News / USA

US Grounds F-35 Fleet

FILE - Three F-35 Joint Strike Fighters fly over Edwards Air Force Base.
FILE - Three F-35 Joint Strike Fighters fly over Edwards Air Force Base.
VOA News

The U.S. military says it has grounded its entire fleet of F-35 fighter jets until it completes an investigation into a runway fire involving one of the jets last week.

The Defense Department said additional inspections of the F-35 engines have been ordered. 

Last week's fire at Elgin Air Force Base in Florida was only the latest in a series of technical problems and delays that have plagued the Pentagon's $396 billion fighter jet program.  It is the costliest weapons program in U.S. military history.  Additional delays could raise costs even further.

An in-flight oil leak prompted an inspection of the entire fleet last month. 

The Defense Department said the return to flight of the jet will be determined based on inspection results and analysis of engineering data.

A statement on the F-35.com website says the fighter jet "can operate in virtually any battle situations, from paved runways to aircraft carriers to roads and austere bases."  The website says no other fighter has "the versatility and combined capabilities of the multi-role F-35."

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by: Mark from: Virginia
July 06, 2014 6:05 PM
"The more you overtake the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain." Montgomery Scott, Chief Engineering Officer, U.S.S. Enterprise.

Okay, so I jest, partly, with that shameless movie quote.

But it is absolutely true. There is no way anyone, no matter how gifted and insightful they claim to be, can design a weapon platform (like the F-35) to fill so many roles (and be expected to fill so many roles and so many expectations) and be 100% spot on with all of them. In not-so-many-years past, the government would call upon ALL the aircraft manufacturers to come up with something within certain parameters, and then judge the design merits of each to see if any candidates met those requirements. Now, it seems, they take the manufacturers word that something works and fork out billions to see if it does work.


by: Knoziack Chisenga from: Zambia
July 05, 2014 5:46 AM
Mark, I am not an American, but looking at the belligerent and aggressive behaviour of China, Russia and Muslims I can't agree more with you. Yes, America needs, in fact if possible, better stuff than this.


by: Patrick from: Ca
July 05, 2014 12:30 AM
This endless war is rediculous, nobody is going to attack us! Maybe some terrorist but the f35 won't stop that! Stop wasting our money and let's get real, our debt is out of control thanks to progrAms like this, Lockheed should be ashamed. If we want real security we need to look beyond war games and find new ways to build our economy, happy 4th of July everyone, I pray we can come to our senses


by: Mark from: Utah
July 04, 2014 1:18 PM
To those of you wondering "why we haven't got it right with this much money involved", and those of you who say we don't need this jet:
Your comments show your lack of knowledge about designing new weapons platforms and the technical challenge involved. All new systems have problems. Secondly. We do need this jet, along with the F-22 Raptor. American must stand unchallenged in the theatre of air supremacy. Period

In Response

by: Mark from: Virginia
July 06, 2014 6:28 PM
To my namesake from another State of the Union; I am a veteran of the USAF and USMC, I have worked almost exclusively on aircraft my entire time in Military Service, I have seen, handled and worked on many fine aircraft (T-33, T-38, F-5, F-4, F-15, F-16, B-52, C-135, C-130, CH-53 and CH-46, UH-1, jack of all trades, master of none)
Each of these aircraft filled a certain role, performed a certain mission within the framework of the military, and performed them well. Sure, a few had teething problems, as would be expected of any new system or equipment. The F-35, touted to fill many roles previously held by other aircraft, is failing at nearly all of them. They seemed destined to find a place alongside other short-sighted failings like the F-111, B-1 and B-2. (the B-52 is still flying and doing its job while other 'replacement' aircraft are now rotting in the desert)

My point is this; just because it is supposed to do so much, doesn't mean it is going to it all. Perhaps the design expectations are simply more than this single, much like the V-22 Osprey has become. Sure, it works, but it became a very expensive endeavor that still cannot perform as well as the aircraft it was designed to replace.
Better, is not always best. Like the V-22, the F-35 is just another expensive toy for the government to play with.

In Response

by: nvr1 from: USA
July 04, 2014 11:02 PM
Right you are Mark from Utah, air supremacy from the F-35 and the F-22 Raptor ...When they are not broken down on the runway.

And what part of these two boondoggles do you make the part for?


by: Not Again from: Canada
July 04, 2014 1:09 PM
The F-35 has become a very sad program, with great performance expectations, but so far only great costs have materialized. Such bad experiences are just going to end up in more reductions and even cancellations for orders, which will drive the costs per unit to the stratosphere, faster than the plane can reach it. My own gvmt is in great duress, from the public, to walk away and cancel the orders.
Underperforming products or services, inopinion are a problem of leadership accountability; for as long as people making massive salaries, are not held accountable =fired, be it in gvmt or private sector organizations, the programs they are supposed to deliver will continue to underperform in quality and overperferm in exponential cost escalations.
An alternative method for improving production could be that all test aircraft need to have two seats, one for the pilot, and the other for the Sr person of the company responsible for its production, then maybe quality will rapidly improve, one way or the other.
And the excuse that theething problems are common, is nonsense at this late point/stage in the program; the craft has no teeth left.....
Very sad situation for all taxpayers in the US and allied countries with orders on this aircraft; if the sit does not improve, this aircraft will truly be worth its weight in gold or even platinum, and it will performs as if was made of gold..... never get off the ground = a hangar queen!
What a truly disappointing product so far.


by: Marty from: Seattle
July 04, 2014 12:09 PM
The Air Force Base in the story is spelled incorrectly. http://www.eglin.af.mil/


by: Eugene Kyle from: Midwest
July 04, 2014 12:00 PM
With all the money thrown at this project and they STILL can't get it right? There should be criminal investigations going on just like General Motors.


by: Be n Doty from: Clare,MI.
July 04, 2014 11:57 AM
The $396 billion fighter jet program is an absurd example of government waste of tax $$ that Americans cannot afford and is completely unnecessary.We do not need the f-35/or the costl

The costly $396 bil. F-35 & F-22 Raptor programs are an absurd waste of tax dollars that Americans cannot afford & is totally over budget & unnecessary!


by: nigel cairns from: san diego
July 04, 2014 11:48 AM
and the cost is $235,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.00, give or take a few more dollars

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Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

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