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F-35 fleet grounded after engine crack found

By Robert Burns

AP National Security Writer

LAST UPDATED: 12:02 p.m. HST, Feb 22, 2013

WASHINGTON » The Pentagon on today grounded its fleet of F-35 fighter jets after discovering a cracked engine blade in one plane.

The problem was discovered during what the Pentagon called a routine inspection at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., of an F-35A, the Air Force version of the sleek new plane. The Navy and the Marine Corps are buying other versions of the F-35, which is intended to replace older fighters like the Air Force F-16 and the Navy F/A-18.

All versions — a total of 51 planes — were grounded Friday pending a more in-depth evaluation of the problem discovered at Edwards. None of the planes have been fielded for combat operations; all are undergoing testing.

In a brief written statement, the Pentagon said it is too early to know the full impact of the newly discovered problem.

The F-35 is the Pentagon's most expensive weapons program at a total estimated cost of nearly $400 billion. The Pentagon envisions buying more than 2,400 F-35s, but some members of Congress are balking at the price tag.

Today's suspension of flight operations will remain in effect until an investigation of the problem's root cause is determined.

The Pentagon said the engine in which the problem was discovered is being shipped to a Pratt & Whitney facility in Connecticut for more thorough evaluation.

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serious wrote:
It's only $$$$$$$. We sure need those planes in Yuma and HI!!!!! What we need is adult supervision in all levels of government.
on February 22,2013 | 12:02PM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
What we really need is for private industry to build a good product. High performance engines with cracked blades, not good Pratt and Whitney, not good at all.
on February 22,2013 | 02:07PM
MolokaiChuck wrote:
This Acft is not needeed at all.....should just get upgrades of the F-15 and F-16. Much cheaper and we know they work!
on February 22,2013 | 01:21PM
HD36 wrote:
This plane is already 70% over budget.
on February 22,2013 | 04:28PM
Hugo wrote:
The dirty (not so little) secret is the plane is too fat, (wide), to fly as far as needed. Fat supersonic aircraft don't make sense. The range problem with the F-35 is identical to the original F/A 18 where the cure was to build essentially a whole new aircraft. McNamara's TFX didn't work. To quote the Gipper: "There you go again".
on February 22,2013 | 05:30PM
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