F-35s grounded as precaution after crack found in engine blade

American Forces Press ServiceFebruary 24, 2013 

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The F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter lifts off for its first training sortie March 6 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. It's the first flight of any 33rd Fighter Wing F-35 since its arrival to the base. The jets were grounded Feb. 22, 2013, because of a crack found in an engine blade.

COURTESY PHOTO — U.S. Air Force

— All F-35s have been grounded as a precaution after a routine engine inspection revealed a crack on an engine blade, efense Department officials said here today.

Officials call this a "cautionary suspension of flight." The Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps fly F-35s.

Inspectors found the crack in an F135 engine installed in an F-35A Lightning II aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. This is the conventional take-off and landing version of the joint strike fighter.

Officials are shipping the engine and its associated hardware to Pratt & Whitney's engine facility in Middletown, Conn., to conduct more thorough evaluation and root cause analysis.

Officials said the grounding is precautionary. All F-35 flight operations have been suspended until the investigation is complete, officials said, and it is too early to know the fleetwide impact.

"The F-35 Joint Program Office is working closely with Pratt & Whitney and Lockheed Martin at all F-35 locations to ensure the integrity of the engine, and to return the fleet safely to flight as soon as possible," a Defense Department news release said.


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