UK minister says F-35 jets may miss RIAT air show this week

WASHINGTON, July 9 Wed Jul 9, 2014 9:21am EDT

WASHINGTON, July 9 (Reuters) - British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond on Wednesday said Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 fighter jet may miss the Royal International Air Tattoo air show this week given a fleet-wide grounding ordered after an engine fire last month.

But Hammond said he was "still optimistic" that the new warplane would be cleared to fly in time to appear at the Farnborough air show outside London next week.

Hammond said Britain remained committed to the F-35 program, and noted that it was still in the developmental stage.

He said U.S. officials made the "right decision" when they suspended all F-35 flights while authorities investigated an engine fire that occurred on June 23 when an F-35A was preparing to take off from a Florida air base. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Mark Potter)

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