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A United States Navy F-35B Lightning II aircraft.

Pentagon Grounds F-35 Fleet Following Crash

by Thomas Gibbons-Neff, New York Times

The Pentagon grounded its fleet of F-35 strike fighter jets on Thursday, weeks after one crashed in South Carolina in another setback for the advanced aircraft that has long been mired in mechanical problems.

The decision to halt F-35 flights stems from what the military suspects is a faulty fuel tube installed in some of the aircraft, according to a Pentagon statement. Some of the jets are already aboard a Navy ship and have carried out airstrikes in Afghanistan.

Israel, Britain and other allies who have bought the F-35 from American manufacturers must also ground and inspect the fuel tubes in the jets, the statement said. There are roughly 220 F-35s in the American inventory, purchased from defense contractor Lockheed Martin.

In the investigation of the F-35 crash near Beaufort, S. C., military officials gathered “initial data” that pointed to problems with the fuel tubes — and ultimately could have contributed to the Sept. 28 accident.

Read more at the New York Times