Israel followed the Pentagon and announced on Thursday it has grounded all of its F-35 stealth fighter jets due to the faulty engine fuel tubes foundn in the U.S. fleets, and would conduct a fleet-wide inspection.
IDF Spokesperson's Unit said, "Israel Air Force commander, Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, decided to take extra precautions and test all the planes, even though Israel does not have the model that crashed and although there have been no failures reported. The test will take several days. After all checks are complete, the planes will return to full operation."
Earlier Thursday, the U.S. issued a similar statement: “The U.S. Services and international partners have temporarily suspended F-35 flight operations while the enterprise conducts a fleet-wide inspection of a fuel tube within the engine on all F-35 aircraft,” the F-35 Joint Program Office announced in a statement Thursday morning.
“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.”
In its statement, the Israeli military added that "If the planes will be required for operational purposes they are ready to operate at full capacity."
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Israel began receiving the F-35 stealth fighter, the U.S. military’s most expensive fighter jet, over a year ago.
Tzachi Hanegbi, Israel's regional cooperation minister and a non-voting member of its security cabinet boasted in early October about the Israeli air force's capabilities over Syria: "You know that we have stealth fighters, the best planes in the world. These batteries are not even able to detect them."
An F-35 crashed on September 28th in South Carolina near the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. The pilot safely ejected from the aircraft, which belonged to 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. The crash came just hours after a U.S.-flown F-35 carried out its first-ever combat strike in Afghanistan.