The crash of an F-35B in Fort Worth, Texas, two weeks ago has had consequences for a part of the fleet of this fifth-generation fighter.
As you will remember, in that accident an F-35B, which had not yet been delivered by Lockheed Martin to the Marines, lost control, touching the ground with its nose and breaking the gear front landing. Immediately afterwards, the aircraft began to turn on its nose and banked on its starboard wing. Finally, the pilot activated his ejection seat, parachuting down to a few meters from the plane.
On December 25, the Israeli Air Force announced that, as a result of this accident and following the recommendation of the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO), has grounded 11 of its fighters of this type. It so happens that the Israeli F-35I are a variant of the F-35A used by the USAF, a conventional takeoff and landing model, while the model that crashed in Texas was an F-35B, the STOVL variant of this aircraft. .
"From the findings and information transmitted, it was found that these aircraft require a dedicated inspection to rule out the possibility of a repeat malfunction in the Israeli system", the Israeli Air Force has announced, and has indicated that it will analyze the findings of the investigation of the incident and recommend how to fly these planes safely again.
So far, Israel has received 36 of the 50 F-35I fighters purchased, as reported by the local daily The Times of Israel. This is the second time that the Israeli Air Force has to immobilize these planes, according to Noticias de Israel, well in August, the entire then-available fleet of 33 planes underwent a detailed inspection and evaluation out of an abundance of caution. A problem that also affected the F-35 Lightning II was inspected after discovering a faulty component that could have prevented the pilot from safely exiting the aircraft in an emergency, according to the Israeli newspaper.
This Tuesday, the US website Defense News reported that the F-35 Joint Program Office has decided to ground a small number of F-35 fighters in the wake of the Texas accident. The aforementioned office issued guidance as a result of the incident, noting that some higher-risk F-35s will be on the ground, at least until January. The JPO declined to specify how many F-35s it will not be able to fly until then. According to an anonymous source quoted by Defense News, the initial evaluation of the investigation, which is being carried out by the Naval Air Systems Command with the support of the JPO, found that a problem with the propulsion system would have led to the accident of the F-35B on December 15.
According to that same source, the affected planes would be those with less than 40 flight hours. This is information not confirmed by the JPO of the F-35, which did report that the affected fighters are of the three variants (F-35A, F-35B and F-35C) and some of them the planes that will have to stay on the ground are American. To date, 875 F-35s have been delivered to various countries. At the moment, only the US and Israel have confirmed that some of their planes will have to stay on the ground. There has been no information on the matter from other countries.
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