The US Joint Program Office (JPO) has grounded the entire fleet of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, after an electrical fault was suffered by one of the aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base on Wednesday.
According to program officials, F-35A AF-4 “experienced a failure” of its Integrated Power Package (IPP), during a “standard ground maintenance engine run”, leading personnel to immediately shut down the engine and secure the jet. AF-4 was also the aircraft at the centre of an earlier grounding of the F-35 fleet in March, after suffering a dual generator failure and oil leak mid flight.
“The government and contractor engineering teams are reviewing the data from the incident to determine the root cause of the failure. Implementing a precautionary suspension of operations is the prudent action to take at this time until the F-35 engineering, technical and system safety teams fully understand the cause of the incident,” a statement from the JPO read.
“Once the facts are understood, a determination will be made when to lift the suspension and begin ground and flight operations of the 20 F-35s currently in flying status. These aircraft are part of the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) and Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) fleet,” it added.
The most recent grounding is the JSF program’s third within the space of a year, after a software glitch which caused one F-35s fuel pump to shut down mid-flight led to the fleet’s first grounding last October.