Corps are buying other versions of the F-35, which is intended to replace older fighters like the Air Force F-16 and the Navy F/A-18.
All versions — a total of 51 planes — were grounded Friday pending a more in-depth evaluation of the problem discovered at Edwards. None of the planes have been fielded for combat operations; all are undergoing testing.
In a brief written statement, the Pentagon said it is too early to know the full impact of the newly discovered problem.
The F-35 is the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program at a total estimated cost of nearly $400 billion. The Pentagon envisions buying more than 2,400 F-35s, but some members of Congress are balking at the price tag.
Friday’s suspension of flight operations will remain in effect until an investigation of the problem’s root cause is determined.
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