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Pentagon grounds Marine Corps model of F-35 fighter jet

January 19, 2013
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Source: Reuters

F-35 Lightning

The Pentagon and U.S. Navy on Friday grounded the Marine Corps version of Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 fighter jet after an incident that occurred during a training flight at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida on Wednesday.

The Pentagon's F-35 program office said the grounding affected all 25 F-35B model jets, while flights of the Air Force's A-model and the Navy's C-model were unaffected. Ground operations of the B-model planes continued, it said.

The program office it ordered the temporary suspension of flight operations after a propulsion line associated with the B-model's exhaust system failed prior to takeoff. The pilot aborted the takeoff without incident and cleared the runway, the program office said in a statement. There were no injuries to the pilot or ground crew.

The incident came just days after the Pentagon's director of testing and evaluation released an 18-page report detailing an array of problems which he said underscored the "lack of maturity" of the $396 billion fighter program.

The report and Friday's grounding of the B-model highlighted the continued growing pains of the ambitious Lockheed fighter program, which began in 2001 and has been restructured three times in recent years.

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