Aircraft grounded ahead of Prince of Wales inspection

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THE first appearance of the aircraft set to be used on HMS Queen Elizabeth has been halted after an engine fire in the United States of America.

The American-built Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II was supposed to be inspected by the Prince of Wales at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire tomorrow.

However, the aircraft will no longer appear at the show following the grounding of the aircraft after an engine fire on an F-35 in Florida last month.

It has not been possible to clear the aircraft in time for it to appear at the tattoo.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said it is confident the short-take-off-and-landing F-35 would be able to appear to appear at next week’s Farnborough Air Show.

It follows the non-appearance of the jet at last week’s naming ceremony of HMS Queen Elizabeth, the aircraft carrier which will be based in Portsmouth from 2017.
Air Tattoo chief executive Tim Prince said: ‘It’s not unusual for there to be delays in the development programme of any new military aircraft.

‘The Air Tattoo has been working closely with teams from Lockheed Martin, the US Marine Corps, Department of Defence and MoD to ensure the aircraft touched down at RAF Fairford for the Air Tattoo.

‘Unfortunately we’ve simply run out of time.’

An MoD spokesman added: ‘The safety of pilots and aircraft has to be our priority. Of course, it is disappointing that the Lightning II has not arrived in the UK in time for the Air Tattoo but we fully support the decision not to grant clearance for the aircraft to make their first transatlantic flight to the UK until the technical investigations following an engine failure are complete.’