WASHINGTON, June 15 The U.S. military has
ordered mandatory inspections of all Lockheed Martin Corp
F-35 fighter jets before further flights after a Marine
Corps F-35B model suffered an in-flight emergency last week, a
Pentagon spokesman said on Sunday.
Joe DellaVedova, spokesman for the F-35 program office, said
the inspections had been ordered on Friday but that a large
number of planes had already been inspected and cleared to
resume flights on Monday.
He said the inspections, first reported by the Wall Street
Journal, were focused on the oil flow management valve fitting
on all F135 engines, which are built by Pratt & Whitney, a unit
of United Technologies Corp. The valve provides oil flow
to the engine bearing compartments.
News of the mandatory safety inspections came just days
after Frank Kendall, the Pentagon's chief arms buyer, said the
F-35 program was making progress but more work was needed on
developing the jet's software and improving its reliability.
The inspections were ordered after an F-35B model suffered
an in-flight emergency on June 10 caused by oil loss in the
jet's engine at a Marine Corps base in Yuma, Arizona, where
issues have now been found with a total of three valves,
He said the pilot returned to base safely and there were no
No issues have been discovered at the other bases where
F-35s are flown in California, Florida, Arizona and Maryland, he
Pratt & Whitney spokesman Matthew Bates said the company was
working closely with the Pentagon's F-35 program office to
determine the cause of the issue. He said it took about 90
minutes to inspect each aircraft, and nearly all planes had been
inspected and cleared for further flights.
DellaVedova said the source of that F135 engine oil leak
appeared to be a supply line to engine bearings and a fitting
that separated from the body of the valve in question.
It was not clear if the issue was maintenance-related.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Sandra Maler)