Pentagon grounds F-35B after fuel leak


A Marine F-35B Joint Strike Fighter is shown at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida in this file photo. The Pentagon grounded the jet for evaluation after a part broke, causing a fuel leak that led to an aborted takeoff last week.

Halifax Media file photo
Published: Monday, January 21, 2013 at 10:48 AM.

The Pentagon has grounded Marine Corps F-35B Joint Strike Fighters after the failure of a fuel line part caused an aborted takeoff last week.

The move suspends flight operations until an engineering investigation is complete.

According to information provided from NAVAIR by the military legislative adviser for U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-Farmville, the takeoff was safely aborted with no other damage to the aircraft. What was a described as a “fueldraulic line failure” caused a fuel leak as the plane rolled toward takeoff at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

The Joint Strike Fighter is a short takeoff and vertical landing jet designed to replace the AV-8B Harrier, F/A-18 Hornet and EA-6B Prowler in the Marine Corp arsenal.

“I wish it hadn’t happened, but it is the type of thing that comes as part of the analysis,” said Harry Blot, retired Marine Corps lieutenant general and a former Lockheed Martin program manager who worked on development of the jet. “It’s good that if something was going to break, nobody got hurt and the airplane wasn’t damaged.”

He said the part that failed it made by Rolls Royce under a contract with Pratt and Whitney.

“It is actually the tail pipe which rotates down to get the thrust you need for swivel operations. It failed. Now they have to figure out why,” Blot said. “It just came out of maintenance. Was it something somebody did wrong or something wrong with the design or manufacture apt to recur? They have to sort it out.”

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