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

By on Monday, February 25th, 2013

All F-35s have been grounded as a precaution after a routine engine inspection revealed a crack on an engine blade, Defense Department officials said Feb. 22 here.

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 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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