F-35s grounded again

Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:56 PM.

“As young as the system is as we’re going through, these types of things are expected to happen occasionally,” Toth said. “The great part about that is we have a great team here and at the Joint Program Office on down that looks at this stuff and makes sure we can continue safe and effective flying operations.”

This is the sixth time one or all variants of the F-35 have been grounded.

Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor for the F-35, released its own statement Friday.

“Lockheed Martin is fully engaged and working closely with the JPO and Pratt & Whitney to determine the root cause of the blade crack found during a routine inspection of an F135 engine on an F-35A at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.,” the statement said. ”Safety is always our first consideration, and the joint inspection team is focused on ensuring the integrity of the engines across the entire fleet so the F-35s can safely return to flight as soon as possible.”

Eglin has 22 F-35s for the Air Force and Marines. The Navy’s F-35Cs are scheduled to arrive in April.

Toth said there will be plenty to keep pilots and maintainers busy while flights are suspended.

“The benefit about this is we can still conduct standard maintenance activity on the aircraft out there for the guys who are working on the flight line,” Toth said. “As far as maintenance goes, we can do our routine maintenance, continue to work on the aircraft. There will be no shortage of things for our maintainers to do.

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