The U.S. Defense Department grounded all F-35 jets on Thursday, on the heels of a crash on September 28 in South Carolina.
Investigators examining the loss of an F-35B, the Marine Corps’ version of the jet, have zeroed in on flawed fuel tubes that may have deprived the aircraft of fuel. Potentially faulty fuel system components will be inspected and replaced in all aircraft, a process that is expected to take 24 to 48 hours, the Pentagon said.
There are currently 320 F-35s in air fleets around the world, though only half of the U.S. aircraft are available for service at any given time due to ongoing hardware and software issues, according to Pentagon data released earlier this year. The U.S. is expected to spend more than $400 billion to purchase roughly 3,000 F-35s, with a lifetime program cost of $1 trillion.