WASHINGTON, June 23 The U.S. Air Force on Monday
temporarily halted flights at a Florida air base of 26 F-35A
fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp after a jet
caught fire as it was preparing to take off for a training
flight, a Pentagon spokesman said.
The pilot aborted the takeoff and was not injured, said Joe
DellaVedova, spokesman for the Pentagon's F-35 program office.
He had no immediate details on the extent of the damage to the
F-35 conventional takeoff and landing model.
The fire occurred in the rear part of the plane where the
engine is located. Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United
Technologies Corp, said it was aware of the incident and
was ready to assist in the Air Force investigation.
DellaVedova said it was unclear what caused the fire, but
Air Force officials had temporarily suspended flights of the
A-model jets at the base until more details were available. He
said the F-35 program office was supporting the investigation
with engineering experts.
"Safety is paramount, and all F-35A flight operations have
been temporarily suspended at Eglin as they investigate the
nature of the incident" he said.
Emergency responders were able to put out the fire, which
occurred around 0915 local time, he said.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Chris Reese)