U.S. military officials have grounded all F-35 fighter jets while continuing to investigate a runway fire involving one of them at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Jessica Stone reports.
The F-35, was supposed to make its European debut at a British air show on Friday.
The Pentagon says it will make a decision on whether that will go forward in the next few days.
The F-35 joint strike fighter is an aircraft made by Lockheed Martin.
It’s attractive because of its stealth properties. One version can land vertically.
But the program has been marked by cost over-runs and delays since its inception in 2001.
The current price tag on the program is $400 billion U.S. dollars. Lockheed estimates it will cost about $85 million per plane to buy.
That hasn’t stopped it from being attractive to numerous countries around the world – especially in the Asia Pacific where Australia and Japan have ordered it. As you can see, Japan has ordered 42 to modernize its Self Defense Forces. The Republic of Korea and Singapore are also said to be looking at it.
But the Japanese are sure to be concerned about the reasons for the F-35 grounding when they meet with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Friday.
One senior aerospace analyst told me that this pair of British airshows has really hyped up the first flying of the F-35, so it doesn’t look good for the program if it doesn’t fly. But the biggest issue is what caused that runway fire back in June.