Pentagon grounds some F-35s after ejection on Texas runway

The United States Department of Defense grounded a number of F-35 fighters while a crash in Texas is being investigated. 

The decision was confirmed by the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) in a statement to Defense News. 

“The F-35 Joint Program Office has issued a Time Compliance Technical Directive (TCTD) to restrict some aircraft, which have been evaluated to be of higher risk, from flight operations while the investigation into the mishap on December 15 continues and until procedures can be developed for their return to flight,” the JPO stated. 

The number and the variant of the affected aircraft were not detailed. 

On December 15, 2022, a Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II fighter, the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the aircraft, was attempting to land vertically at the Fort Worth air base when it bounced off the runway. The aircraft’s nose then pitched down, and the nose gear collapsed, sending the jet sliding forward and spinning slowly. The pilot ejected from the fighter. 

Lockheed Martin uses the runway at Fort Worth for testing, and the aircraft in question had not yet been delivered to the US military. The investigation into the accident is still ongoing. 

A global issue? 

 On December 25, 2022, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) said it had grounded 11 of its 33 F-35I “Adir” fighter jets pending a safety review. The F-35I is based on the F-35A, the conventional takeoff variant.

It is the second time this year that the US military grounds the F-35. In July 2022, the US Air Force (USAF), the Navy (USN), and the Marine Corps (USMC) all ordered a stand-down after faulty ejection seat cartridges were discovered in some aircraft. The F-35 is fitted with the Martin-Baker MK.16 ejection seat. 

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