F-35 fighter jets grounded after US crash

A fleet of F-35 fighter jets have been temporarily grounded in order to inspect the aircraft after a crash in South Carolina last month.

The Pentagon ordered a pause in all flights on Thursday so that safety checks can take place.

The next-generation model is used by countries around the world, including in Australia, where two are expected to arrive next month.

Nine.com.au has contacted the Department of Defence to determine whether the fault potentially affects these jets.

The fault with the planes is believed to be with the fuel tube, and affects more than 250 US-owned jets, as well as nearly 100 that belong to other nations including Britain.

About half the F-35s are believed to have the faulty tube, and they include aircraft owned by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

According to Lt. Col. Mike Andrews, a Pentagon spokesman, some of the fighter jets have been inspected and are flying again.

A fleet of F-35 fighter jets have been temporarily grounded in order to inspect the aircraft after a crash in South Carolina last month (file photo).

A fleet of F-35 fighter jets have been temporarily grounded in order to inspect the aircraft after a crash in South Carolina last month (file photo).

The decision temporarily halted combat operations by Marines, who began conducting airstrikes against Taliban targets in Afghanistan the day before the crash. The Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps fly different versions of the stealthy fighter. Officials said they were not able to confirm if the Marine planes were able yet to resume operations.

A Marine F-35B crashed into an uninhabited marsh island near the Grays Hill community in South Carolina on Sept. 28. The Marine pilot safely ejected before the crash.

During the crash investigation, certain fuel tubes were identified as a potential problem, largely involving aircraft built before 2015.

Until 2015, two companies manufactured the tubes, and the problem involves just one of them. If the aircraft has those particular tubes, they will be replaced. If the aircraft has good fuel tubes, it will be allowed to begin immediately flying again.

The F-35 program office said the inspections should be completed in one or two days. Depending on the availability of parts, the fuel tube can be replaced quickly.

The Israeli military grounded their fleet of 35 warplanes after the crash in the US.

In this 2016 file photo, an Israeli Air Force F-35 plane performs during a graduation ceremony for new pilots in the Hatzerim Air Force Base near Beersheba, Israel.

In this 2016 file photo, an Israeli Air Force F-35 plane performs during a graduation ceremony for new pilots in the Hatzerim Air Force Base near Beersheba, Israel.

The Israeli military said the U.S. has shared the findings of its investigation into the F-35 crash two weeks ago. But Israel’s air force chief, Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, wants to conduct additional tests on Israel’s F-35s.

The Israeli warplanes, purchased from the U.S., are a different model than the American one that crashed.

Israel said Thursday the testing will take several days, but the planes remain ready for operational action if needed.

Israel is among a small number of countries using or developing the next-generation warplane.

Other nations that have signed contracts to join the F-35 program include the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway, according to the Pentagon.

© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2018

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