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F-35 fleet grounded pending engine inspections

written by WOFA | July 3, 2014

All F-35s are likely to be grounded pending an engine inspection, and the planned deployment of four F-35Bs to the UK has been delayed. (JSF PO)
All F-35s are likely to be grounded pending an engine inspection, and the planned deployment of four F-35Bs to the UK has been delayed. (JSF PO)

The entire fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighters will reportedly be grounded in order to facilitate a thorough engine inspection.

The order comes after the June 23 fire in an F-35A at Eglin AFB in Florida in which the pilot was forced to abandon his takeoff and the aircraft was extensively damaged. The pilot escaped without injury, and the aircraft has been sequestered pending an investigation.

US media reports indicate the fire was likely engine-related, and that a joint directive from US and UK military officials will require mandatory engine inspections of all F-35 aircraft before they can resume flying.

The grounding is the latest setback for the much-delayed program, and comes just as USMC and RAF officials were planning to deploy four F-35Bs to the UK for the Royal International Air Tattoo on July 11 and the 2014 Farnborough Airshow the following week. Those aircraft were due to depart on their non-stop nine hour ferry flight to the UK on July 1, but as of July 3 were still at Patuxent River in Maryland pending a release from UK authorities.

It had been reported the UK government had hoped at least one of the F-35Bs could perform a flypast of the July 4 naming ceremony of the new HMS Queen Elizabeth II aircraft carrier in Scotland, but that possibility now appears unlikely.


  • adammudhen


    Well, these things happen with development aircraft. Look at the F-111 and F-14 programs; their early models killed pilots. It’s a real pity about RIAT though, the F-35 would have been a huge draw-card (not to mention a PR dream). Hopefully it can get sorted out soon.

  • Raymond


    Glad I didn’t book a flight from Australia to the UK just to see the F-35 flying at RIAT / Farnborough!

    As readers would know, I am a supporter of the F-35, however this sort of event does bring up doubts again in relation to the powerplant… firstly, the fact there is only a single engine (although we’re told that modern engines are far more reliable etc.) and only having one engine option after the proposed interchangeable GE alternative was axed.

    I trust that this will just be part of the development process and not a long-term problem. As we’ve seen, things can and do still go wrong with modern jet engines!

  • adammudhen


    Raymond – I think the binning F-136 engine (The RR model) was a big mistake but for financial reasons I can see why it was done, plus even if it had survived it funding cut a few years ago, sequestration would have done it in for sure. Maybe, in a ten years time, we may see another engine option appear.

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