Pentagon grounds F-35 fighter jets in wake of crash

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption F-35 fighter jets prepare to land for first time on a UK carrier

In April, a Marine Corps F-35B out the Marine Corps air station at Cherry Point, North Carolina, was forced to make an emergency landing when the aircraft fuel light came on.

"If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced", he said.

Mr DellaVedova added that if "known good" tubes are already in place, then those planes will be returned to operational status.

It marked the first crash of the USA military's newest and most expensive aircraft, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reported.

The U.S. military on Thursday grounded its entire fleet of F-35 stealth fighters after one of the jets crashed during a training mission in SC last month, officials said Thursday.

The Italian Air Force has already completed its inspections and, as it did not find the faulty part, is back to normal flight operations, according to two sources. The Navy plans to have their own version of the F-35 flying from aircraft carriers by February 2019. The Air Force has 156, the Marine Corps has 61 and the Navy has 28.

The inspections come in the wake of an F-35B jet crash outside of Beaufort, S.C. on September 28.

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The pilot, a U.S. Marine, according to officials, ejected safely.

The F-35 programme has been hit by numerous delays, cost overruns and setbacks, including a mysterious engine fire in 2014 that also led to commanders temporarily grounding the aircraft.

The plant employs about 14,500 people, including 8,800 on the F-35 program. Mission capable rates now hover between 49 and 71 percent, according to Defense News, which first reported the order.

"The primary goal following any mishap is the prevention of future incidents", DellaVedova said. "We will take every measure to ensure safe operations while we deliver, sustain and modernize the F-35 for the warfighter and our defense partners".

According to data for fiscal year 2017, the most recent available, the Air Force's F-35A models had around a 55 percent readiness rate, well below that target. The US government's accountability office estimates all costs associated with the project will amount to one trillion dollars.

According to Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman for the F-35 program, the USA and its global partners - including Britain and Israel - have temporarily suspended F-35 flight operations for a fleet-wide inspection of a fuel tube within the engine on all F-35 aircraft.

On the same day of the F-35's American combat debut, two F-35s took off from and landed on a British aircraft carrier for the first time. Gen. Amikam Norkin, wants to conduct additional tests on Israel's F-35s.

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