• Marand manufactures vertical tails for the F-35 program. Defence
    Marand manufactures vertical tails for the F-35 program. Defence

The Pentagon has grounded the global fleet of F-35 fighter jets following a crash in South Carolina.

An F-35B belonging to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 came down and burst into flames near Beaufort, South Carolina. The pilot ejected safely.

The crash is the first such incident for the F-35 program.

Australia is procuring a different variant of the aircraft, the F-35A, but the global grounding seems set to affect Australian jets currently at Luke Air Force Base, Utah.

Reports indicate that the problem was a faulty fuel tube.

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

"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."

The first Australian F-35s are due to arrive at RAAF Williamtown in December. It is unclear whether the global grounding will delay delivery.

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