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