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

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OFFICIALS have insisted flight trials on HMS Queen Elizabeth are continuing despite US military grounding all F-35 fighter jets.

The United States Air Force (USAF) has grounded all of its F-35 fighter jets after one of the planes crashed last month.

The Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier is two weeks into flight trials with the jets..

The USAF grounding has been sparked after a F-35B fighter plane crashed near Beaufort, South Carolina, on September 28. 

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: ‘Safety is our paramount concern. Therefore the UK has decided to pause some F-35 flying as a precautionary measure while we consider the findings of an ongoing enquiry.

‘F-35 flight trials from the aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, are continuing and the programme remains on schedule to provide our Armed Forces with a game-changing capability.

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

‘We will continue to review the situation as further information becomes available.’

When asked by The News, MoD officials confirmed that flying from the £3.1bn carrier were continuing.

READ MORE: HMS Queen Elizabeth: Historic moment as F-35 finally lands on Royal Navy’s future flagship

A fleet-wide inspection of a fuel tube within the engine in all F-35 fighter jets is set to be carried out as a result of the incident. 

The USAF has grounded the fleet at the request of the Joint Program Office. 

In a statement the JPO said: ‘The US services and international partners have temporarily suspended F-35 flight operations while the enterprise conducts a fleet-wide inspection of a fuel tube within the engine on all F-35 aircraft. 

‘If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replace. If known good fuel tube are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status.

‘Inspections are expected to be completed within the next 24 to 48 hours. 

‘The action to perform the inspection is driven from initial data from the ongoing investigation of the F-35B that crashed in the vicinity of Beaufort, South Carolina on 28 September. 

READ MORE: HMS Queen Elizabeth: Fast jets land on aircraft carrier at night for the first time

‘The aircraft mishap board is continuing its work and the U.S. Marine Crops will provide additional information when it becomes available. 

‘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.’ 

The USAF grounded the full F-35 fleet last night. 

HMS Queen Elizabeth was tweeting about F-35 jets landing on the aircraft carrier on Wednesday. 

The Royal Navy warship’s official account tweeted: ‘Another Fly Navy day in Britain’s Biggest Warship.

‘Even though we are two weeks into F-35 on deck trials, the F-35 still steals the show!’