By Kasim Ileri
WASHINGTON (AA) – The U.S. and allies have temporarily suspended all F-35 flight operations for inspections of a fuel tube in the engine, an official said Thursday.
Joe Dellavedova, F-35 Joint Program Office public affairs director, said: "If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced. If known good fuel tubes 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 move comes after an F-35B fighter jet crashed in South Carolina in late September. It was the first crash of one of the country's most expensive military jets. The pilot safely ejected from the plane.
Dellavedova said "the inspection is driven from initial data from the ongoing investigation" into the crash. "The aircraft mishap board is continuing its work and the U.S. Marine Corps will provide additional information when it becomes available."
The F-35 stealth jet built by Lockheed Martin has an average cost of more than $100 million.
*Servet Gunerigok contributed to the story