The United States military has grounded its entire fleet of F-35 stealth fighter jets, worldwide, until it can find out why one of the jets crashed in the vicinity of Beaufort, South Carolina on Sept. 28.
The U.S. Defense Department said in a statement that the suspension will allow a “fleet-wide inspection of a fuel tube within the engine on all F-35 aircraft.”
Joe DellaVedova, Pentagon F-35 office spokesperson, said inspections were expected to be completed “within the next 24 to 48 hours.”
An in-flight oil leak prompted a fleet-wide inspection last month, according to Voice of America. Return to flight status will be determined based on the results of the inspection, and analysis of engineering data, according to the Defense Department.
Israel began to take delivery of the first aircraft of a fleet of 50 of the F-35 stealth fighter jets, called in Hebrew the “Adir” (Mighty), in December 2016.
The aircraft, purchased from Lockheed Martin Corp at a cost of about $85 to $96 million each, are based at Nevatim Air Base in the Negev.
The Israel Air Force was the first outside the United States to declare Initial Operational Capability of the F-35 stealth fighter jets. Israel is expected to have received its full contingent of 50 stealth fighters — two full squadrons — by 2022.