Washington, Oct 13: The United States temporarily suspended operations for its fleet of F-35 fighter jets to check for possible faulty fuel tubes in the engines of the planes, after a crash in South Carolina late last month raised concerns about whether the part was to blame.
The Pentagon said in a statement that the US military and its international partners, which have also purchased F-35 fighter jets from contractor Lockheed Martin, would be suspending flight operations to inspect the fuel tubes out of caution, Qatar News Agency reported.
According to the Pentagon, the decision to temporarily suspend operations for the fleet is the result of initial data that investigators gathered in their probe of last month's crash.
The suspension came after an F-35B jet crashed last month in the US state of South Carolina. The incident marked the first time that an F-35 fighter jet, which costs more than 100 million US dollars, had crashed.
During the incident, a Marine Corps variant of the F-35 joint strike fighter, known as the F-35B, went down in the vicinity of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. The pilot ejected safely.
The accident marked the first crash of an F-35 in the 17 years since Lockheed Martin won the competition for the fighter jet in October 2001 and teamed up with other contractors to begin production of the high-profile plane.
The F-35 stealth jet has three variants, F-35A, F-35B, and F-35C, designed for the US Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy, respectively. The F-35B is the only model with short-take off and vertical landing abilities. (UNI)