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Some Eglin F-35A Operations Suspended Following Plane Fire

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Staff Sgt. Matthew Reed provides oversight for Staff Sgt. Mark Freeman, 33rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, during hot pit refueling at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. US Air Force Photo

Staff Sgt. Matthew Reed provides oversight for Staff Sgt. Mark Freeman, 33rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, during hot pit refueling at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. US Air Force Photo

Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighters at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, have temporarily suspended operations after a fire severely damaged an aircraft on take-off yesterday.

“Flights for the F-35A CTOL [conventional takeoff and landing] aircraft are temporarily suspended today,” said 1st Lt. Hope Cronin, a public relations officer for the 33rd Fighter Wing. “The F-35Bs and F-35Cs are on a weather pause at this time as Florida weather is rather disagreeable at the moment.”

The rest of the F-35A fleet is flying however according to Joint Program Office spokesman Joe DellaVedova. “Experts are working root cause,” he said.

The fact that the F-35A fleet is still flying suggests that a design flaw is not suspected as a cause of the fire.

This is the first incident this severe for the JSF during the life of the tri-service program.

There are currently 104 Joint Strike Fighters in the U.S. inventory — split between U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and U.S.
Marine Corps variants, according to information from Lockheed.

Eglin — located on the Florida panhandle — is the home the training centers for pilots and maintainers for all three U.S. variants of the JSF as well as international variants.

The 33rd was designated as the F-35 schoolhouse in 2009 and received its first F-35 in 2011. The wing is set to receive an estimated 59 aircraft by 2018.

The wing is part of the larger F-35 Integrated Training Center which plans to have annual output of 100 pilots and 2,100 by 2018.

The JSF fleet was grounded earlier this month after a Marine variant of the aircraft suffered an engine oil leak in flight

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