HMS Queen Elizabeth: Five British F-35 needed replacement fuel tubes following USAF jet crash as Royal Navy aircraft carrier’s flight tests continue

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The Ministry of Defence (MOD) have confirmed that five of its fleet of F-35 jets needed repairs following an inspection carried out in the wake of a US air force (USAF) plane crash. 

A fault in a fuel tube in the engine of the F-35 jet, which crashed in the vicinity of Beaufort, South Carolina last month, was discovered. 

A F35B Lightening II launches from HMS Queen Elizabeth during the fixed wing trials package off the East coast of America. Picture: Royal Navy

A F35B Lightening II launches from HMS Queen Elizabeth during the fixed wing trials package off the East coast of America. Picture: Royal Navy

Inspections were carried out on British F-35s and the full USAF fleet was grounded last week, with faulty fuel tubes being replaced with a good part before the jet would be cleared for flying. 

During inspections of the British jets five of the 16 F-35s were found to be in need of a replacement fuel tube, the MOD has confirmed. 

HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently in America carrying out historic flight tests with the F-35s and they have been continuing throughout the inspections. 

Read More: HMS Queen Elizabeth: Ministry of Defence insists F-35 trials continue on aircraft carrier as US military grounds its jets

An MOD spokesman said: ‘We have concluded the inspection of all our F-35s, and the vast majority have been cleared to resume all operations.

‘Flight trials are continuing from the aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, and the programme remains on schedule to provide our Armed Forces with a game-changing capability.’

However the MOD says this is the figure as of right now and the situation could change quickly as they are working closely to repair these jets as soon as possible.

The vast majority of the F-35s affected are test jets and eight of the nine operational aircraft at RAF Marham are unaffected.

The Joint Program Office added: ‘After completing inspections, more than 80 percent of operational F-35s have been cleared and returned to flight operations.

‘All U.S. services and international partners have resumed flying with their cleared aircraft.

‘The F-35 Joint Program Office continues to work closely with the military services to prioritise fuel tube replacements using the current spares inventory.

‘Pratt & Whitney is rapidly procuring more parts to minimise the overall repair timeline for the remaining jets.

Read More: HMS Queen Elizabeth: Here’s when the Royal Navy warship will come home to Portsmouth

‘Current inventory will restore about half of the impacted jets to flight operations, and the remaining aircraft are expected to be cleared for flight over the coming weeks.

‘The issue is not expected to impact F-35 deliveries and the program remains on track to meet its target of 91 aircraft for the year.

‘The primary goal following any mishap is the prevention of future incidents. 

‘We will take every measure to ensure safe operations while we deliver, sustain and modernise the F-35 for the warfighter and our defence partners.’