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US halts F-35 flights after finding flaw

The US Pentagon has ordered a temporary pause in all F-35 fighter jet flights in order to inspect the fleet in the wake of a crash last month in South Carolina.

The decision involves a potentially bad fuel tube and affects more than 250 US-owned jets, as well as nearly 100 that belong to other nations including Britain, Israel and Australia.

About half the F-35s are believed to have the faulty tube, and they include aircraft owned by the US Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

Some of the fighter jets have been inspected and are flying again, according to a Pentagon spokesman.

The decision temporarily halted combat operations by the US Marines, who began conducting airstrikes against Taliban targets in Afghanistan the day before the crash.

The Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps fly different versions of the stealthy fighter.

A Marine F-35B crashed into an uninhabited marsh island near the Grays Hill community in South Carolina on September 28. The Marine pilot safely ejected before the crash.

During the crash investigation, certain fuel tubes were identified as a potential problem, largely involving aircraft built before 2015.

Until 2015, two companies manufactured the tubes, and the problem involves just one of them. If the aircraft has those particular tubes, they will be replaced. If the aircraft has good fuel tubes, it will be allowed to begin immediately flying again.

The F-35 program office said the inspections should be completed in one or two days. Depending on the availability of parts, the fuel tube can be replaced quickly.

John Thomas, spokesman for engine-maker Pratt & Whitney, based in Connecticut, said the company is supporting the Marine Corps investigation into the crash. Because of the ongoing investigation, he said he had no comment on the specifics of the flight disruption.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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